Tuesday, October 18, 2016
At least not in Big Law:
|Rank||Firm||Average Compensation Per Non-Equity Partner|
|8||O’Melveny & Myers||$961,538|
You can read more here.
Monday, October 17, 2016
The University of Richmond School of Law hosts the self-proclaimed "largest" database on the web of writing competitions available to law students. Check out this great resource here where students can find competitions and topics to write about that range from everything from state alcohol consumption policies to consumer financial services to tax law. In addition to offering students prestige, several of these competitions provide students with the opportunity to win some serious cash too.
In the October issue of the Washington Lawyer, four attorneys discuss the different perspectives of prosecutors and defense lawyers. All have served in both capacities. The take home message I get is that defense lawyers have a greater understanding of the hardship that prosecution has of defendants and their families. The prosecutors, much less so.
You can read this short article here.
Many of us in the legal education reform movement have argued that transactional skills should be taught in the first year. Here, is a nice article on the subject.
This article joins a growing body of scholarship on the pedagogy of transactional law and skills. This article challenges the traditional pedagogy of teaching law students to think like a lawyer and argues that law schools should shift the analytical framework of a litigation-dominated model, which is typically taught in the first year, to a model that incorporates transactional skills teaching into the first year law school curriculum."
Sunday, October 16, 2016
From the Texas Tribune:
At least temporarily, the former South Texas College of Law must revert to its original name after a judge said Friday that the school's effort to rebrand itself might too closely resemble the University of Houston's law school.
South Texas changed its name to the Houston College of Law in June, saying the change would "further distinguish itself regionally and nationally." But in a 42-page opinion issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison granted UH's request for a preliminary injunction to block the change.
You can read more here.
A prevalent understanding of humankind is the economic model of human nature. One alternative is the RESS model—humans as resourceful, evaluative, and maximizing (here is a fuller explanation). Michael Pirson proposes another model—a humanistic model:
In summary, the new humanistic model of human nature builds on evolutionary sciences’ insights. At the base it posits four basic drives, ultimate motives that underlie all human decisions. There are two ancient drives that all animals with some capacity to sense and evaluate their surroundings share; the drive to acquire (dA) life-sustaining resources, and the drive to defend (dD) against all life-threatening entities. In addition, there are the two newer drives, which evolved to an independent status only in humans: the drive to bond (dB) in order to form long-term mutually caring relationships with other humans, and the drive to comprehend (dC) in order to make sense of the world around us with regard to our own existence.67
The economistic model can potentially accommodate these four drives: the drive to bond, the drive to comprehend, and the drive to defend all serve the drive to acquire. In contrast, the humanistic view suggests that we have four independent underlying natural drives that need to be continually balanced. The humanistic model presupposes that none of the drives can be maximized, but that they need to be in balance to provide a sense of dignity and well-being.
This model can be helpful in understanding organizational behavior and designing organizations. However, it also may prove useful in understanding how to develop persuasive arguments. Here is an endeavor worth pursuing.
You can access the article here.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
In this article, retired professor Jon Lande offers advice to law students and lawyers. Here are the high points:
The article advises students to get the most possible benefit from law school by paying attention to what’s really important, learning to learn, and not doing dumb things.
It advises lawyers to understand themselves and others by focusing on their clients, being careful about making assumptions, recognizing the importance of emotions (especially their own emotions), and understanding others’ perspectives.
It also recommends that lawyers develop good judgment and routines by paying attention to what’s really important, considering what help clients need, developing good relationships with counterpart lawyers, preparing to resolve matters at the earliest appropriate time, being prepared to negotiate much more than they may expect, recognizing that they actually are mediating when they represent clients, being persistent and creative when dealing with problems, and being prepared to advocate hard and smart as necessary.
The article concludes by encouraging lawyers to recognize both the good and harm that they can do as lawyers and wishing them great fulfillment from helping others.
You can access the full “lecture” here .
March 25, 2017
Formative Assessment in Large Classes
Emory University School of Law
ILTL Conference at Emory
More info here.
July 7-8, 2017
Teaching Cultural Competency and Other Professional Skills
University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
More info to come.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Students often aren’t sure what to ask. Recruiter Harrison Barnes suggests six questions:
Why is the position open?
Whom would I be reporting to and what are they like?
What goals would you have for me during the first 30, 60 & 90 days?
What do you like best about working here?
What are the characteristic of your most successful employees?
What are the next steps?
For each questions, Barnes gives an explanation and advice on how to carry on the discussion.
You can read more here.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS The Impact of Formative Assessment: Emphasizing Outcome Measures in Legal Education
The University of Detroit Mercy Law Review is pleased to announce its annual academic Symposium to be held on March 3, 2017, at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Symposium will contemplate how the American Bar Association’s emphasis on outcome measures in its revised Standards for Approval will affect law students’ educational experience.
The deadline for abstract submissions is October 31, 2016.
More information here.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
I recently published an article discussing the myths surrounding so-called "digital natives" and technology (in short, we conflate observations about their apparent fluency with technology when it comes to social media and surfing the web with true proficiency). The column below from the Legal Rebels column on the ABA Journal blog agrees. The point being that law schools should do more to teach students how to use the technology they'll be expected to know in practice rather than assume students are already proficient with it.
The flip side of thinking that technology should be easy (covered last post) is believing that it is too hard for those lacking natural talent. The most common iteration of this belief is the myth of the digital native.
Because they grew up surrounded by technology, the next generation has supposedly acquired all sorts of technological superpowers through osmosis.
But getting a Twitter account in utero does not translate into being able to use business technology well. It is akin to expecting the teenager who can microwave a Hot Pocket to be capable of cooking a gourmet meal. They are capable—if they are trained.
Survival is the threshold most people achieve with most technology. All the statistics we have suggest that very few features on smartphones, smart cars, smart TVs, or smart toasters are ever used by most consumers. People learn what they need to learn in order to do the bare minimum necessary to survive. People includes young people.
Most of the technology young people use is directed towards consumption, not content generation. When they do generate content, it tends to be very rudimentary—text messages, social media, pictures, etc. They learn to use the basic functionality of popular, single-purpose apps because that is important for their survival in their social milieu. To the unfamiliar, this can seem like wizardry. But the bulk of the genius is manifest in the app design rather than the person using it.
Rarely do young people encounter the trade-offs between usability and depth. . . .
Continue reading here.
At Attorney at Work, consultant Jordan Furlong sees a decline in law jobs continuing. However, the decline is only temporary:
But by 2026, this cull of lawyers — that feels like the appropriate word — should have ended, and legal jobs should be on the upswing again. That’s because there’ll be a much wider diversity of legal careers and more platforms on which they can develop.
To learn what will cause the upswing, please click here.
Using Cognitive Psychology to Improve Student Performance, Part Three: Spaced Repetition by Professor Louis Schulze
Professor Louis Schulze has continued his excellent series of posts on improving legal education:
Using Cognitive Psychology to Improve Student Performance, Part Three: Spaced Repetition by Louis Schulze. Excerpt:
"Spaced repetition is the simple fact that learning is enhanced when information is distributed over time instead of learned in a “massed” (or crammed) fashion. This phenomenon is one of the most consistently replicated effects in experimental psychology, and a robust literature exists confirming the effect in many different contexts. It works like this: If students learn a concept on September 14th and ignore that concept until just a week before their exam on December 2nd, that approach constitutes massed practice and is dramatically inferior to interleaving multiple retrievals at certain specific intervals."
What impresses me about this post is how well Professor Schulze demonstrates the connection of cognitive science to better teaching and learning. He goes from something that is very theoretical to something that is very practical.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
At the Carlton Fields blog, former appellate judge Chris Altenbernd advises trial lawyers how to preserve issues they want to raise on appeal. Here is an excerpt:
- Q. What other types of reversible error do lawyers sometimes overlook?
Mr. Altenbernd: Lawyers must be aware of their environments and take the necessary steps to ensure the transcript reflects what’s going on. Many courtroom errors involve activities that are not sounds a court reporter takes down. For example, a juror may be sleeping, a judge may keep rolling his eyes in front of the jury in reaction to evidence, the plaintiff’s spouse may be acting like a cheerleader, people in the front row may be trying to influence the case. And, sometimes it’s nothing that egregious. For example, a witness may have an exhibit in front of him and say that “right here it says this is the answer.” Well, right where? A lot of times when people are handling exhibits, such as photographs, the description in the transcript doesn’t allow you to pick up the document and understand what they were referring to. The all-too-common failure to preserve evidence that appears temporarily during trial—for example, a diagram written on a whiteboard—is particularly surprising and easy to avoid.
- How should attorneys preserve this type of evidence?
Mr. Altenbernd: In this day and age, there’s no reason you can’t take a digital photo that will remain in the record once the board, for example, is wiped clean.
You can read more here.
Professor Deborah Jones Merritt has written an insightful article on increasing diversity in the legal profession: How to Attack the Legal Profession’s Diversity Problem. As you will see below, while I like her suggestions, I think she could have gone a step further and advocated true educational reform.
The context of Professor Merritt's article is the proposal currently before the ABA to tighten the accreditation standard governing bar passage. She notes that "Opponents of the proposal argue that it will diminish diversity in the legal profession." However, she declares, "Some of these claims are well intentioned, but they are misguided. They endorse a system of legal education in which minority students disproportionately enroll at low-ranked law schools, pay top tuition to attend those schools, and fail the bar exam at distressingly high rates. This is not a recipe for diversifying the legal profession."
She continues, "Law schools have much better tools for accomplishing that goal [diversity]. We could lower tuition, which would help less affluent minorities afford law school. We could award scholarships based on need, rather than LSAT scores. We could reform teaching methods to support first-generation lawyers. We could devote more resources to pipeline programs that offer opportunities to high school and college students."
However, her main proposal concerns the implicit bias that affects how professors interact with their minority students. "We could also help professors recognize the implicit bias that can affect their interactions with minority students. We could read the work of Columbia University Provost Claude Steele, who has described how professors unconsciously constrain the achievement of minority students. We could then coach ourselves on ways to break that dynamic." She adds, "We could do a much better job supporting minority students throughout legal education."
Professor Merritt points out that "Research, however, repeatedly shows that African American, Latino/a, and Asian American students receive lower grades in law school than their white classmates — even after controlling for LSAT scores, undergraduate grade-point average, and other admissions criteria. We also know that African American and Latino/a students borrow more heavily than their peers to attend law school. After graduation, they struggle longer to pay off this debt."
She concludes, "If every law school eased the financial burden on minority students, while also working to support those students’ highest aspirations in the classroom, we would enhance the success of our minority graduates. We would also attract a larger number of minority students to our programs, assuring much greater diversity in the profession." "We would have to confront our implicit bias, learn how to overcome that bias, and embrace new forms of pedagogy. How many of our own practices are we willing to change to promote greater diversity in the legal profession? That is the true test of our commitment to diversity."
I agree with everything that Professor Merritt has said in the article, but I don't think it goes far enough. Creating a growth mindset in minority students is just the beginning of the journey. As I've said many times before (e.g., How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School), law schools need to adopt new teaching procedures and help students from disadvantaged groups with new approaches to learning. Numerous studies have shown that approaches like active learning, frequent formative assessment, and developing students metacognitive skills significantly help students learn better and succeed. The solution is not easy, but it can be done.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
You can’t make these stories up. From the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania:
Former Legal Secretary Poses as an Attorney
On July 19, 2016, a former legal secretary who posed for ten years as a lawyer was sentenced in the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County to two to five years’ imprisonment, more than twice the sentence recommended by Pennsylvania's guidelines. Kimberly Kitchen claimed to have graduated first in her class from Duquesne University School of Law and to have taught estate planning at Columbia Law School, and created documents purporting to show these and other credentials. She became an estate-planning partner with a Huntingdon County law firm, and even served as president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association. Her ruse was exposed when a lawyer developing a seniority list for the bar association checked her admission and found nothing.
Attorney Claims He was Not Admitted to the Bar
We often hear stories about people who claim to be lawyers when they aren’t, but a South Carolina attorney has been suspended for saying he wasn’t admitted to the bar when he was. Justin J. Trapp was appointed to represent a client in a post-conviction matter, but took no action on behalf of the client. When the prosecuting attorney’s office contacted him about the matter being listed for the upcoming term of court, he told them he was not admitted in South Carolina, and a new attorney was appointed. Although he had been placed on administrative suspension a month earlier, he was duly admitted to the bar at all times during his appointment. He was suspended for one year retroactive to the date of his interim suspension.
Assessing a Law School's Program of Legal Education to Comply with the American Bar Association's Revised Standards and Maximize Student Attainment of Core Lawyering Competencies by Adam Lamparello
Of course, as the old paradigm of legal education is replaced with an accountability-based framework, many questions—and likely confusion—will invariably arise. What procedures are law schools expected to adopt when assessing their program of legal education? What types of formative and summative assessments will be effective in maximizing students’ achievement of core lawyering competencies? What is the best manner in which to evaluate the utility of a law school’s formative and summative assessments? How does one accurately measure, or quantify, student learning? This article answers these questions by setting forth a detailed roadmap that will enable law schools to effectively—and efficiently—monitor their program of legal education, enhance student learning, and provide students with training that bridges the divide between law school and the legal profession. In so doing, it provides a blueprint for laws schools that will ensure compliance with the ABA’s Revised Standards, and that will enable law schools to maximize institutional effectiveness."
Monday, October 10, 2016
According to an extensive empirical study, the answer is yes, sort of. Longer essay exams get higher grades. However, grades do not correlate well with a student’s typing speed. From the abstract:
Our empirical findings of a strong statistically significant positive correlation between total words written on first year law school examinations and grades suggest that speed matters. On average, the more a student types, the better her grade. In the end, however, typing speed was not a statistically significant variable explaining first year law students’ grades. At the same time, factors other than speed are relevant to student performance.
In addition to our empirical analysis, we discuss the importance of speed in law school examinations as a theoretical question and indicator of future performance as a lawyer, contextualizing the question in relation to the debate in the relevant psychometric literature regarding speed and ability or intelligence. Given that empirically, speed matters, we encourage law professors to consider more explicitly whether their exams over-reward length, and thus speed, or whether length and assumptions about speed are actually a useful proxy for future professional performance and success as lawyers.
You can access the article, Speed Matters, here. My longstanding policy is to give students far more time on exams than they could reasonably use.
That's the result of a new study by Clemson Professor Darren L. Linvill and Will J. Grant (a researcher from the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science) and available here. Inside Higher Ed has a summary of the study:
Study suggests that whether students think their instructors have political bias is linked to attitudes about entitlement and grades, not what the professors are saying or doing.
. . . .
The new study finds that students with certain characteristics -- a sense of entitlement and an orientation to focus on grades -- are much more likely than other students to perceive their instructors as being biased. The research, published in the journal Teaching in Higher Education, finds that the same results apply, whether the students or instructors lean to the right or the left.
The study was conducted by Darren L. Linvill, assistant professor of communication studies at Clemson University, and Will Grant, a lecturer in the Center for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University. They conducted their study on 232 undergraduates, split between two institutions that are not named -- one in the United States and one in Australia. (The issue of alleged instructor political bias is much debated in Australia, as in the United States.)
The students took online surveys not only on their views of whether instructors were biased but also on questions designed to determine if they had what researchers classified as attitudes of "academic entitlement" (AE) and "grade orientation" (GO). Students were judged to have a high sense of academic entitlement if they responded positively to statements such as "It is the professor’s responsibility to make it easy for me to succeed" and "I am a product of my environment. Therefore, if I do poorly in class, it is not my fault." Students with high grade orientations placed a priority on high grades, not necessarily on learning. (While there is overlap between the two categories, they are defined separately and the overlap is not universal.)
The students -- both in the U.S. and Australia -- were significantly more likely to perceive instructors as biased if they had high scores for AE and GO. Further, those with high GO numbers also indicated they would change their behavior as a result, and either become silent about their opinions or pretend to share the views of their instructors whom they perceived to be biased.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
"Both law professors and practicing attorneys say prospective law students should vet law schools based on the way they teach."
1. Visit the law school, and see the teaching for yourself
2. Make sure the Socratic method is used to its full potential
3. Investigate success rates
4. Scan professors' resumes
5. Consider your personal learning preferences
6. Favor schools that provide intensive training on how to read, write and speak like a lawyer
7. Choose a school with various teaching approaches
While I don't completely agree with the details of this list, I do agree that students should consider a law school's teaching approach before selecting a school. This is important because, as we have discussed many times on this blog, some teaching approaches are much more effective than others. In particular, look at a school's website to see if it emphasizes active learning, skills, and problem solving.