Friday, December 12, 2014
Last week, I mentioned an article by Constance Z. Wagner that advocated teaching Corporations from a transactional, rather than the usual litigation, perspective. William J. Sjostrom has written a casebook that teaches Corporations from a transactional viewpoint.
Business Organizations: A Transactional Approach (Aspen Casebooks 2013)
From the abstract:
The author has drawn on his vast corporate law experience in selecting Business Organizations content and topic depth, covering what every budding corporate lawyer should know. Loaded with actual provisions from various documents corporate lawyers draft and review, the text shows how the legal concepts are written in the real world. Students gain a sense for what corporate lawyers do in practice. This is the only business organizations book on the market that allows students to work with complete transactional documents such as limited liability partnership agreements, LLC operating agreements, certificates of designation, warrant agreements, and shareholders agreements. Numerous exercises require students to apply what they've learned from the readings. The exercises help students analyze and apply contractual language in light of statutory provisions and case law encountered in a variety of situations. Designed to reinforce the material, the exercises are most useful in helping students develop the planning and problem-solving skills of a corporate lawyer, allowing them to work with documents and issues at the heart of a transactional practice. With more narrative and fewer cases, the author covers many legal concepts through concise explanations instead of judicial opinions. This keeps the book a manageable size while providing more depth in areas central to a corporate law practice. Unlike most casebooks, Business Organizations integrates note material into the text, enhancing readability by giving the book a better flow.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
After a long struggle, the Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University has obtained provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association. The key factors seem to be a new dean better at politicking with the ABA and an impressive increase in the school’s bar passage rate. You can read all about it in PreLaw, here.
From JD Journal (excerpts)
Large law firms in New York are handing out bonuses ranging from $15,000 to $100,000 for associates and it is all based on their tenure.
Bonuses ranging from $125,000 to $150,000 will be handed out to the most senior associates at Boies, Schiller & Flexner. Just last year, the average associate at the firm was awarded $85,000 in bonuses. Associates at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Davis Polk & Wardwell will receive $110,000 bonuses this year.
As of right now, it looks as if Boies Schiller is the law firm to beat when it comes to handing out end-of-year bonuses. Two of the firm’s associates will receive $350,000 bonuses.
You can read more here. I can’t help but being envious. At my school, we haven’t had raises in a few years, and never have we had bonuses like these.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Who hasn't run into this problem at least once in their career? If you haven't, you are indeed blessed and should move along now as there's really nothing here to see. For everyone else, you may want to check out this post from the Harvard Business Review blog that offers very practical tips for handling any and all of the following situations:
I notice they've left off the list what to do about the boss with a serious personality disorder. Maybe they'll get to that one in a future post. For now, the above ought to have you covered for the most common imbroglios you may find yourself in during this holiday season.
My book on legal writing is now available from ABA Publishing here.
Legal Writing Exercises: A Practical Guide to Clear and Persuasive Writing for Lawyers by E. Scott Fruehwald.
Legal writing is specialized writing; it has terminology, techniques, and forms all its own. However, it adheres to the same fundamentals as other types of writing. This handy resource will help you develop your legal writing skills so that you can more effectively communicate with others in the language of the law.
Each major section of the book starts with an explanation of a core concept of good writing and is followed by numerous exercises. By working through these illustrative exercises, you'll learn how to write concise, powerful sentences; eliminate un-needed words; and structure and combine sentences and paragraphs to create clear and persuasive documents, letters, and other types of written communication.
There over 90 illustrative exercises throughout the book. By proceeding through these exercises, and then reading the correct answers, you'll sharpen your legal writing skills. In addition, this isn't a dry text on grammar and writing, humorous comments are sprinkled throughout to lend a certain approachability to the subject matter.
According to the annual report by consultant Bob Denny, here’s what business trends show:
Federal False Claims
Labor & Employment.
Technology. Will become Red Red Hot if patent reform finally occurs next year.
Gay Marriage Rights.
Will Get Hot
HOT GEOGRAPHIC MARKETS
You can find much more detail here, at Attorney at Work.
Monday, December 8, 2014
"There is no App for That: The Need for Legal Educators and Practitioners to Comply With Ethical standards in the Digital Era"
Globalization and technology are in the process of transforming the practice of law, and that transformation should and will lead to various changes in attorney ethics and regulation. The new digital age is already presenting new and complex situations for practicing lawyers and will certainly bring new challenges for current law students by the time they enter the profession. To that end, the American Bar Association (ABA) authorized a full review of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Model Rules) through its Ethics 20/20 Commission (Ethics 20/20).
For example, Ethics 20/20 looked at the impact such changes in technology have on confidentiality and how lawyers communicate with their clients. The commission proposed new language of Model Rule 1.6, providing for lawyers to take into account “reasonable precautions” to protect confidentiality when utilizing increasingly popular technological innovations, such as social media and document storage data clouds. Next, it proposed amendments to Model Rule 1.1, encouraging lawyers to stay abreast of the benefits and risks of technology, and offered changes to Model Rule 4.4 encompassing protections relating to the inadvertent transmission of data to third parties, a common occurrence today. A number of other pending issues and rules are addressed within the framework of the Ethics 20/20 project, including communications between lawyers and clients, and forming attorney-client relationships through the use of social media, attorney on-line advertising, and other mediums in the digital age.In addition to the technological advances influencing lawyers, the new digital age has also increased lawyers' ability to practice on a global scale, thus creating new issues of professional responsibility and malpractice. Furthermore, Ethics 20/20 noted that outsourcing, only one of the many aspects of the globalization evolution in the practice of law, has become increasingly popular. More and more lawyers and law firms are opening up practices on an international playing field, thus exposing themselves to endless new, complex, and alternative ethical situations and regulations, as well as malpractice claims.
The ABA has recently approved the changes and modifications to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct proposed by Ethics 20/20, and as such, the revisions are now final and will soon become applicable to law practice. Accordingly, practicing attorneys and law students must be made aware of the ethical implications of the increased technological and globalized reality of law practice in order to succeed in their professional journey. It is our professional responsibility as legal educators to stay current on all of these developments and to incorporate these issues into our required Professional Responsibility course. This Article argues that in addition to being aware of all these developments in the legal profession and being responsible for incorporating them into the law school curriculum, legal educators have to give these developments special thought and attention, thus making them a central aspect of the course in order to prepare law students for ethical law practice in the digital era. Part II addresses the changing atmosphere in our society and the practice of law that came as a result of numerous technological advancements and globalization. Part III outlines the recently accepted amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct brought forth by Ethics 20/20 in response to these ongoing changes and advancements. Part IV discusses the influence of these and other new developments in today's law practice, and the implications it has on practicing lawyers and law students. Lawyers can no longer safely practice law the “old way,” and students and practitioners have no choice but to get on board with the new legal environment and regulation.
And inexplicable incompetence in representing a client in a capital murder case, no less:
In preparation for the trial, Hawver failed to investigate alibi witnesses, and also did not track his client’s cell phone to determine where he was at the time of the murders. He said, “I had no idea that cellphones had GPS capabilities at that time. Did you? I didn’t. If I had known it, I’d have been on it like a dog on a bone.” Hawver’s argument was that his client would have ensured all witnesses were dead if he had indeed killed the two female victims.
For the story, please click here. And don’t miss the video of the lawyer’s appeal where he dresses up like Thomas Jefferson.
Last week, there was an article in the New York Times concerning the fierce competition among law schools for students. (here) Excerpt: “It’s insane,” Professor Rodriguez said. “We’re in hand-to-hand combat with other schools.”
In light of this article, I decided to look at what law schools were best and worst at closing the deal--what law schools had the best yield of accepted students. The figures below are for the entering 2013 class (excluding P.R.) from the ABA website. (here) The average score was 23%
Washington & Lee
William & Mary
New Mexico 46%
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Both demand and salaries for corporate compliance officers are up yet few law schools have taken steps to prepare students for this growing field when getting a traditional law job is at best a 50-50 proposition for most grads. The Knowledge Effect blog at Thomson Reuters discusses how law schools can develop programs to better prepare students for expanding opportunities as a compliance officer. An excerpt:
As companies spend more on compliance to meet regulatory imperatives on financial crime, data privacy, supply-chain management and others, the focus on compliance officers and their skill set has expanded.
This has in turn put a focus on preparation for the increasingly challenging role of compliance officer, the subject of this three-part series. The first installment looks at how some U.S.-based law schools are starting to realize that they are well-suited to offer programs that will prepare students for this role, and it seems likely more will follow.
. . . .
Most law schools offer a course or two on white-collar crime and smaller seminars in discrete areas such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). This is in addition to the standardized, two-credit ethics course that U.S. law schools must offer third-year students.
Yet only a handful of law schools offer curricula geared specifically for the compliance role. This despite the fact that the compliance profession is booming, with starting salaries for compliance officers rising 3.5 percent each year since 2011.
There are no specialized degrees required for compliance officials. But as demand has intensified, candidates with law degrees have moved into the field in greater number.
Compliance professionals in banks or broker-dealers with a couple of years of experience often make $65,000 to $85,000; five to 10 years of experience can command a base salary of up to $150,000 per year.
JP Morgan Chase announced in late February that beefing up regulatory controls was a priority for 2014, even as it made steep head-count cuts elsewhere in the firm. The company said it planned to add 3,000 employees in the compliance function, even after adding 7,000 such employees in 2013.
Just as compliance is a growth area, the opposite is true of the job market for lawyers.
. . . .
You can continue reading here.
You may have encountered the student who tries to turn in a document longer than permitted by “short spacing”—for example, not double-spacing, but spacing a little less than double spacing and effectively squeezing more lines on a page. According to this report by the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, lawyers for the British Petroleum Company (BP) thought they could continue this cheap trick while in high-stakes practice:
A Federal judge criticized lawyers for a tactic some of us may have used in meeting page requirements in college term papers – fudging the spacing between lines to change the number of pages. In a ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier found that lawyers for British Petroleum Company abused leave to file a brief longer than usually allowed by reducing the spacing between the lines from double-spaced, yielding an extra six pages. He wrote, “The Court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules — particularly in a case as massive and complex as this .... Counsel's tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here."
The court offered an illustration
Page 2 of BP’s brief (CM/ECF page no. 10, Rec. Doc. 13269) provides a clear example. That page contains only text—no headings, footnotes, block quotes, double-returns, etc. There are 27 lines of text. A double-spaced page, with 12 point font and 1 inch margins should have only 23 lines. Multiplied across 35 pages, BP granted itself approximately 140 extra lines of text, or 6 extra pages (140/23 = 6.09).
A former clerk for Judge Barbier, now teaching law at the University of Alabama, notes that the judge could have stricken the brief for noncompliance. Cheaters beware.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
"Lawyer, Form Thyself: Professional Identity Formation Strategies in Legal Education, Professional Responsibility, and Experiential Courses"
This article is by Susan Daicoff (Arizona Summit) and available here on SSRN. From the abstract:
Professional identity formation as a learning objective in law school may appear to be nontraditional and perhaps even innovative. It is likely not a new concept, but at least has not traditionally been an explicit goal of legal education. In informal discussions among law professors, these ideas often emerge: law students develop their professional identities either in their families of origin or through life experiences prior to law school and therefore any such characteristics are set, ingrained, and perhaps immutable; law students develop their professional identities through interactions with supervisors during summer clerkships and after graduation -- “on the job” so to speak; or, finally, professional identity is an unteachable, untrainable, and intangible concept and law professors are unable to address it.
On Nov. 14, my colleague Jim Maule once again reported on Judge Judy. On his blog, “Mauled Again,” Jim provided links to his prior observations on various TV court shows: Judge Judy and Tax Law, Judge Judy and Tax Law Part II, TV Judge Gets Tax Observation Correct, The (Tax) Fraud Epidemic, and Tax Re-Visits Judge Judy.
Here is his latest report:
This time, once again a Judge Judy episode, the tax issue that came to light had no direct bearing on the outcome of the case, and drew no comment from the judge that I recall. The plaintiff had met a man, who when asked by her about his marital status, claimed to be single. So the plaintiff and the man started into a relationship. Eventually the man’s wife found out. She made the plaintiff aware of the fact that he was married.
The plaintiff confronted the man, and he maintained his claim that he was single. He even showed the plaintiff a copy of his W-4 form, on which he claimed single status. The judge asked the defendant, the man’s wife, if that was true, and the defendant replied that yes, it was, that they both filed as single individuals. How can that be? They are married and lived together, so the only appropriate choices for filing are married filing jointly, and married filing separately. Filing as single individuals is not permitted.
Judge Judy missed the IRS violation. We may never know if some IRS agent, viewing the show, rose from an easy chair and initiated an investigation.
Friday, December 5, 2014
The article is called - Incorporating Experiential Learning Techniques into Modern Law Curricula: The Case for Moot Courts and Mock Trials - and authored by Professor Noelle Higgins (Maynooth University, Dublin) and Dr. Yvonne Daly (Dublin City University). It is available on SSRN here. From the abstract:
The concept of arguing aspects of legal scenarios in order to facilitate student learning within the law curriculum originated in the vocational Inns of Court in 14th century England (Dickerson, 2000). Nowadays, simulations of court proceedings, such as moot courts and mock trials, are widely employed as educational tools in law modules in third level institutions, both academic and vocational, around the world (Knerr et al., 2001) in order to foster advocacy and legal reasoning skills (Hernandez, 1998). However, there is a dearth of empirical research (with the exception of Lynch, 1996 and Keyes & Whincop, 1997) on the actual benefits of such experiential learning techniques for students. The majority of literature on this topic tends to rely heavily on anecdotal evidence, provided by law lecturers on how he/she perceived that such tools benefitted his/her students (Gaubatz, 1981; Kenety, 1995; Hernandez, 1998). In order to properly evaluate whether or when such experiential learning techniques should be included in a law curriculum, a project was carried out in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University in the academic year 2008-2009, in order to assess their benefits as a pedagogical tool at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Perhaps differing from the approach to simulations which is adopted in many law courses in third level institutions, whereby there is a stand-alone ‘Moot Court’ module in place, the project carried out at DCU integrated the experiential learning techniques into substantive modules within the law curriculum.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
This is an interesting idea. William Howard Taft University in Denver is offering a new, first in the nation (according to the school's website) online Master's Degree in Business Management specifically targeted at new law grads "who are facing employment challenges" and need some training in the business aspects of running a solo or small firm practice. Below is a brief summary of the year long program which costs $18k. You can go here to check out further details.
The Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in Professional Practice Management is believed to be the first program of its kind – designed specifically for newly admitted attorneys who are facing employment challenges.(Enrollment is limited to qualified attorney applicants.)
The Program teaches the skills necessary to manage a successful solo or small legal practice. It combines a traditional M.B.A. curriculum with webinars and assignments directly related to the practice of law. For those that qualify, it is also the only University program approved for Title IV Federal Financial Aid, allowing some to borrow tuition and living expenses while also deferring repayment of existing federal student loans.
This Program is only offered in a telecommunications format. This format differs from other University programs in its delivery. Interested individuals should carefully read the Catalog Supplement for the Program. The Program is also special in that students can only enter in February and August, and unlike other University programs, it is subject to enrollment caps.
The objectives of the Program are:
- To develop the business skills necessary to start or manage a professional law practice.
- To offer a program of coursework and practical exercises in management and sound operational practices that will improve the likelihood of success of a professional law practice.
Successful graduates of the Program must demonstrate:
- The application of knowledge in the legal, theoretical, marketing and operational skills necessary to manage or consult to professional law practices.
- The ability to evaluate common issues and implement procedures focused on various professional practice scenarios based on sound reasoning and analysis.
- The ability to author a properly formatted and presented Business Plan of appropriate depth and breadth to present to potential partners or lenders.
Hat tip to the Faculty Lounge (though the reader comments left there suggest this idea is not being received well at all).
TIAA-CREF is the financial services company where many of academics have their retirement plans. Recently it asked its customers what retirement advice would they give their younger selves.
The responses have definite threads. The major thread is to start saving early. Though not very explicit, another is to live below your means. Because my parents were children of the Great Depression, they ingrained these lessons into me. I have passed this information on to my offspring and will pass it on to my students.
You can read the advice here.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
A Glossary for Experiential Education in Law Schools by Cynthia Adcock, Cynthia Batt, Susan Brooks, Justine Dunlap, Carrie Kaas, Kate Kruse, Susan Maze-Rothstein, and Ruth Anne Robbins (the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law Vocabulary Working Group).
This glossary was written by a collaboration of law teachers who are members of the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law. We are from a range of law schools and teach using a range of methodologies. Our goal has been to create a common vocabulary to help bring clarity to the nomenclature chaos.
Terms are organized into three categories: pedagogy, program design and course design. Significant delineations include experiential education pedagogy, which includes education through supervised practice experiences as well as simulated practice experiences, and clinical legal education, which is limited to education through supervised practice experiences, whether taught solely by faculty or by faculty in partnership with legal professionals external to the law school. Significant inclusions are programs not always considered experiential education: Cooperative Education Program, Lawyering Skills Competition Program, Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research Program, and Pro Bono Program.
This glossary does not set forth evaluative criteria for experiential offerings, leaving that task to regulatory and other legal education groups. It does, however, provide a definition for the ideal experiential education program: an integrated lawyering program.
The ABA Blawg 100 nominated "The Girl's Guide to Law School" (vote for the blog here - it's under the Careers/Law School tab) is running a two-fer on exam-taking tips. First up is this post called "Myth's About Law School Exams, From a Tutor Who Knows." It includes valuable insights like why it's a really bad idea to take practice exams the day before the real thing and why it's also a mistake to spend too much time studying.
The second post from TGGLS is called "1L Exams Start in a Week! What Should You Being Doing?" OK, so they've already started . . . but it's not too late to pick up some valuable tips on how to better manager your time or get the most out of practice exams (though I part ways with TGGLS on the advice about using commercial outlines).