Sunday, February 4, 2018

Is a new, free AI tool from ROSS Intelligence a legal research game changer?

Law and tech guru Robert Ambrogi has a post on his LawSites blog about a new Artificial Intelligence legal research tool being released to the public free of charge by ROSS Intelligence (where "AI meets legal research").  As Mr. Ambrogi notes in the post, ROSS has been on a capital funding and staffing tear recently including adding to its team the outgoing dean at Northwestern School of Law, Daniel Rodriguez, who'll be serving as an advisor with responsibility for law school outreach (i.e. if you're a librarian or LRW prof, I'm guessing Dean Rodriquez will be paying you a visit soon). 

The new ROSS product is called EVA and it's like a supercharged Shepards/Keycite service that lets you upload your legal brief to the platform and will:

  • Tell you whether the cases in your brief are still good law.
  • Add hyperlinks for all the cases in your brief. 
  • In addition, EVA will - get this - find other cases containing similar language to the ones cited in your brief.

Did I mention that it's free? The only thing apparently missing is that EVA doesn't put all your cites into perfect Bluebook form (I mean, what kind of two-bit, free artificial intelligence, ground-breaking legal research platform is this anyway? Geez).  Mr. Ambrogi notes in his extensive post that so far he's only seen a demo of EVA and hasn't yet had the chance to road test it. So here's an excerpt of his description of the demo he witnessed regarding the cite-checking function:

Within seconds of uploading [a] brief, EVA generates an analysis of all the cases, creating a list of the cases and giving each case a label saying whether it is still valid or has been overruled, criticized, questioned or superseded by a subsequent cases. In this way, you can quickly see which cases within the brief have negative subsequent treatments.

And here's how Mr. Ambrogi describes the feature that searches for cases with "similar language":

As you read through the brief on EVA, you may come across a passage for which you would like to find other supporting cases or see what other cases say about that issue. To do this, highlight the language in the brief and click the option “Find Similar Language.” EVA generates a list of cases with similar language, showing the case name and the relevant snippet of text. Click on any result to go to the full case, and you are taken directly to the point in the case where the matching language is found.

If you can't tell already, EVA sounds like it's going to be a big development in the world of legal research. That means you need to check out Mr. Ambrogi's full review at LawSites here.

Hat tip to Associate's Mind.


February 4, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Five Things I Wish I knew When I Started Teaching"

That's the name of a post by Professor Carl Hendrick at a U.K. based blog called chronotope (covering "education, research and stuff"). Professor Hendrick is also author of a book called What Does This Look Like In The Classroom?: Bridging The Gap Between Research And PracticePerhaps you'll agree, as I do, that Professor Hendrick's "five things" is a pretty good shortlist of best practices for the classroom that we all need to consult from time to time to keep our teaching on track. As for me, I especially struggle with the one about not spending more time providing written feedback on assignments than my students do reading and implementing it. Unfortunately, I feel as if I lose that battle more often than I win it. 

The following is the list though it's highly worthwhile to check out the article itself for Professor Hendrick's full explanation about why each of these principles is so key to effective teaching:

  1. Motivation doesn’t always lead to achievement, but achievement often leads to motivation.
  2. Just because students are engaged doesn’t mean they’re learning anything.
  3. Marking and feedback are not the same thing.
  4. Feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor.
  5. (a) The steps needed to achieve a skill may look very different to the final skill itself.
  6. (b)There is no such thing as developing a ‘general’ skill (i.e. you can't, for example, teach critical thinking as a discrete skill - it needs to be taught and learned in a context).


February 4, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Registration now open for the Transactional Clinical Conference in April

Here are the details:

The 2018 Transactional Clinical Conference (TCC)  will be held before the AALS Clinic conference on April 27 and 28 at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in in Chicago.  Registration is now open at the conference website:  The theme for this year's conference is "Breaking Barriers to Entrepreneurship" and we invite proposals for workshops, panels or posters.


 We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!


2018 TCC Planning Committee 

Heather Harper (IIT Chicago-Kent)
Esther Barron (Northwestern)
Priya Baskaran (WVU)
Bill Kell (Berkeley)
Lynnise Pantin (BC)
Jennifer Prusak (Indiana)
Vicki Phillips (American)
Steve Reed (Northwestern)


February 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The end of an era - Xerox is no more

For older Americans, especially those who are lawyers, accountants and other types of office workers, a Xerox machine was a workplace staple just like file cabinets, Wite-Out and the proverbial watercooler. It was such a ubiquitous part of the typical office environment that everyone used the name Xerox as a verb to mean "photocopy" just like everyone today uses Google to mean "internet search." But that came to an abrupt end today as the Xerox corporation was purchased by Fujifilm Holdings of Japan and thus will cease to exist as a separate entity. Henceforth, to "Xerox" something enters the realm of archaic expressions that will likely only turn up in crossword puzzles, trivia contests and the game show Jeopardy.  It's an opportunity to reflect on the ethereal nature of technology and how the ones we take for granted today because they are so ubiquitous will in all likelihood be replaced by something completely unexpected.  And it'll happen much sooner than we think. Even the venerable Google will likely one day go the way of telegrams and transistor radios though that may seem hard to picture right now. 

Read all about the end of the Xerox era at the New York Times here.


February 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Law School Transparency Report

Law School Transparency, A Way Forward: Transparency in 2018

Executive Summary

We recommend that the ABA and law schools take the following steps to improve legal education for the benefit of students, the legal profession, and the public.

1. Young Lawyer Representation in Accreditation

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar should add two young lawyers to its Council in 2018.
The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar should change its bylaws to designate two of 15 at-large Council positions to young lawyers.

2. Increased Data Transparency

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, using authority it already has under the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, should require schools to report as part of the Section’s annual questionnaire, and for the Section and schools to provide on their websites, (1) disaggregated borrowing data, including subcategories by race and gender; (2) disaggregated data on the amount of tuition paid by class year (1L or upper-level), race/ethnicity, and gender; (3) data on applicants and scholarships by gender and, to the extent the Section does not do so already, by race/ethnicity; (4) data on J.D. program completion and bar passage success.

3. User-Friendly Data Presentation

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar should simplify the Employment Summary Report, which includes graduate employment data.
The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar should simplify and reorganize the Standard 509 Information Report, which includes data related to admissions, attrition, bar passage, price, curricular offerings, diversity, faculty, refunds, and scholarships.

4. Disclosures at Time of Admission

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar should require law schools to provide every admitted law student a copy of the Standard 509 Information Report and Employment Summary Report as part of each student’s admissions offer.

5. Voluntary Disclosures by Law School

Every ABA-approved law school should voluntarily publish its school-specific NALP Report each year.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The changing focus among Canadian law schools from theory to clinics and practical skills

This article on the Canadian online legal magazine is by the Council of Canadian Law Deans discussing the history of legal education in Canada and noting the changing focus away from a purely theoretical curriculum towards a pedagogy that emphasizes practical skills training and clinical offerings. Like American law schools, the CCLD notes that Canadian law schools have historically focused on law as an academic pursuit with the pedagogy of choice being Landgell's case method approach. Eventually clinical courses emerged as an important part of the law school curriculum particularly in recent years given the growing desire to make legal education more practice-oriented. The CCLD then discusses several models reflecting different approaches to blending theory with practical skills training and the advantages and disadvantages of each.  No doubt some of our readers will be interested in reading the take of Canadian law deans on clinical education and the challenge to find the right balance between theory and practical skills. Here's an excerpt:

A Pedagogic Paradigm Shift in Clinical Legal Education: Towards Placing Practical and Theoretical Knowledge on an Equal Footing?

. . . . 

In defining what clinical education should look like there are several current approaches: Intra-Curricular, Extra-Curricular, Specialty Clinics, Experiential Courses, and Poverty Law Clinical Programs. There is also debate regarding the purposes of legal clinical education. Some argue that its utility is a means of teaching hands on practical lawyering skills to prepare for practice after school. Others see it as an opportunity for students to take on professional identities; deal with real law and ethical issues though working on real life cases. Still others see it as a means to politicize students to teach about social justice.


So which model is best and what is the purpose of clinical education for the modern Canadian law school? The answer to this question depends on many factors; financial resources, connections with the local legal community, particular access to justice needs in a particular region or province, and the number of willing practitioners to assist with these needs. These questions aside, one thing is clear, law schools are increasingly adjusting their approach to meet the needs of the profession, which includes increasing clinical opportunities and making them a more central component of the core curriculum, particularly in the upper years.


It should also be emphasized that offering clinical education does not preclude teaching research, theory or doctrine, but rather it strengthens it in a complimentary manner, broadening the elements of a law student’s knowledge and experience, serving to enhance their overall education. As stated in Educating Lawyers,

It would be a mistake, therefore, to take teaching centered on practice as hostile to generalization or theoretical formulation. Rather, careful analysis of intelligent practice reveals a more intricate relationship between theory and practice than in the positivist model – an understanding that is still poorly appreciated in the academy as a whole. (…) Learning situations such as the clinical case conference reveal the features of the environment in simplified forms so they can be understood by novice practitioners, who can begin to develop their own perception and judgment. In these situations, students often depend on conceptual knowledge to clarify conditions of practice while they gradually build up their repertoires of experience. For example novices can too learn rudiments of litigation, or client counseling, or negotiation by attending to the core element of the procedural and conceptual models exemplified in expert practice. The articulation and formulation of such core elements exemplifies the essential contribution of theoretical work to the domain of practice.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


January 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

LSAC reports law school applicants are up almost 10% from last year

The Law School Admission Council is reporting that law school applicants for the coming academic year are up 9.5% from this time last while applications are up 10.6%. Here are the details:

As of 1/19/18, there are 191,998 applications submitted by 29,287 applicants for the 2018–2019 academic year. Applicants are up 9.5% and applications are up 10.6% from 2017–2018.

Last year at this time, we had 48% of the preliminary final applicant and 49% of the application count. For updates, go to

LSAT test takers are also up from the quarterly benchmarks of last year anywhere from 10.7% to 27.9% (for the December administration of the test. Click here to see some additional data made available by LSAC regarding law school applications and applicants for the last three academic year cycles.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal blog.


January 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Comment on "Text Neck"

A few years ago, four girls graduated from high school on a beautiful Saturday in May.  They decided to go to one of their parents' homes in the Hamptons to celebrate.  The driver of the car texted and looked at her phone as she was driving.  They held the funeral for the four girls on the next Saturday.

Anyone who thinks they can text and drive are fooling themselves.  They suffer from a cognitive bias--the overconfidence effect.  AAA has asserted that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunken driving.

The same is true for those who look down constantly at their smart phones as they are walking.  The New York Post had an article a couple of years about distracted walkers, and the many accidents they caused.

Distracted driving and distracted walking are both dangerous.  Don't let your cognitive biases fool you into thinking you can avoid the danger.

For more information see Overcoming Cognitive Biases: Thinking More Clearly and Avoiding Manipulation by Others.

(Scott Fruehwald)


January 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Text neck" is now a thing

Put the damn phone down, will you please?!? Because constantly looking at it is not only having a negative effect on your mood, level of depression, ability to concentrate, and social engagement - to say nothing of poor manners - but it's also affecting your physical health due to a newly recognized medical condition called "text neck."  And because 75% of people surveyed by the Pew Research Center don't think they're part of the problem - that it's the other guy - when it comes to unhealthy smartphone use, your denial is almost certainly evidence that, yes, you too have a problem when it comes to using these devices to an unhealthy degree.  Read all about it in this story from the New York Times called Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods.


January 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Reflections on Identifying and Mapping Learning Competencies and Outcomes: What Do We Want Law Students to Learn?


This article considers the reasons why law schools have been asked to develop student learning outcomes and assess whether students are achieving them. It discusses the process one school undertook in developing outcomes as expressed in a set of competencies that its students would be expected to learn; and, it assesses that process. It concludes that, if undertaken with institutional commitment and effective strategies for faculty engagement, such a process can rationalize the curriculum, encourage faculty collaboration, and enhance student learning.

(Scott Fruehwald)

January 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Open letter from 30 learning scientists declares no evidence to support "learning styles"

An open letter signed by 30 leading neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, psychologists and other prominent researchers and scholars declares that there is no evidence to support the notion that individual student learning styles exist such as the so-called "visual," "audio" or "kinesthetic" styles commonly identified by teachers. So why does "learning style" theory persist? First, it has a lot of intuitive appeal - when we see, for example, students who've been raised on digital technologies constantly staring at their screens, it's very easy and natural to assume that they would learn best via visual, screen-based modalities (it's not true).  Another reason the learning style myth has been so persistent is that when educators talk to students about their supposed "learning style," insofar as it causes students to think and reflect on how they actually learn, it can have a positive impact on learning outcomes. Thus, encouraging a belief in individual learning styles becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy (but not because they work; rather it's the metacognitive aspect of asking students to reflect on their own thinking). So what's the harm in continuing to perpetuate a belief in "learning style" theory? As the scientists who signed the open letter argue, continuing to believe in a theory for which there is no empirical support means that precious educational resources will be diverted away from the study of more effective and merit-based learning strategies to the detriment of students.

Here's an excerpt from the letter which was published last March in The Guardian (UK) (I only just learned of it now):

No evidence to back idea of learning styles


There is widespread interest among teachers in the use of neuroscientific research findings in educational practice. However, there are also misconceptions and myths that are supposedly based on sound neuroscience that are prevalent in our schools. We wish to draw attention to this problem by focusing on an educational practice supposedly based on neuroscience that lacks sufficient evidence and so we believe should not be promoted or supported.


Generally known as “learning styles”, it is the belief that individuals can benefit from receiving information in their preferred format, based on a self-report questionnaire. This belief has much intuitive appeal because individuals are better at some things than others and ultimately there may be a brain basis for these differences. Learning styles promises to optimise education by tailoring materials to match the individual’s preferred mode of sensory information processing.


There are, however, a number of problems with the learning styles approach. First, there is no coherent framework of preferred learning styles. Usually, individuals are categorised into one of three preferred styles of auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners based on self-reports. One study found that there were more than 70 different models of learning styles including among others, “left v right brain,” “holistic v serialists,” “verbalisers v visualisers” and so on. The second problem is that categorising individuals can lead to the assumption of fixed or rigid learning style, which can impair motivation to apply oneself or adapt.


Finally, and most damning, is that there have been systematic studies of the effectiveness of learning styles that have consistently found either no evidence or very weak evidence to support the hypothesis that matching or “meshing” material in the appropriate format to an individual’s learning style is selectively more effective for educational attainment. Students will improve if they think about how they learn but not because material is matched to their supposed learning style. The Educational Endowment Foundation in the UK has concluded that learning styles is “Low impact for very low cost, based on limited evidence.”


These neuromyths may be ineffectual, but they are not low cost. We would submit that any activity that draws upon resources of time and money that could be better directed to evidence-based practices is costly and should be exposed and rejected. Such neuromyths create a false impression of individuals’ abilities, leading to expectations and excuses that are detrimental to learning in general, which is a cost in the long term.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


January 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Summer associate hiring declines at nation's largest firms

The data is in from this fall's OCI hiring season and it shows that at the nation's largest firms (employing more than 700 attorneys), summer associate hiring is down for the first time since 2012. Of course time will tell whether this is temporary, relatively meaningless setback in terms of the overall strength of the legal job market or instead whether it portends a bigger problem yet to come. The American Lawyer has more details:

Summer Associate Hiring Slowed at Largest Firms

Law firms of 700 or more lawyers pulled back on summer associate hiring for the first time since 2012, according to new data from the National Association for Law Placement.


Fewer law students snagged associate jobs at the nation’s largest law firms last summer.


New data from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) shows that firms with more than 700 lawyers scaled back their summer associate classes in 2017—the first decrease since 2012, when large firms started rebuilding the summer associate programs they gutted amid the economic recession.


The average size of the incoming summer associate classes at those large firms last summer was 20, down from 22 in 2016. (Those figures are for each firm office, not the total for each firm.)


“This is a meaningful dip in recruiting at the largest firms,” NALP executive director James Leipold told the law firm recruiters and law school career services personnel assembled in New York Thursday for the the organization’s annual recruiting summit, where he revealed the latest figures. “For the last three or four years, we had this bump in Big Law recruiting as they regrew their summer classes. That has ended.” 

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


January 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Networking tips for law students from National Jurist Magazine

Now that the fall recruiting season is over, those students who didn't get jobs (which is usually the majority of them once you go outside the most elite law schools) have to kick their auxiliary job search strategies into high gear. That means lots of networking and schmoozing which most people find uncomfortable at best and, at worst, loath. To the rescue comes this networking pep-talk in the form of an article from National Jurist Magazine which includes advice on developing one's "elevator speech," how to use voicemail effectively, writing thank you notes, and developing an overarching, targeted networking strategy.

Here's an excerpt from How to Network Your Way to a Job:

Like most law students, Scott Armstrong did not find a legal job through on-campus recruitment. Nor did he find a job through his law school’s job board. And he learned quickly that most law firms do not post job openings on websites such as Indeed or Monster.


Still, Armstrong was able to land a job with Venable, a national law firm with more than 600 lawyers, just months after graduating from University of South Carolina School of Law in 2016.


The secret to his success is no secret at all. Armstrong employed a well-known tactic that thousands of law school graduates use every year to find jobs: networking.


Armstrong’s process was straightforward. He made connections, got referrals and initiated contact with target employers.


“I actually started with social media,” he said. “I went on LinkedIn and looked at lawyers in the D.C. metro area to find alumni from my law school.”


From there, he began sending direct messages and building network connections. About 90 percent of his messages went unanswered, but the alumni who did respond were more than happy to help. Eventually, he connected with a University of South Carolina alum who had worked in D.C. and had maintained professional relationships with lawyers in the area.


“He gave me a bunch of contacts and JACK CRITTENDEN AND TYLER ROBERTS recommended that I reach out to them,” Armstrong said. “I eventually got in touch with a lawyer at Venable who is now my supervisor.”


Armstrong’s situation is not unique. The majority of third-year law students start the spring semester without a full-time job lined up for after graduation. First- and second-year students looking for summer associate positions often find themselves in similar positions.


In fact, less than one-fourth of all law students get jobs through on-campus recruitment in the fall. So, if you don’t have a job offer yet, don’t despair. There are plenty of jobs in this market, even if finding those jobs will take more work.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


January 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The latest updates to Professors Levit's and Rostron's author's guide to law review submissions

It's that time of year again, when Professor Nancy Levit and Allen Rostron (both UMKC) publish their annual update to the definitive guide for authors interested in submitted articles to law reviews (which also happens to be the 24th most downloaded article of all time on SSRN). Here's a synopsis of this year's update to their full article which can be found on SSRN here.

We  just updated our charts about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings from different sources for the Spring 2018 submission season covering the 203 main journals of each law school. 
A couple of the highlights from this round of revisions are:
First, again the chart includes information from the handful of journals that posted on their websites that they are not accepting submissions right now and what dates they say they'll resume accepting submissions. 
Second, while 62 law reviews still prefer or require submission through ExpressO, 31 schools (up from 27 at this time last year) now require Scholastica as the exclusive avenue for submissions, with 31 more preferring or strongly preferring it, and 28 accepting articles submitted through either ExpressO or Scholastica. Thirteen schools now have their own online web portals.  And one school each accepts articles on Twitter and bepress, while two accept submissions through Lex Opus.
The first chart contains information about each journal’s preferences about methods for submitting articles (e.g., e-mail, ExpressO, Scholastica, or regular mail), as well as special formatting requirements and how to request an expedited review.  The second chart contains rankings information from U.S. News and World Report as well as data from Washington & Lee’s law review website.
Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews and Journals: 
We’d welcome you to forward the link to anyone who you think might find it useful.   We appreciate any feedback you might have.


January 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help

Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help


"But in high schools and colleges, there is mounting evidence that the growth of online education is hurting a critical group: the less proficient students who are precisely those most in need of skilled classroom teachers."

"In the fully online model, on the other hand, a student may never be in the same room with an instructor. This category is the main problem. It is where less proficient students tend to run into trouble. After all, taking a class without a teacher requires high levels of self-motivation, self-regulation and organization. Yet in high schools across the country, students who are struggling in traditional classrooms are increasingly steered into online courses."

"This suggests that these online recovery courses often give students an easy passing grade without teaching them very much."

"Students with weak preparation don’t fare well in online college classes, as recent research by professors at Harvard and Stanford shows."

"The effects are lasting, with online students more likely to drop out of college altogether." "As of now, however, the evidence is clear. For advanced learners, online classes are a terrific option, but academically challenged students need a classroom with a teacher’s support."

(Scott Fruehwald)

January 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

preLaw Magazine highlights Suffolk U. School of Law's emphasis on "practice-ready" training for the 21st century

The Winter 2018 edition of preLaw Magazine has a very nice profile on Suffolk University School of Law's efforts to develop a practice-ready curriculum that focuses on the intersection of law and technology including experiential clinical offerings such as The Legal Innovation & Technology Lab and the Clinical Innovation and Technology Fellowship in which participants will explore ways to use technology to deliver more efficient legal services to clients. Here's an excerpt from the article:

How Suffolk is redefining practice-ready


It may be cliché to tout that your law school produces practice-ready lawyers, but the folks at Suffolk University Law School are redefining what that term means in the 21st century. By introducing concepts such as design thinking, lean thinking, process improvement and tech leveraging into its curriculum and clinics, Suffolk University has secured its position as one of the most innovative forces in legal education.


“It has long been a part of our DNA to give students the knowledge and skills they need to hit the round running,” said Andrew Perlman, dean at the Boston law school. “But what other kinds of skills do legal professionals need in the 21st century?”


Suffolk University is nationally recognized as a leader in experiential learning, offering numerous  opportunities for students to enhance their skills in legal writing, trial advocacy and dispute resolution. During their three years at Suffolk University, students have several opportunities to participate in the school’s legal clinics.


Similar experiential opportunities abound at law schools across the nation, but what sets Suffolk University apart is its zeal for legal innovation and technology.


“Our definition of practice-ready needs to evolve over time,” Perlman said. “We need to teach our students all of the skills that are traditionally taught in law school but also teach them all of the skills that are relevant for legal professionals today.”


. . . .

You can read the full article from preLaw Magazine here.


January 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Howard University School of Law seeking to hire a clinical admin director

Here are the details, such as they are:

Howard is hiring a new administrative coordinator in the Clinical Law Center. A link to the job posting has not been created yet, but if anyone knows of potentially interested candidates who have legal administrative experience and a commitment to social justice work, they should send their resume and cover letter to Bernice Ines at  The position requires a B.A., associate’s degree or equivalent experience.


If an interested candidate has any questions, please reach out to Bernice Ines, above, or Valerie Schneider, below.


Oh behalf of Howard University School of Law, 


Valerie Schneider

Associate Professor of Law

Interim Director of the Clinical Law Center

Howard University School of Law

2900 Van Ness Street NW

Washington, DC 20008

(202) 806-8119


January 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

For a New Year: An Invitation Regarding Law, Legal Education, and Imagining the Future by Michael Madison

Michael Madison has posted a five-part article on legal education and law practice.  (beginning here)

"Here’s the general point. For several different, intersecting reasons – the economics of law practice, the economics of higher education, developments in information technology, international influences, changes to government institutions and practices, changes in the public sphere, changes in social structure (and/or revealed attributes of social structures), changes in the design of professional practice – many quarters of the legal profession shared a deep sense that something critical is upon us, that something critical is upon us particularly as law schools and law teachers, and that something critical is emerging at scale, not just in local classrooms. What’s the point of going to law school? What’s the point of practicing law? What are we trying to teach?"

(Scott Fruehwald)

January 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Harvard Law students develop AI program to help lawyers draft contracts

Harvard Law Today is reporting on a new computer program developed by four Harvard Law School students that uses artificial intelligence to help lawyers draft contracts. 

HLS students harness artificial intelligence to revolutionize how lawyers draft and manage contracts


Four Harvard Law students have their heads in the cloud—and they think the rest of the legal profession should join them. With their powerful new search engine called Evisort that harnesses cloud storage and artificial intelligence, they hope to revolutionize the costly and labor-intensive way that lawyers currently handle contracts and other transactional work, liberating them for more creative and interesting tasks.


Developed by the students over the past two years, Evisort is “like Google for legal contracts,” says Jerry Ting ’18, co-founder and CEO, who came up with the idea as an undergraduate. While artificial intelligence is the cutting-edge of automating labor-intensive tasks such as document review, it hasn’t yet been widely applied to contracts. Evisort jumps into that gap by enabling lawyers to quickly sort through thousands of contracts and other documents to unlock key insights for transactional work. It has the potential to greatly enhance efficiency, improve accuracy, and save millions of dollars a year, the students and their supporters agree.


. . . . 


Evisort first converts scanned documents to searchable text—nothing new here. But it’s the next steps that have a revolutionary application for lawyers. Using artificial intelligence, Evisort sorts through all the contracts, categorizing them by subject area and type of contract, and identifies provisions within each contract. A whole range of key data is extracted such as party names, dates, and size of the deal.


Let’s say a salesperson in the middle of closing a high-value deal comes to general counsel seeking guidance on negotiating a provision on the limitation of liability. Right now, the lawyer can do a word search for “limitation on liability” among the contracts the legal team has access to in order to find relevant contracts, but she would have to open each one to read it and see if it’s helpful. Evisort, however, instantly scans every contract in the entire company that includes a limitation on liability—pulling up only those within certain date or other parameters that the lawyer wants, such as only within sales agreements. It presents this data in chart form showing when the contract was signed, how much money was involved in the deal, the language of the limitation on liability—without the lawyer having to read each document.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


January 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tips for succeeding in the second semester of your 1L year

Law school, especially the first year, is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time for the lessons to sink in and proverbial "light bulb" to switch on. It means that for many students, after the first battery of exams is over and the second semester has begun, they're still working their way up the learning curve.  And that means many of those students may be disappointed with their first semester grades and can easily become discouraged. But you have to remind yourself that the moment when all the material finally "clicks" occurs at different points in the semester for everyone. You'll get there, it just takes time.

To help keep 1L students motivated so they can push through the disappointment of first semester grades, this column from the National Jurist Magazine offers the following tips:

  • Focus on exams and your exam-taking techniques from day one. Treat the writing of exams like it's an additional substantive course in your schedule. Analyze what went wrong, what you did right, and schedule time into your weekly study routine to take practice exams. (From my perspective, this can't be emphasized enough - the need to treat exam writing like a separate, discrete skill that must be practiced over and over again in order to improve).
  • Related to that, develop a relationship with your professors. If you didn't do well on first semester exams, make appointments to meet with each of them in order to understand why. Even if you did well, meet with then anyway so you can better understand what went right and why.

Check out the rest of the column here.


January 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)