Friday, January 29, 2016

The Government Will Forgive Some Student Loans

From the Wall Street Journal:

In the past six months, more than 7,500 borrowers owing $164 million have applied to have their student debt expunged under an obscure federal law that had been applied only in three instances before last year. The law forgives debt for borrowers who prove their schools used illegal tactics to recruit them, such as by lying about their graduates’ earnings.

The U.S. Education Department has already agreed to cancel nearly $28 million of that debt for 1,300 former students of Corinthian Colleges—the for-profit chain that liquidated in bankruptcy last year. The department has indicated that many more will likely get forgiveness.

Will some law grads qualify for forgiveness? You can read more here.


January 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Language Control, 'Hyper-Sensitivity' and the Death of True Liberalism by David Barnhizer

Language Control, 'Hyper-Sensitivity' and the Death of True Liberalism by David Barnhizer.


The Rule of Law in America is buttressed by the idea of free speech. Universities are supposed to be centers of free speech, dialogue and learning, in the process educating and preparing students to protect and preserve the unique ideal of the Western version of the Rule of Law. This includes the importance of competing factions attempting to achieve compromise through political discourse. There is a rather significant problem, therefore, when the dynamic and often contentious interactions that produce the ability to recognize the potential legitimacy of others’ arguments and the flaws in one’s own are short circuited by political agendas that punish speech rather than engage in true discourse. In that situation, the ability and willingness to hold onto such ideals as are inherent in the Rule of Law are being irreversibly damaged.

My fear is that the mission of the university is being altered and in some instances undermined by the heightened sensitivity of feelings among students, faculty and administrators who seem to be hurt or offended by almost anything. While the sensitivity may be real, imagined, part of an aggressive “mob mentality” or faked as a political ploy the “appropriation” and linguistic control movement is remarkable in its scope and import. The truth is that rather than being a legitimate educational strategy in too many instances what is occurring is a ploy to gain and exercise power through the control of language and the ability to accuse others of treating one “insensitively.”


January 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Friday Fun: Digital life cartoons

These are good. Courtesy of the blog Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice.

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January 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Villanova Seeks Business and Entrepreneur Professor

Villanova University School of Law seeks an outstanding lawyer/educator/scholar to teach business law and entrepreneurship courses, broadly defined, and to serve as the Faculty Director for The John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship.

This tenured/tenure-track faculty position will be filled at the Assistant/Associate or Full Professor level depending on the candidate’s experience and qualifications. The appointment is contingent on the candidate also serving as the Faculty Director of the Center.

The successful candidate will teach business law and entrepreneurship courses, subject to the needs of the Law School. The successful candidate, as the Faculty Director for the John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship, will also provide comprehensive leadership of the Center under the guidance of the Dean, including organizing scholarly conferences, serving as the Center’s spokesperson, and working with the Center’s Advisory Board.

For the full job posting, please click here.


January 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Hiring Partners Think Students Need to Learn

LexisNexis has surveyed hiring partners and issued a white paper. Here are the highlights:

Hiring partners reveal new attorney readiness for real world practice, will help inform law schools of the specific content and tasks they can integrate into applicable classes and experiential learning programs pursuant to employer demand and the new ABA standards.

Key findings include:

  • 96% believe that newly graduated law students lack practical skills related to litigation and transactional practice.
  • 66% deem writing and drafting skills highly important with emphasis on motions, briefs and pleadings
  • Newer attorneys spend 40% – 60% of their time conducting legal research · 88% of hiring partners think proficiency using “paid for” research services is highly important
  • Students lack advanced legal research skills in the areas of statutory law, regulations, legislation and more.
  • The most important transactional skills include business and financial concepts, due diligence, drafting contracts and more.

Read the full paper with charts (here). Hiring partners reveal new attorney readiness for real world practice, or view this Executive Overview Prezi*. *Chrome™ or Firefox® is best for viewing Prezi.


January 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

PreLaw Magazine's list of best law schools by speciality

PreLaw Magazine, a National Jurist publication, has ranked law schools in three specialty practice areas including Intellectual Property, Technology Law and Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Schools were rated based on the breadth of their curricular offerings. For instances, those receiving an "A" offer a concentration in that specialty plus a clinic, an externship and a specialty "center." Those schools receiving an "A -" offer all of the foregoing minus the externship or specialty "center." Check out the full list of schools for each of the three practice areas here.


January 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

High Levels of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems Among Law Students

But students are very reluctant to seek help. They shouldn’t be.

Bloomberg BNA reports:

From February to May 2014, [Professor Jerry] Organ and his colleagues surveyed more than 3,300 law students from 15 law schools about their drinking, drug use, and mental health. Twenty-two percent reported binge drinking two or more times in the previous two weeks, and almost a quarter showed signs that they should undergo further testing for alcohol addiction. More than a quarter had received at least one diagnosis of “depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, personality disorder, and/or substance use disorder,” the study found. . . . .

People preferred to leave their illnesses untreated than risk not becoming a lawyer. More than 60 percent of students said they didn’t get help for their reliance on drugs or alcohol because they were worried it would affect their career prospects or their chances of getting admitted to the bar.

You can read the full report here at The Bar Examiner.


January 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Learning by Doing: The Benefits of Experiential Learning in Animals and the Law by Peter Sankoff

Law professors can use experiential learning in any type of class, even one on animals and the law.

Learning by Doing: The Benefits of Experiential Learning in Animals and the Law by Peter Sankoff.


"In recent years, I have added several experiential learning elements to my course on animals and the law, as I illustrate in this video blog on my web page. In this article, I wish to describe the experiential elements I use in the course, and make a case for the benefits of doing so. Finally, I will look more broadly at ways in which experiential tasks in the classroom can benefit a student's educational experience."

“Properly executed, experiential learning techniques offer huge benefits for students. The obvious advantage comes from the way in which these techniques allow students to develop their legal skills in a safe environment, while obtaining feedback and the opportunity to self-reflect upon their performance. Less apparent is a second benefit I believe is even more important: experiential learning is a superb way of letting students realize some of the most obvious shortcomings of the law governing animal treatment first-hand. As a consequence, they can absorb lessons about difficult concepts in a way that will not resonate anywhere near as strongly if they are conveyed by lecture or discussion alone.”

January 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Five Words, Often Mispronounced

Here are five words that people often pronounce incorrectly:

  1. Desultory. 
  2. Formidable. 
  3. Detritus.
  4. Spurious.
  5. Forte.

For example, with “desultory,” the accent is on the first syllabus. To find the correct pronunciations of the others, please click here on Attorney at Work.


January 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attend the 15th Annual Transactional Clinical Conference this April in Baltimore

Here are the details from the Clinical Law Prof listserv. A call for proposals is expected shortly so keep your eyes peeled.




Friday, April 29, 2016 at the University of Baltimore School of Law


This year’s Transactional Clinical Conference will be held on Friday, April 29, 2016 at the University of Baltimore School of Law (our host), immediately preceding the AALS Clinical Conference. To minimize hotel costs and travel time for those attending the AALS conference, we will have a mid-morning start, and the TCC Conference Dinner will take place on Friday evening near the AALS hotel. 


This year’s conference will explore how both lawyering and teaching employ “tools of translation.” It will have two tracks: (1) a new clinicians “Launch Pad” designed to support those new to the teaching profession, and (2) various teaching workshops focused on “Tools and Skills to Serve Smaller Enterprises.” Please look for a Call for Proposals for both tracks in the weeks to come.


We’re extending a special invitation to new clinicians. If you know of any new (or newer) clinicians, please consider sharing this email and invitation with them.


Please save the date and watch for the Call for Proposals soon.


Thank you, 


15th Annual Transactional Clinical Conference Planning Committee:

Mary Landergan (Northeastern)

Jaime Lee (U Baltimore)

Frances Leos Martinez (Texas)

James Niemann (Mizzou)

Jeff Ward (Duke)


January 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Movies and Books for New Law Students

On its website, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School lists resources for new law students, including movies and books. Nice lists. Here they are:


The Verdict (1982)
A Civil Action (1998)
The Paper Chase (1973)
Twelve Angry Men (1957)
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Judgment at Nuremburg (1961)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Websites One lawyer’s advice to incoming first-year law students. Information about, and records from, some of the most famous trials in history. Links to pre-law resources. From here, link to “Legislative Process: House” for information on how federal laws are made. Link to “hypertexts” and at the search field, type “Cardozo.” You will find a reproduction of important lectures delivered by Justice Benjamin Cardozo. Link to “Campus Life,” and then to “Selected Readings”. There you will find “The Path of the Law,” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., an address delivered at Boston University School of Law in 1897.


January 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A new book extolling the importance of cultivating deep concentration skills

Thanks to Keith Lee over at the Associate's Mind blog for reviewing a new book by Cal Newport called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World on the importance of developing the powers of deep concentration to do the intellectually demanding tasks required by a knowledge-based economy. As I've discussed in my own recent article (updated, final draft to be posted shortly), homo erectus was never built to be especially good at deep thinking because back in caveman days, over-intellectualizing the problems you faced each day would likely get you killed. Instead, the brain was designed for quick, facile decision-making by relying on cognitive shortcuts like heuristic thinking. But today we're no longer living by our wits hunting prey and avoiding predators.  Instead, success in school and success as a lawyer both depend on the ability to shut out distractions and go deep into thought. So go read Keith's review and then see if you don't agree that Deep Work raises issues and suggests strategies we should be incorporating into the law school classroom. 


January 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Exploring Precedent by Mary Whisner

Exploring Precedent by Mary Whisner.


Legal researchers have many powerful tools for finding cases: full-text searching with different interfaces from different providers, annotated statutes, digests, and a wide variety of secondary sources. But there are areas where even experienced researchers are puzzled: when will an intermediate court follow rulings of a sister court? what sources can advocates cite? (or: why can advocates cite secondary sources but not unpublished opinions?) are fewer cases considered to be cases of first impression, since the cumulative body of precedent is so large?

This essay examines each of these questions. It is accessible to beginning students, first wrestling with the questions, but should also interest more experienced researchers.


January 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to Create Online Videos

Professor Angela Upchurch provides a valuable service by giving us step-by-step, illustrated instructions on how to created online videos (here). As someone who is perpetually technologically challenged, I am appreciative.


January 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

20 Texas Private Colleges Have Opted Out of Campus Gun Carry Law

From the Texas Tribune:

Campus carry, which goes into effect Aug. 1, allows concealed license holders to carry guns into university buildings. But private universities are given the choice of whether they want to comply. So far, no private schools have opted in. 

However, many schools have yet to make a decision. Many of the schools that have opted out did so after surveying students and staff. So far, none of those surveys have favored guns on campus. Maybe the legislature is out of step with its education constitutents.You can read more here.


January 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Advancing Organizational and Social Change: 5 Books

Vitae suggests 5 books. I’m thinking about how to implement these strategies in law school. Here are the books. For explanatory explanations, please click here.

Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals By Saul D. Alinsky

Leading Change By John P. Kotter

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change By Pema Chödrön

Contagious: Why Things Catch On By Jonah Berger

Contagious: Why Things Catch OnCollaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently By Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur


January 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

SUNY Buffalo School of Law to host lecture series addressing "Legal education for a changing legal profession”

The lectures are part of the school's annual Mitchell Lecture Series which this year will consist of a two-part program. The first lecture will take place on February 12 and the second on April 8. According to the school’s website, the topic was previously addressed in 1987 in conjunction with the school’s 100th anniversary celebration. This spring, the school will revisit the topic over the course of two lectures addressing the disruptive changes occurring in the legal profession including global competition from legal service outsourcers, increasing domestic competition from non-lawyer professionals, paraprofessionals, and corporations such as LegalZoom as well as advances in information technology which are all transforming the way legal services are delivered.

Below is the lecture schedule, list of speakers and specific topics to be covered.

February 12 - Part 1
Where is the legal profession today and where is it likely to go in the future?
Featuring Professor Gillian Hadfield (USC), Professor Bryant Garth (Irvine), and Professor David Wilkins (Harvard)

Time: 2:00-4:00 p.m.; Reception to follow.
Location: Room 106, SUNY Buffalo Law School, UB (North Campus). More information is available here.

April 8 - Part 2
What are the implications of changes in the legal profession for law schools and legal education?
Featuring Professor Susan Carle (American University), Dean Kevin R. Johnson (UC Davis), and Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz (University of Arkansas)

Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.; Reception to follow.
Location: Room 106, SUNY Buffalo Law School, UB (North Campus). More information for Part 2 is available here.


January 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 22, 2016

How to Format e-Briefs

With so many courts wanting lawyers to submit electronic briefs, our students need some advice on how to make the documents extremely readable for judges. Profess Jim Dimitri has published an excellent article offering formatting advice. WordWise: Writing for Screen Readers in the Wake of Indiana's E-Filing Initiative, Res Gestae: The Journal of the Indiana State Bar Association, Vol. 59, No. 5, December 2015 (here)(also here).

What struggles do judges face when they read briefs on electronic devices?

  • They may struggle to see how the document is organized and, thus, may easily lose their place in the document.
  • They may be easily distracted while reading the document.
  • They may skim the document rather than read it linearly,looking for cues that lead to the most important information in the document.

To deal with these problems, Professor Demetri argues that the documents must be extremely readable. Here is his advice:

4.1 Make headings a central feature of the document.

4.1.1 Use scientific enumeration to label headings.

4.1.2 Use left-aligned, substantive point headings in briefs.

4.3 Use hyperlinks, but don’t overuse them.

4.4 Use bookmarks.

4.5 Be concise.

4.6 Use consistent terminology in the document to facilitate searching within the document.

4.7 Use clear, informative introductions and topic sentences.

4.8 Use lists.

4.9 Use reader-friendly pagination.

 The article gives full explanations on each of these points. Of course, almost all these pointers would help improve hard copy documents.


January 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Adaptive Strategies for the Future of Legal Education by Steven Friedland

Adaptive Strategies for the Future of Legal Education by Steven Friedland.


"In the parable about a scorpion and a frog, a scorpion wishes to cross a large river and asks the frog to carry it across. The frog refuses, observing that the scorpion would sting the frog and kill it. In response, the scorpion says that if the scorpion kills the frog, they would both drown, and that would be a self-defeating strategy. The frog thinks it over and consents. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog. As they both are sinking into the fast-moving water, the frog croaks out incredulously, "Why would you sting me and kill us both?" The scorpion responds, "Because I am a scorpion; that is what scorpions do."

Legal education orthodoxy is analogous to the scorpion. It is known for being very good at what it does-teaching students to "think like lawyers." Its "sting"-teaching critical thinking-has left its mark on law, politics, business, and numerous other fields. The goal of teaching critical thinking was and is the gravamen of the law school process and the focus of the signature pedagogy of legal training, the Socratic method. While many peripheral and minor changes have been implemented along the way, the singular focus on the analytic method has worked very well over the years, producing many successful and highly-regarded graduates.

This Article suggests, though, that legal education orthodoxy today is at risk of drowning itself if it continues to ride its singular emphasis on critical thinking. This is particularly true when viewed from the perspective of job availability in a shifting professional environment. While teaching critical thinking remains important, if not essential, it alone does not appear to provide a successful adaptive strategy for the future.

The source of much of the educational domain's recent instability has been external to legal education. The structural changes of the legal profession have been exacerbated by the economic recession of 2008,adding a new and powerful consideration to the calculus for legal education success-the legal services marketplace. The assumption of just a decade ago, that all qualified law school candidates would be able to find good jobs upon graduation, has dissipated. In light of changes in the job market, there has emerged the recurring question of whether law school is a rational and economical choice for those who are qualified to enter. The recession has led students to examine the value of a law degree with the proverbial microscope. Tools for evaluating legal education have broadened as well, with Internet blogs and other media providing global perspectives-and pressures.

A byproduct of reframing legal education as a commodity has been a new emphasis on valuation. With legal jobs disappearing as a result of economic contraction, globalization providing additional external pressures, and the proliferation of legal information on the Internet offering anyone access to their own version of a law library, the commoditization of legal education has become a more recognizable phenomena-a product to be weighed and measured in comparison to its alternatives. With high costs and an uncertain and volatile job market, the educational process has come under repeated and sometimes hostile scrutiny, especially in blogs and the media.

A closer examination of a primary objective of legal education-preparing students to become practicing lawyers also provides an independent need for change. Thinking like a lawyer is only a part of preparing students for the performance and work of a lawyer or related occupations. In the modern world, the ability to communicate with and influence others is important. Law students must be able to communicate with clients, work on teams, and manage projects to succeed. Lawyers also must deal with clients, serve the aims of their firms or organizations, act with integrity in and out of court, and much more. Students will need to perform competently and exhibit professionalism in their everyday work lives, even as nascent graduates. New lawyers must be culturally competent, which means they must measure up within different professional domains, where requirements can vary from firm to firm, in state, federal, or local government work, and from advocacy to advice work. As one commentator noted, there are different stages of cultural competence, and these can be navigated by law students and lawyers alike. To meet these needs, it is increasingly apparent that the preparation of lawyers must adapt better to the external changes in the legal services market place. This must be done within the curriculum and beyond it, in educational culture and the interstices between student and attorney. Today, while the training function is still shared, law students who have no experience working on teams, dealing with clients, or managing projects generally will be less attractive to the profession than those who learned about the practice of law and began forming a professional identity while in school.

This Article uses the current environment of uncertainty and complexity as an opportunity to promote strategic thinking about legal education. The Article suggests changes that might help law schools adapt to the volatile and global climate likely ahead. The proposed changes, to be clear, do not deviate from the high expectations and standards law schools have for their students to turn out well-adjusted practitioners with the competencies and skill sets needed to achieve excellence in their chosen fields. While one legal cultural mantra appears to lament "failing law schools," this Article takes a more upbeat approach, focusing on and offering adaptive structures to better position law schools for success in the future."
Quotes on experiential learning:

"The learning science literature shows that students learn better if they are active rather than passive. They enjoy the experience more as well. Active learning includes the traditional
Socratic method."

"“[E]xperiential education refers to using experience in a directed and specific fashion to achieve certain outcomes from learning theory to transferring knowledge to new situations.”

Important point--"David Kolb viewed active learning as completely compatible with the acquisition of knowledge when he described learning as "the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience." This notion is consonant with a legal education that is mindful of improving students' legal analytical abilities in order to solve active problems of clients and others."

"The use of experiential learning is especially helpful with the formation of professional identity. Talking about professional identity formation often will be less useful to students than practicing and engaging in identity formation through experience. This is because professional identity is carved from a blending of experience, cognitive reflection, and a directed understanding about that experience."

(Scott Fruehwald)

January 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The new volume of Touro's Journal of Experiential Learning is out now!