Saturday, August 3, 2013
By Professor Joan Heminway (Tennessee) and available at 8 J. Bus. & Tech. L. 175 (2013) and SSRN here. From the abstract:
Over the past ten years, the doctrinal rules governing business associations have become more complex (with, e.g., the addition of significant federal law on corporate governance and corporate finance and the recent enactment of social enterprise forms of entity). Moreover, a number of us have added experiential learning to the business associations course (or another similarly titled foundational course on business entity law) and have increased the number and types of assessment tools used in our business associations pedagogy. This has made the task of teaching business associations somewhat overwhelming.
Law faculty respond to the challenges of teaching introductory business associations courses in many different, valid ways. This essay, originally written as a discussion session paper for the 2012 annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools, identifies these trends and describes my ways of contending with them. My goal in publishing this work is to offer some help to faculty members interested in developing or revamping a business associations course offering.
Jamie Spannhake interviewed successful lawyers to learn their five best productivity tips. Here they are:
Plan everything and put it on the calendar.
“Chunk” your work into manageable timeframes and take breaks in between.
Use your time creatively and multitask wisely.
Use technology, except when you shouldn’t.
Surround yourself with supportive people.
You can read the full “Time Management Secrets” interviews in Attorney at Work’s
“Matter of Time” e-zine — and get more of their tips on managing success,
lifestyle, family and stress — here.
Friday, August 2, 2013
One of the most important parts of the Working Paper of the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education is the following:
"Law school education is funded through a complex system of tuition, discounting, and loans. Schools announce standard tuition rates, and then chase students with high LSAT scores by offering substantial discounts without much regard to financial need. Other students receive little if any benefit from discounting and must rely mainly on borrowing to finance their education. The net result is that students whose credentials (and likely job prospects) are the weakest incur large debt to sustain the school budget and enable higher-credentialed students to attend at little cost. These practices drive up both tuition and debt, and they are in need of serious re-engineering."
The Paper concludes "The Task Force believes that the financing mechanisms for law school education and the pricing practices they facilitate must change, and that continued public confidence in the system of legal education is dependent on that change."
This author agrees for two reasons. First, the scholarship/tuition model that many law schools are using is unfair. It requires that those students who are least able to pay for law school are burdened with paying even more to attract students with high indicators. While a large part of this problem is caused by the U.S. News rankings, it is law schools that must end this practice.
Second, this practice is having a negative effect on the provision of legal services to the public. Because students are burdened with law school debt, most of them are unable to take jobs in rural areas, which greatly need attorneys, or provide legal services to the poor.
In sum, law schools need to end this law school financing model and provide a fairer method of charging tuition and bestowing scholarships.
A university representative reports that due to careful growth management during the past several years, the law school is weathering the storm much better than others. It does not expect to lay-off any of its 50 or so faculty members and will use visitors rather than new hires to fill vacancies. The good news is that the dean says in-state hiring for N.M. grads has improved.
From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
A steep decline in applications at The University of New Mexico’s School of Law is forcing the school to re-evaluate its future and put faculty expansion on hold, university officials announced this week.
The school’s new dean, David Herring, is conducting a strategic planning process after the university saw a nearly 50 percent drop in applications in six years, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Numbers provided to the Journal show the UNM law school has had a drop in applications from 1,200 in 2007 to about 650 this year.
According to UNM provost Chaouki Abdallah, the decline in enrollment, along with a shrinking law workforce, has administrators looking at different ways the law school should transform.
“We’re monitoring this very carefully. Our law school is very different from most law schools. We didn’t grow as much as others,” Abdallah said.
The school has about 30 tenure and tenure-track faculty members and about 20 other professors and instructors.
Abdallah said the school’s limited growth has helped it do well in a time when other law schools have had to shrink faculty size due to declining enrollments.
Continue reading here.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
The article, available online here, is from the December issue of Student Lawyer Magazine which for some odd reason did not arrive in my inbox until last week. Nevertheless, there's a good article profiling clinics from several law schools that are providing students with a wide variety of "real-world" experience. Included in the article is Stanford's Community Law Clinic which handles housing, employment and public benefit law matters for lower income clients. Also included are Gonzaga's Federal Tax Clinic, Alabama's Tornado Relief Clinic (since merged into the school's general civil law clinic) and Northeastern's Community Business Clinic which helps local entrepreneurs with transactional work.
Law School Clinics Provide Real-World Training. It's a nice piece - check it out.
The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education has issued a Working Paper in anticipation of its next public hearing at the ABA meeting in San Francisco on August 10. I agree with much of the paper, although I do have a few criticisms.
1. "Law school education is funded through a complex system of tuition, discounting, and loans. Schools announce standard tuition rates, and then chase students with high LSAT scores by offering substantial discounts without much regard to financial need. Other students receive little if any benefit from discounting and must rely mainly on borrowing to finance their education. The net result is that students whose credentials (and likely job prospects) are the weakest incur large debt to sustain the school budget and enable higher-credentialed students to attend at little cost. These practices drive up both tuition and debt, and they are in need of serious re-engineering."
Comment: This practice has bothered me for a long time because it is unfair to the students who are least able to afford law school. I believe that law schools should end the practice of funding merit scholarships by raising tuition for other students.
2a. "We conclude that the section would serve the public interest by enabling more heterogeneity among law schools. The Task Force recommends that a number of the Standards be dramatically revised or repealed."
2b. "The ABA’s accreditation system should facilitate substantial innovations in law school programs better than it does today."
Comment: The homogenteity created by the current standards discourages experimentation with cost-cutting measures and new approaches to the delivery of instruction.
3. "The profession’s calls for more attention to skills training and experiential learning have been well-taken, and law schools have done much to expand such opportunities for students. There is need to do more. The balance between doctrinal instruction and hands–on training needs to shift still further toward the core competencies needed by people who will deliver legal services to clients."
Comment: Law schools should be turning out practioners, not academics. As I have demonstrated over the past few years, law schools need to significantly change how they deliver legal instruction.
4. "State supreme courts, state bar associations, and admitting authorities should devise additional frameworks for licensing providers of legal services, such as licensing limited practitioners or authorizing bar admission for people whose preparation is not in the traditional three-year classroom mold."
Comment: While I recognize that many segments of our society have unmet legal needs, I think that admitting authorities should be very careful concerning who can provide legal services. Getting bad advice is worse than getting no advice. I also believe that legal education should remain three years. Many of the students that law schools are turning out after three years are unprepared to help clients. If the current third year of law school is ineffectual, law schools should change it by adopting the insights of general education research.
We will have more to say about the specifics of this Working Paper between now and August 10.
Update: Mary Lynch has posted an excellent analysis of the Working Paper on The Best Practices for Legal Education Blog.
From The National Jurist:
As you think about upcoming fall hiring, you might want to check out some of
the practice areas where there might be more jobs. According to Denney’s
“What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession,” these practice areas are
Areas that are “Hot” and may be hiring:
1. Intellectual Property Litigation
2. Health Care Law
3. Energy Law
4. Regulatory Law
5. Immigration Law
6. Labor & Employment Law
Houston is an especially hot city to practice law in, as several of the hot
practice areas, such as health care, energy, and technology, are thriving in
Houston, the report indicated.
However, other practice areas are cooling down right now, and are in fact
downright cold according to Denney’s
Areas that may be growing “Cold”:
Bankruptcy Law (“Unless the economy goes back in the
tank again,” according to Denney).
2. Commercial Litigation
4. Securities Fraud (The SEC has been filing significantly fewer cases,
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Law Technology News is reporting that LexisNexis is laying off perhaps as many as 500 employees (it employs 15,000 worldwide) through the company hasn't confirmed the precise number. According to an anonymous source that LTN contacted, the lay-offs are "significantly" larger than the company's "usual July realignment" and that offices in New York, Dayton (Ohio), the Philadelphia area and Charlottesville (Va.) will be affected.
In other legal research new, Bloomberg Law announced (here too) that it will be rebranding the company as "Bloomberg BNA" effective January 1, 2014. According to the company, the move comes in response to requests that it place under one roof all of its client services which include legal research, business intelligence and insight, and BNA content. Before making its decision the company consulted with constituents that included first year law students, law firm chairs and corporate counsel according to an email sent to clients explaining the change.
Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog.
At a recent conference of college admissions officers, the
answer was persistent communication. Here is an excerpt from the Chronicle
of Higher Education
What has changed, however, is how and how much
colleges need to communicate with students, said Richard Whiteside, an expert
on strategic enrollment with the consulting firm of Royall & Company.
“Students listen when they’re ready. We need to speak all the time,” he said.
If anything, colleges should be intensifying their
efforts to attract students, especially through what the admissions experts
called a “search,” meaning direct marketing to prospective students. And the evidence
shows that the most effective way to increase applications is to reach out
to prospective students multiple times through multiple media.
There was a time when faculty had nothing to do with admissions. However, in
these difficult times, at many schools like mine, faculty members are heavily
involved—emails, phone calls, having potential students sitting in class,
meeting potential students at admitted student days.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Karen Tokarz, Peggy Maisel, Bob Siebel and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez ask this question in a new article. (Preview here) Lopez writes, we suggest "that about one third of the curriculum would be ideal. We suggest the courses should be spread throughout the three years (we include legal research and writing as a “skills” course.) We believe that this amount would capitalize on the legal knowledge and analytical skills they develop in the traditional law school classroom and would help students better understand the values and develop the skills they need to become successful lawyers. Simulation courses such as trial practice, moot courts, negotiation and counseling, alternative dispute resolution, etc would help students develop and perfect the technical skills and well designed hybrid courses, externships and clinics would help students integrate the skills, knowledge and values that will enable them to develop as competent and ethical lawyers."
I agree that this is about the right amount. I would add two things. First, all doctrinal classes should have a problem-solving element. General learning scholarship has shown that students remember more and can manipulate knowledge better when they apply what they have learned to solve problems. Second, I want to emphsize that law schools should add advanced skills courses beyond the traditional skills offerings. Law schools could offer courses that combine doctrine and experiential approaches, such having a class that teaches environmental law and simultaneously goes through the steps in litigating an environmental law case.
Update: I am not the only one who believes that skills should be incorportaed into doctrinal courses. This morning, Christine Chabot posted the following at Concurring Opinions:
"Historically, skills training was not part of the education students received in law school. Things have changed, of course, and recently many have emphasized the need for practice-ready law grads. Incorporating skills training in substantive courses offers one promising option for improving students’ education. I’m prepping Sales (UCC Article 2) for the fall, and the course seems to lend itself well to a more skills-oriented approach. I plan to use problem-solving exercises and assignments which will not only teach students the law governing sales of goods, but will also enhance their statutory and contractual interpretation, drafting, and client-counseling skills. I have extensive experience litigating contractual disputes, so I know these skills are essential for commercial litigators. And they seem equally important to transactional lawyers."
Mr. Herrmann, who is Chief Counsel at a top, global risk management and insurance firm as well as author of the bestselling The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law, recently discussed the importance of good writing to the practice of law in his regular column over at Above the Law. Mr. Herrmann was responding to a reader email related to another post in which he was accused of overemphasizing the importance of this key legal skill. The correspondent in question argued that writing is merely one of several skills lawyers have to master and that many of those other skills, such as the ability to take a good deposition or strategize about defenses, often play a much larger role in the outcome of the case than the lawyer's ability to write a good brief. In response, Mr. Herrmann reaffirmed his belief in the primacy of good writing as the single most important lawyering skill because it's where the rubber meets the road in terms of the attorney's ability to organize, analyze and persuade.
Why do I value good writing?
First, because “good writing,” defined broadly, picks up much of what my correspondent frets about. A good brief reflects the author’s ability to read cases, choose issues, cull facts, apply law to fact, and persuade. Thus, insisting on “good writing,” broadly defined, is simply insisting on good lawyering.
But I emphasize — and perhaps overemphasize — good brief-writing for a second, practical reason: It’s what I can see and evaluate.
If I were part of outside counsel’s litigation team, studying the documents, working with witnesses, and reading the cases, then I could evaluate every aspect of outside counsel’s performance. I could tell whether she was pursuing the right leads, preparing witnesses intelligently, picking the right fights, taking good depositions, and making maximum use of the cases.
But that’s not where I sit. I’m responsible for all litigation involving my company everywhere in the world, and that puts me a fair distance from the day-to-day litigation team. I’m not personally reading the old emails and poring over the documents to cull the critical facts. Virtually everything I learn about our cases comes secondhand, screened by an intervening mind that has chosen to include some facts and omit others. Unless outside counsel makes some obvious mistake — telling me, for example, that, given a choice, I should prefer to sue in California to enforce the covenant-not-to-compete — I can’t judge the quality of his legal analysis or critical thinking.
In a typical case, I get one unfiltered view of counsel’s brain: The brief. If the introduction is incomprehensible, then I no longer trust your legal work. If the appellate brief doesn’t mention standard of review, then you’re either inept or don’t know when you’ve strayed beyond your competence; either way, you’ve turned me into a skeptic. If you use long block quotes or the passive voice repeatedly, then you don’t know how to persuade. When my one unfiltered view of your brain suggests that you’re not very good, why should I take it on faith that the rest of your game is actually great? Because you say so?
Check out the rest of Mr. Herrmann's argument that legal writing is the litmus test for good lawyering generally from a guy whose job it is to hire and then assess the performance of outside counsel.
At Attorney at Work, law management consultant Sally Schmidt
offers this advice:
If you were to believe everything being written about legal services today, you
might think lawyer-client relationships have boiled down to one thing: pricing.
Yet in my conversations with clients, fees rarely are the first thing mentioned
or the most important factor used to evaluate relationships with outside
Now don’t get me wrong. All clients are cost-conscious, particularly these days. In
interviews, clients consistently say things like:
- “We are always keeping
an eye on costs.”
- “I tell them, ‘You’ve
got to be cost-conscious.’”
- “Do I wish the cost was
lower? Yeah, that would be great.”
But even those sentiments don’t mean you have to engage in cost-cutting or
discounting. What clients usually want are better communication about,
sensitivity to and management of costs.
To read her suggestions, please click here.
Monday, July 29, 2013
UCLA School of Law seeking Associate/Assistant Dean for Clinical Education, Experiential Learning, & Public Service.
Here are the details:
School of Law is seeking a highly talented and enthusiastic individual to serve
as a key member of the Dean’s administrative team as Associate or Assistant
Dean for Clinical Education, Experiential Learning, & Public Service. Reporting directly to the Dean of the law
school, the Associate/Assistant Dean will work closely with the Faculty Vice
Deans, the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Academic Affairs, as well as with
multiple faculty, other administrators, and staff within the law school.
Associate/Assistant Dean also will serve as a liaison between the Dean’s Office
and the faculty’s Experiential Learning & Skills, Externship and Public
Interest Committees. The
Associate/Assistant Dean will participate in the Law School’s academic and
curricular planning with the aim of expanding and promoting excellence in
clinical, experiential, and public service programs including the Clinical
Program, the Lawyering Skills Program, the Externship Program, and the Office
of Public Interest Law Program. A key
responsibility will be overseeing the implementation of the comprehensive
expansion and reorganization of the clinical program approved by the faculty. Overall, these duties will require the
Associate/Assistant Dean to build strong relationships within the law school
community and to think strategically about law school objectives. The Associate/Assistant Dean will be expected
to devote at least 25% of his/her time to teaching in one of the programs that
must have the background and familiarity with clinical legal education, legal
skills training, externship development and supervision, and public service
programs that enable him or her to understand and participate in the academic
program, write substantive academic plans and personnel reviews, and to
exercise creativity and good judgment about the law school program in general
and in particular about the functions the Associate/Assistant Dean directly
requirements include an excellent academic record; a J.D. or equivalent
advanced degree; at least five years of successful law practice, legal
academic, or related experience; demonstrated management, administrative and
organizational skills, with successful prior experience in legal curricular and
academic planning preferred. The
successful candidate must be committed to professional creativity which may
include research or other creative work, such as professional publications, law
reform activities, significant contributions to the profession or professional
organizations and University or public service as part of their appointment.
salary, title, and level of appointment will be commensurate with
qualifications and experience. This is a
year-round, non-tenure track, academic position. This appointment is subject to the rules and
regulations of the Regents of the University of California which are mostly
embodied in The UCLA CALL and the University of California Academic Personnel
Manual. (See https://www.apo.ucla.edu/policies/the-call; and http://www.ucop.edu/acadpersonnel/apm/welcome.html.)
review of applications, nominations and expressions of interest will begin
immediately and continue until an appointment is made. To ensure full consideration, applications
should be received by Monday, September
30, 2013 but will be considered thereafter until the position is
apply online at https://recruit.apo.ucla.edu/apply/JPF00047 by submitting a cover letter, resume, and the names and addresses for
at least two professional references to the attention of:
Office of the Dean
UCLA School of Law
Angeles, CA 90095-1476
The University of California is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer, and seeks candidates committed to the highest standards of scholarship and professional activities and to a campus climate that supports equality and diversity.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
E-reader use is on the rise, and the textbook market is shifting toward customizable digital
products. Are students ditching print in favor of electronic alternatives
for their academic reading? A forthcoming small study from the City University
of New York asked that question and found that, like previous generations, at
least some Millennials still prefer reading long texts and academic selections
The study, “Student Reading Practices in Print and Electronic Media,” to be published in
September 2014 in the journal College & Research Libraries,
tracked the reading habits of 17 CUNY students through diary entries,
interviews, and discussion groups over the course of two weeks. The students
were mostly juniors, seniors, and graduate students, and most were younger than
The research found that they almost always used e-book readers, mobile
devices, and tablet computers for nonacademic reading but relied on paper
printouts for academic reading.
You can read more here.
No Law Student Left Behind by Deanell Tacha.
Abstract: Dean Tacha examines legal education through the lens of the "no child left behind" discourse. Inspired by the controversy generated by this federal legislation focusing on elementary education standards, Dean Tacha evaluates legal education borrowing themes from the debate. She begins her analysis by acknowledging the critical role that lawyers play in modern society. Lawyers preserve the legacy of freedom and justice for all. A good legal education is an important component of protecting the rule of law for generations to come. Dean Tacha challenges legal professionals to come together in common cause to address the current models of legal education to better serve the profession, the nation, and the world for the future. As part of her analysis, Dean Tacha assesses the economic value of a legal education, the "teaching to the test" aspect of legal education, the need for legal education to prepare new lawyers for a rapidly changing legal environment while also instilling some of the age-old skills of the generalist lawyer, the role of the legal profession in shaping legal education, the role of lawyers in our nation and in the world, and how legal education can and should evolve to meet these challenges.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Public opinion surveys find people have low opinion of attorneys but still want their kids to become one
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports the somewhat contradictory results of two recent public opinion surveys, at least one of which might help explain why law school applications haven't declined even more given all the bad publicity about the state of the legal job market. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, most of the American public thinks attorneys don't contribute much to society's "well-being." Indeed, lawyers ranked at the very bottom of the professions that were the subject of the survey which included the military (ranked highest), journalists and business execs. Yet in another survey conducted by Lawyers.com, at least two-thirds of the parents who were asked said that they would like their children to become lawyers (or at least marry one).
According to the survey, 64 percent of parents hope their children will grow up to pursue legal careers. The results suggest the legal field is a particular aspiration for lower income families, with 80 percent of parents who make less than $25,000 per year saying they would like their child to become a lawyer, versus 54 percent of parents who make at least $75,000.
Becoming lawyers may even make kids look better to their future mothers-in-law, with 55 percent of moms expressing interest in their children marrying attorneys. They might have a little trouble with fathers-in-law, however — only 38 percent are so eager to give their blessings.
“Being a lawyer means being a respected professional, and that’s something that parents want for their children,” said Larry Bodine, Esq., editor-in-chief of Lawyers.com. “Despite the tough economy facing the next generation, it’s exciting to note that nearly two-thirds of parents would be happy with a law degree in their child’s future.”
Click here for the original WSJ post (though a subscription may be required).
What Are the Billing Rates for Lawyers?
You may be surprised how high they are. From Corporate Counsel:
For in-house counsel who want to do some comparison
shopping on law firm billing rates, a new analysis from TyMetrix Legal
Analytics and CEB shows that firms charged the most for finance and securities
work last year, and that partner rates in New York outpaced those in any other
U.S. or Canadian city by more than $100 an hour.
The “2013 Real Rate Report Snapshot” draws on $9.5 billion worth
of invoices submitted to 83 corporate clients from 2008 to 2012. The dataset
encompasses more than 4,800 U.S. law firms and 29.1 million hours billed by
partners, associates, and paralegals.
New York tops a list of 12 cities with the
highest average partner rates for 2012—all with hourly rates above $500:
- New York: $755.68
- San Francisco: $651.33
- Washington, D.C.: $649.24
- San Jose, CA: $634.98
- Toronto: $634.24
- Los Angeles: $620.34
- Boston: $598.69
- Chicago: $585.47
- Calgary, AB: $578.13
- Houston: $549.25
- Dallas: $510.32
- Philadelphia: $516.56
Law firm size, not surprisingly, has an important effect on rates, too—the bigger the firm,
the bigger the hourly bill. Here’s how hourly rates compare according to the
number of lawyers in a firm, again through the lens of average partner rates in
- 1 to 50 lawyers: $342.95
- 51 to 100 lawyers: $380.35
- 101 to 250 lawyers: $422.35
- 251 to 500 lawyers: $531.62
- 501 to 1,000 lawyers: $638.23
- More than 1,000 lawyers: $727.02
Not only did firms with 500-plus lawyers have the highest rates in 2012, but they also
increased their rates more than smaller firms did, “by 5.6 percent—more than
two times the average lawyer rate increase at smaller law firms with fewer than
100 lawyers,” according to the report.