Monday, May 7, 2018
Advice from practicing lawyers to students thinking about law school and what skills they need to develop
Legal consulting and staffing firm Robert Half commissioned a survey of 350 practicing lawyers in the U.S. and Canada to ask them what advice they would give someone contemplating law school. The survey also asked attorneys what skills they think students need to develop because they are essential to the practice of law. Not surprisingly, survey respondents emphasized the need to develop good critical thinking and writing skills. Further, as one attorney put it, "don't get involved if you don't like reading." Amen, brother.
Here's what else the survey participants said:
1. "Take time and interview people in the profession before making a decision."
2. "Shadow an attorney first."
3. "Take a year off between college and law school to work at a law firm before embarking on school."
4. "Have a clear idea of what you intend to do with the degree."
5. "Map out the first 10 years of the career. Work back 10 years out from law school and figure out what value law school provides in terms of access to roles, skills and return on investment."
6. "Go to law school in a geographic area you would like to practice in."
7. "Be open to different applications of the degree."
8. "Don't do it for the money."
9. "Consider how long it will take to pay back your student loans."
Lawyers also emphasized the importance of developing key skills and experience during law school to prepare for a legal career:
10. "Learn to think critically."
11. "Try to concentrate on courses that relate to business, because part of the challenge in the practice of law is how to run a business."
12. "Don't get involved if you don't enjoy reading."
13. "Get a more scientific, technical background as opposed to a general arts background."
14. "Keep your options wide open, don't focus on one area of law."
15. "Be prepared for a marathon and take advantage of internships."
16. "Focus on a writing course so you stand out more when you become a lawyer."
17. "Get involved in the community, help people and network."
. . .
Lawyers offered the following guidance to help students maximize their educational experience and prepare for a future legal career:
. . . .
Continue reading the remainder of the Robert Half survey responses here.
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Yale Law School seeks to hire clinical fellow for Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development
Here are the details:
YALE LAW SCHOOL LUDWIG CLINICAL FELLOWSHIP
Community and Economic Development Clinic
Yale Law School is seeking applications for a Ludwig Clinical Fellow to begin on July 1, 2018. The Fellowship is designed for a lawyer with a minimum of three years of relevant practice experience who is interested in preparing for a career in law school clinical teaching. The Fellow will work with the Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development (CED).
CED provides transactional legal services to clients promoting economic opportunity and mobility. CED’s clients include affordable housing developers, community development financial institutions, farms and farmer’s markets, fair housing advocates, and neighborhood associations. CED’s legal services help our clients to expand access to financial services, bring arts institutions and grocery stores to chronically under-resourced communities, break down barriers to affordable housing development in high-opportunity communities, promote access to healthy foods, and facilitate entrepreneurship among low-income people.
On behalf of our clients, our students negotiate and draft contracts; provide advice on the tax consequences of deal structures and entity choices; structure and carry out real estate transactions; represent borrowers and lenders in financings; engage in legislative and regulatory advocacy; form for-profit and not-for-profit entities; and resolve land use and environmental issues. In addition to representing clients, students in their first semester of the clinic take a seminar which covers federal, state and local policies affecting urban and suburban places; substantive law in tax, real estate development, and corporate governance; and transactional and regulatory lawyering skills, such as negotiation and drafting contracts.
The Fellow’s responsibilities include representing clients, supervising students, assisting in teaching classes, and pursuing a scholarship agenda. The Fellow may be asked to co-teach a section of a half-semester research and writing program for first-year students. Candidates must be prepared to apply for admission to the Connecticut bar. (Candidates may qualify for admission without examination.) The Fellow will be supervised by the clinical faculty.
The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization is committed to building a culturally diverse and pluralistic faculty and staff committed to teaching and working in a multicultural environment. Candidates must be able to work both independently and as part of a team, and must possess strong written and oral communication skills. Experience in creative and community-driven advocacy is a strong plus. The position is for twelve months (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019) with the potential for renewal for an additional year if mutually agreeable. Annual salary is $63,000-68,000. In addition, the Fellow will receive health benefits and access to university facilities. Email a resume, cover letter, writing sample, and names, addresses and telephone numbers of three references to Osikhena Awudu, Program Manager, The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be accepted until May 31, 2018 but will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Yale Law School is an Affirmative Action,
Equal Opportunity, Title IX employer
Yale University considers applicants for employment without regard to, and does not discriminate on the basis of, an individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. Questions regarding Title IX may be referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, at TitleIX@yale.edu, or to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 8th Floor, Five Post Office Square, Boston MA 02109-3921. Telephone: 617.289.0111, Fax: 617.289.0150, TDD: 800.877.8339, or Email: email@example.com.
Thursday, May 3, 2018
Clinical fellowship at University of Georgia School of Law for Community Help and Family Justice Clinic
Here are the details of this two year paid fellowship:
The University of Georgia, School of Law’s Family Justice Clinic (FJC) and Community Health Law Partnership Clinic (Community HeLP), will jointly host a fellow over two years as part of the Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps. The fellowship should begin on or about June 1, 2018 and end May/June 2020.The fellow will be supervised by the faculty directors of two co-located law school clinics based at the University of Georgia, School of Law, in Athens, Georgia. Community HeLP is a medical-legal partnership clinic that focuses on immigration law and public benefits. FJC specializes in family violence and stalking protective orders and domestic relations law. Under the supervision of the two clinic directors, both of whom are former fellows and members of the Georgia Bar with deep experience in the relevant practice areas, the fellow would work with law students on a shared docket of cases involving immigrant crime survivors and conduct community outreach.The Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps is a legal fellowship program designed to increase capacity and access to civil legal help for crime victims. A cohort of approximately sixty fellows are placed at nonprofit organizations across the country to provide direct representation, outreach, and education, to victims of crimes, including human trafficking, fraud/identity theft, campus sexual assault, and hate crime, and immigrant victims of crime with meritorious claims for immigration relief. All fellows will incorporate crime victims’ rights enforcement into their practice and will receive training from the National Crime Victim Law Institute and other training and technical assistance providers.This program is supported by an award from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, Award Number 2017-MU-MU-K131, and private funding.
Integrated Reflective Practice: A Critical Imperative for Enhancing Legal Education and Professionalism by Michele Leering
Twenty-first century legal professionals need a reflective legal education that emphasizes self-assessment and self-efficacy; supports life-long learning; and builds the capacity for innovative thinking and responding creatively and constructively to “wicked problems”. “Reflective practice”—a core competency in other professions—has the potential to enhance the education of legal professionals by developing these skills. Encouraging and modelling reflective practice is best started in law school. This article aims to facilitate a dialogue about how reflective practice might be integrated into the law school curriculum and provides conceptual frameworks to help envision how reflective practice might be operationalized. Examples of reflective methods to help develop it as a competency will also be given. Reflective practice, as a disciplined form of reflective inquiry, offers the potential to enhance law student learning and, more systematically, develop professional expertise. Amongst other imperatives for enhancing legal education, various national reports call for strategic, collective and aligned action to better prepare future legal professionals to respond to growing gaps in access to justice and predictions of a disruptive and challenging future for the legal profession. Thus, this article will set out how reflective practice can nurture a positive, dynamic professional identity, cultivate resiliency, and forge a stronger sense of legal professionalism, while also supporting students to become both “justice ready” and “practice ready”.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
The Florida Bar has teamed up with its Young Lawyers Division to designate May as "health and wellness" month. (You can read the press release here) Although the partnership with the bar association is new, it's an initiative that the YLD began four years ago and now includes a website hosted by the Florida Bar devoted to mental health and wellness issues which you can check out here. I'm curious about what other state bar associations have developed similar programs.
And for those who are interested, there's a federal government website that lists all the national health observances on a month-by-month basis here (in case you're keeping track).
Hat tip to Rebecca Bandy (Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, The Florida Bar)
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
UPenn initiated the program a few years ago but I only recently ran across it on the school's website and figured I'd share it with our readers. It's a great idea that involves using local alums and practitioners to teach 75 minute mini-classes at the end of each spring semester that cover key practice skills students will need in their first jobs (whether it's a summer associate position or a full-time, post bar exam job). The "Nuts and Bolts" series is managed by Penn's Center on Professionalism and offers three tracks based on practice areas that include litigation, corporate law and "lawyering in the public interest." For example, students taking the litigation workshop may learn how to draft discovery requests as well as develop e-discovery strategies. Here's a more complete description of the program from UPenn's website:
Penn Law students have the good fortune of encountering a vast array of guest speakers who visit the Law School — noted scholars, expert practitioners, and even the occasional Supreme Court justice. These visitors are often at the peak of their legal careers and are able to serve as preeminent role models of the sophisticated attorneys Penn Law students may one day become. But before students acquire the experience and skill necessary to emulate these accomplished practitioners, they are eager to learn what the first few months or years of their career will look like.
“We wanted to create a program that demonstrates for students the skills they will need to perform the tasks they will be assigned during the very early days of practice,” said Jennifer Leonard L’04, director of Penn Law’s Center on Professionalism (COP).
To help students prepare for the early years of practice, COP has created a series of programs it offers through its Penn Law Practices portfolio. This hands-on, highly interactive suite of programs provides students with a variety of opportunities to learn about and practice some of the skills they will need in practice.
Through COP’s programming, students get a glimpse into how their skills and interests will align with different practice areas. One popular program under the Penn Law Practices umbrella is the Nuts & Bolts Series for 1L students, a collaborative effort among COP, Legal Practice Skills, and Alumni Relations. This three-part series gives students a chance to learn about and engage in the kinds of tasks that a junior attorney would be assigned in practice.
“By attending a Nuts & Bolts session, students learn — directly from practitioners — what is expected of young lawyers in particular practice areas,” said John Bradley, Legal Practice Skills Lecturer. “Through this exposure, students are able to evaluate whether a practice area is the right fit for them, they are better prepared to articulate their interest in interviews, and they gain a real-world understanding of what they should be prepared to do during their first months on the job.”
Penn Law offers the Nuts & Bolts series each spring, and students can choose from three different programs: litigation, corporate law, and lawyering in the public interest. Each program consists of a 75-minute workshop led by two Penn Law alumni who are practicing attorneys — one new member of the bar who is currently tackling the kind of work recent graduates will handle, and one senior attorney who can provide a more global perspective on how a junior attorney’s discrete assignments support the larger client representation.
During each session, students get to practice what they would be doing as junior attorneys through a series of exercises. For example, in the litigation workshop, attorneys might work with students to create requests for production of documents, interrogatories, and explore other aspects of e-discovery strategy.
In the corporate law workshop, on the other hand, past leaders have asked students to work with a binder of documents for an upcoming closing. Based on changes relayed to them by the senior attorney in the lead-up to the closing, students determined what they needed to update in the closing binder and were also required to understand and be able to explain why those updates should be made.
During last year’s lawyering in the public interest session, Rob Ballenger L’04, an attorney with Community Legal Services, presented students with a common problem a client might bring to CLS: the City had shut off the client’s water because the client’s landlord — who was responsible for paying the water bill — had neglected to pay the bill. Ballenger guided the students in developing questions an attorney might ask during the client intake stage, identifying the client’s immediate needs, the various ways the attorney might meet those needs, and the pros and cons of bringing a class action suit on behalf of similarly situated tenants of the same landlord.
“The Nuts & Bolts Series is a valuable tool for both our students in attendance and our alumni session leaders alike,” said Corey Fulton, Director of Alumni Relations. “In creating and leading these hands-on programs for current students, our newer Penn Law graduates are allowed a unique opportunity to take a step back and think critically about their indispensable roles as junior attorneys in supporting specific deal teams and litigation teams; managing senior attorney, partner, and client requests; and furthering the overarching goals of their practices and organizations.”
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
The Innovation Clinic focuses on transactional work by representing start-up ventures. The IC works closely with the University’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Details about the available position can be found here in addition to the advertisement below.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL is seeking qualified applicants for a full-time position teaching in a transactional clinic providing legal services for start-up ventures in the innovation sector. The appointment for the Bluhm-Helfand Director of the Innovation Clinic would begin during the 2018-19 academic year, with a strong preference for beginning on July 1, 2018. The position would also involve teaching a related seminar and/or clinical skills courses.
The position would include an appointment as Lecturer or an appointment to the clinical professor track, depending on experience and qualifications. Candidates must have a J.D., must have at least two years of relevant experience, and must be admitted to or eligible for admission to the Illinois bar. Candidates who teach in a law school legal clinic or who have prior experience supervising or teaching law students or other attorneys are strongly preferred and will be considered for appointment to the clinical professor track. Excellent writing, editing, and supervision skills are required. We value candidates who will contribute diverse backgrounds and perspectives that will enrich and improve student experiences and the Law School's intellectual culture.
Each candidate should submit a curriculum vita or resume, a list of references, a legal writing sample, a law school transcript, a cover letter that includes a detailed description of the candidate’s relevant practice experience and teaching experience, and course evaluations from prior teaching experience if any. Other material relevant to your candidacy may be included as well. Candidates must apply online and upload application material at:https://academiccareers.uchicago.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=55518, for consideration for a Lecturer position, and at https://academiccareers.uchicago.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=55546, for consideration for the clinical professor track position. All application material must be received by May 21, 2018.
The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination at http://www.uchicago.edu/about/non_discrimination_statement/. Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-0287 or emailACOppAdministrator@uchicago.edu with their request.
Over at the Best Practices for Legal Education Blog, former CLEA President Professor Robert Kuehn has a key post (complete with several helpful graphs) that takes a snapshot of student enrollment trends in clinical and other experiential-type coursework at all accredited ABA law schools since 2005 when the ABA implemented a "professional skills" curricular requirement. Professor Kuehn observes that total enrollment in clinical courses, externships and practice simulation courses has increased by almost 25% in the past 10 years. His review of the data also responds to those critics who assert that one explanation for the recent nationwide downturn in bar passage rates is that students have been diverted away from more traditional doctrinal coursework toward experiential classes. But Professor Kuehn refutes that by offering data that shows bar passage rates were in fact pretty stable from 2006 to 2013, a period during which student enrollment in experiential courses increased by more than 50%.
Professor Kuehn says that a full length article discussing this data in more detail is forthcoming from himself and co-author Professor David Moss (Wayne State). In the meantime, however, he's providing the aforementioned teaser here.
Friday, April 27, 2018
This is a new article by Professors Colleen Shanahan (Temple), Jeffrey Selbin (UC Berkeley), Alyx Mark (American Bar Foundation) and Anna Carpenter (Tulsa) that can be found at 92 Tul. L. Rev. 547 (2018) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:
Legal education reformers have long argued that law school clinics address two related needs: first, clinics teach students to be lawyers; and second, clinics serve low-income clients. In clinics, so the argument goes, law students working under the close supervision of faculty members learn the requisite skills to be good practitioners and professionals. In turn, clinical law students serve clients with civil and criminal justice needs that would otherwise go unmet.
Though we have these laudable teaching and service goals — and a vast literature describing the role of clinics in both the teaching and service dimensions — we have scant empirical evidence about whether and how clinics achieve these goals. We know from studies that law students value clinics, but do clinics prepare them to be lawyers? We also know from surveys that clinics provide hundreds of thousands of hours of free legal aid in low-income communities, but how well do clinic students serve clients?
These are big questions across a complex field and set of practices that cannot be answered by a single study. Nevertheless, we report here findings from a large data set of cases that shed some light on the teaching-service promise of law school clinics. Analyzing thousands of unemployment insurance cases involving different types of representation, we are able to compare clinical law students’ use of legal procedures and outcomes to those of experienced attorneys in cases in the same court.
We find that clinical law students behave very similarly to practicing attorneys in their use of legal procedures. Their clients also experience very similar case outcomes to clients of practicing attorneys. Though further research is needed on the impact of law school clinics in the teaching and service dimensions, our findings are consistent with claims that law school clinics help prepare students to be practicing lawyers and to serve low-income clients as well as lawyers do.
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Dear Dean Rosenbury,
I read your comments concerning The University of Florida Levin College of Law's problems on the February Florida bar. [From Daily Business Review, "The University of Florida Levin College of Law, for instance, came in last on the February exam with a 31.8 percent success rate. A statement attributed to its dean, Laura A. Rosenbury, called the “shocking” results “a clear wake-up call.” “The results are utterly unacceptable given the caliber of our students and the quality of their education,” according to the email. “The efforts we undertook prior to the February bar exam were clearly insufficient. We will be increasing the support we provide to the students taking the July 2018 bar exam. We have a long tradition at UF Law of respecting our students’ autonomy and control over the courses they take. Given these shocking and disheartening results, we are rethinking this approach and doubling down on our intervention strategy.”] Below are my suggestions on how to improve your bar passage rate.
You don't have to reinvent the wheel to improve your bar passage rate. There is plenty of research out there on how to improve law student performance. In addition, law professors have written many casebooks and texts that reflect the new learning on legal education.
As FIU Dean Tawia Ansah declared, “You can take really good bar-prep courses … but if the leadup to that isn’t sufficient, it’s going to show up in the results.” More specifically, educational research has demonstrated that you need active learning during all three years of law school, including the use of problem-solving exercises and frequent formative assessment, especially in the first year. Law schools also need to help students improve their metacognitive skills. Students particularly need to change their study skills. For example, pacing learning throughout the semester and self-testing instead of just rereading help both retention of knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge. I have discussed active learning and metacognition in depth in my article How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School , 1 Texas A & M Law Review 83 (2013). Moreover, Louis Schulze has written an article about the academic success program at Florida International University (here). Not only will the above techniques help you improve your bar pass rate, they will help you turn out more effective lawyers who are self-directed learners.
There are many books on teaching in general. I highly recommend Susan A. Ambrose et.al., How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (2010). Every law professor should read this book.
Establishing a more effective teaching program is not as hard as it sounds because numerous authors have written casebooks and other texts for this purpose. Foremost among these is the Context and Practice Series from Carolina Academic Press. The books in this series are casebooks, which provide opportunities for feedback, problem-solving exercises, self-directed learning strategies, and materials on professional development. CAP also has a Skills & Values Series, which professors can use as a skills supplement to their favorite casebook. Wolters Kluwer has developed The Law Simulation Series, and West Academic has four series to help students develop skills. (here)
Law schools can give their students a head start by having them read books that develop their foundational cognitive skills during the summer before law school. I have written two books for this purpose: Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer (2015) and Think Like a Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (2014). My book A Companion to Torts: How to Think Like a Torts Lawyer (2015) helps students develop legal reasoning and problem-solving skills within a torts context.
Best of luck with improving your bar pass rate.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Following up on a recent report from the ABA on the employment stats for the class of 2017 (which overall fared a bit better than the previous class due in part to fewer students chasing the available jobs), Law.com has taken the data and teased out some additional info in order to assess how individual schools stacked up against their peers. Specifically, Law.com has analyzed the job data in terms of which schools had the highest percentage of students obtaining jobs where bar passage is a requirement; which schools have performed the weakest in that regard; which schools are sending the most students into federal clerkships; into large firm jobs; and government and public interest jobs. Click here for a link to a series of charts prepared by Law.com that shows the following:
- Schools ranked # 1 to # 204 when it comes to placing students in full time, longterm jobs where bar passage is required (and the jobs are not funded by the schools themselves).
- Schools ranked # 1 to # 204 when it comes to placing students in either full time jobs where bar passage is required or in so-called "JD Advantage" jobs.
- The top schools ranked in terms of the highest percentage of students who are employed in school-funded jobs.
- Schools ranked in terms of highest percentage of graduates who had not found work more than 10 months after graduation.
- Schools ranked in terms of highest percentage who were underemployed 10 months after graduation (because they were either unemployed, working in temporary or part-time jobs ,or non-professional jobs).
Florida International University has scored highest on the Florida, February bar exam. Daily Business Review, Why FIU Dominates the Florida Bar Exam
“You can take really good bar-prep courses … but if the leadup to that isn’t sufficient, it’s going to show up in the results,” said [Dean] Ansah, a Columbia University graduate who teaches contracts, international business transactions, conflict of laws, professional responsibility and jurisprudence/legal theory. “I think our students are doing well on the bar because they’re learning how to write well and communicate well, and they’re learning communication skills throughout the program.”
"At the heart of FIU’s law curriculum is its mandatory legal skills and values program with three prongs over three semesters."
As this blog's readers know, I have talked about FIU's successful bar pass rate many times, mainly because they have scored highest many times. The reason for their success is that they draw on general educational scholarship to develop the most effective teaching and learning approaches. I use these approaches in my book, A Companion to Torts: How to Think Like a Torts Lawyer.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Campbell Law School of Raleigh, North Carolina has announced it is joining the list of law schools to launch a 3+3 program in cooperation with Meredith College that will allow students to obtain their undergrad and J.D. degrees in 6 years rather than 7 (thus saving participants some not so insignificant tuition costs). From Campbell's press release:
Campbell Law School and Meredith College have partnered to create an accelerated dual degree option for students seeking to earn undergraduate and juris doctor degrees in record time. Under the 3+3 accelerated dual degree program, Meredith College students can earn an undergraduate degree and a juris doctor from Campbell Law in six years rather than seven, saving both time and money.
The student will spend three years at Meredith College, completing all general education requirements and the coursework for her major. In her fourth year, the student will begin study at Campbell Law, and the credits earned during that year will complete her Meredith degree while counting towards the law degree. Students can continue to live on campus at Meredith during this fourth year.
There are a wide variety of majors at Meredith that students could complete in order to do the 3+3 program.
“This is a unique pathway for the top Meredith students to focus on law school early in their collegiate careers,” said Campbell Law Dean J. Rich Leonard.
Meredith College has a proven track record of preparing students for success in law school, according to Assistant Professor of Political Science Whitney Ross Manzo, Meredith’s pre-law adviser. Manzo will serve as the 3+3 program coordinator.
“Meredith’s general education program, which requires writing intensive courses, information literacy, and oral communication, builds skills that law schools want and that prepare our students for success in any career,” said Manzo. “Meredith also has a vast network of alumnae who are practicing lawyers or students in law school who want to help our current students succeed.”
Meredith and Campbell Law School share many characteristics that make this partnership attractive to students. Both schools offer small class sizes and supportive faculty, along with all the benefits of their location in the heart of North Carolina’s capital city.
Meredith Provost Matthew Poslusny said the new partnership with Campbell Law School underscores the College’s commitment to the professional preparation of its students.
“The 3+3 program partnership will allow our students to complete their law degree as seamlessly as possible,” said Poslusny. “Being able to attend a strong law school that is so near to where they have been obtaining their undergraduate degree seems like a perfect fit.”
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
The good news is that the percentage of law students finding full time, bar passage required employment following graduation has gone up almost 3% since last year. The bad news is that it's due to a smaller pool of job applicants since the number of available jobs has actually declined. You can read the ABA report here while Law.com has a summary here. An excerpt from the latter:
The class of 2017 posted gains in jobs requiring a law degree, but the number of jobs in which a law degree offers an advantage declined significantly.
The employment picture for new law graduates improved in 2017, marking the fourth straight year that a higher percentage of fresh J.D.s found legal jobs.
More than three-quarters of the class of 2017—75.3 percent—secured full-time, permanent jobs that require bar passage or jobs for which a law degree offers an advantage, within 10 months of leaving campus, according to new national figures released Friday by the American Bar Association. That’s up from 72.6 percent from the previous graduating class.
But like the previous three years, that employment gain resulted from a significantly smaller pool of law graduates entering the job market, not from growth in the number of entry-level legal jobs. Slightly fewer than 35,000 people graduated from ABA-accredited law schools in 2017. That’s a nearly 6 percent decline from the more than 37,000 law graduates in 2016.
The biggest gains were among traditional attorney jobs for which bar admission is required. The actual number of those jobs increased from the previous year, albeit slightly. Nearly 69 percent of 2017 law graduates found those jobs, up from 64.5 percent in 2016.
The percentage of graduates in full-time, long-term bar pass required jobs—which are often viewed as the gold standard for law jobs, and the positions most sought after—went from 61.8 percent in 2016 to 66.2 percent in 2017, a 4.4 percent increase.
Jobs for which a law degree offers an advantage did not see similar growth, however. Just 11.8 percent of 2017 graduates landed in those positions within 10 months, down from 14.1 percent the previous year, according to the ABA. In actual numbers, there were 1,100 fewer J.D.-advantage jobs reported.
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Continue reading here.
As the title implies, this is a list of skills you've learned in law school that can help you make the jump to another career outside of the law. The list is a valuable reminder that many of these skills are ones you might take for granted because they're considered par for the course in law school yet they are often highly valued outside that context. From the career counseling website the balance careers.com:
- Clear thinking
- Clear writing
- Attention to detail
- Dealing with difficult people and situations
- A great work ethic
- Identifying and solving problems
- Public speaking
- Synthesizing ideas
- Working with others
Read the full details here.
Friday, April 20, 2018
Law firm Reed Smith launches program to train summer associates to develop technologies to better deliver legal services
It's being touted as a "first of its kind" program in which Philadelphia based law firm Reed Smith will offer the opportunity to a small number of summer associates to develop technologies that improve the delivery of legal services. The new initiative called "The Legal Technology Summer Associate Program" saw the firm recruiting summer hires from law schools that have a curriculum strongly focused on legal technology. Here's more from the press release published on Reed Smith's website:
Global law firm Reed Smith today announced the launch of its Legal Technology Summer Associate Program, a new summer program that combines the traditional summer legal experience with a technology focus where associates will work with Reed Smith attorneys and the firm’s Innovation Team to develop creative and innovative, technology-driven solutions.
The associates will split their time between developing legal skills and knowledge, and working with the firm's Practice Innovation Team. In addition to traditional research, writing and other routine summer associate work, the five associates in the inaugural program will work on projects which will enhance legal service delivery through technology. Indicative projects will include an initiative to explore the application of blockchain and smart contract technology to real estate transactions, the development of an automated contract execution platform for clients and the design of an internal knowledge analytics tool. As they conduct their legal work, they will also be expected to consider how technology can assist in improving efficiency and service delivery.
There's a related story with more details here at the American Lawyer.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
U. Miami School of Law offers an "affordable housing practicum" that trains students to be real estate lawyers
Students at U. Miami who are enrolled in the school's Robert Traurig-Greenberg Traurig LL.M. in Real Property Development discuss the program's "affordable housing practicum" here and how it is helping them acquire the practical legal skills needed to work as real estate attorneys upon graduation.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
A sad and disheartening end for a small group of alums from the recently closed school who face substantial student loan debt (although those who withdrew before the school closed may be eligible for debt relief), no jobs, no school, and now all of them have failed the most recent administration of the state bar exam. The Charlotte Observer has more details:
A chaotic year at Charlotte School of Law has given way to a disastrous performance by its graduates on the most recent bar examination, according to newly released state figures.
Eleven recent alumni of the defunct school took the test for the first time in February. All failed.
Among the Charlotte Law graduates who had taken the test before, eight out of 73 passed the most recent exam.
Combined, that gives Charlotte Law an overall passing rate of 9.5 percent — by far the lowest of the state's seven law schools.
Statewide, 43 percent of the in-state law grads passed the exam on the first try, according to figures released by the N.C. Board of Law Examiners. Charlotte Law's performance pulled down the overall passage rate to 29 percent.
Several of the in-state schools saw their overall success rate fall. At UNC Chapel Hill, for example, the combined passing rate dropped from 65 percent in February 2017 to 46 percent this year. A total of 28 UNC law graduates took the most recent exam.
No school fell as far as Charlotte Law, which locked its doors in August. The end came nine months after the uptown school was bounced from the federal student-loan program amid regulatory scrutiny of its bar exam scores and the rigor of its curriculum and admissions — even as the for-profit operation charged more than $40,000 in tuition annually.
Charlotte Law had more graduates sit for the February exam than any other N.C. law school. According to the school's critics, the performance of Charlotte Law's final graduates illustrated the school's basic failings.
"There are many reasons this law school closed, and this is just one of them," said Staci Zaretsky, editor of the blog Above the Law, which first reported the bar results.
"God, that's depressing. At least with Charlotte's closure, the suffering has ended."
Over the weekend, Charlotte attorney Noell Tin posted on his Facebook page that the "zero point zero" passage rate of Charlotte Law's first-time takers reminded him of the movie "Animal House."
On Monday, Tin told the Observer he sympathizes with the local students who have taken on significant student loans and now may not be able to find the jobs and salaries to pay them off.
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Sunday, April 15, 2018
Suffolk Law School profs discuss curricular reforms intended to prepare students for "future practice"
There's an interview with Suffolk's Dean Andrew Perlman and Professor Gabriel Teninbaum in the March issue of Thomson Reuter's online magazine Practice Innovations in which they discuss efforts by the school to embrace curricular changes that better prepare students for the future of law practice as envisioned by people like Richard Susskind. Here's the link.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
The two day summit concluded today, Friday, and covered among other topics declining law school enrollments, increasing student loan debt, the need for curricular reform to better prepare students for the practice of law, the stagnant job market and the "justice gap." In other words, the usual suspects. Law.com filed this report:
Law schools have yet to embrace significant structural change despite years of financial and market pressures, said educators at the Summit on the Future of Legal Education and Entry to the Profession in Miami.
Times are troubled for legal education. That’s the tenor of the conversation among legal education leaders from across the nation who have gathered in Miami this week.
At the Summit on the Future of Legal Education and Entry to the Profession, the first panel discussion on Thursday quickly turned to issues of declining law school enrollment, soaring student debt, a stagnant entry-level job market and the justice gap.
“We’re in a perilous moment,” warned James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement during the first panel of the two-day summit, co-sponsored by Florida International University College of Law and the Law School Admission Council. “There is a push-pull between admission offices and the job market.”
With the law school applicant pool finally growing after an eight-year decline, law schools will be tempted to increase enrollment in the fall, risking the recent modest improvements in the entry-level lawyer job market, Leipold said. He pointed to the fact that the actual number of new lawyer positions has continued to contract. Law school graduate employment numbers have improved only because schools have pumped out fewer new lawyers since 2013, he said.
“[Increasing law school enrollment] would be the wrong thing to do,” Leipold said.
The summit drew leaders from each of the major organizations in the law school sphere, including the NALP; the American Bar Association; the Association of American Law Schools; and the National Conference of Bar Examiners, as well as deans and faculty members from a variety of schools.
Participants disagreed early on about how well law schools have changed to address the mounting pressures bearing down on legal education and the challenges students and graduates face.
Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of Accreditation and Admission to the Bar, said that despite years of crisis, law schools have yet to undergo deep structural changes.
“We haven’t really had any major reforms. We should have done it yesterday,” Currier said. “We’ve tinkered around the edges of the fundamental challenges of the business model.”
But law schools have changed with the times, countered Wendy Perdue, dean of the University of Richmond School of Law and president of the AALS. “Law schools are doing a lot that they weren’t doing in 1968,” Perdue said, while acknowledging that many of those changes have increased both the quality and cost of a law degree.
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