Friday, July 15, 2016

Beyond Best Practices: Lessons from Tina Stark About the First Day of Class

Every class counts, and what you do on the first day should set the tone for the entire semester.  Emily Grant summarizes the techniques master teacher Tina Stark uses for the first day of the semester.

Beyond Best Practices: Lessons from Tina Stark About the First Day of Class by Emily Grant.


This Article reviews and expands the literature on best practices in a narrow subset---the first day of class. At the same time it seeks to convey words of wisdom from one of the most well-known and highly-regarded legal educators: Tina Stark, a giant in transactional drafting. The first day of any law school class can be fraught with tension and nerves, even for professors. This article presents advice from Professor Stark, supplemented with guidance from best practices research, so that professors can take advantage of the opportunities that the first day of class offers to set the tone for a successful semester.


July 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

BU School of Law offers new two year residency program for law grads

BU has joined Emory, Ohio State and U. Miami schools of law in partnering with UnitedLex, "a global leader in legal and business solutions" to offer this post-grad residency program intended to train participants in litigation management, e-discovery technology, cybersecurity, contract management skills. According to a spokesman for UnitedLex, the program is about "creating opportunities for new attorneys to get hired, to get full-time employment, and to get some training that they need to be relevant, very talented, and attractive prospects for hiring in the future." LegalTech news has more details:

BU Law Joins UnitedLex Legal Residency Program: UnitedLex discusses the expansion and curriculum of their alternative legal residency model for law school grads


UnitedLex has added Boston University School of Law to the growing roster of schools participating in the legal outsourcing group's "legal residency" program.


The program takes recent law school graduates through a two-year curriculum centering on litigation management, e-discovery technology, cybersecurity, contract management, and other "foundational skills they'll need when they graduate," according to Joseph Dearing, executive vice president of global legal solutions at UnitedLex.


"It's about creating opportunities for new attorneys to get hired, to get full-time employment, and to get some training that they need to be relevant, very talented, and attractive prospects for hiring in the future," Dearing said.


Dearing noted that the legal residency program was developed to help recent graduates struggling to find work with a traditional firm or clerkship.


"There are fewer and fewer law firms and companies willing to hire brand-new attorneys, and what they're looking for are attorneys that have been trained, that have the skills and the experience to be relevant and helpful on day one," he said.


According to the American Bar Association, by 10 months after graduation Boston University School of Law had 81 percent of its graduates in full-time positions that require passage of the bar exam.


. . . .  

Continue reading here.


July 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Short Videos on Law Teaching

Recently, at the Best Practices for Legal Education blog (June 30), Rebecca Sharp brought to our attention a series of short videos on teaching. Law professors created them at the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference:

Recently, a fellow blogger sent us a very helpful tool that we wanted to share with our readers.  Last year, during the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference, a series of informative videos was created for law professors about the complications associated with law teaching.  The entire series is about an hour long, with each individual video being only about 5 minutes long.  These videos address some of the important pedagogical issues that law professors are currently grappling with, such as assessment, adding experiential learning to doctrinal courses, reflection, and technology.

This in the link to the entire series.


July 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Using email to teach students legal analysis

This is a new article by Professor Katrina Lee (Ohio State) describing how she uses email as a way to help her students develop analytical writing skills. The article called Process Over Product: A Pedagogical Focus on Email as a Means of Refining Legal Analysis is available at 44 Capital L. Rev. 655 (2016) and on SSRN here. From the abstract:

The prevalence of emails in law practice alone provides a compelling reason for assigning emails in the 1L legal writing course. Law students should learn how to write the types of documents they will be expected to write in law practice. Not surprisingly, over the past several years, email communications have increasingly become part of legal writing curricula.

This Article offers another reason why the legal writing curriculum should include emails: writing emails can help students refine their legal analysis skills in a way that writing the traditional, long-form memorandum does not. This Article advocates for assigning email writing as part of the writing process and not purely as a final written product for the sake of giving students experience with a prevalent mode of lawyer communication. Email writing should join free writing and oral presentation as valuable tools for helping students develop analytical skills. Having students write in a medium they are comfortable with will help them feel more liberated and more at ease. They may make creative associations they otherwise would not make. They might also develop a keen awareness of the shortcomings and strengths of their analysis. Email writing can help students engage more closely with their legal analysis and write more effectively. Ultimately,legal writing professors’ strategic assignment of emails will enrich students’ writing and learning experiences, and provide them with a lifelong writing tool.

Part II.A discusses how legal writing teaching developed to emphasize process over product. Part II.B explores the connection between oral argument and legal writing teaching. Part II.C explores the connection between free writing and legalwriting teaching. Part III, against the backdrop of reasons for assigning oral argument and free writing, explains the benefits to the legal writing process of assigning email writing. Part IV proposes ways to integrate email writing into the 1Llegal writing course to maximize its benefits to the legal writing process.


July 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Lawyer Deals with Stress and Panic Attacks

At the Texas Bar Blog, a lawyer tells how she went from lawyer to yoga teacher to lawyer who teaches yoga and learned to cope with the stresses of being a lawyer. You can read her story here.


July 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Female Lawyers: Stereotypes for Men to Avoid

Female Lawyers: Stereotypes for Men to Avoid

At the Wisconsin Lawyer, attorney Deanne Koll talks about conduct that makes her skin crawl:

Don’t Hug Me.  Unless we’re truly friends outside of the profession, please, spare us both the embarrassment and simply put out your hand to shake.

Don’t Call Me “Young Lady.”

Don’t Question My Dedication to Work, Just Because I Have a Family.

Don’t Refer to Every Strong-minded Woman Lawyer as a B*tch. 

You can read more here.


July 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Law firm leaders say they expect modest growth during remainder of 2016

From the American Lawyer:

Firm Leaders Predict Modest Growth in Second Half of 2016


Most law firm leaders expect demand for their services to increase by less than 5 percent in the second half of 2016, according to a report released Thursday by Citi Private Bank's Law Firm Group. The majority of those surveyed predicted that net income would grow, but not as much as revenue, suggesting that firms are also forecasting an increase in expenses.


Only 8 percent of the 155 law firm executives surveyed by Citi are predicting that demand, as measured by billable hours, will rise by more than 5 percent over the next six months. Twenty percent expect demand to decrease.


Nearly 80 percent said that revenue will grow, while just over 70 percent said that net income will grow.


The firm leaders had lukewarm confidence in the overall economy, according to the report. While 44 percent said that they expect the economy to improve, 34 percent said that they expect it to remain the same, and 22 percent think that the second half of the year will be worse than the first half.


. . . .

Continue reading here.


July 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Important Study on How Readability of A Brief Affects the Outcome

The Relationship between Brief Readability and Summary Judgment Decisions by Shaun B. Spencer & Adam Feldman.

"The legal profession and the legal academy stress the importance of clear writing as a substantial component of effective law practice. But does clear writing translate into effective lawyering? This study takes a novel approach to using lawyers’ writing to measure the quality of legal advocacy. It is the only study to do so at the trial court level, where most lawyers practice, and is the first to track the difference in the readability of opposing parties’ briefs in the same case. After two earlier studies of appellate brief quality and success on appeal yielded conflicting results, our study provides a clear association between briefs’ readability and favorable outcomes on summary judgment motions. The study focuses on summary judgment motions because they offer a clear dichotomous outcome: the motions are either granted or denied. After controlling for attorney experience, law firm size, and a lawyer’s status as a repeat player before the motion judge, we find a statistically significant correlation between brief readability and summary judgment decisions."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eight Classic Storytelling Techniques

The British Sparkol offers “8 Classic Storytelling Techniques for Engaging Presentations.” Some work for writing while other are more suited to oral presentations.

Some are familiar, like “the hero’s journey.” Others are less familiar, like “nested loops.” Each comes with an explanation and examples. You can access the material here.


July 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pie Charts, Line Graphs, Bar Graphs: A History

These methods of visualizing data were not always accepted. Academics looked down their noses at anything but the written word. In fact, William Playfair didn’t invent them until the late 1700s.

For a history of these visuals, please click here. From Atlas Obscura,


July 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The most common (and costly) mistakes newbies make on LinkedIn

Networking is the key to finding a job for most law students and LinkedIn should be part of the strategy. In this post on the Business Insider, a career expert describes the most common mistakes newbies make when they first join LinkedIn:

A huge mistake I made on LinkedIn may have cost me a few jobs — here are the most common blunders other people make

  • Not including a photo.
  • Going for quantity rather than quality in compiling your network of contacts.
  • Tipping your hat to your employer that the changes you've made to your LinkedIn account indicate you're looking for another job. 
  • Neglecting to include a cogent summary in your profile.

Continue reading here for additional advice about how to make the most of your LinkedIn account.


July 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Writing Advice: Use Short Words to Express Long Ideas

At the Journal of the Missouri Bar, Professor Douglas Abrams has published an article giving advice on writing effectively. It is aptly titled “Long Ideas, Short Words”:

This article urges lawyers to invigorate their writing with short words that forcefully and accurately present fact and law. For legally trained and lay readers alike, law and public policy are complex enough as it is. Lawyers serve their clients and causes most effectively with the simplest possible writing that, in the context as the lawyer perceives it, conveys the intended message.

Professor Abrams has published a book onlegal writing, Effective Legal Writing: A Guide for Students and Practitioners (here). You can access his article here.


July 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal sector adds 100 jobs in June

That's according to the most recent jobs report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Such modest growth stands in contrast to a significant upward spike in jobs generally for the month of June in which 247k jobs were added to the overall economy and the unemployment rate rose to 4.9%. The American Lawyer has the full details on job growth in the legal sector (which includes paralegals and other non-lawyers) for last month as well as the year to date figure:

Small Bump for Legal Jobs as U.S. Employment Shows Surprise Uptick


Amid celebration over better-than-expected job growth in the overall American economy, the U.S. legal industry's employment outlook remained mostly flat, gaining about 100 jobs in June, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor.


Marking a modest increase from last month's preliminary jobs report, the legal sector employed an estimated 1,124,000 people in June, according to monthly figures released Friday by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


Also on Friday, BLS revised its May employment estimates for the legal sector. The agency now estimates that 1,123,900 people worked in the industry in May, up 400 from its original estimate. The preliminary numbers include lawyers, paralegals and others working in the legal industry.


According to the preliminary June figures, the legal sector has added 4,800 jobs over the past year. Monthly legal jobs numbers have fluctuated in 2016, but they've generally remained flat after the industry saw gains in 2015.


. . . .

Continue reading here.


July 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 8, 2016

How to Write When You Have Small Children

At, author Maggie O’Farrell offers a host of tips (here). When my children were small, I dealt with the dilemma in two ways.

  1. I learned that I could not do my academic work and deal with my children at the same time. I had to keep academic work and family life separate. Each part of my life needed my complete attention.
  2. I made my day longer by staying up late. Not necessarily the best solution, but it worked for me. Besides you're unlikely to get a good night's sleep for the first seven years anyway.

   P.S. Having a family is worth it.

You can read Maggie O’Farrell’s tips here.


July 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Microaggression Tipsheet

Here is a “Microaggression Tipsheet”of “microaggressions in everyday life” that is making the rounds. It lists numerous comments that people interpret as microaggressions.

The topic is a controversial one with critics viewing many alleged microaggressions as merely another example of political correctness. Please decide for yourself.


July 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Washington U. School of Law is seeking an Assistant Director for its Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic

The suggested deadline for applying is coming up quickly on July 20 so if you're interested, don't delay. Here are the full details:





WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites applications for the new position of Assistant Director and Lecturer in Law in its Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic, one of eighteen law clinic and externship courses offered by the School’s Clinical Education Program (see


The Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic, through its second- and third-year law students, provides pro bono business and transactional legal services to non-profit organizations and qualifying new and emerging for-profit organizations and entrepreneurs. The Assistant Director is expected to assist the clinic’s Director in supervising and monitoring the work of the students, handle matters relating to the day-to-day administration of the clinic law office and its cases, and assume primary responsibility for clinic cases that begin or are not concluded during the academic year. The Assistant Director will be primarily responsible for intellectual property matters and also act on behalf of the Director during her absence.




Candidates must have a J.D. degree, be admitted or eligible to practice law in Missouri (i.e., must be a member of the Missouri bar or eligible for admission as a law teacher without examination pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 13.06).


Candidates should have significant experience practicing transactional and intellectual property law, outstanding legal research and writing skills, and promise as a mentor for law students.


Applicant Special Instructions:


Applicants must submit an online application for Job Position - Assistant Director and Lecturer in Law, Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic - 34120 at:


For fullest consideration, apply by July 20, 2016.


EEOC Statement: Washington University School of Law is committed to diversity and encourages applications from racial and ethnic groups, women, persons with disabilities, and other under-represented groups.


July 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From a Commencement Address by Justice Thomas

Here is an excerpt from Justice Thomas’ commencement address at Hillsdale College. I think it is worth reading.

As the years have moved swiftly by, I have often reflected on the important citizenship lessons of my life. For the most part, it was the unplanned array of small things. There was the kind gesture from a neighbor. There was my grandmother dividing our dinner because someone showed up unannounced. There was the stranger stopping to help us get our crops out of the field before a big storm. There were the nuns who believed in us and lived in our neighborhood. There was the librarian who brought books to Mass so that I would not be without reading on the farm. Small gestures such as these become large lessons about how to live our lives. We watched and learned what it means to be a good person, a good neighbor, a good citizen. Who will be watching you? And what will you be teaching them?

After this commencement ceremony ends, I implore you to take a few minutes to thank those who made it possible for you to come this far—your parents, your teachers, your pastor. These are the people who have shown you how to sacrifice for those you love, even when that sacrifice is not always appreciated. As you go through life, try to be a person whose actions teach others how to be better people and better citizens. Reach out to the shy person who is not so popular. Stand up for others when they’re being treated unfairly. Take the time to listen to the friend who’s having a difficult time. Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness. Treat others the way you would like to be treated if you stood in their shoes.

These small lessons become the unplanned syllabus for learning citizenship, and your efforts to live them will help to form the fabric of a civil society and a free and prosperous nation where inherent equality and liberty are inviolable. 

You can access the full address here.


July 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Importance of Helping Students Develop Metacognitive Skills

Many times on this blog, we have stressed the importance of helping students develop metacognitive skills--how to think about thinking.  Studies have shown that most students come to law school lacking these skills.  Metacognitive skills help students become self-directed learners, giving them the ability to adopt to new situations.

Now, Patti Alleva and Jennifer Gundlich have published an important article in the Journal of Legal Education on metacogition: Learning Intentionally and The Metacognitive Task.

"The strategies developed by our civil procedure authors recognize the learning process as an active partnership, where both teacher and student share responsibilities for maximizing student learning. This collaboration may well mean more, and not less, work for both professor and student. However, that extra work is worth it if it engages students in ways that motivate them to self-activate their own strategies for independent and higher-level learning so that they, in turn, become their own teachers."

"[T]his article begins by suggesting why Civil Procedure doctrine is so challenging to teach and learn, noting how the symposium pieces help to tackle those challenges. Then, we join the growing number of law professors who advocate that learning how to learn deserves greater attention in the law school curriculum, given the importance of learning to law students and lawyers alike. In particular, to round out the teaching approaches of our authors, we suggest that law schools should do more to demonstrate respect for the process of learning as an end in itself. We especially extol the use of metacognitive strategies to help students develop greater self-sufficiency and proficiency in confronting learning challenges of any kind, civil procedure or otherwise. We highlight metacognition because of its importance to self-regulated learning and its benefits for professional development."

"At the heart of Wegner’s admonition is the reality that lawyers must actively and continually learn in order to exercise sound professional judgment, to self-understand and self-improve, and to assume leadership roles in the profession and community at large. Simply put, the ability to learn is essential for the problem-solving legal professional."

"But not only must learning be continuous throughout a lawyers’ career, the learning process itself must be sound."

"Research shows that many students leave high school and college with insufficient understanding of how to learn effectively, despite prior educational successes."

"Helping law students to become more aware of, to monitor, and to reflect on their learning processes will help them to better discern what they know, need to know, and cannot know in attempting to make sound but creative professional judgments, both in and after law school. This is the metacognitive task."

"When students successfully engage in metacognition, they are more aware of themselves as learners and are better able to judge and improve their learning process."

"Being explicit about metacognition increases the likelihood that students will take greater responsibility for practicing these skills."

"Students benefit from practicing metacognitive skills when that practice has been modeled first by their teacher."

"Providing Questions to Encourage Metacognition: Teachers can provide a list of targeted questions designed to facilitate deeper metacognitive sensitivity by asking students to self-diagnose their grasp of difficult material in order to determine what they understand, and to monitor where they are struggling, and why."  [The article contains several excellent examples of metacognitive questions for a civil procedure class.]

"Using [Formative] Assessment to Encourage Monitoring of Learning."

Key Point: "Helping students to learn intentionally, especially through the use of metacognitive strategies that highlight the connection among learning, professional development, and personal growth, reinforces the significance of learning as an end in itself."

Much more here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Temple Law Dean to Become Provost

JoAnne Epps, Dean of Temple Law School, is scheduled to become the university’s provost. From

The appointment, subject to approval by the board of trustees, would be permanent - not interim, as universities often do so they can launch a national search.

Epps, 65, who has spent 31 years at the law school, the last eight as its dean, was appointed by president Neil D. Theobald. Her title will include senior vice president and chief academic officer also, and she will oversee academics across the university's 17 schools and colleges and 12 administrative offices.

"JoAnne's impeccable record in teaching, student success, diversity, and social justice, coupled with her long-standing commitment to Temple and the city of Philadelphia, makes her ideally suited for this important leadership role," Theobald said in a statement.

Gregory N. Mandel, a law professor and associate dean of research, will step in as interim law school dean, Theobald said.

A great choice for Temple! You can read more here.


July 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Preparing Law Students for their Future World

Over at, we find an in-depth summary of a colloquium on preparing students for the future. A number of educators offer extensive insights with a particular emphasis on dispute resolution. The big message:

Even though the future is hard to predict, change is likely.   As a result, we suggest that anticipating change should be more central to how and what we teach.   Anticipating change, we might revise our ideas of what is important and what we should be doing and teaching.   Change-anticipation is a form of thinking that might be beneficial, at least each time we prepare our syllabus for the coming semester.

We prepare our students for professional work in the legal and DR fields.  To what extent do we prepare them to fill the roles we have been familiar with in the past or to provide the services that we view as being currently typical of these fields?   And to what extent are we forecasting the future of these fields and preparing students to engage in them as they will be after our students graduate and throughout their professional careers?

 How should law schools prepare students for that future? Professor John Lande makes this proposal:

First, law schools should focus on teaching general skills that will be needed in virtually any area of practice.  In particular, written and oral communication, legal research, client interviewing and counseling, working with counterpart lawyers, and negotiation should be important for virtually all lawyers.

Second, law schools should help students plan for their own particular futures.  Given all the variation in practitioners’ futures and the likelihood that there will be some changes, students will need to identify their own educational needs and continue to learn throughout their careers.  So it is particularly important to teach them how to learn to learn most effectively.  I elaborate these themes in my Last Lecture article.

You can read much more here.


July 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)