Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Another Critique of the Langdellian Approach to Legal Education

A few years ago Richard Neumann and Benjamin Spencer wrote devastating critiques of the Langdellian approach to legal education.  Jeremiah A. Ho has written a new critique of the Langdellian method.

Function, Form, and Strawberries: Subverting Langdell

Abstract:     

"So why do law schools place skills instruction below the dissemination of legal knowledge even though it is the practice of law that lawyers are engaged in doing and not just the mere knowing of it? Both should be equally significant. Although law teaching methodologies have shifted somewhat to accommodate the changing cognitive adaptations of the human mind in this age of digital technology, law instruction in classrooms still possess a deeply-rooted basis in legal formalist considerations of the law from the 19th century that displaces skills instruction for the advancement of the legal knowledge. Consequently, in order to further the image of the 'Learned Profession' of lawyering, law schools have perpetuated a difficult dichotomy between knowledge and practice. As we move to identify the New Normal in legal education during this current crisis, that dichotomy plays a part in how we need to recalibrate law teaching in order to instill competency rather than propagating a formalist concept of legal education that isolates and depoliticizes law from practice.

This Article, Function, Form, and Strawberries: Subverting Langdell, attempts to bring both the teaching of practice and knowledge on equal footing with each other to avoid student misconceptions of hierarchy that harbor larger professionalism issues. It offers a method for law teachers to incorporate skills teaching actively in the classroom in a way that legitimizes legal reasoning skills on par with the instruction of legal knowledge. In this way, the Article proposes a new normative in the 'New Normal' of legal education: that there should be a continuous engagement with active learning that integrates skills into the doctrinal classroom in a seamless way. The law is a discipline that is brought to life by us and our students very much in part through its practice. We cannot ignore that aspect of this field, nor afford to do so."
 

June 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Northwestern law school graduates inaugural class in masters of science law program

The one year masters degree program launched last fall and is aimed at students with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) backgrounds who'd like to some exposure to the law to advance in their careers but are not interested in obtaining a JD.  According to the Legaltech News story below, Northwestern just graduated its inaugural class of 30 students and expects to enroll as many as 50 this coming fall.  I can't say whether this was Northwestern's motivation but certainly many law schools these days are looking for new markets and creative ways to market their educational product. No doubt will see a lot more of these masters of law programs spring up in the next couple of years. More details about Northwestern's program from Legaltech News:

Northwestern Law Rolls Out Program for STEM Students: The university’s masters of science in law degree is one-year program for students with STEM backgrounds.

 

A new program offered by Northwestern University—designed to bridge the gap between law, business and technology—just graduated its first class from the law school and a larger class will be starting the program in the fall semester.

 

The university’s masters of science in law degree is one-year program for students with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) backgrounds. It had 30 students enrolled in 2014-15 and that number is expected to be about 45 or 50 students in 2015-16.

 

It provides a focus on STEM and lets students learn about law and business as they develop into multi-disciplinary professionals without attending a JD or MBA program, which are longer programs and have different goals. For instance, JD programs often prepare students to practice law. Students at the MSL program do not want to practice, but have personal goals that often relate to current demand in the marketplace.

 

The students do not attend JD classes, but have their own required courses and electives tailored for the students’ particular interests. Among the required classes are such topics as fundamentals of intellectual property, topics in contract law, liability, risk insurance, ethics, writing and the legal regulatory process. Electives touch on such fields as IP and patent design, business and entrepreneurship, and regulatory strategy.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

June 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Banning Smartwatches to Stop Exam Cheating

From Observer/Innovation:

The technology to stop students from cheating on tests continues to grow more advanced worldwide. It all started last year, when educators in China uncovered a slew of innovative and illicit cheating devices, including glasses equipped with hidden cameras and a wired-up shirt. To combat this, the Chinese government used an anti-cheating drone to monitor students during this year’s college entrance exam.

An even newer area of concern is smartwatches. Multiple universities and test centers around the world have begun banning Apple Watches and their ilk as a precaution during final exams and standardized tests. One ground zero in the classroom smartwatch battle is Australia— according to Mashable, several universities in the land Down Under have imposed strict smartwatch regulations.

You can read more here. The Educational Testing Service already bans digital and smartwatches from testing areas. I don’t know if law schools are following this example.

(ljs)

June 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Does Law School Rank Determine Success?

I think the opening paragraph of this article says it all:

"Yes and no. The higher the rank of your law school, the easier it is to be recruited by the larger firms. However, once you have a job in any firm, your success depends on how good a lawyer and person you are," said Larry B. Sitton of Smith Moore LLP, who graduated cum laude from Wake Forest University in the 60s.

Going to a prestigious school opens doors, but once you are in, you have to work hard and prove yourself. When the law school where I teach began in the 1950s, it surely would have found a home in the cellar for any rankings. However, the students were hungry and hardworking. Many of them became highly prominent lawyers and entrepreneurs. Today, any number of my former students with only respectable grades, but a work ethic, have been very successful.

(ljs)

June 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wall Street Journal story on mindfulness training in law school

The article discusses how the mindfulness movement, which the WSJ describes as a "Zen-inspired blend of meditation, breathing exercises and focus techniques" currently in vogue among many large corporations including Google and General Mills, is gaining popularity among lawyers.  The article further notes that about two dozen law schools have to date incorporated aspects of mindfulness training in the curriculum including U. Miami which has created a full blown "Mindfulness in Law" program. Another school offers a course in which students must complete an assignment requiring them to - get this - stare at themselves in a mirror for five minutes and shout "I love me!" Don't believe me? Click on the link and read it for yourself.

Lawyers Go Zen, With Few Objections

Soft winds of change are rustling through the legal profession.

. . . .

It has swept through University of Miami School of Law, whose students this year completed a homework project by deliberately losing an argument.

. . . .

Scott Rogers, founder and director of University of Miami’s “Mindfulness in Law Program” says looser vibes have touched a nerve with younger generations—some of whom are turned off by the perceived nastiness in the profession.

 

“People are yelling at each other all the time,” says Mr. Rogers, a former commercial litigator who remembers the moment 15 years ago when he realized it’s OK to recognize the humanity in opposing counsel.

 

Students who take his mindfulness courses earn up to three credits toward their law degree. They all have waiting lists, he says, including the one in which students are instructed to lose an argument. “It’s not about losing a fight or giving up at all,” says Mr. Rogers. “It’s developing greater insight in the ways we lose touch” with our impulses.

 

His law school is one of about two dozen across the country to incorporate mindfulness exercises into its curriculum.

. . . . 

Continue with the WSJ story on mindfulness here.

(jbl).

 

June 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Neil Dilloff on Legal Education

Neil J. Dilloff, a senior litigation partner at DLA Piper LLP (US) and an adjunct faculty member at both the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore Schools of Law, has seen legal education from the viewpoints of both a partner and a teacher.  He recently wrote an article on legal education reform: Law School Training: Bridging the Gap between Legal Education and the Practice of Law.

Abstract:     

"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."
 
Discussion:
 
Professor Dilloff declares, "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."  He adds, "While most new lawyers are bright, few have been taught enough of the basics of practice-ready skills-both 'soft' and 'hard'-that let them jump into the real-world fray with confidence."  He notes, "While our hypothetical student has captured a high-paying prestigious job in a large law firm, the same lessons and skills apply across the board to every type of legal job. As a matter of fact, they may be even more important in a small law firm, in a non-profit such as Legal Aid, or in a government agency (for example, the public defender's office), where there is less time to get acclimated and the pressure of immediate business may put the new lawyer on the firing line even sooner."
 
Dilloff writes, "First, the learning of basic legal principles both substance and procedure-constitute a very important foundation that law schools should maintain, although a little positive tinkering wouldn't hurt. . . .  however, as indicated below, the method of teaching these fundamental courses can and should be improved."  Second, "law school should teach both the Law as well as the [real] law-how things really work in the context of practice."  He notes that "Learning how to write effectively is key to success in the legal profession. . . .  I suggest expanding the writing requirement into three semesters, including the first semester of the second year. . . .  One way to bring these points home to the students is to bring in a judge who constantly reads motions, briefs, and legal memoranda."  Furthermore, "Students need to be able to communicate with all levels of society-the corporate executive, a judge, other lawyers, sophisticated and unsophisticated clients, witnesses, and jurors. One of my favorite sayings to students is that 'good lawyers are like chameleons-they change color with the terrain.'"  He continues, "I have observed law students speaking at one of two extremes of the oral communication spectrum: talking like a teenager and talking like a lawyer. Both should be avoided in most, if not all, settings."
 
Dilloff declares, "While this author does not advocate extending law school beyond three years, there is more 'experiential' learning that can and should occur within the existing framework."  He writes that "During the second and third years, many law schools provide clinical education in which students meet the clients (mostly the poor and underserved). This is a wonderful training ground and does much good. How about expanding this method to include dealing with corporate clients, small business owners, and others?"
 
Concerning the details of legal education, he states, "First, and perhaps foremost, is judgment. Judgment can only be developed when it must be applied to various situations and is refined by undergoing a myriad of experiences. Judgment is about knowing what is right or wrong, what to do in the particular situation, and how to deal with clients (both happy and unhappy), judges, mediators, opposing counsel, co-counsel, staff, partners, and peers in your own place of employment."  "Second is 'problem-solving skills'. . . .  Bring in the clients and their problems (real or hypothetical) and let the students practice dealing with them in a simulated and supervised
atmosphere."  "Third is 'people skills'. . . .  Law students should practice and gain experience in dealing with situations in which there may not be one right answer, but rather, several valid approaches that may differ based on a given client's perspective and motivations."  "Fourth is teamwork. Learning to work as a group is a corollary to people skills. All lawyers need to be able to work effectively with others."  "Fifth is organizational and time management; i. e., learning how to juggle various projects at once without dropping the ball."
 
"Sixth is business savvy. Knowing how clients in various businesses think, how they organize their efforts, and understanding their objectives are all important to establishing a good attorney-client relationship."  "Seventh is business development. Whether law is described as a profession, a business, or a combination of both, for most lawyers in private practice, business generation is key." "Eighth is learning how to supervise others."  "Ninth is identifying and seeing the 'big picture,' and not getting lost in the minutia.  [T]he 'big picture' is melding the client's goals with the method on how to achieve them."  "Tenth and last, but certainly not least, is perhaps the most obvious 'soft skill' of all-utilization of common sense."
 
What should law students be taught?  "Both law students and new practitioners say . . . .  They want training on dealing with actual documents-pleadings (complaint, answer, motions), transactional documents (contracts of various types, non-disclosure agreements), and the everyday paper that experienced lawyers deal with on a daily basis. They want to see what these documents actually look like. They want training in how to avoid legal malpractice-including how to identify a potential problem and a potential problematic client, what steps to take, both prospectively and retroactively, to avoid and cure client relationship issues that can lead to claims against lawyers, the 'how-to' and ethics of dealing with various situations (not just learning the Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct, but learning how to apply them in various situations), and when to seek help. They want to know about how legal malpractice insurance works.  They want to know about how to handle client trust funds, how to run a law office, and the economics of the practice of law. . . .  They wanted to have been taught the skills so that they could perform their actual daily job tasks without seeking constant help from other more senior lawyers."  "In sum, law graduates wanted to have already practiced applying what they have learned."
 
Similarly, "Sophisticated clients want law graduates to have not only basic skills, but the ability to be effective practitioners, even taking into account their status as 'rookies.'  They agree with an interdisciplinary approach; they want law graduates not only to 'know the law' but how to apply it. They want graduates to know basic business fundamentals. Most importantly for purposes of this article, they don't want to pay for a new way to 'learn on the job.'"   "In sum, the desires of all three constituencies-law school graduates, clients, and employers are remarkably the same."  "On balance, it is hard to envision any downside to the more practical approach suggested."
 
How should the students be taught?  "My suggestion is that at least one or more courses be taken in the third year that constitute the actual practice of law."  "[S]tudents should also be exposed to small business owners, large corporate clients, and middle- and upper-class individuals so that the student can adapt his or her interview techniques and problem-solving skills to a wide array of potential future situations and clients."  Also, law school teaching needs to be more active: "'An HBS classroom has a conductor eliciting performances from the student body while law school students listen to a virtuoso performance by a professor. One is participatory; one is notOne is where students are engaged and the other is not.'"  He adds, "student engagement in the learning process can be enhanced by student simulations, faculty or guest demonstrations, and observations of various out-of-school events (trials, transactional closings, depositions, hearings, client pitches and meetings, etc.). A combined teaching approach employing various methods would, in my view, be much more effective."  For example, "One very effective method of bringing even the basic first-year courses to life is to assign roles as advocates to the students as they progress throughout the first year."  "Learning by simulation can be applied across the board to numerous settings--conducting an initial client interview, a settlement negotiation, an adversarial document drafting meeting, a family law mediation, etc."  Finally, "There is an important place for full-time faculty, adjuncts, and guest speakers. . . .  Adjuncts bring something else to the table-ongoing experience."
 
Professor Dilloff emphasizes that "There should be no single model for all law schools."  However, he does propose a model for the three years of law school.  "Year One. Keep the basic first-year substantive law courses, including legal writing, legal ethics, and an oral advocacy course. However, bring in active practitioners, guest speakers, and former students who recently graduated who now may be law clerks, associates, government lawyers, etc. to discuss the transition to professional practice."  "Year Two. The students should be required/encouraged to take at least half of their classes in basic courses--corporations, evidence, etc.-those areas that will be tested on the bar examinations. The other half should be devoted to specialized courses of interest with at least one course requiring clinical experience or an apprenticeship with a practicing lawyer or judge for a certain number of hours per week."  "Year Three. This should be the 'bridge year' between being a student and a new lawyer. The student should continue to take specialty courses, but at least half of the coursework should be practical-attendance at business school classes, and courses which include the teaching of "soft skills." Part-time clerkships, internships or other law-related jobs should be required."
 
He concludes, "The primary reason that most students attend law school is to get a job as a lawyer. This simple statement demonstrates what should be the primary objective of a law school. While many academics claim that focus on professional practice skills would 'turn law schools into lowly 'tradeschools,' there is no reason why the intellectual component of law school (remember the 'widely used' Rule against Perpetuities?) should not be able to peacefully co-exist with the practical real-world skills needed to be hired and successful in law practice."
 
Although I agree with most of what Professor Dilloff says, I must disagree with his emphasis on teaching certain "soft skills."  For example, he writes, "Unless she has a general understanding of the way law firms operate, including how her new law firm operates, how to deal with her secretary (who also services three other lawyers, including a senior partner) and her paralegal (who also works for five other lawyers, including two partners), has her eye out for a potential mentor, has the 'people skills' to seek out the right lawyers for whom to work, has an ability to ferret out the type of assignments she likes and clients for whom she wishes to work, and has developed a can-do,  pleasant attitude, all the 'book learning' in law school will be of secondary value."   Most of these skills are things that can be learned more easily on the job than in law school.
 
I have spent so much time on Professor Dilloff's article because I consider it to be an important one.  While, as I have noted, I disagree with some details, I think that his emphasis on active learning, learning how to apply the law to the facts, real world experiences, and combining the new with the old is vital to the future of legal education.
 

June 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Arrows Across the United States

If you click here, you will find photos of 70 foot concrete arrows across the country. The government constructed them to guide the planes of the U.S. Postal Service Air Force as they delivered mail. Perhaps you could use the photos to illustrate how headings and subheadings guide a reader through a document.

(ljs)

June 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Legal research start-up Casetext adds new, networked legal writing tool

We'd previously blogged about a new (launched in 2013) legal research start-up called Casetext that, among other features, helps legal bloggers reach a larger audience by linking their posts to the cases and statutes they are writing about (here and here).  Robert Ambrogi's LawSites blog is now reporting that Casetext has launched yet another feature called LegalPad that helps lawyers publicize their writings on specialized legal topics to the pertinent audiences.  As Mr. Ambrogi describes it: "[A]rticles get published to Casetext’s communities and [are] immediately shared with all the users who are members of those communities. The articles also become part of the Casetext database of legal commentary. If an article discusses a case, the article links directly to the case and the case links back to the article." 

Casetext's website explains that its online communities consist of a mix of academics, practitioners, law students, in-house counsel and others who are interested in reading legal commentary on specialized areas of practice.  According to its website, these online communities are already populated with 50,000 subscribers.  You can see a list of these special interest legal practice communities here and learn more about LegalPad's particular features here.  And check out Mr. Ambrogi's test drive of LegalPad here.

(jbl).

June 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to be a Prolific Writer

Here is an article by Professor Tanya Golash-Boza  Her big advice: Write every day. This excerpt offers empirical back-up for the recommendation:

A study by Robert Boice, reported in his book, Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing as well as in this article, provides concrete evidence that daily writing produces both more writing and more ideas. Boice conducted an experiment with 27 faculty members who wanted to improve their productivity. He divided them into three groups and examined their writing progress for 10 weeks.

Boice instructed Group No. 1 – the abstinent writers – not to schedule any writing sessions but to write only if they felt compelled to. He also asked them to keep a log of creative ideas to write about. The thought behind planned abstinence was that these writers would have a list of creative ideas ready when they finally did feel like writing. Result: The abstinent writers produced an average of 0.2 pages a day and had one creative idea a week.

Boice told Group No. 2 – the spontaneous writers – to schedule writing sessions five days a week for 10 weeks, but encouraged them to write in those sessions only when they were in the mood. They also were asked to use part of the scheduled writing time each day to come up with a new idea to write about. Result: The spontaneous writers produced an average of 0.9 pages a day and one creative idea a week.

Group No. 3 – the forced writers – agreed to a strict accountability plan. They scheduled five writing sessions a week for 10 weeks, and kept a log of creative ideas to write about. To ensure they would write every day, whether or not they felt like it, the members of this group each gave Boice a prepaid check for $25, made out to an organization they despised. If they failed to write in any of their planned sessions, Boice would mail the check. Result: The forced writers produced an average of 3.2 pages a day and one creative idea each day.

I try to write or do the necessary research most days. Of course, other personal and professional responsibilities regularly get in the way. But I think you have to keep at your writing and avoid extended breaks. The breaks keep you from establishing a continuing rhythm.

(ljs)

 

June 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Environmental law incubator program seeking to hire resident attorney

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services is a non-profit incubator program interested in hiring a resident attorney to provide environmental counseling and legal representation to modest means clients in the tri-state region of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Fair Shake provides extensive training in legal practice skills as well as the skills needed to launch a small law office following completion of the two-year program. You can find out more details here. The application deadline is July 31.

(jbl).

June 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Plain English in Pleadings and Motions

Here is a short article that I wrote for At Issue, the newsletter of the Young Lawyers Division of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Here is the opening paragraph:

For advocates of plain English, the last frontier to conquer may be pleadings

and routine motions. Advocates see errors in understanding stemming from unnecessary

redundancy and complexity. But many lawyers are so fearful of changing

from the hidebound style that they overlook how the plain English style can help

them make their arguments clearly and persuasively.

 And here is the closing paragraph:

 In the early years of practice, you, the novice attorney, may feel compelled to use

timeworn and confusing forms. However, your day will come.

(ljs)

June 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

At Skadden, practice-readiness means new grads undergo a "business boot camp"

Milbank several years ago started sending new associates to an MBA boot camp at Harvard (and here). And Cleary Gottlieb offered new hires a crash course in business and finance as part of a two-week "mini-MBA program" intended to fill a gap in neglected by their law school training (here and here). Now Skadden has joined the gang by also requiring its new associates to undergo five weeks of intensive business training or what the firm calls a "virtual MBA." The Bloomberg Business blog has more details below. As the story notes, some law schools have picked up the slack in recent years by offering business and finance-oriented courses in an effort to make their students more marketable to employers. 

Why a Top Law Firm Teaches Its Lawyers to Be More Like MBAs

 

Turning law students into lawyers has traditionally been the job of law schools. One major New York firm has decided three years of traditional legal training is not enough to make its rookies practice-ready. 

 

At Skadden Arps, one of the country’s largest law firms, new hires must undergo five weeks of intensive business training, which they refer to as a mini-“virtual MBA.” The approach is part of a growing push within the legal industry to equip lawyers with a deep understanding of finance and accounting at the start of their careers.

 

“We were looking for a way to prepare people to hit the ground running,” says Jodie Garfinkel, director of attorney development and professional personnel at Skadden. “We want to prepare people to add as much value as they can, as quickly as they can.”

 

Skadden's first-year associates, who generally start in September after graduating from law school, learn the basics of income statements, balance sheets, and cash flows. They get a crash course in corporate valuation and learn the fundamentals of mergers and acquisitions. They learn how to talk to clients like an MBA and present their ideas like a chief executive officer. They film themselves giving presentations and review the videos to study their communication style.

 

“It’s safe to say that it’s the stuff you would learn in your first year in business school, that—at least up until recently—law schools weren’t focusing on,” says Jennifer Pangione, an attorney development manager at the firm.  

 

. . . . 

 You can continue reading here.

(jbl).

June 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Retirement Patterns of Academics

TIAA-CREF has conducted a study of academic retirement patterns. About half of tenured faculty members expect to work willingly beyond normal retirement age (67--the age at which current 50 year olds can collect full Social Security). From the executive summary:

  Tenured faculty age 50 or older can divided into three groups—35% expect to retire by normal retirement age; 16% would prefer to retire by normal retirement age, but expect to work longer (i.e., they are “reluctantly reluctant” to retire); and 49% would like to and expect to work past normal retirement age (i.e., they are “reluctant by choice”). The key drivers differ between those reluctantly reluctant and those reluctant by choice.

Not surprisingly, personal finances are a particular barrier for those reluctantly reluctant. Psychosocial factors are the issue with those reluctant by choice. However, one-half to two-thirds of those reluctantly reluctant appear to be assuming a financial barrier given that they have not done a careful evaluation of their retirement finances. A systematic financial review would test such assumptions.

An analogous dynamic exists among those reluctant by choice—anywhere from 60% to 90% have not seriously considered what they could do with their time in retirement.

You can read more here.

(ljs)

June 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Associated Press story on law school incubators

Courtesy of the Huffington Post:

Law Schools Create 'Minor League' To Train Recent Graduates

 

Baseball has the minor leagues. Medicine offers residency programs. But recent law school graduates have no equivalent training opportunities to hone their skills - at least until now.

 

A tight job market for new lawyers and a push to make legal representation more affordable have prompted law schools in California and other states to fund startup law firms.

 

About two dozen so-called legal incubators or fellowship programs have cropped up nationwide in recent years to teach a few select law graduates the basics of legal practice and expand services to people who otherwise couldn't afford a lawyer. And more schools are set to jump into the mix.

 

Many of the programs help graduates set up solo practices.

 

"The idea was to take new lawyers and give them the support that traditionally has not been provided in terms of setting up a business and also inspiring them to spend part or all of their practice doing modest-means work," said Lilys McCoy, who runs The Center for Solo Practitioners at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. The program launched in 2012.

 

Critics of the incubators, however, question whether the real goal might be to boost law school employment figures and say the incubator programs can only help a small number of graduates.

 

"Most of these are elite opportunities for individuals," said Jeff Pokorak, vice provost for faculty and curriculum at Suffolk University in Boston, who favors incorporating the practical training the incubators provide into the law school curriculum.

 

The incubator programs vary greatly in the support they provide graduates a

 

nd their expectations for pro-bono or low-fee work. At Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California, nine graduates have access to subsidized office space at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and are supposed to perform at least 300 hours of free legal service. The program, launched this year, includes training in marketing, managing office overhead and tax risks. Much of the funding for this year's class has come from a grant obtained by the legal aid society, so the school's contribution is only in the four figures, said Martin Pritikin, an associate dean who helps run the program.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

June 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Developing Self-Efficacy in Law Students

'The Millennials are Coming!': Improving Self-Efficacy in Law Students Through Universal Design in Learning by Jason Palmer.

Abstract:     

The Millennial generation has arrived in law school. This new generation of self-confident and extremely high-achieving learners merits a new interdisciplinary approach to legal education. Some institutions have explored formative assessments and regulated self-learning to improve academic success. Other universities have looked to universal design, specifically universal design in learning or universal design in instruction, as a mechanism for furthering educational goals for their students. All agree that a lack of self-efficacy can prevent Millennial students from overcoming challenges in their educational growth, and that high self-efficacy, the ability to put forth effort and persistence to successfully accomplish a goal, will lead to better learning outcomes and is a powerful predictor of educational success. None, however, have paired the theories of self-regulated learning and universal design in instruction as a vehicle to improve self-efficacy in the law school classroom. This article is the first to address the unique intersection of these learning theories and their potentially positive impact on self-efficacy for today’s learners.
 

June 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Young Practitioner Writes About Writing

Regina Nelson, a young lawyer, and my former research assistant, has written a piece in the Legal Intelligencer encouraging her peers to continue to hone their writing skills and to write to further their professional growth. Articles like this encourage students to understand the practical advantages of continuing to write. You can access the article here.

(ljs)

June 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ethics Issue: Testifying Against a Firm’s Client

In this case, former Senator John Danforth, also an Episcopalian priest, testified for a client who won a $77 million judgment. His firm then pushed him out. From the ABA Journal:

A former U.S. senator and state attorney general has exited Bryan Cave—after a career there that dated back to the early 1960s—following friction over his court testimony for a friend’s widow that helped her win a $77 million verdict against Wells Fargo.

The $77 million judgment won by Barbara Morriss last month, with the help of attorney John Danforth’s testimony, is believed to be the largest ever awarded in St. Louis County, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. At issue was the bank’s oversight of a family trust that Morriss alleges was mishandled by her son.

Wells Fargo was represented by a different law firm in the Morriss case but is a major client of Bryan Cave, Danforth told the newspaper.

Danforth is now working for Dowd Bennett in suburban St. Louis. Dowd Bennett represented Morriss in the Wells Fargo litigation, an earlier St. Louis Post-Dispatch article notes.

“The trigger for this was the Morriss trial,” Danforth said of his exit to Dowd Bennett. He told the newspaper he had been asked by Bryan Cave to leave the 1,000-attorney international firm after the Wells Fargo verdict. Although formerly listed as a retired partner there, he still maintained an office at Bryan Cave until recently.

You can read more here and here.

(ljs)

June 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

FYI - A new user's guide to the 20th edition of the Bluebook will be released next month

The new 20th edition of the Bluebook is out now and thus West Academic Press plans to publish next month a new user's guide to go along with it called Anthon's The Bluebook Uncovered: A Practical Guide to Mastering Legal Citation. In addition to helping students navigate the Byzantinian citation rules, it also includes several exercises you can assign in class to help test their knowledge of the rules.  I've always been partial to a user's guide authored by Alan Dworsky as simple, easy to follow resource for my 1Ls (sans the multiple choice exercises) but so far the publisher hasn't indicating whether a new, revised edition will be forthcoming.  

In the meantime, West will be releasing Anthon's user's guide on July 31. The publisher's description is as follows:

This new book provides a fresh, innovative approach that enables students to master the Bluebook citation rules needed in legal research and writing courses and in legal practice. It combines detailed, yet easy-to-understand, explanations and examples of Bluebook rules with different types of exercises, which are also available online. The exercises begin with multiple choice questions that assist students’ mastery of discrete rules, followed by short answer questions that allow students to practice implementing the rules by drafting individual citations. Finally, a comprehensive exercise puts citations in the context of a legal document and requires students to make the necessary corrections. The available answers for all exercises include detailed explanations that further students’ understanding of the applicable rules.

You can check it out further here.

(jbl).

June 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Michele Pistone on Law Schools and Technology

Law Schools and Technology: Where We Are and Where We Are Heading by Michele R. Pistone.

Abstract:     

For many years, the question of how to use technology to teach the law has been a minor concern of the legal academy. That era of general indifference to developments in learning technologies is now coming to an end. There are many reasons for the change. Law schools are facing such a host of difficulties — declining enrollments, declining job prospects for graduates, reduced public funding, and understandable concerns about cost and debt — that sometimes it seems the only debate is over whether the situation is best described as a “tsunami” or “a perfect storm.” Against this backdrop, technology offers the attractive possibility of making legal education both more efficient and more effective. This article has two main aims. First, in Part II, it discusses some of the conditions that will push law schools to incorporate more learning technologies into our teaching methodologies in the coming years. Part III provides an overview of some of the learning technologies that have gained prominence, as well as at least limited usage, in law schools in recent years.
 

June 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School as Legal Education for the Generalist

I have long viewed legal education as a generalist education, as opposed to specialized education for a specific legal field. Especially today, students can’t know what their first job will be, much less their second. A posting on Best Practices for Legal Education takes this thought a step further—students need not only a general education in doctrine; they also need a general education in lawyering skills, broadly defined. Here is an excerpt:

[Attorney Leo Flor] noted that the JD is often viewed as a relevant generalist credential, even though most law school grads move into traditional bar-passage-required “law practice” jobs.  And he observed that many job postings for alternative positions list an MBA or MPA as a relevant qualification, but not the JD.

The traditional generalist education of my era, and to a significant extent still, was intended to teach a set of analytical skills and and expose students to a broad range of legal doctrine potentially relevant to a general practitioner and to passing the bar exam. Though passing the bar remains important and is a significant factor in designing the educational program for lower tier schools, few 21st century lawyers are truly general practitioners.

Perhaps the generalist foundation needed in this era is built on skills, more than doctrinal knowledge.  And for Leo’s purpose not only skills in a technician sense.  Skills also in a “professional identity” sense.  Self-awareness & understanding of ones’ own gifts.  Leadership and interpersonal skills. Such an understanding of generalist could make the JD an appropriate credential for the types of job Leo described.

You can read more here (June 8).

(ljs)

June 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)