Saturday, February 9, 2013
JACOB BURNS COMMUNITY LEGAL CLINICS
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL
FRIEDMAN CLINICAL FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
The George Washington University Law School is accepting additional applications for its Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics' graduate clinical fellowships for the academic years of 2013-15. In recognition of the generous gift of Philip Friedman, the Fellows are known as Friedman Fellows. Friedman Fellows obtain LL.M. degrees while examining and engaging in clinical legal education and public interest law.
The 2013-15 Friedman Fellowships begin in the summer of 2013. Each fellowship is affiliated with a specific law school clinic. Although the various clinics provide the fellows diverse responsibilities and experiences, each provides the Fellow with opportunities to co-teach and co-supervise, under the supervision of experienced clinical faculty, the law students enrolled in the clinic.
The Friedman Fellowship program enables every Fellow to learn about clinical education and public interest lawyering through the practice of engaging in each, teaching and supervising law students engaged in these endeavors, and participating in a program of study in which these are the primary topics of inquiry. In the process, Fellows receive mentorship and support from the clinical faculty and administration, and the law school in general.
Fellows enroll in two year-long courses in Clinical Teaching and Scholarship taught by the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and other clinical faculty. As part of this course sequence, Fellows receive specific instruction and guidance in teaching and supervising law students, and in writing a publishable thesis. Fellows also enroll part-time in other law school classes, and receive an LL.M. degree upon completion of the class and thesis requirements of the LL.M. program.
We are currently seeking applications from candidates with strong academic, clinical, and lawyering experience. We are especially interested in applications from lawyers with background and experience in the following areas: administrative advocacy, appellate advocacy, criminal defense, community re-entry, housing law, family law, domestic violence, public benefits, civil litigation, transactional law, and community economic development law. Fellows receive an annual stipend between $45,000 and $50,000, tuition remission for the LL.M. program, health insurance and other benefits, and possible student loan deferment. Fellows must be members of a state bar. Candidates who are not members of the D.C. Bar must be eligible for immediate waiver into the D.C. Bar.
Applicants should send letters of interest, resumes, a list of references, and a complete law school transcript by Tuesday, February 26, 2013 to Associate Dean Phyllis Goldfarb. The preferred submission method is by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the alternative, applications can be mailed to the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics c/o Executive Assistant Norma Lamont, The George Washington University Law School, 2000 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20052. The George Washington University Law School is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer. The University undertakes special efforts to employ a diverse workforce.
Friday, February 8, 2013
The Wall Street Journal has this video report on the nation's first all-digital public library set to open this fall in Bexar County, Texas (here too courtesy of the San Antonio Express-News). The so-called "library-without-books" will loan patrons e-readers so they can borrow among the 10,000 titles the library plans to maintain.
Several states have already passed legislation prohibiting employers and schools from asking for social media passwords and now a bill has been introduced in Congress that would provide similar protection at the federal level. The Social Networking Online Protection Act ("SNOPA") would impose a civil fine of up to $10,000 and authorize the Secretary of Labor to seek injunctive relief against any employer or school who asks an applicant, employee or student for social media password information in violation of the statute. The BNA Electronic Commerce and Law Report has a brief summary here (subscription required) or you can check out the bill itself here.
Three members of Congress Feb. 6 reintroduced the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), which would limit employer and school access to the login credentials of personal social media accounts of employees, job applicants, and current or prospective students.
SNOPA (bill number not yet available), filed by Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.), died last year in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
In a statement announcing the bill, Engel said SNOPA was vital to preventing employer or school requests for personal accounts from becoming routine.“The lack of clarity in the law puts individuals in a position where they either have to give up vital, private information, or risk losing their job, potential job, or enrollment in school and involvement in the school's sports programs,” he said. “Frankly, when there are no laws prohibiting institutions from requiring this information, it becomes a common practice.”
The Michigan Bar Journal has just published a review of Joe Kimble's Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please. We have long know Joe as the guru of plain language (and a friend), and this book sums up his work on this subject.
The reviewer, Frederick Baker, Jr., declares, "Joe has become a figure so prominent in the plain-language movement that not many have contributed more to fostering it. He belongs to us, to Michigan, and we should be proud of all he has done. Probably few who daily consult them realize that Joe was the drafting consultant to the committees that revised the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence to conform to plain-language principles."
He then writes, "I will proceed by observing first that this big little book is a closing argument for the cause of clarity and simplicity in legal expression that has consumed Professor Joseph Kimble’s professional life."
He concludes: "This is a book worth reading, worth study. It is a reference, it is a resource, and it is a relief to one who, like me, is obliged daily to extract from bad writing what the writer intended. But more, it is a man, a man who has made it his mission to make of us better writers than we are. That is not easy, but we owe much to Joseph Kimble, who, whether we realize it, has influenced us, and made each of us, if not better writers, then at least aware that we could and should be."
Quite a tribute and well deserved. Congratulations Joe!
(Scott Fruehwald) (hat tip: Julie Clement)
Thursday, February 7, 2013
The Associated Press recently ran an article compiling the views of several experts who believe that as computer software becomes more sophisticated, it will replace middle class, white collar workers who always believed that a college education was a bulwark against unemployment. No more; software has developed to the point where it can do many of these jobs better and much more inexpensively than the human counterpart. Software has already replaced travel agents, accountants, office managers and even law firm associates. Once these jobs are replaced, the AP story says, they are never coming back.
Most vulnerable are jobs that involve "routine and repetitive tasks" which, according to the AP story, includes paralegals (others have been saying the same thing about lawyers for years). A blog called The Estrin Report which is aimed at paralegals notes this phenomenon has already changed that profession and concedes there's not much displaced paralegals can do about it except to roll with the punches by finding a new career. Though the blog does offer advice about what skills to develop to best weather the storm and suggests lessons we might draw about how to prepare our students to compete in a world inhabited by lawyer-bots.
Become a technology wiz in your specialty. Software programs come and go and are updated frequently. Being a wiz also means you are on the prowl every day for the latest trends and new programs.
Cross training is one way to make yourself more valuable in a firm. You may be the best paralegal the real estate department has but if that entire department is being shutdown, it won’t matter. But if you are also good at litigation, you may find yourself being moved into that department. If not, you know why you may have been out of work for a long time.
Be prepared to move into a different position all together. For example, the Litigation Support field has a shortage of professionals schooled both in law and in technology. Who better than a paralegal to move into a Litigation Support position? The pay is excellent, the opportunities for the future very good. The field will eventually evolve into something that we probably have not even envisioned, particularly since the legal field was one of the last to get on the band wagon.
The AP story paints a pretty bleak picture. It says we can expect a sustained period of high middle class unemployment as white collar service industry jobs are replaced by computers and that the lost jobs and careers will not return. As the AP story recognizes, technological upheavals that displace large numbers of workers is nothing new. The difference is that, in the past, the "next big thing" always came along putting those displaced employees back to work. This time, however, the experts are not so sure that's going to happen.
Technological innovations have been throwing people out of jobs for centuries. But they eventually created more work, and greater wealth, than they destroyed. Ford, the author and software engineer, thinks there is reason to believe that this time will be different. He sees virtually no end to the inroads of computers into the workplace. Eventually, he says, software will threaten the livelihoods of doctors, lawyers and other highly skilled professionals.
Many economists are encouraged by history and think the gains eventually will outweigh the losses. But even they have doubts.
"What's different this time is that digital technologies show up in every corner of the economy," says McAfee, a self-described "digital optimist." `'Your tablet (computer) is just two or three years old, and it's already taken over our lives."
Peter Lindert, an economist at the University of California, Davis, says the computer is more destructive than innovations in the Industrial Revolution because the pace at which it is upending industries makes it hard for people to adapt.
Occupations that provided middle-class lifestyles for generations can disappear in a few years. Utility meter readers are just one example. As power companies began installing so-called smart readers outside homes, the number of meter readers in the U.S. plunged from 56,000 in 2001 to 36,000 in 2010, according to the Labor Department.
In 10 years? That number is expected to be zero.
Check out the full AP story here. Read about the impact of computer technology on the paralegal industry here and then draw your own conclusions about whether the present trend toward replacing discovery lawyers with software is likely to spread throughout the profession taking many more jobs with it.
Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.
I have often been bothered by the fact that there are many unemployed lawyers, but there is also a vast unmet need for legal services by the poor and disadvantaged. (e.g., here and here) Now Dean Emily Spieler has written an important article on this paradox. (here)
Abstract: This Article, written for a collection of essays by law school deans, reviews the existing data on unmet needs for legal services for both poor and moderate-income people, the distribution of lawyers in the U.S., and current efforts to fill the needs. It then explores possible roles for law schools and argues that access to civil justice and economic survival for law school graduates are intertwined. We know that the vast majority of lawyers in the U.S. work in small community practices where individual and family legal needs are most often addressed. At the same time, there appears to be a market failure between the growing supply of lawyers and the unmet need for legal services in these communities. Current efforts in law schools to expand experiential education, encourage pro bono activities and develop incubators are important, but law schools also need to focus on the costs of legal education, reforming curriculum, engaging fully in access to justice discussions, addressing gaps in our knowledge regarding legal practice and unmet needs, and assisting in developing scalable models to expand access to justice. We might then be able to develop solutions that simultaneously expand the availability of legal services and help to create meaningful work for our graduates.
Yesterday, I posted information on proposals before the ABA House of Delegates, which in currently meeting. On Friday, February 8, the delegates also have three panels dedicated to the issue of human trafficking:
“Lawyering for Child Victims of Human Trafficking” – Panelists will address practical considerations in representing child victims.
8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Lone Star 2, 4th Floor, Renaissance Dallas
“Human Trafficking 101 for Lawyers and Judges: Understanding the Issue – Exploring Solutions” – Experts will review federal and state law; discuss the work of state human trafficking task forces and local legislative developments; and present the business community’s efforts to combat trafficking.
1 – 2:30 p.m., Senators Lecture Hall, Lobby Level, Tower, Hilton Anatole
“Safe Harbor Laws for Victims of Sex Trafficking & Commercial Sexual Exploitation” –Panelists will discuss model state statutes known as “safe harbor laws” that divert trafficking victims from criminal prosecution and guide them toward community supportive services. Immigration issues will also be addressed.
1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Lone Star 2, 4th Floor, Renaissance Dallas
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
From the National Jurist Magazine:
New York Law School launched the Center for Business and Financial Law in January, which will serve both J.D. and LL.M. students with academic and skills training in corporate, commericial and financial services law.
The law school hopes to leverage it’s proximity to New York City’s financial district. It will consolidate aspects of two existing NYLS centers (Business Law & Policy and Financial Services Law) while adding additional faculty and resources to this area of focus. The new approach is expected to provide cutting-edge courses, projects, research, CLE programs, speakers’ forums, and other events.
“As we continue to deliver on the fundamentals of a legal education, it is incumbent on us to also develop focused tracks to employment in traditional and non-traditional legal fields, especially in areas of high growth,” said Dean Anthony Crowell. “Even as our city’s economy diversifies, the financial sector will always be a major employer in New York and across the globe. Given our proximity to Wall Street and depth of expertise in the area, I’m confident this new program will be a competitive advantage for our students.”
The center will have four full-time faculty members associated with the program and will launch several areas of focus, including: Deal School focusing on transactional law education and skills development; The Financial Services Law Institute focusing on the law and regulation of all aspects of the financial industry;Project Start-Up focusing on the legal and business challenges facing new and small businesses in the tech sector and beyond; The Corporate Values Project focusing on researching and developing policy frameworks that respect and support the inter-connectivity of business and society; and The Compliance Working Group focusing on promoting employment in the regulatory and compliance fields across a wide range of industries.
You can continue to read here.
The ABA House of Delegates, meeting in Dallas, beginning on February 6, has a number of proposals on its agenda. They concern human trafficking, foreign lawyers, and the unbundling of legal services:
The ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 is bringing four resolutions to the House of Delegates as a result of increased globalization and technological advancements. In order to keep up with those changes, the commission is recommending changes to the following ABA policies:
Resolution 107A would amend Rule 5.5(d) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law) to permit limited practice authority for foreign lawyers to serve as in-house counsel in the United States, but not advise on the law of a U.S. jurisdiction except in consultation with a U.S.-licensed lawyer. A complementing resolution, 107B, would provide a mechanism to implement the limited practice authority in Resolution 107A through amendments to the 2008 Model Rule for Registration of In-House Counsel. Resolution 107B contains additional restrictions on the foreign in-house lawyer’s scope of practice as well as added requirements including payment of bar dues, payment into the client protection fund, fulfillment of continuing legal education requirements and notification to disciplinary counsel.
Resolution 107C seeks to amend the Model Rule on Pro Hac Vice Admission to provide judges with guidance about whether to grant limited, temporary and supervised practice authority to foreign lawyers to appear in U.S. courts, consistent with the rules of the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous federal courts and at least 15 U.S. states. Finally, resolution 107D proposes adding language to Model Rule 8.5 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct concerning choice of law, to allow lawyers and clients to specify a particular jurisdiction’s conflict of interest rules for purposes of determining the “predominant effect” of a lawyer’s conduct.
You can read more here at “ABA Now.”
No, says Will Foster at the Huffington Post. Foster makes some excellent points in this article about the value of lawyers, especially about lawyers as problem solvers.
He opens, "Law schools are not producing too many lawyers. They have become the whipping boys of the current 'legal employment crisis,' in which many complain that the institutions are producing too many graduates with too much debt and with employment prospects that are too bleak."
First, he argues, "Lawyers are by genus problem-solvers. . . . There are not too many problem-solvers."
Next, he asserts, "Law schools provide their graduates with incredibly valuable skill and knowledge sets. . . . There are not too many individuals with a deep working knowledge of our legal system."
He notes that "Indeed, many areas remain legally underserviced. . . . There are not too many skilled specialists."
He also points out that "In Kansas, where I teach, around 400 attorneys typically are sworn-in each year to service a state of 2.9 million inhabitants. When considered in combination with retirements of older attorneys, it is arguable that the state is not producing enough attorneys to sustain its current standard and availability of service. There are not too many practitioners in my state, and probably many others."
He continues, "There are not too many people who can open the doors to the justice system for those in various socio-economic statuses." Moreover, "There are not, and can never be, too many advocates who eagerly embrace the weight of their clients' lives and fortunes and even their profession's standing in each aspect and product of their work."
He concludes, "I would ask those considering law school to avoid giving in to the popular perception that lawyers are a family of booze-fueled writ monkeys with six-minute circadian rhythms. Lawyers provide a value that cannot be replaced by canned forms or electronic research databases. The profession is still noble and the societal benefits of a well-trained stable of problem-solvers cannot be overstated."
(Scott Fruehwald) (hat tip: Emily Grant)
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
I believe that adding a problem-solving component to all doctrinal classes is the most important thing we can do to improve legal education. Tracy A. Thomas has written an article on how to use problem-solving in Remedies.
Abstract: Problem-solving is ubiquitous as the trendy mantra of what lawyers and regular people are supposed to be learning for better dispute resolution. Critics of legal education, like the influential 2007 Carnegie Report and before that the MacCrate Report, have focused on problem-solving as an important aspect of teaching legal rules by contextualizing the doctrine with professional judgment and practical meaning for clients. This Essay explains what the problem method means to me in the context of teaching Remedies. It details exactly how a professor might pedagogically adopt a problem-method approach in her class. It explores the potential benefits from this approach for student interest, learning and assessment, and development of twenty-first century competencies.
This article from the Charleston Post and Courier describes how South Carolina's two law schools are dealing with declining applications together with a bad job market for grads. They acknowledge the need to provide more practical training which employers are demanding while looking for creative ways to pay for it. One of the schools profiled, Charleston School of Law, had the foresight to rent new classroom space rather than pay to build it and hire visitors instead of permanent faculty. According to the Dean Andy Abrams, their fiscal conservatism has enabled them to weather the present storm better than some of their peers.
Leaders at South Carolina’s two law schools — Charleston School of Law and the University of South Carolina School of Law — said the shrinking pool of applicants has forced changes. The schools have had to be more careful with how they spend money, and to ensure that their enrollments don’t drop to a level that won’t sustain them financially.
They also have had to tweak their programs to offer more practical training so students who graduate are ready to begin hands-on legal work.
. . . .
Abrams said his private school is faring better than many other schools because several of its leaders had extensive experience in higher-education management. “From Day One we took a fiscally conservative approach,” he said. “We were all aware of the cyclical nature of enrollments.”
For instance, he said, when enrollment increased in 2009 and 2010, school leaders hired visiting faculty members instead of filling those positions with more-expensive permanent employees. And instead of building a new building or signing a long-term lease for more space, they rented smaller classroom spaces within walking distance of the school.
When enrollment dropped again, which was expected, the school simply let go of the temporary employees and space.
You can continue reading here.
We often warn students about the dangers that lie in using the internet. However, in the Student Lawyer, Professor Mary Dunnewold notes that in some cases, lawyers have an ethical duty to research on the internet. For example:
Lawyers should consider using social media such as Facebook and basic Google searching to screen clients before agreeing to representation. Screening clients this way may be especially important in domestic cases, some criminal cases, and other cases that potentially involve personal information about clients.
In a recent case in federal court (Cajamarca v. Regal Entertainment Group), a lawyer was reprimanded by the judge (and ultimately sanctioned), in part, for essentially failing to adequately investigate his client’s case early in the course of representation. During discovery in the sexual harassment lawsuit, material facts emerged showing that the lawyer’s client had lied about the incidents that led to the claim, the symptoms she experienced as a result, and her personal history. The court stated that “at the very least, [the lawyer] did an extraordinarily poor job of client intake in not learning highly material information about his client.” Much of that information had been available on Facebook, and it was ultimately discovered in the litigation process.
In the event of an emergency, dismiss the class and clear the room if possible. Be aware that the student in distress may well feel very self-conscious about what has happened. If they have a friend in the class, it might be helpful to have that person remain behind. If an ambulance, medical professional, or campus safety officer is coming to help the student, have one student meet them in the parking lot or entrance to the building and guide them to the classroom. It is also a good idea to pack the student’s belongings for them so that they don’t lose their materials — e.g. their wallet, their laptop, their books…
You can read more here.
Last week, there was a lot of discussion about a blog by Professor William Henderson concerning the substantial success of the third-year experiential program at Washington & Lee School of Law. While the blog created a great deal of excitement, there was some scepticism about its conclusions. Certainly, more study is necessary to fully understand what effect experiential programs have on law students. However, studies have been done of experiential programs in other educational areas, and these studies show promising results.
Two authors have written an article on teaching that deals in part with experiential learning: Transformational Teaching: Theoretical Underpinnings, Basic Principles, and Core Methods by George M. Slavich & Philip G. Zimbardo, 24 Educational Psychology Review 569-608 (2012) (online here).
Reasons experiential learning works include:
1) "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."
2) "they enhance the affective quality of the course content."
3) "the affective quality that lessons take on is important because it makes the lesson more interesting, but also because it can significantly improve students’ memory for concepts insofar as the information gets stored in autobiographical memory."
4) "experiential lessons have the ability to shape students’ beliefs about learning and about self." (Id. at 594)
Furthermore, "several well-controlled studies have now 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." (Id. at 570)
In addition, How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching by Susan Ambose et. al. (2010) (p. 5) states: "Students must develop not only the component skills and knowledge necessary to perform complex tasks, they must also practice combining them and integrating them to develop greater fluency and automaticity. Finally, students must learn when and how to apply the skills and knowledge they learn." In other words, not only do students need doctrinal knowledge, they need to be able to apply that knowledge to concrete situations. This is what experiential approaches do.
Monday, February 4, 2013
From The AmLaw Daily blog:
The legal sector lost 2,400 jobs in January, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary employment data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The losses effectively wiped out all the jobs the industry gained in December—a figure that Friday's report revised upward to 1,900 from an original estimate of 1,000. The latest BLS report also revised the agency's November estimate from 200 jobs lost to 1,000 jobs gained.
. . . .
Overall, though the nation's economy added 157,000 jobs in January, the unemployment rate rose slightly, from 7.8 percent to 7.9, according to Friday's BLS report. The total number of jobs the economy added in December, meanwhile, was revised upward from 155,000 jobs to 196,000.
Continue reading here.
In another apparent sign of the legal ed. times, Thomson Reuters, parent company of West, announced last Friday that it had sold its legal publishing business which includes West Academic, Foundation Press and Gilbert (the study guides and nutshells). Thomson Reuters says it will continue to support the law school market through WestlawNext and related legal research products and services.
Why did TR sell its law school publishing operations to a Philadelphia based private equity firm? A TR spokesman said “It’s a segment of the market that, longer-term, we didn’t see as within the core of our legal research offerings . . . . ” The Wall Street Journal Law Blog (subscription required) has a few more details about the sale here.
Over at the Faculty Lounge, Professor Eric Chiappinelli (Texas Tech) suggests that TR's decision is related to the long slide in law school applications:
I suspect that part of the motivation to dump casebook publishing is the near certainty that the market for casebooks is about to become smaller. Casebook sales are a function of the number of law students, and that number is likely to shrink. And soon.
. . . .
Could it be that Thomson Reuters sees that fewer law students mean fewer casebooks sold?
- The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) expanded its application of constitutional standards in the context of critical pre-trial processes in criminal matters, such as plea bargaining and discovery.
- The ABA’s 20/20 Commission proposed several amendments to the Model Rules and related policies in August, and the House of Delegates approved all of them.
- The outside ownership of law firms took a big step forward in the UK but stalled in the USA.
- Politics continued to swirl on the issue of recusal by SCOTUS justices.
- Our legal education system saw even more turmoil this year as it adjusts to the new normal.
- Ethics issues kept arising in the criminal prosecution of George Zimmerman, the defendant in the Trayvon Martin murder case.
- In about 300 jurisdictions, debt collectors used the local District Attorney’s stationery to send out legal warnings and demand payments.
- There was continued fallout from the implosion of the Dewey law firm.
- Prosecutorial misconduct was in the headlines.
10. Congress cited the Attorney General, Eric Holder, for contempt after the assertion of privilege as to documents related to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) “Fast and Furious” operation.
See Mr. Steele’s article for his comments and links on these stories, as well as more than a dozen “honorable mentions.”
Thanks to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.