Tuesday, May 17, 2016
From J.D. Journal:
A group of Yale law school students have formed the Mental Health Alliance after realizing that the school lacked sufficient services for those with mental health problems. Students face long waits to get an appointment with a therapist on-campus, no mental health coverage off campus with the student insurance plan, and an overall feeling of being isolated.
The Yale Law students started an informal group in 2014 before forming the Alliance to raise awareness of mental health problems in law school and the legal industry and ultimately eliminate barriers that the students face when seeking help. Alliance board member and first-year student Bethany Hill said, “Even students who are prepared to seek counseling or treatment often find themselves confronted with a number of obstacles, including limits on insurance coverage, lengthy wait times to see a mental health service provider, or fears that seeking treatment will negatively affect future job prospects.”
You can read more here.
Not just any firm but BigLaw superpower Baker & Hostetler will be using an IBM Watson-based computer program called ROSS (no, that's not an acronym for anything) in its bankruptcy practice. How does it work? According to the informational video below: "You ask questions in plain English, as you would a colleague, and ROSS then reads through the entire body of law and returns a cited answer and topical readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources to get you up-to-speed quickly. ROSS also monitors the law around the clock to notify you of new court decisions that can affect your case.”
Monday, May 16, 2016
My colleague, former judge and prominent mediator/ arbitrator Abraham Gafni gives his students well-known advice: to complete a negotiation successfully, you must provide satisfaction on three fronts.
- Procedural satisfaction. Everyone believes that the process has followed a fair, agreed-upon procedure.
- Substantive satisfaction. Although participants may not get all that they want, they can agree on the compromised result.
- Psychological satisfaction. Participants must feel that the negotiation was acceptable, fair, and, therefore they are comfortable with the process and with the result.
Thirty Reflection Questions to Help Each Student Find Meaningful Employment and Develop an Integrated Professional Identity (Professional Formation) by Neil W. Hamilton & Jerome M. Organ
An excellent article on helping law students develop their professional identities.
Thirty Reflection Questions to Help Each Student Find Meaningful Employment and Develop an Integrated Professional Identity (Professional Formation) by Neil W. Hamilton & Jerome M. Organ.
This article, drawing on and synthesizing scholarship from law and other disciplines, will focus on the design of a curriculum with thirty reflection questions to help each student’s step-by-step development toward professional-formation learning outcomes beyond mere compliance with the law of lawyering. Section I of this article will describe the present context in which law schools must develop learning outcomes, and will highlight the number of law schools that have embraced one or both of the elements of a professional-formation learning outcome where a law school or a professor in an individual course requires that each student demonstrate an understanding and integration of:
1. proactive professional development toward excellence at all the competencies needed to serve clients and the legal system well;
2. an internalized deep responsibility to clients and the legal system.
Section II of the article analyzes the principles that should inform the design of an effective curriculum for these two professional-formation learning outcomes. Section III of the article will suggest thirty reflection questions that help each student:
1) reflect on the story, experiences and passions that brought her to law school and that she develops during law school as a means of both (a) identifying what she wants to do with her law degree and (b) proactively taking ownership over her growth toward meaningful post-graduate employment; and
2) make progress moving through developmental stages regarding these two professional formation learning outcomes; so that
3) she can begin to define and to live out who she wants to be as a lawyer in the context of what clients and the legal system expect of her."
The Impulsive (Stage 1)-- the position of childhood.
"The Instrumental Mind (Stage 2) -- characterized by external definitions of self, predominance of 'either-or' thinking, limited perspective taking ability, and an egocentric view –characteristic of adolescence and early adulthood.
The Socialized Mind (Stage 3) -- characterized by increased social perspective taking ability among allies or in-group, but understanding and expectations continue to be externalized, shaped by relationships, particular 'schools of thought,' or by both.
The Self-Authoring Mind (Stage 4) – characterized by the ability 'to step back enough from the social environment to generate a ‘seat of judgment’ or personal authority that evaluates and makes choices about external expectations.' The independence of judgment and problem solving abilities of stage 4 translates to greater fidelity to one’s inner moral code. At stage 4, one is not easily swayed by group membership or loyalties.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
National Jurist Magazine ranks LL.M. programs for attorneys from outside the U.S. based in part on hands-on legal experience
National Jurist Magazine has ranked law school LL.M. programs in several categories including "academics," "career opportunities," "value," and "overall experience." The latter category relies on factors that include helping foreign students to adjust to campus life, creating opportunities to get to know and collaborate with U.S. students and gain hands-on training and experience through clinics and/or externships. Based on those criteria, National Jurist ranked the top 14 LL.M. programs as follows:
- Indiana University McKinney
- Loyola - Los Angeles
- Loyola - Chicago
- Notre Dame
- U. North Carolina
- U. Oregon
- Wake Forest
- Widener - Delaware
Read the entire article here.
In the May 2016 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, attorney Kenneth Oettle pinpoints writing tactics that prove unsuccessful:
Editorializing: Using intensifiers (e.g., clearly, obviously). Taking ad hominem potshots.
Posturing: Using legalese and Latinate words.
Bulking Up: Mind numbing repetition. Overquoting cases and statutes. Oversummarizing cases. Adding excess words.
Avoidance: Dropping a footnote to address the opposition’s best point. Failing to address the opposition’s best point.
You can read more here.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Friday, May 13, 2016
"Standing in the Judge's Shoes: Exploring Techniques to Help Legal Writers More Fully Address the Needs of Their Audience"
Legal documents are not read for the purpose of entertainment or even to provide the reader with general information. Rather, legal writing serves the purpose of helping its readers — often judges — make legal decisions. Moreover, a legal writer must determine how best to deliver her message to persuade the reader to reach a particular decision. As such, a legal writer’s ability to consider and incorporate the legal audience’s needs into her written work is of the utmost importance. Yet, while many attorneys understand the importance of writing in anticipation of the legal audience’s response, even experienced attorneys may struggle to see their case from a different perspective and to identify the challenges of their case. Through a deliberate process, legal writers can work to detach from their advocate role and commit themselves to the role of the decision-maker in order to better understand this perspective. Strategies such as those discussed in this Essay, help writers to step outside of the attorney role and stand in the shoes of the decision-maker, and thus provide important steps toward better legal writing.
According to a column posted on Law Crossing (here), the most effective way for law firms to retain associates is to show appreciation for their hard work:
According to LinkedIn, firms can increase the odds that their associates will stick around by simply demonstrating their appreciation for the hard work that they do.
First, associates need to feel as though they matter to a firm. Realizing they contribute a unique value to the firm, and being recognized for that value, will strengthen their sense of loyalty to the firm.
Emphasizing associates’ value will also work wonders for their health. In one study, workers who felt they were unfairly criticized by a superior, or who felt that their superiors did not listen to their concerns and worries had a 30 percent higher rate of coronary disease than those who felt that their work was appreciated.
The highest driver of engagement is a continual habit of appreciation. It is important for managing partners, section heads, and management teams to take the time to demonstrate their appreciation for the work that younger attorneys do. Such positivity will bring energy to the firm and improve workflow. After all, when employees feel underappreciated or undervalued, they may begin to worry about their job security, which hinders productivity.
I think this approach also applies to law students. As teachers, we will encourage students to work hard and learn if we show our appreciation of them. For example, in my 1L Property class this year, I used an “expert system” in which three students knew that they were “up” in class that day. At the end of class, I go to each one, shake his or her hand, and thank the student for being an expert. The students appreciate the “thank you.”
It’s that time of year. From California Berkeley’s alumni magazine, here is an article about the doling out of honorary degrees. And here is the article’s last paragraphs for anyone who has a wall to decorate:
The University of Berkley (an online institution not to be confused with UC Berkeley) will issue honorary doctorates “to a select group of highly accomplished individuals such as yourself.” You can choose between a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.), Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.), Doctor of Laws (L.L.D), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Humane Letters (D.H.L), Doctor of Art or Administration (D.A.), Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) or Doctor of Humanities (D.Hum.), “whichever title you feel your accomplishments best merit.”
All you have to do is send them a brief autobiographical sketch, plus a $2,000 “honorarium contribution to cover processing and handling.”
Thursday, May 12, 2016
From CBS News:
The name of a founder of the University of Tulsa law school will be removed from the building because of his ties to the Ku Klux Klan, the private school announced Wednesday.
Trustees voted in a closed-door meeting to strip John Rogers' name from the law building, but the university has yet to decide what it will be called.
Rogers was an attorney and philanthropist who helped found the law school in 1943, served for years as its unpaid dean and was a trustee for decades.
But he also helped incorporate the KKK-affiliated Tulsa Benevolent Association, founded months after the 1921 Tulsa race riot that left about 300 black residents dead and a thriving section of downtown -- known as Black Wall Street -- decimated.
You can read more here.
Another creative approach to experiential education:
"'Praxis; is the process by which a theory, lesson or skill is enacted, practiced, embodied or realized. 'Praxis' may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing or practicing ideas.
The Praxis Program is designed for students who are interested in fully embracing a practice- or experience-based course of study. IIT Chicago-Kent has always prided itself on providing a wide variety of hands-on learning options. The Praxis Program capitalizes on these robust skills offerings to guide participants through an individualized course of study designed to provide exposure to the core competencies required of successful lawyers.
With this program, the law school responds to calls from the legal community for new graduates who are thoroughly trained in both the skills and the art of legal practice. Participants will learn to think and talk about their education in new ways, explore issues of law practice management, and learn how to build and market their own portfolios.
Students who enroll in the program and complete all the program requirements will earn the Praxis certificate upon graduation. Students enrolled in the Praxis Program may concurrently enroll in an additional, subject-matter certificate program offered by Chicago-Kent."
Notice that the program stresses core competencies. I believe that the most important part of legal education reform is the core competencies, which are behind the skills.
The Blakely Advocacy Institute at the University of Houston School of Law has just published its list of the nation's top moot court programs in connection with the annual Andrew Kurth Moot Court Competition to he held at U. Houston in early 2017. The top 16 schools from this year's ranking are invited to participate in the Kurth competition which will crown the "best of the best" in moot court programs. In calculating the rankings, the Blakely Institute relies on a methodology that uses moot court competition results from around the nation for each of the listed schools. The top 16 schools for 2016 are listed below though you can click here to see the full list of ranked schools as well as find out more about the Kurth Competition here.
1. Texas Tech
7. South Texas
10. St. Mary's
11. Michigan State
11. Ohio State
15. Florida Coastal
16. Washington University
Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Charting the Course: An Empirically Based Theory of the Development of Critical Thinking in Law Students by Brett A. Brosseit
Here is an important study on creating critical thinking in law students.
Traditional law school academic support programs cannot address the fundamental deficits in critical thinking among incoming students, and a scarcity of research in legal education has left the legal academy calling for empirical guidance to inform cohesive approaches to the systemic challenges it faces. To address the daunting challenges facing the legal academy, I conducted a qualitative grounded theory study to formulate a comprehensive conceptual model of the development of critical thinking skills in law students that may assist legal educators in establishing best practices for the advancement of higher order thinking skills in law students. The resulting Critical Thinking in Law Students model provides the legal academy with empirical guidance to formulate new strategies to improve learning outcomes and comply with regulatory mandates, while also offering the broader academy insight into the intricate combination of factors that affect the ability of higher education institutions to provide their students with effective education for the development of higher order thinking skills."
One answer is that it’s the Treasury Department, of course. A more detailed answer would look at the process as it developed over time.
Genevieve Blake Tung and Ruth Anne Robbins have researched the issue and find that the process has included a lot of arbitrary decision making. “Far From Being Matters of Indifference"--Treasury, and the Case for a Citizens Currency Advisory Committee. With the recent change in the $20 bill, their article has particular relevance. Here is the abstract:
On April 20, 2016, ten months after promising to place a woman’s portrait on the $10 bill, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced sweeping design changes in American currency. Citizens have been asking for these types of changes for at least 95 years, and we hope that Treasury will bring them to fruition rapidly. Until now, the portraiture and imagery featured on American currency has consistently asserted and reified the singular importance of one type of American: White, male politicians and statesmen, largely from the executive branch.
This article explores the administrative framework that has enabled these representational shortcomings to persist as long as they have. From the beginning, the process for designing federal paper money has been characterized by arbitrary and arguably autocratic decision-making and resistance to open processes that consider the creativity and insights of the public. The way that Treasury approached its announcement was fraught with challenges for those citizens trying to have their voices heard in what they believed should be an authentic democratic process. It took a small, private organization, Women on 20s, to highlight this fact for the country—an organization that deserves pages in Treasury’s history books.
After reviewing the history of the Treasury Department’s role in the design of currency—and coinage—and compare it with that of other agencies tasked with choosing the people and events worthy of commemoration. We argue that for an alternative process for future currency design that will permit meaningful citizen input.
You can access the article here.
From the Wall Street Journal blog:
Pace University’s law school outside of New York City is the latest school to benefit from a burst of largesse. A German family has donated what the university says is the largest gift in its history.
The law school is announcing the donation Thursday along with news that it’s renaming itself after the donors’ late matriarch, Elisabeth Haub, a philanthropist and businesswoman who championed environmental causes.
Pace isn’t saying how much it received — at the donor’s request. But school officials say it’s comparable to recent donations made to law schools at George Mason University and Villanova University. Those schools announced gifts of $30 million and $25 million, respectively.
Pace says the money will establish a law school endowment and fund a scholars program within its top-ranked environmental law program. The gift will also endow chairs in environmental law, public international law, the school said. The new name of the school will be the Elisabeth Haub School of Law.
You can read more here.
Perhaps there is nothing new under the sun. In 1981, the Indiana State Bar received this letter from the deans of the state’s four law schools: Indiana—Bloomington, Indiana—Indianapolis, Notre Dame, and Valparaiso.
The letter refers to the Cramton Report and its call for offering students skills training. The Deans emphasized the need for funding to pay for the endeavor. They offered a method that I don’t think ever was implemented.
You can read the letter here.