Thursday, August 18, 2016

2016 ETL Conference - 6 Weeks and Counting!

From Alli Gerkman at ETL:

Dear ETL Friends:

Discussion around our Foundations for Practice project has been sweeping through law schools across the country, all leading up to our 5th Annual Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Conference next month.

In the past five years, we've covered a lot of ground together, and we hope you'll join us again this year as we discuss Learning Outcomes for Hire on September 22-24, 2016.

What if learning outcomes could be more than an ABA requirement and an internal tool to evaluate student learning objectives?

What if learning outcomes could also signal to legal employers that students have the foundations they desire in their workplace?

Building on Foundations for Practice, this Conference will focus on:

  • How to create meaningful learning outcomes
  • How to measure whether those outcomes are being met
  • How to turn those outcomes into tangible hiring criteria for legal employers

For more details on the conference—including registration instructions and location— please click here.

Our conference fills up quickly and hotel rooms at our special rate sell out every year—we encourage you to register now and book your room to ensure you are a part of these groundbreaking conversations.

We need you at the table this September as we discuss the future of legal education.

Alli Gerkman | Director

(Scott Fruehwald)

 

August 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Don’t Use Periods When You Text

According to studies, when you use periods in text messages, you sound insincere or angry. Here’s an illustration from The Conversation:

JACKIE I AM SO SO SO SORRY! I thought you were behind us in the cab and then I saw you weren’t!!!!! I feel soooooooo bad! Catch another cab and ill pay for it for youuuuu

Note that this message does not contain a message-final period, since that may convey insincerity that would contradict the apology being presented. Instead, the sender uses the non-standard long vowels in “soooooooo” and “youuuuu” as well as five exclamation points at the end of one sentence.

Compare this to a standardized version of the text message:

Jackie, I am so sorry. I thought you were behind us in the cab and then I saw you weren’t. I feel so bad! Catch another cab and I’ll pay for it for you.

This more formal version, according to the arguments made by Tannen and Darics, reads more like a work email sent to a colleague than one to a friend sincerely and fervently apologizing for a transportation mishap.

So much for the Queen’s English. You can read more here.

(ljs)

August 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Number of People Taking the Ohio Bar is Down 20% from 2013

From the Kegler, Brown, Hill and Ritter blog:

The number of individuals taking the Ohio bar continues to drop. 1,072 people applied to take the July 2016 Bar Exam, according to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

That number is down from July of 2015, when 1,117 people applied to take the July Bar, and 1,351 who sought to take the July 2013 Bar. The 2016 figure represents a 20% drop in applicants since 2013.

This reflects the current disenchantment with joining the legal profession. You can read more here.

(ljs)

August 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Suffolk U. School of Law seeking to hire a director for its IP clinical program

Here are the details on this tenure track opening for a candidate to direct the school's IP clinical program which is focused on clients with limited resources.

Suffolk University Law School in Boston invites applications for a tenure-track clinical faculty member to direct its Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic (“IPEC”) starting in the 2017-2018 academic year.  We seek candidates with strong academic records and a demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching and scholarship.  Prior experience with clinical teaching is preferred, though not required.  Applicants must either be admitted or eligible for admission to the Massachusetts bar.


IPEC is a dynamic inter-disciplinary clinic that collaborates regularly with Suffolk’s Sawyer Business School. It provides free legal services to underserved clients with limited resources on issues relating to new and emerging businesses, with a focus on intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets). Law students supervised by the clinic director provide a broad range of intellectual property and transactional services. Clients include entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, designers, software developers, online publishers, cloud service providers, artists, authors, filmmakers and musicians and are individuals, for-profit businesses, or nonprofits. This innovative clinic provides students with the hands-on, practical experience needed to navigate the rapidly evolving fields of intellectual property and entrepreneurship.


The ideal candidate will be a self-motivated individual who will “grow” the clinic by developing relationships with alumni, members of the academy and external entities. In addition to teaching a full-year clinic, all clinical faculty teach one non-clinical course in a related field. 


IPEC is one of nine in-house clinics in the Clinical Programs and is part of the Intellectual Property Concentration, which integrates doctrinal and experiential offerings. Both the Clinical Program and the Intellectual Property Concentration are nationally ranked. 


We encourage applications from women, minorities, and others whose backgrounds will contribute to the diversity of the faculty.  To apply, contact Professor Joseph Glannon (jglannon@suffolk.edu), Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108-4977.  Suffolk University is an equal opportunity employer.

(jbl).

August 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concealed Handguns on Campus

Handguns on college campuses is a controversial issue. Legislatures are pushing colleges to permit gun owners to carry their weapons on campus. The Texas legislature now requires public colleges to permit concealed handguns on campus, and the University of Texas has implemented policies to comply. To learn about its policies, please click here.

(ljs)

August 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump and Clinton on Energy and Environmental Policy

From Dentons, a detailed analysis of the positions of the two candidates. The summary:

Secretary Clinton's approach would largely build upon and expand current Obama Administration policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and promoting clean energy resources, while Mr. Trump would seek to increase fossil fuel production, undo what he considers burdensome regulations and end the US commitment to the Paris Agreement

You can read more here.

(ljs)

August 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Writing Opening at Texas A&M

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW seeks a full-time faculty candidate to fill a tenure-track or contract position in its Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Program. From its tenure-track positions to its expanded writing center, Texas A&M University School of Law prioritizes legal analysis, research, and writing. Our program consists of eight required credit hours of first year and upper-level specialized drafting courses.

Candidates must have a minimum J.D. degree or its equivalent. Preference will be given to those with demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and strong classroom teaching skills. Additionally, while the law school primarily is interested in entry-level candidates, more experienced candidates may be considered to the extent that their qualifications respond to the law school’s needs and interests. Texas A&M Law School has a unified tenure track system that requires all tenure-track and tenured faculty to engage in scholarship in addition to teaching and service.

Texas A&M University is a tier one research institution and American Association of Universities member. The university consists of 16 colleges and schools that collectively rank among the top 20 higher education institutions nationwide in terms of research and development expenditures. As part of its commitment to continue building on its tradition of excellence in scholarship, teaching, and public service, Texas A&M acquired the law school from Texas Wesleyan University in August of 2013. Since that time, the law school has embarked on a program of investment that increased its entering class credentials and financial aid budgets, while shrinking the class size; hired nineteen new faculty members, including thirteen prominent lateral hires; improved its physical facility; and substantially increased its career services, admissions, and student services staff. 

Texas A&M School of Law is located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the country. The Fort Worth/Dallas area, with a total population in excess of six million people, offers a low cost of living, a strong economy, and access to world-class museums, restaurants, entertainment, and outdoor activities.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Texas A&M welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of qualified individuals who will enhance the rich diversity of the university’s academic community. Applicants should email a résumé and cover letter indicating research and teaching interests to Professor Gabriel Eckstein, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at appointments@law.tamu.edu. Alternatively, résumés can be mailed to Professor Eckstein at Texas A&M University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6509.

August 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers by Michael D. Cicchini

Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers by Michael D. Cicchin.

 Abstract:     

"Legal education reform is currently a hot topic. The most promising ideas involve elevating skills-based training from its current sideshow status (where it is taught by adjunct and clinical instructors) to a meaningful and integral part of the mainstream curriculum. This type of skills-based reform, however, not only faces some practical roadblocks, but also it glosses over legal education’s deeper, more fundamental problem: the failure to adequately train students in the underlying substantive and procedural law. To address this more immediate issue, this Essay recommends three basic rules for reform. First, professors should teach an actual body of law, instead of a cobbled-together, multistate mishmash of cases from a casebook. Second, professors should teach the complete body of law, including the many topics they mistakenly view as too pedestrian to warrant classroom time. Third, professors should publish scholarship that benefits the bench and bar, rather than the academy, thereby strengthening their understanding of the important subjects they teach their students. This Essay explains the incredible benefits that would flow to students from this proposed, three-part reform, and further demonstrates how these three rules for educating tomorrow’s lawyers can be implemented today, by the existing professoriate and without any structural changes to the existing legal education model."
 
Excerpts:
 
"I learned of academic freedom firsthand when my law school class (including myself) were victimized by it nearly twenty years ago. In constitutional law our visiting professor taught only a few topics—topics which just so happened to coincide with the subject matter of his article-in-progress. I am sure it was a fun experience for the professor, but as a result we students learned next to nothing about free speech, and even less about the commerce clause and other important constitutional subjects.  Similarly, our ethics professor ignored many of the actual ethics rules by which we future lawyers would soon be governed, and instead immersed us in cases like Annesley v. Anglesea, an eighteenth century dispute litigated in William the Conqueror’s Court of Exchequer. Again, this was no doubt enjoyable for the professor (and perhaps even made him feel scholarly), but it left us students ignorant of many of our soon-to-be ethical obligations. And this problem is widespread."
 
"Professors should not focus on their topics of interest at the expense of what they view as the pedestrian aspects of the law—such as the ethics rule of confidentiality or the substitution-of-judge statute."
 
"Other articles, however, seem to cross the line that separates the headscratching from the bizarre, at least to the practicing lawyer. In one such article, a professor argued that “the mundane reality of the traffic stop” can destroy our fantasies—”freedom, escape, friendship, romance”—that we have come to associate with the “open road” through “books, movies, [and] songs[.]”40 In a more extreme example, another professor wrote about how our government should tax zombies in the coming “zombie apocalypse,” and also addressed the important question of “how estate and income tax laws should apply to vampires and ghosts.”41
 
"My issue with much of the so-called legal scholarship is not that the professors wrote on such topics—I strongly believe that everyone should be free to write about sports or neural networks or movie-based fantasies or (especially) zombies. But the problem is that law professors might not be writing such articles on their own time; they could be getting paid many tens of thousands of dollars per article in what might essentially be a tuition-subsidized frolic."42
 

August 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 15, 2016

The special skill set of introverted lawyers

From a special law school supplement to the New York Law Journal:

Harness the Skills of the Introverted Lawyer

 

. . . . 

 

A mindful and formidable introvert movement is underway in this country. Transformative books like Susan Cain's "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," hit the market in 2012. Other authors like Sophia Dembling, Laurie Helgoe, Jennifer Kahnweiler, Arnie Kozak, and Marti Olsen Laney offer advice on how to navigate the extroverted business world as an introvert. While introversion and our adversarial legal system may seem incompatible at first blush, legal educators and lawyers have begun noting how this personality trait adds undersung value in relationship-building, problem-solving, and promoting legal writing excellence in the profession. In February 2016, the American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division and the ABA Journal presented a joint webinar addressing the pivotal role that introverts can play in the profession.

 

Existing legal education and law practice training models undervalue the natural strengths of the introverted law student and lawyer, fostering unnecessary stress and anxiety for these individuals in a profession already fraught with mental health concerns. By increasing self-awareness of the assets they bring to legal problem-solving, and by mindfully approaching interpersonal interactions in the legal context, introverts can amplify their authentic voices and transform the profession. 

. . . . 

 

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

August 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Do Most New Attorneys Earn?

Not the $180K that some big law firms offer. From Law 360:

The new Cravath Swaine & Moore LLPbenchmark salary of $180,000 for entry-level attorneys in BigLaw will not be the norm, according to new research from The National Association for Law Placement, which found most new attorneys earned between $40,000 and $65,000 in their first year.

(You can read more here.)

From Law 360, here’s a chart showing a bimodal assortment of salaries that vary around the country.

(ljs)

August 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amazon Enters the University

From Yahoo Finance:

Amazon today announced an agreement with the University of Illinois at Chicago to open Amazon@UIC, a staffed pickup location in the Student Center East on the UIC campus. The Amazon pickup location offers the UIC campus community a convenient location to pick up and return Amazon orders, including virtually everything one needs for university life, from everyday essentials to tech devices.

Opening later this year, this approximately 2,300-square-foot space will be conveniently situated for UIC students, staff and faculty. Additionally, Amazon Prime members will receive Free Same-Day Pickup for orders placed by noon and Free One-Day Pickup for orders placed by 10PM. Students can sign up for an Amazon Prime Student membership and get a six-month trial followed by 50% off the regular price of Prime. To learn more about Amazon Prime Student, visit amazon.com/joinstudent.

You can read more here. This is only the beginning.

(ljs)

August 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another Editorial Supporting North Texas Law School

UNT-Dallas wants to make law school less elitist — and that could be its downfall by Holly K. Hacker.

"Officials at the UNT-Dallas College of Law tried something different. They welcomed a diverse group of students, many with grit but not the grades or test scores to get into top law schools. They kept tuition low to avoid six-figure debt.

But that plan will succeed only if students graduate, pass the bar exam and find jobs.  A key group with the American Bar Association doubts UNT-Dallas can pull it off, and has recommended that the school not be accredited.

At stake are the futures of 360 students and more than $100 million that taxpayers have invested in the University of North Texas law school, which opened two years ago in downtown Dallas."

"'We don’t need more carbon copies of existing law schools. We need more doing different things,' said Andrew Morriss, dean of Texas A&M’s law school in Fort Worth."

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Designing online law school courses for students with attentional issues

That's the subject of this new article by Professor Dyane O'Leary (Suffolk) called Flipped Out, Plugged in, and Wired Up: Fostering Success for Students with ADHD in the New Digital Law School.  In this article, Professor O'Leary discusses the results of interviews she conducted with six law students at her school regarding their experience with online education and then based on that makes recommendations for how best to design such courses and modes of instruction to accommodate students suffering from attentional disorders. Here's the abstract

Complete a Blackboard module. Edit the class Wiki. Upload a final exam answer. Farewell to the law school of the past; online learning in legal education is here to stay. But a perfect storm is brewing.

As enthusiasm for an online J.D. degree swells, so too does the number of law students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Online options may appeal to students with a cognitive disability such as ADHD, but challenges lurk behind the screens. Why? Because the skills required to succeed online are often the very ones these students lack. The conversation and literature regarding online learning in legal education is robust, but this paradox has been unexplored - until now.

This is the first research study of law students with ADHD in online learning environments. My study examined students’ experiences in courses not conducted exclusively in a physical classroom, and the results will inform educators who seek to increase the breadth of online programs. Courses that are web-facilitated, hybrid or fully online offer some advantages for students with ADHD; however, the predominant theme from students was one of concern and uncertainty regarding their ability to navigate demanding law school courses, miles away from their classmates and professors.

Law school administrators, professors and disability service professionals cannot ignore students with cognitive disabilities when designing the online curriculum of the future. This article offers concrete suggestions at the institutional and individual faculty level to support students with ADHD.
Design of online programs is occurring at a remarkable pace, and this guidance for legal educators will improve the learning experience of all future digital law students.

(jbl). 

August 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Dallas Morning News: Editorial: The ABA must give UNT Dallas Law School time to achieve its audacious, but absolutely vital, mission

Last week, I wrote a defense of the UNT Dallas Law School, which had just received an unfavorable accreditation recommendation from an ABA committee.  An editorial in the Dallas Morning News similarly defends North Texas.  (here)  Excerpts:

"As the new law school prepares to welcome its third class later this month, anxiety is running high. Earlier this week, the school disclosed that a committee of American Bar Association evaluators has recommended against accreditation for the school."

"We write today, however, to urge the students, their faculty, and the school's many backers to not despair. Courage and hope, and a bit of patience, are in order.  The school has a strong case to make to the ABA, and it has time to make it. A decision on accreditation will not be made until October. Even a negative decision is not permanent, and can be revisited."

"But the main reason to not lose hope is because the school is on track to deliver on what everyone involved always knew was a tremendously ambitious -- and equally vital -- mission. Dallas, to say nothing of Texas, desperately needs this new law school because it needs the kind of lawyers it has promised to produce."

"The University of North Texas at Dallas aims to graduate would-be lawyers who come from more diverse backgrounds. It has pledged to train them differently -- with a different approach to teaching and a different kind of faculty -- and it has promised to do it for tuition that is Texas' lowest. Low enough to permit graduates to leave without the crippling, six-figure debt loads that so many young lawyers face."

"That will leave them free to consider careers in public service or in private practice serving individuals and small businesses who cannot afford the steep hourly fees corporate law firms command."

"To do this, UNT Dallas has accepted students with lower-than-usual LSAT scores and weaker-than-usual grades. . . .  Those concerns have led the ABA observers to worry about the school's long-term viability."

"We believe the ABA concerns are premature. The school should be encouraged on its path, not frustrated. The final proof will be in whether it can succeed in preparing its charges for the bar exam and for careers as lawyers. The ABA should allow the school to continue its work toward those goals."

"Three things that make UNT Dallas law school unique — and important

  1. By de-emphasizing LSAT scores, it attracts a more diverse student body, critical in a profession that is nearly 90 percent white
  2. Faculty focused on teaching, rather than scholarship, have established an intensely hands-on curriculum. 3.
  3. By setting tuition low, at about $15,000 a year, graduates will be freer to consider careers in public service or in other needed areas where salaries can be modest."

I agree with the editorial. North Texas is trying to do something different: educate their students based on the principles of the Carnegie Report. As I said yesterday on this blog, if a law school wants to admit a diverse class, they have the responsibility of properly educating that class and making sure the students pass the bar. North Texas is trying to do this. The ABA should give them the opportunity to do so.

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dealing with Judicial Bias

There are numerous checks on jury bias, but what about judicial bias? In civil cases, judges hold sway in pretrial motions. Is there a way to involve juries and thus broaden the decision making authority. Professor Dmitry Bam offers a solution: having jurors share the decision making authority with the judge. From the abstract:

Civil litigation in the 21st century revolves around pre-trial practice, including the motion to dismiss and the motion for summary judgment. Today, judges alone decide those dispositive motions. And when the judges deciding these motions are biased, the jury is conspicuously absent. I propose that jurors serve alongside judges to decide fact-intensive dispositive motions on what I call Hybrid Judicial Panels. This proposal restores the jury’s historical power to control biased judges, and offers the people themselves a renewed role in modern civil litigation.

You can access the article here. Dmitry Bam, Restoring the Civil Jury in a World without Trials, 94 Neb. L. Rev. 862 (2015).

(ljs)

August 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA adopts new rule on professional conduct prohibiting harassment and discrimination

During a House of Delegates meeting in San Francisco this week, the ABA adopted a new rule of professional conduct that prohibits attorneys from engaging in harassment or discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender and age among other characteristics. Though the rule is not binding on individual state bar associations, by adopting this "model" rule, the ABA hopes those organizations will follow suit.  The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has more details:

ABA Adopts Disputed Antidiscrimination Rule

 

Saying it was time to “catch up,” rule makers at the American Bar Association voted this week to make it professional misconduct for attorneys to harass or discriminate in actions related to the practice of law.

 

The rule has sparked much debate within the legal industry for months, with detractors saying the rule could abridge lawyers’ personal freedoms by limiting the ability to practice law as one sees fit.

 

But the proponents won the day Monday during a meeting in San Francisco of the ABA’s House of Delegates, when the rule was “resoundingly adopted,” according to the organization.

 

“It is time for the ABA to catch up,” Myles Lynk, chair of the ABA’s ethics committee, said during debate over the rule Monday.

 

Discipline of lawyers ultimately falls to the states, but a model ABA rule can carry some influence. After pushback, the rule now only restricts behavior that “the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination,” weaker language than the original version. It covers discrimination on the basis of a slew of categories, including race, sex, marital status, gender identity or age.

 

The revised version also clarifies that the rule does not “preclude legitimate advice or advocacy.”

 

. . . . 

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

August 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Best Law Firms for Women

Here is the 2016 list from “Working Mother and Flex Time Lawyers. Here are 10. For the other 40, please click here.

  1. Arnold & Porter
  2. Baker & McKenzie
  3. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings
  4. Cooley
  5. Crowell & Moring
  6. Davis Wright Tremaine
  7. Debevoise & Plimpton
  8. DLA Piper
  9. Dorsey & Whitney
  10. Duane Morris

(ljs)

August 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Words Not Yet In The Dictionary

The language keeps on changing. From the internet:

ACCORDIONATED (ah kor' de on ay tid) adj. Being able to drive and refold a road map at the same time.

AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks' trus) adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.

AQUALIBRIUM (ak wa lib' re um) n. The point where the stream of drinking fountain water is at its perfect height, thus relieving the drinker from having to (a) suck the nozzle, or (b) squirting himself in the eye.

BURGACIDE (burg' uh side) n. When a hamburger can't take any more torture and hurls itself through the grill into the coals.

BUZZACKS (buz' aks) n. People in phone marts who walk around picking up display phones and listening for dial tones even when they know the phones are not connected.

CARPERPETUATION (kar' pur pet u a shun) n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.

DIMP (dimp) n. A person who insults you in a cheap department store by asking, "Do you work here?"

DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt') v. To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, somehow assuming this will 'remove' all the germs.

ECNALUBMA (ek na lub' ma) n. A rescue vehicle which can only be seen in the rearview mirror.

EIFFELITES (eye' ful eyetz) n. Gangly people sitting in front of you at the movies who, no matter what direction you lean in, follow suit.

ELBONICS (el bon' iks) n. The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.

ELECELLERATION (el a cel er ay' shun) n. The mistaken notion that the more you press an elevator button the faster it will arrive.

FRUST (frust) n. The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dust pan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides to give up and sweep it under the rug.

LACTOMANGULATION (lak' to man gyu lay' shun) n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the 'illegal' side.

NEONPHANCY (ne on' fan see) n. A fluorescent light bulb struggling to come to life.

PEPPIER (pehp ee ay') n. The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.

PETONIC (peh ton' ik) adj. One who is embarrassed to undress in front of a household pet.

PHONESIA (fo nee' zhuh) n. The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.

PUPKUS (pup' kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.

TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay' shun) n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.

(ljs)

August 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Consumer Protection versus Diversity or Consumer Protection and Diversity in Law School Admissions

As most of you know, the ABA recently proposed a new bar passage standard.  "The recommendation would simplify and amend Standard 316 to require that the graduates of a law school in a particular calendar year who sit for a bar exam pass at a rate of 75 percent or higher within two years of their graduation. While first-time bar passage rates would continue to be collected and reported as a matter of consumer information under Standard 509, the focus for accreditation of law schools would be the school’s 'ultimate' bar pass rate measured over a shorter, two -year window."  (here)

This proposal has generated a great deal of controversy because opponents believe it will hurt diversity goals at many law schools.  In this post, I will exam both the pro and con positions concerning the proposal and offer a compromise.

Megan McArdle notes, "That is setting up a battle within the organization, pitting critics of two very different problems against each other. Those who are worried about the glut of law graduates who can’t get jobs want to crack down on law schools that have shored up their finances by admitting students who may not be able to pass the bar exam. But those who are worried about a lack of diversity in the profession fear that any crackdown on accreditation could disproportionately hurt schools that strive to bring more minorities into the field."  (here)

 She continues, "the number of applicants plummeted.  This placed law schools in an uncomfortable bind. Schools are optimized to a certain size of class. They have the number of classrooms and tenured professors that they expect to need in order to teach those students. . . .  With applications falling, schools had to decide whether to maintain their admissions standards (reducing the size of the incoming class), or maintain their student target (by lowering admissions standards). Unsurprisingly, a whole lot of them chose the latter."

She declares, "But it’s worse than that. Students attending law schools, including those with dim chances of practicing law, are often taking out several hundred thousand dollars in debt. And since schools compete for better students — who raise their statistics in law-school rankings — by giving them scholarships, in effect, the lower-ranked schools ended up subsidizing their likelier students by admitting kids who had little chance of passing the bar and earning enough to attack those loans. This may be economically viable, but it’s morally abhorrent."

She argues, "From the perspective of anyone but an administrator or professor at a marginal law school, it seems obvious that the ABA should shut those avaricious schools down."

She notes, however, "Minorities tend to have lower scores on standardized tests. So schools that serve a high percentage of minorities are going to be hit hard if the ABA enacts this accreditation policy. These schools would include dodgy for-profit outfits, yes, but also some morally upright historically black colleges and universities. Meaning that some minorities will be denied a shot at becoming a lawyer."

She concludes, "As long as the bar exam remains a significant barrier to practicing law, one of the obligations for schools that admit students with low LSAT scores is to prepare a large majority of them to pass the exam. Any school that fails to do so is not serving these students, but preying upon them. The American Bar Association would be right to revoke its accreditation."

While McArdle's arguments make sense, there was considerable criticism of the proposal at a recent meeting of the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.  (here)  "But speakers at the hearing said such a standard would adversely affect those law schools with significant diverse enrollments because black and Hispanic students from lower-income households have historically had more difficulty passing the bar exam, administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners twice a year. They said 22 law schools have at least a third minority enrollment and the change would have a chilling effect on those schools with an 'access mission.'"  "They also said that the proposal undermines the diversity goal stipulated in Standard 206 of the Council, the national accrediting body under U.S. Department of Education contract, as well as ABA Goal III, which is to eliminate bias and enhance diversity in the profession."  "While the Council has received written comments in support of the proposal, no one spoke in favor of it at the two-hour hearing."

I agree with McArdle that the ABA should not allow law schools to fill their classes with law students who are unlikely to pass the bar, especially considering the debt problems that face many recent law graduates.  However, I also believe that law schools need to turn out graduates who will represent the poor and minorities.  There is a shocking lack of service to these communities, considering the complexity of modern society.

My solution: those law schools that want to support diversity and provide representation to underserved communities must dedicate themselves to making sure that their students are prepared to become lawyers and pass the bar.  As I have written before (How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School, 1 Texas A & M Law Review 83 (2013)), law students can do a much better job in educating students with weaker backgrounds.  Law schools that want diversity should put their money (and other resources) where their mouth is.

First, law schools must instill a growth mindset in their students.  Many students come to law school believing that they will fail, when the opposite is true.

Second law schools need to adopt proven teaching and learning techniques from the first day of law school to graduation.  (By proven techniques, I mean those techniques that have been proven effective by recent general education scholars.)  The Socratic approach, case method, and testing only at the end of the semester will not help students from disadvantaged groups pass the bar.

These are the new techniques I am referring to:

  • Active learning
  • Frequent problem-solving exercises
  • Frequent formative assessment (feedback)
  • Giving students better study habits
  • Teaching students to reflect on what they have learned
  • Teaching students to self-assess and monitor
  • More individual attention
  • Explaining concepts in detail, rather than hiding the ball
  • Setting goals for each course and making the students aware of those goals
  • Teaching the students about metacognition
  • Helping students become self-directed learners (the ultimate goal)

In addition, I advocate teaching students the miniskills that constitute legal reasoning: rule-based reasoning, analogical reasoning, distinguishing cases and arguments, synthesis, policy-based reasoning.  See How to Think Like a Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (ABA Pub. 2013).

By giving law students better educations, we can change consumer protection versus diversity to consumer protection and diversity.

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Professional Oath for New Law Students

Along with many other law schools, my school will administer a professional oath to our incoming students:

As I begin the study of law, I understand that I am joining an academic community and entering a profession whose members share high ethical standards and ideals.

I accept the responsibilities of membership in that community and profession. I thus pledge that:

I will conduct my academic and professional life with honesty and integrity;

I will perform all academic and professional obligations diligently, competently and in good faith;

I will exercise collegiality and engage in respectful discourse with my classmates;

I will embrace the professional and ethical obligation to render pro bono service to the poor;

In all I do, I will honor the shared values of the legal profession.

 

I promise this freely and upon my on honor

As sworn on this day

August 18, 2016

Before the Honorable Elizabeth T. Hey

Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Faculty of the School of Law

(ljs)

August 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)