Wednesday, June 27, 2018
This article is from the summer 2018 Harvard Law Bulletin and profiles four different clinical programs that offer students a great experiential legal experience.
Nearly 40 years ago, Harvard Law School pioneers in clinical education Gary Bellow ’60 and Jeanne Charn ’70 launched the school’s Legal Services Center in a house in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. In its earliest incarnation, 24 students were enrolled.
Bellow passed away in 2000, but before that, he and Charn, now a senior lecturer on law at HLS, established the Legal Services Center in a commodious complex in Jamaica Plain. Today, more than 82 percent of the HLS Class of 2018 have participated in at least one clinic and 43 percent participated in two or more. The WilmerHale Legal Services Center, as it is now known, and the clinical wing of the newer WCC building on campus buzz with the creativity and commitment of students, faculty, and clients.
With 29 clinics in a wide range of fields of law and policy, students develop skills in an experiential program that constantly adapts to their interests, as well as to new approaches and areas of the law. They may choose domestic or international projects and focus on direct services, policy, litigation, or transactional work. Opportunities range from representing military veterans in the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic, to examining the First Amendment implications of online communications in the Cyberlaw Clinic, to working with the Navajo Nation through the Food Law and Policy Clinic.
“Our clinics have a particular power because students aren’t mere interns or simply second-chairing cases—we are grooming them for leadership in the world,” says Clinical Professor Daniel Nagin, vice dean for experiential and clinical education and faculty director of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center. A significant number of alumni from the International Human Rights Clinic have gone on to become leaders in human rights organizations, for example, and other clinics demonstrate similar influence.
Over 1,000 students enrolled in clinics this past year, either at one of 18 in-house clinics supervised by clinical faculty or through 11 externship clinics, including one that is focused on the role of state attorneys general, which, in an era rife with debate over states’ rights, is in huge demand. Some 700 students engaged in pro bono work through one of the 11 in-house Student Practice Organizations, which assist clients from Cambridge to the Mississippi Delta.
The HLS clinical program is one of the largest providers of free legal services in New England. In Boston and Cambridge alone, 3,556 clients were served in 2016, and hundreds more were represented in other parts of the state and country, and internationally.
While J.D. students are required to work 50 pro bono hours before graduation, the Class of 2018 put in 376,532 pro bono hours, an average of 637 hours per student. Since 2005, HLS students have provided 4.475 million hours of pro bono legal services to people in need.
“The level of expertise of the faculty and staff, the incredible students, and the phenomenal resources of the law school allow us to be a nimble program that can respond to the needs of clients and, more broadly, to the rule of law in the world,” says Lisa Dealy, assistant dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
For a glimpse of the clinics today, here are accounts of four projects connected to pressing legal and social issues: environmental protection, gentrification of low-income neighborhoods, immigrants’ rights, and prisoners’ rights in an age of mass incarceration.
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Continue reading here.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Patricia Baia, Teaching to The Smart Phone (iGen) Generation
"Teaching to the iGen (iGeneration, Plurals or Generation Z, born between 1995-2012, the generation after Millennials/GenerationY) is upon us and the rapid growth in mobile technologies has caused their understanding of the lines between academic, professional, and personal uses to be blurred. Legal educators interested in engaging this generation and increasing their learning can spend some time reflecting on their characteristics and experimenting with new teaching tools outlined below."
"Set against history, the standards’ language allows the inference then that competent and ethical membership in the profession – professional identity – is “fair personal character” and something in addition to “ethics” – the minimum standard of conduct and professionalism or civility. Professional identity needs to include the internalized ability and willingness to both be aware of one’s own perspective and its effect as well as to consider and assign value to societal consequences. This combination of private and professional character would be in line with that suggested by Holmes and Cardozo. A lawyer’s habitual awareness of perspective and its effect, followed by intentional decision-making coupled with an attitude of respect toward others and the legal system seem a good starting point as components of professional identity."
Sunday, June 24, 2018
The LSAC is reporting that as of 6/15/18, law school applicants are up 8.1% from last year at this time while applications are up 8.9% from 2017-2018. In total, 376,968 law school applications have been submitted by 58,000 applicants. The LSAC notes that as of this time last year, it had 95% of the preliminary final applicant count. Check out the data at LSAC's website here.
Indiana's Valparaiso School of Law has been on a death watch ever since university officials announced last fall that it would no longer be accepting student applications. But now comes word from Middle Tennessee State University that Valpo may be moving to the Volunteer State. The non-binding letter of intent signed by the schools doesn't indicate that MTSU will be buying Valpo but instead that it will be "gifted" to it. If the transfer goes through, it would make Valpo-MTSU Tennessee's seventh law school (including Duncan which thus far has failed to receive ABA accreditation). Tennessee has a population of approximately 6.7 million and ranks 20th in terms of state population. From the Daily News Journal:
Middle Tennessee State University has secured a non-binding letter of intent with Valparaiso University to transfer the Indiana institution's law school to Murfreesboro, President Sidney A. McPhee said.
Founded in 1879, the Valparaiso Law School has approximately 235 students and is accredited by the American Bar Association.
In order for the transfer to take place, approval would be needed from each university's governing boardsand the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, according to a news release from MTSU.
“Our exploration of this proposal is in keeping with MTSU’s tradition and strategic priority of pursuing innovative partnerships that create meaningful opportunities for our students, our region and our state,” McPhee said in the news release.
Valparaiso University is located in a northwest Indiana town by the same name.
A university spokeswoman did not provide any additional details about the agreement when contacted Friday afternoon.. . . .
Continue reading here.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Lindsey Gustafson, When Assessment Impedes Student Learning: Analyzing the Consequential Validity of Our Assessment Systems
"Under the ABA’s new directive that formative assessments be added to our curriculum, the pacing (and perhaps total workload) of our semesters may be altering without our having a sophisticated understanding of how to make those alterations. The middle of the semesters, which have traditionally been the playground for the Socratic Method and for legal writing assignments, may now be filled with a variety of assessment activities, and some of them may dominate students’ time in a way that impacts students’ ability to devote attention to their other classes.
This article is intended to guide law faculties as they work to create a diverse, coordinated culture of assessment that improves student learning and generates data with validity that will inform the students, our teaching, and also future employers. The article begins in Part II by describing the limited data we have on how increased assessments across the curriculum impact student learning. The lead study described in Part II demonstrates that even carefully coordinated assessment systems may fail to improve — and may actually inhibit — student learning. As explained in Part III, when assessments become disconnected from student learning, those assessments have low consequential validity, a term used to describe an assessment’s broader impact on student learning. Part IV sets out best practices for building assessments with high consequential validity. Creating a vibrant culture of assessment requires more than just a coordination of assessment activities on a shared calendar. When we each create assessments with high consequential validity, we are more likely to “stay in our own lane” with the design of our assessments: we will carefully use our students’ time to assess core learning goals in our course, and we will design assessments that will improve rather than detract from student’s learning in other courses."
Friday, June 22, 2018
Students are constantly asking their teachers "is this going to be on the test?" Shouldn't students who know the material have a good idea of what's going to be on the test? Isn't part of learning determining what is important and what isn't?
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Oakland University in southeastern Michigan and Detroit Mercy School of Law have joined the growing list of schools (here, here and here) collaborating to offering undergrads intent on obtaining a law degree a 3+3 program that allows them to shave a year off the otherwise seven year path to a bachelor's degree plus J.D. The Oakland Press has more details:
There’s a new program coming to Oakland University that would shorten the path to a law degree.
Through a new agreement with the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Oakland University is launching “3+3.” Students can earn both a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years. That processes usually takes seven years, according to the university.
“This agreement gives our students who intend to attend law school another option to complete their degrees in a seamless way,” Kevin Corcoran, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oakland University said in a statement. “Our colleagues at University of Detroit Mercy recognized the talent and work ethic of our students who have attended Law School there.”
During a student’s fourth year at Oakland University, they’ll attend the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law with 30 credits, or two semesters, already completed. The student then transfers back to Oakland University to complete their bachelor’s degree.
To apply, students must:
• Complete a minimum of 75 credits in an undergraduate degree
• Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5
• Take the Law School Admission Test
• Meet all other Detroit Mercy Law admission requirements
Admission deadline for the program will be Feb. 1 with a decision date of March 1 for the fall term.
Here are the details:
Working with the Center for Patient Partnerships (CPP) and Neighborhood Law Clinic (NLC) at the University of Wisconsin Law School, this clinical instructor position will coordinate legal services and supervise law and graduate students as they handle cases and client services-related to health and health harming legal issues. Students provide services in area primary care clinics and CPP's patient advocacy clinic. The program seeks to narrow the legal justice gap in our community by efficiently connecting people with existing legal services, educating about legal rights, and applying legal remedies to broader systemic inequalities. More details about the position found here: http://jobs.hr.wisc.edu/cw/en-us/job/498382/mlp-legal-services-supervisor
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
U. North Carolina School of Law receives $1.53 million gift to start new entrepreneurial legal clinic
From the (UNC) University Gazette:
It takes drive, ambition, patience and persistence to become an entrepreneur. It also takes access to legal resources—a need that will be met with the new clinical entrepreneurship program at the School of Law.
The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust made a $1.53 million gift to help establish the program that will provide rigorous, hands-on training for the next generation of public-spirited lawyers while filling gaps in North Carolina’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. The North Carolina General Assembly has also appropriated $465,000 in recurring funds to support the program.
Douglas Zinn, executive director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, said the trust is excited to support the entrepreneurship program that will train law students while strengthening North Carolina communities and the state’s economy.
“We are thrilled and inspired by the investment in the education of Carolina students that the Kenan Trust and the people of North Carolina, through their representatives, are making,” said Martin H. Brinkley, dean of the law school and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor.
The gift from the Kenan Trust supports For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the University’s history. The gift also reinforces the School of Law’s commitment to train lawyer-leaders to address the issues and questions of today’s dynamic, ever-evolving industries, particularly in areas of growth and influence in North Carolina and beyond.
. . . .
The program is expected to kick off in the 2019–20 academic year and will serve business and social enterprise entrepreneurs on the campuses of Carolina and N.C. State University, in partnership with Kenan-Flagler Business School, N.C. State University’s Poole College of Management, as well as the innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructures on both campuses.
Funding will support three interwoven legal clinics at the School of Law: a for-profit ventures clinic, an intellectual property clinic and Carolina Law’s existing Community Development Law Clinic, which is a longstanding, highly successful nonprofit social entrepreneurship clinic. Each clinic, supervised by a full-time member of the law school faculty, will train eight to 10 law students per semester.
Students will counsel business founders on the advantages and disadvantages of various business entity structures, form appropriate entities, draft organizational documents, capture and license intellectual property assets and seek tax-exempt status for community-based nonprofit organizations.
“Clinical education geared toward organizational clients, and the business and social entrepreneurs who establish them, is important to large numbers of our students,” Brinkley said. “The new entrepreneurship program will help Carolina Law embrace its mission by fulfilling dual goals of teaching
The School of Law also intends to identify one or more economic incubators in underserved parts of North Carolina that the entrepreneurship program can support.
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Continue reading here.
"The University of Missouri Law School started the Stone Soup Project about a year ago to incorporate more knowledge about actual practice in legal education.
Stone Soup contributes to a more balanced educational diet, adding context of disputes and more focus on parties. Readings on legal doctrine generally are extremely acontextual. Of course, students get value in reading excerpts of appellate case reports to learn about legal doctrine and analysis. Similarly, students get value in reading about practice theory."
Monday, June 18, 2018
For the past few years, Bill Gates, an avid reader who devours over 50 books per year, has published his list of summer reading recommendations on his blog Gates Notes. (I'm now reading one of his recommendations from last year - one he called "the most inspiring book I've ever read" - The Better Angels Of Our Nature by Steven Pinker). Here are his five recommendations for summer 2018:
- Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
- Everything Happens for a Reason: and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler
- Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
- Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, by David Christian
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World-and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosli
Saturday, June 16, 2018
The travel blog Atlas Obscura, of all places, has an interesting post about the origin of that "don't end a sentence with a preposition rule" most of us had hammered into our collective craniums during grade school. Turns out the rule is attributed to some "fusspot" named John Dryden who was simultaneously reviled as a person while praised as a literary star of 17th century England. The rule against so-called "preposition stranding" (i.e. ending a sentence with one) can be traced back to Dryden's criticism of a fellow playwright Ben Jonson. According to Atlas Obscura, however, the precise reason why this relatively minor, obscure critique on the part of Dryden given his otherwise voluminous literary output lodged itself in the grammarian's brain remains a mystery to this day. As the author of the AO piece Dan Nosowitz observes:
What's so frustrating about this whole preposition thing is that there doesn’t appear to be an easy answer as to how it became so completely lodged in formal English grammar. There are all these little hints as to why it might have taken hold—it is an easy-to-understand grammarian rule that came about at a time and place when English grammar was rapidly taking form, and it came from the mouth of the biggest literary figure of the time. But like Dryden himself, it’s a hard rule to get ahold of. Of which to get ahold.
Maybe now, almost four hundred years later, it's time to stop the madness and allow students (and all other writers for that matter) to end their sentences with a preposition if that's what works best to express the idea rather than mangling those sentences in order to appease the tastes of a long dead, irascible fusspot.
You can read the full Atlas Obscura post here.
Washington Post: A failed law school and the students it left behind. The story of Charlotte School of Law.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Penn Law hires a Director of Social Justice Programs to expand service initiatives (Daily Pennsylvanian)
Here. "The Toll Public Interest Center at Penn Law recently created and filled a new position called the Director of Social Justice Programs. Emily R. Sutcliffe, a graduate student who is earning her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Penn, was hired for the position."
Over at ATL, contributor Jill Switzer (who's email address is email@example.com) has a column in which she reminisces about the books that inspired her to go to law school. Among them, My Life in Court by Louis Nizer, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Compulsion by Meyer Levin (a novel about the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case), and Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver. Ms. Switzer also mentions a couple of classic TV series that influenced her decision to attend law school including Perry Mason and The Defenders starring E.G. Marshall (a 60's show I confess I hadn't heard of before). As for me, I remember reading about the time I was applying to law school How Can You Defend Those People: The Making of a Criminal Lawyer by James Kunen, Reversal of Fortune by Alan Dershowitz (where and when did that guy go wrong?) and a pair of books by former Cravath associate and Wall Street Journal Reporter James B. Stewart, the Prosecutors: Inside the Offices of the Government's Most Powerful Lawyers and The Partners: Inside America's Most Powerful Law Firms.
Check out Ms. Switzer's full column here and then please add your own book recommendations in the comments below.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz has praised Florida International University's astonishing success on the Florida bar.
"It is very easy to dismiss one impressive bar pass rate as a fluke. Even two in a row might possibly be dismissed. However, Florida International School of Law, ranked fifth among the 11 ABA-approved law schools in Florida, has enjoyed a bar pass rate, over the past six bar exams, that is first, first, first, second, first, and first in the state. In other words, we cannot even see the fluke line from where we are standing; instead, it’s time we recognize that FIU has found the bar pass secret sauce."
"What is that secret sauce?"
"The architect of FIU’s Bar Pass success, Professor Louis Schulze, has authored a law review article that provides some insight. The crux of Professor Schulze’s approach involves empowering law students by teaching them modern brain science principles and study strategies, convincing the students to implement those principles, and supporting their efforts to do so."
Exactly! For several years, we on this blog have been advocating that law schools look to general education research to improve teaching and learning. In fact, Dean Schwartz was the first legal scholar to look at general education research and apply it to legal education. Part of this general education research is that education scholars must understand how the brain works to understand how human's learn. I applied this knowledge in writing my book, Think Like a Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (ABA Pub. 2013). Many others in the legal profession have also used these principles. However, the fact that Dean Schwartz is singling out one law school for praise demonstrates that many more law schools and law professors need to change their learning approaches.
P.S. Keep repeating this mantra: "Law schools' number one goal should be to turn out self-regulated learners."
A Simple Low-Cost Institutional Learning-Outcomes Assessment Process by Andrea Anne Curcio.
Law school institutional learning outcomes require measuring nuanced skills that develop over time. Rather than look at achievement just in our own courses, institutional outcome-measures assessment requires collective faculty engagement and critical thinking about our students’ overall acquisition of the skills, knowledge, and qualities that ensure they graduate with the competencies necessary to begin life as professionals. Even for those who believe outcomes assessment is a positive move in legal education, in an era of limited budgets and already over-burdened faculty, the new mandated outcomes assessment process raises cost and workload concerns. This essay addresses those concerns. It describes a relatively simple, low-cost model to measure institutional law school learning outcomes that does not require any initial changes in individual faculty members’ pedagogical approach or assessment methods. It explains how a rubric method, used by the Association of American Colleges and Universities [AAC&U] and medical educators to assess a wide range of nuanced skills such as critical thinking and analysis, written and oral communication, problem-solving, intercultural competence, teamwork, and self-reflection, could be adapted by law schools. The essay explains a five-step institutional outcomes assessment process: 1. Develop rubrics for institutional learning outcomes that can be assessed in law school courses; 2. Identify courses that will use the rubrics; 3. Ask faculty in designated courses to assess and grade as they usually do, adding only one more step – completion of a short rubric for each student; 4. Enter the rubric data; and 5. Analyze and use the data to improve student learning. The essay appendix provides sample rubrics for a wide range of law school institutional learning outcomes. This outcomes assessment method provides an option for collecting data on institutional learning outcomes assessment in a cost-effective manner, allowing faculties to gather data that provides an overview of student learning across a wide range of learning outcomes. How faculties use that data depends upon the results as well as individual schools’ commitment to using the outcomes assessment process to help ensure their graduates have the knowledge, skills and values necessary to practice law.
Panelists at Thomson Reuters' 2018 Legal Executive Forum discuss future of law school skills training
The panel discussion, which took place last Friday in NYC during the annual TR conference, was called "Training the 21st Century Lawyer: Envisioning a Legal Industry Alliance" and included Jae Um, Founder & Executive Director of legal market insights firm Six Parsecs, Thomas Bender, co-president & co-managing director at Littler Mendelson and Professor William Henderson (Indiana University Maurer School of Law) who's also one of the principals behind the Institute for the Future of Law Practice. They discussed trends in law school curricular reform aimed at preparing students not just in acquiring the substantive legal knowledge needed to practice law but also legal technology, management skills, e-discovery, and better understanding the operational and business needs of the client. LegalTechNews has a report on what the panelists discussed:
Speakers at the Thomson Reuters 2018 Legal Executive Forum in New York argue that legal education has fallen behind as the legal industry has shifted to serve more operational and business needs.
Working in today’s legal market requires more skill than just knowing the law, but not all law schools have matched their curriculum to this changing marketplace.
“If you look at the legal market from the point of view of a law student, that is very far removed from the market you see,” said Jae Um, founder & executive director of legal market insights company Six Parsecs, at the June 8 “Training the 21st Century Lawyer: Envisioning a Legal Industry Alliance” session of Thomson Reuters’ 2018 Legal Executive Forum in New York.
Um noted that the current model of education, which trains around “conceptual subject matter expertise,” is outdated, and what law schools need to do is focus more on teaching students how to work in today’s legal market. Such a market is defined by the recent rise of legal operation professionals, knowledge management staff, and e-discovery managers, all of whom play an integral part in law firms. The work of today’s lawyers and legal professionals, therefore, is as much about solving a client’s business and operational needs as it is their legal ones.
William Henderson, professor of law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, noted that the rise of these new and different types of law firm positions was proof that the industry had undergone a profound change, even if legal education hasn’t kept up.
“We don’t change very often. But when we change, we change in an order of magnitude that is fairly large,” he said at the forum. “And I hope legal education is on the brink of creating a different narrative.”
But while most law schools have yet to change, some are redefining legal education from the ground up. As an example, Henderson pointed to The Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP), an organization that partners with law schools, firms and corporations to create internships for law students. These internships count as part of students’ legal education, and include two legal operations and legal tech boot camps that help prepare the students for their internships.
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Continue reading here.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
A group of "top" law schools has collected data on which OCI organizations (the data includes mostly BigLaw firms but also includes other organizations like the ACLU Immigrants Right Project and the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps) showing which require summer hires to sign mandatory arbitration agreements in the event of a dispute with their employers. The data also reflects which organizations require summer hires to sign confidentiality agreements. Man, things sure have changed since I was a summer associate (i.e. the idea of having to sign an arbitration or confidentiality agreement was inconceivable). Here's the story from Inside Higher Ed along with a link to the aforementioned chart:
A group of top law schools on Monday released the results of a survey of workplace harassment policies at law firms recruiting on their campuses.
Those law schools asked the firms last month to respond to questions about mandatory arbitration agreements and other policies dealing with workplace harassment. Student organizers had pushed for the disclosure of those policies, and recent news reports had shown some major law firms required summer associates to sign mandatory arbitration or nondisclosure agreements.
The survey results showed several top law firms require arbitration for workplace disputes, although some noted that they do not require confidentiality and others exclude harassment or discrimination claims. Almost half of the 200 firms that received the survey chose not to respond.