Sunday, August 24, 2014
Right now, our high-performing students are participating in on-campus interviews with employers large enough to be thinking about 2015 summer jobs. The young women are all wearing black or midnight blue suits with white blouses. The young men are all wearing black or midnight blue suits with white shirts and nice ties. They’ve all be prepped on what questions to expect and how to answer them.
I can’t help thinking about Malvina Reynolds’ song “Little Boxes,” popularized by Pete Seeger. You can listen to it here. Hey, we’re all entitled to have doubting moments like this every once in a while.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Yup, another law school earlier this month launched yet another incubator project according to the Boston Business Journal. This time it's UMass School of Law that has started a project called "Justice Bridge" which will put law grads (including one from Northeastern) to work helping lower income clients who have the means to pay a discounted fee but who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford a lawyer. Participating lawyers will earn a salary based on those discounted fees which the program's director expects will translate into the equivalent of a $50k annual salary. Participants have to make a two year commitment to the program (though they can leave earlier if they get another job) in exchange for which they will receive office space, mentors and other support. The Boston Business Journal has the full story here. An excerpt is below. But also check out Robert Ambrogi's LawSites blog which has additional details about "Justice Bridge."
The University of Massachusetts School of Law Dartmouth has arrived on Boston's legal scene, this week debuting a new venture in the Financial District that's designed like a start-up incubator — but for lawyers to launch their careers.
Called Justice Bridge, the center is located in basement space at 274 Franklin St. and it serves two purposes, first by employing graduates of UMass Dartmouth Law School and second by providing reduced-fee legal services for people who cannot afford the full fare of a Boston law firm but are able to pay something. With its mission as a public law school to provide access to legal education and access to legal services, UMass Dartmouth Law School and Justice Bridge have a natural synergy, said Mary Lu Bilek, dean of the UMass Dartmouth Law School
. . . .
The attorneys who work with Justice Bridge pay membership fees, which will be set at $500 a month starting in January when the pilot program has concluded. For that fee, the attorneys will get a furnished office space and access to business referrals by legal service providers with which Justice Bridge has relationships.
They also have access to mentors, including retired judges and attorneys as well as experienced senior partners from Boston, who will work with the Justice Bridge attorneys in “much the same way a partner would an associate in a large firm,” Zandrow said.
They will be asked to make a two-year commitment to Justice Bridge, although they can leave early if they find other employment. Their costs will include buying legal malpractice insurance and the cost of incorporating as a business so “they are not personally liable or exposed,” said Zandrow.
. . . .
For more information about the legal incubator projects begun by other schools, go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The ABA also maintains a list of legal incubators here.
Pofessor Derek Muller has correlated majors with LSAT scores. The students majoring in Classics had the highest LSATs. The next four, in order, were Policy Studies, International Relations, Art History, and Math. At the bottom were Social Work and Criminal Justice.
Note that the study reports correlations. There are numerous ways to explain the correlations. You can read more at PreLaw (here) (p.17).
Friday, August 22, 2014
Many readers of this blog will be interested to know that a new blog called the Legal Technology Blog has recently joined the Law Professor Blogs Network. The LT blog covers the intersection of technology and law practice including the technology skills law schools need to start teaching students to compete in the rapidly evolving legal services marketplace. There are already several posts you'll likely want to read including:
- Basic Legal Tech Skills That Should Exist in Law School Curricula
- New Incubator for Legal + Tech
- Yes, This Is Law School (referencing the recent NYT article This is Law School? and here)
Go check it out here.
Large firms have moved from the pyramid model of hiring to the diamond model. With the pyramid model, the firm would hire a significant number of newbies. Over time, some would leave voluntarily, and some would get the message that it was time to leave. As time went by, a few would make partner.
Under the diamond model, the firm hires fewer newbies, and later, fills the ranks with laterals from smaller firms. Tater, the firm would winnow out the ranks. Under this model, the firm gets young lawyers with some experience. Also, since some clients refuse to pay for the work/training of newbies, firms would rather hire young laterals whose work they can bill out.
The result: The market is good for young lawyers with a few years of experience, and less good for the new law school graduates. The smaller firms have spent time and money training young lawyers who are now hot items on the job market and will go out of their way to persuade them to stay. Interesting economics.
Analyzing Carnegie's Reach: The Contingent Nature of Innovation by Stephen Daniels, William M. Sullivan, and Martin Katz.
institutional commitment in these areas as well meaningful change is not likely. With this said,
the discussion in section VI provides reason for hope. It shows that for at least a small proportion
of respondents, there is evidence of the kind of coordinated activity needed across these three
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Earlier this month, the New York Times ran a story (here and here) describing how several law schools are attempting to "reinvent" the upper level curriculum to bolster student training and job opportunities. In particular, the story mentions several speciality programs aimed at teaching law students either how to be more entrepreneurial as lawyers or how to better understand the business needs of the clients they hope to serve as a means of enhancing their attractiveness to those potential employers.
One of the programs mentioned is called the "Tech Law Accelerator" project that kicked off this summer at the U. Colorado School of Law. It is designed as a "bootcamp" to help students better understand the specific legal needs of technology companies as a way of making participants more marketable job candidates upon graduation. Colorado's program involves both intensive classroom instruction followed by a summer placement with a technology company that lets students learn firsthand about the legal needs of these employers.
The National Law Journal has a good article providing more detail about the CU program. As Dean Phil Weiser told the NLJ, the "accelerator" model can be adapted to law school partnerships with other industries such as real estate or natural resources. Dean Weiser said that CU is "committed to sharing this model" with other interested schools and, indeed, received a $100k grant to help it do so. Here's an excerpt:
Colorado Law trains them in tech business basics
University of Colorado School of Law student Kate Armstrong spent her 10-week summer internship at technology consulting firm Ciber Inc., sitting in on business deals, observing the general counsel's interaction with other executives, researching overseas laws and writing draft agreements.
"I had been thinking that going in-house might be right for me, but I really wasn't sure," the third-year student said recently. "I'm a lot more confident in that direction now, and I've made some valuable connections."
Armstrong is one of 15 inaugural students in Colorado Law's Tech Lawyer Accelerator, designed to teach business skills and technology industry fundamentals before the students begin legal internships at technology firms.
Dean Philip Weiser had found that teaching students how to think like lawyers and develop practical legal skills wasn't enough. They also needed subject-matter expertise and basic business skills including teamwork and client interaction to be attractive to legal employers.
Under guidance by Bill Mooz, a former in-house lawyer at Sun Microsystems Inc. and now a scholar-in-residence at the law school, the Colorado program combines a four-week, on-campus "boot camp" with 10-week internships at technology firms that pay a minimum of $20 an hour.
"We're committed to sharing this model," Weiser said. "We think that this is the future of legal education, and we want to help other institutions figure out how to make it work for them." There's no reason, he said, the idea wouldn't work for other areas of the law such as real estate or natural resources.
. . . .
Continue reading the NLJ story here.
The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Eighth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applied Feminism and Work.” The conference will be held on March 5 and 6, 2015. For more information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf .
Papers might explore the following questions: What impact has feminist legal theory had on the workplace? How does work impact gender and vice versa? How might feminist legal theory respond to issues such as stalled immigration reform, economic inequality, pregnancy accommodation, the low-wage workforce, women’s access to economic opportunities, family-friendly work environments, paid sick and family leave, decline in unionization, and low minimum wage rates? What sort of support should society and law provide to ensure equal employment opportunities that provide for security for all? How do law and feminist legal theory conceptualize the role of the state and the private sector in relation to work? Are there rights to employment and what are their foundations? How will the recent Supreme Court Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn decisions impact economic opportunities for women? How will the new EEOC guidance on pregnancy accommodation and the Young v. UPS upcoming Supreme Court decision affect rights of female workers?
For more information, please click here.
You may have heard some rumblings suggesting that new law school will be springing up in Alaska, but I am doubtful. A diligent reporter at the Alaska Dispatch News traced out the story line.
It sounds like an ambitious individual with limited knowledge of the legal education industry has tried to accomplish a feat beyond her abilities. If I am mischaracterizing, I apologize. In any case, the news story tells the tale. You can access it here.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
According to the school's website, it is the first school in the nation to create a mandatory 1L course in financial literacy. Here are more details from the school's press release:
New Course Aims to Teach Students Financial Literacy
Beginning this fall, Fordham Law requires all 1L students to take a course aimed at bolstering their understanding of finance. It is the first law school to do so. The course, Quantitative Methods for Lawyers, will introduce Fordham Law students to basic financial concepts and general quantitative reasoning, skills that law firms and legal service providers deem integral to success in today’s legal marketplace.
Law school courses, including many in the first year, require some understanding of markets, cost-benefit analysis, and the time value of money. The Quantitative Methods course will expose students to these broad law-related finance issues, and in the long term, increase their ability to manage cases and transactions and strengthen their competence within firm management.
"Recognizing that quantitative reasoning is a critical component of every lawyer’s skill set, we created the Quantitative Methods for Lawyers course to introduce fundamental concepts and specialized vocabulary," explained Professor Linda Sugin, who helped design the new course.
The course consists of six hours of instruction and covers the following topics:
• Supply and demand, markets, and externalities
• Cost-benefit analysis
• Probability and causation
• Expected value and the time value of money
• Financial statements
• Ethics and the role of the lawyer in financial decisions
Each hour will be taught by a different member of the Law School’s full-time faculty. A unifying problem will tie together all the modules. In this way, students will start the course by analyzing the events leading up to a tort case and follow through as the case proceeds, using quantitative reasoning at every stage.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
According to the Enterprise Legal Management Trends Report, here is what law partners charge, on average across the country. These numbers seem quite low for the big city megafirms. You can access the full report here.
$589 Mergers and Acquisitions
$533 Corporate, General, Tax
$475 Regulatory & Compliance
$470 IP - Trademark
$435 IP - Patent
$431 Finance, Loans and Investments
$400 Commercial and Contracts
$375 Employment and Labor
$360 Real Estate
$343 Litigation - General
From JD Journal:
Faculty and staff at Western Michigan University Thomas W. Cooley Law School have been hit with devastating news reported by the Lansing City Press: more than 50 percent of these employees will be laid off. One faculty member stated that he could not disclose details about his severance package due to non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses, but that he is (obviously) “really, really pissed.”
The faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that he was notified just last week that his final day would be August 31.
The law school has been faced with declining enrollment, more than a 40 percent drop over the past few years. Tuition, however, has been raised 9 percent.
You can read more here. Over the last few years, I have wondered when the drop in enrollments was going to force schools to engage in massive lay-offs or close up shop. Maybe that time is upon us.
You can read more here. Over the last few years, I have wondered when the drop in enrollments was going to force schools to engage in massive lay-offs or close up shop. Maybe that time is upon us.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
In this Forbes editorial, Professor Michael I. Krauss (George Mason) advises newly matriculated 1L's that if they've enrolled because they lack other options yet dream of big money, they've picked "the wrong generation to go to law school." On the other hand, if you're interested in helping those under-served by the legal system for small wages while making large student loan payments, then "welcome, brother (and sister)." Here's an excerpt:
. . . .
You have decided to enter law school during “interesting” times. The business model for the private practice of law is a-changin, and many say it is broken. Law school tuition is higher than ever, yet incomes are stagnant and perhaps dropping. Law school loans, guaranteed by Uncle Sam and not dischargeable by bankruptcy, help you pay for tuition, but every increase in the generosity of federal largesses is yet another incentive for universities to capture rents by increasing tuition further.
. . . .
Are you interested in pursuing Justice, in making the world/your country/your state a place governed by the Rule of Law, freer from predators and safer from tyrants than it currently is? Are you interested in helping the 50% of Americans with legal problems who cannot currently afford legal help to resolve them? Are you interested in soberly attempting to understand and solve the incredibly difficult, and incredibly interesting, intellectual problems that underly so many of today’s legal disputes, and that are so misconstrued by a journalistic profession obsessed with political correctness? IF so, welcome to law school, we need you badly, you will find your studies fascinating and enriching, and you will be able to make a real difference in the world.
. . . .
[I]f you’re in law school because you didn’t know what else to do after your BA, because you hate Math (and erroneously think Law doesn’t require Math skills) and the sight of blood, therefore couldn’t be a physician, and have no goal other than to make a lot of money, and if you dislike work but have always relied on your IQ and adrenaline to ace all your courses, well, you chose the wrong generation to go to law school. Get thee out now whilest a partial refund of tuition is still available.
. . . .
Continue reading at Forbes here.
Hat tip to ATL.
Last April Texas A & M purchased Texas Wesleyan’s law school for $73.2 million. Now Texas Wesleyan grads argue that they are entitled to Texas A & M diplomas. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
A dozen frustrated law school alumni filed a complaint with the American Bar Association Friday that Texas A&M University is using Texas Wesleyan law alumni statistics to market the school but won’t grant them retroactive Aggie diplomas.
A&M officials say they can’t give diplomas to people who didn’t attend A&M.
A&M has attempted a compromise:
In April, the university sent certificates to about 3,800 alumni that they could frame and display next to their Wesleyan diplomas, Short said.
“It was really intended as a formal, tangible recognition of the graduates in our community,” Short said.
The certificates are topped with the A&M name followed by the graduate’s name and a sentence about how he or she was “in good standing and a colleague of past, present and future graduates” of A&M University.
“It left us scratching our heads about what is was supposed to mean,” Norred said. “It says we are colleagues. We are colleagues with all attorneys. I don’t know what this thing was supposed to do. It only made people more upset.”
[Law school Vice-Dean Aric] Short said, “For our purpose, they are all members of the alumni community. The decision on granting diplomas is made by the university in College Station, and we are trying to do everything we can in our power to include everyone.”
You can read more here.
From Brain Pickings:
Penned by Chinese poet Yang Wanli in the 12th century, the poem, translated by Jonathan Chaves, is a renunciation of books as a distraction from the core Buddhist virtue of mindful presence:
Don’t read books!
Don’t chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don’t turn into a haggard old man,
it’s annoying for others to have to hear you.
It’s so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
It’s beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you’re tired go to sleep.
You can read more here (August 19). You probably shouldn’t share this with your law students :)
Monday, August 18, 2014
With the help of the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, the Taskforce on eLawyering sent a survey last year to 203 ABA accredited law schools to determine the extent to which they are teaching legal practice technology. Specifically, the survey asked what schools are doing by way of coursework or other steps to teach students electronic "document assembly and drafting, courtroom technology, decision support systems, the ethics of legal technology, legal tech start-ups, marketing, matter and knowledge management, new model law firms, online dispute resolution, project management, software development, legal process engineering, access to justice and legal technology, cloud computing, law firm Web development, online marketing issues, social media and lawyering, and computer security and law practice."
Because only 32 schools returned the survey* (a 16% response rate), the Task Force acknowledges it is difficult to draw meaningful conclusions about which schools are doing the most to teach students the technology skills they will need in practice. Nevertheless, the Task Force has identified what it calls "10 points of light" regarding schools that offer "multiple courses or have dedicated centers—and actively involve regular faculty" in teaching these vital practice skills.
In alphabetical order, those "top 10" schools are:
- Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School
- Chicago–Kent College of Law
- Columbia Law School
- Florida Coastal School of Law
- Georgetown University Law Center
- Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law
- Michigan State University College of Law’s ReInvent Law Laboratory
- University of Pittsburgh School of Law
- Suffolk University Law School
- Vermont Law School
Continue reading here for a summary of the coursework and other offerings each of the schools on the list have taken to provide students with law practice technology skills.
The Chronicle of Higher Education gives us a catalogue of excuses for plagiarism. Here are the excuses (greatly abridged):
The Extenuating-Circumstances Defense
The “Absolutely Not, But …” Defense
The “It Was My Research Assistant” Defense
The “I Am Not a Crook” Defense[“He denied wrongdoing, though, saying the allegations of plagiarism were “unfounded.””]
The “My Detractors” Defense
The Straight Apology
The “It Was a Crazy Time” Defense:“This is not an excuse, and I would never offer it up as an excuse, but at that point in my life, I had a family. I worked two jobs. I was running for the Illinois State Senate. I was trying to get my dissertation finished,”
The “How Do You Define Plagiarism?” Defense
For the record, Merriam-Webster defines plagiarism as “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person.”
You can read more here. (You may need a subscription)
Sunday, August 17, 2014
This article from the American Lawyer discusses how two (relatively) new legal research companies are challenging the dominance of Westlaw and Lexis. One of the companies mentioned - Fastcase which was launched back in 2003 - has gained a strong foothold among practitioners through its program that provides members of several state and local bar asssociations free access. The other company mentioned, Ravel Law, was founded by a pair of Stanford Law School grads and is based on a visual approach to legal research (you can read a more detailed profile of the company here via the online ABA Journal Magazine). According to the AmLaw article, Ravel Law has already garnered about one third of the AmLaw 100 law firms among its users. Perhaps it's time to start introducing 1Ls to Ravel in addition to Fastcase, Bloomberg Law, LoisLaw, etc. You can read the full article about Fastcase and Ravel here via AmLaw.
The Thomas M. Cooley Law School is now the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School: Here are the opening paragraphs of the media release:
August 13, 2014 - KALAMAZOO, Mich.--After reviews by the Higher Learning Commission and the American Bar Association, an affiliation agreement in the works for more than a year has led to a new identity for the nation's largest law school--the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
Completion of the arrangement between the private nonprofit law school and the public research university drew officials from both schools to the WMU campus this week to announce that the affiliation is now effective. They also used the occasion to roll out the law school's new visual identity and reveal a number of initiatives that will benefit current and future students of both schools as well as the communities they serve.
Initiatives unveiled included an announcement that WMU Cooley Law will offer first-year law classes on WMU's Kalamazoo campus in fall 2015. In addition, faculty at both schools have begun the work of developing both a law minor and a 3+3 program at WMU that will allow students to earn both a bachelor's degree and a law degree in just six years.
You can read the rest here.
Think Progress, a liberal website, offers a large set of photos, posters, and other graphics. You might find them useful in class. For example, you might ask students to decide which are the most effective and which are the least effective and why. Consider comparing the two on maternity leave policies. You can access the visuals here.