Monday, January 12, 2015
preLaw, a National Jurist Magazine publication, invited law schools to nominate clinics based on subject matter, structure or community served. The magazine's editors then narrowed the list to the top 15 along with 10 runners up. Go here to read a more detailed description of each clinic on the list and why preLaw's editors think they shine. For now, here's the list:
Low income clinics
- Wayne State
- Villanova (honorable mention)
- U.C. - Berkeley
- U.C. - Irvine
- Quinnipiac (honorable mention)
- St. Thomas (Minn.) (honorable mention)
- Widener (DE) (honorable mention)
- Washington & Lee
- Georgia State (honorable mention)
- Cardozo (indie film clinic (!))
- McGeorge (public policy)
- Georgetown (social enterprise & nonprofit law)
- Lewis & Clark (animal law)
- Indiana Tech (law clerk clinic)
- Miami (honorable mention for children & youth law clinic)
- BU (human trafficking clinic)
- Penn State (rural economic development)
- U. Miss. (pro bono initiative)
Here are two examples of translating legalese into plain English, perfect for classroom use. They come from Joseph Kimble’s book, Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law. Joe is a pioneer in the plain English movement.
PETITION FOR REHEARING
Needless to say, we disagree with much that is set forth in the Court of Appeal's Opinion herein. Nevertheless, this Petition for Rehearing is restricted to but a single aspect of the said Opinion. This single aspect is the one which pertains to that ratification of an act of his agent which is submitted to flow from the facts as represented by Mr. Jones to the Superior Court (Opinion: page 4, line 2 to page 5, line 2, page 11, line 7 to page 12, line 19). Specifically, we respectfully submit that the Court of Appeal's views relative to the assumed non-existence of such ratification, are predicated upon a factual assumption which is disclosed by the record to be incorrect. This being so, we submit that the actual facts, revealed by the record, are such as clearly to entitle us to prevail in respect of the ratification theory.
PETITION FOR REHEARING
Although we disagree with much of the Court of Appeal's opinion, we limit this Petition for Rehearing to a single aspect: The question of whether Mr. Jones ratified the act of his agent. The Court found that he did not (Opinion, pp. 4-5, 11-12). We respectfully submit that this finding was based upon a misreading of the facts. The Court assumed facts that were clearly contrary to those in the trial record which pointed to ratification. We are, therefore, entitled to a rehearing.
Old Rule (Fed. R. App. P. 3(e)):
(e) Payment of fees.— Upon the filing of any separate or joint notice of appeal from the district court, the appellant shall pay to the clerk of the district court such fees as are established by statute, and also the docket fee prescribed by the Judicial Conference of the United States, the latter to be received by the clerk of the district court on behalf of the court of appeals.
(e) Payment of Fees. Upon filing a notice of appeal, the appellant must pay the district clerk all required fees. The district clerk receives the appellate docket fee on behalf of the court of appeals.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Legal Writing Exercises: A Practical Guide to Clear and Persuasive Writing for Lawyers by E. Scott Fruehwald. Available from ABA Publishing in paperback or as an ebook.
How is this book different from other books on legal writing? It mainly teaches you editing and writing through exercises. Many books on legal writing have few editing exercises. However, educational researchers believe that the most effective way to learn is through active learning–through doing. Active learning also helps turn items in short-term memory into long-term memory. In addition, educational experts think that repetition helps one retain knowledge in long-term memory; a pattern needs to be retrieved again and again to become a permanent memory or skill. Similarly, the key to becoming a good writer and editor is awareness. Fixing writing problems once you find them is usually easy. The hard part is finding the mistakes in your writing. The exercises in this book will help you develop the ability to find problems in your writing and the writing of others. I believe that the numerous exercises in this book will help you improve your writing much more than books that contain no exercises or only a few exercises.
This book is also different because it covers subjects that other legal writing books don’t cover, such as creating emphasis, continuity and flow within paragraphs, continuity and flow between paragraphs, small-scale organization, and a holistic approach to writing. Producing clear and effective writing involves much more than being able to change passive voice to active voice and eliminating wordiness. It concerns being able to combine the mechanics of writing with a conceptual (holistic) view of writing.
I have written this book to help lawyers and law students improve their writing. This book is self-contained (the answers to the exercises are located immediately following the exercises). Lawyers in any stage of their career can use it to help improve their writing skills, or they can use it to become aware of what they should correct in the writing of their employees. Law students can employ this tome to improve their writing immediately before law school or while they are taking legal writing. Legal writing professors can adopt it as a supplement in legal writing class. Writing and academic support specialists can use it to help struggling law students. Finally, while I have written this book specifically for lawyers, most of it can be used by anyone who wants to write better.
Back in October, we told you about a recommendations by the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education that state bars consider licensing non-lawyers to deliver limited legal services as a way of improving access to justice for clients who otherwise might not be able to afford a lawyer. That post also summarized an article Professor Elizabeth Chambliss (S. Carolina) discussing programs then underway by three Washington state law schools to train legal paraprofessionals who would become eligible to deliver legal services by 2015.
Well, 2015 is now here and the latest issue of the ABA Magazine has a story profiling Washington's inaugural graduating class of limited license legal technicians who at present are only permitted to offer their services in domestic relations matters. Some lawyers are understandably worried that the LLLTs are going to take work away from them though proponents argue that the LLLTs don't directly compete with lawyers because they are reaching an otherwise neglected segment of the marketplace.
Here's an excerpt from the ABA Magazine article:
. . . .
Within a profession that so guardedly polices its practice, many may see Cummings [one of the first group of LLLt's licenses in WA] and her classmates as representing the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. So far, Washington stands alone in formally licensing nonlawyers to provide legal services. But California is actively considering nonlawyer licensing, and several other states are beginning to explore it. New York has sidestepped licensing and is already allowing nonlawyers to provide legal assistance in limited circumstances while also looking to expand their use.
In its January 2014 final report, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education called on states to license "persons other than holders of a JD to deliver limited legal services." Now this issue of allowing nonlawyers to provide legal services is among the topics being taken up by ABA President William C. Hubbard's Commission on the Future of Legal Services.
"I fully anticipate that it will be one of the concepts that will be addressed by the commission," Hubbard says, noting that his appointees to the 28-member commission include both Barbara A. Madsen, chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court, which promulgated the LLLT rule, and Paula Littlewood, executive director of the Washington State Bar Association, which administers the LLLT program.
"The states are the laboratories of invention," Hubbard adds. "This is a good example of that. I think there is growing acceptance by regulators and private practitioners of law that we need to do things differently."
Proponents maintain there is simply no other way to address the justice gap in the United States. They cite multiple state and federal studies showing that 80 to 90 percent of low- and moderate-income Americans with legal problems are unable to obtain or afford legal representation. The economics of traditional law practice make it impossible for lawyers to offer their services at prices these people can afford.
If lawyers cannot fill the gap, the proponents say, we must find some other way.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
The 2014 Word of the year is #blacklivesmatter. From the website:
The hashtag #blacklivesmatter took on special significance in 2014 after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., and the failure of grand juries to indict police officers in both cases. It became a rallying cry and vehicle for expressing protest, fueled by social media.
The word hashtag itself was the ADS Word of the Year in 2012. Now, two years later, hashtags were recognized with their own special category in the voting, which was also won by #blacklivesmatter.
“While #blacklivesmatter may not fit the traditional definition of a word, it demonstrates how powerfully a hashtag can convey a succinct social message,” Zimmer said. “Language scholars are paying attention to the innovative linguistic force of hashtags, and #blacklivesmatter was certainly a forceful example of this in 2014.”
If you go to the website (here), you can find words of the year in subcategories.
Once again, legal technology expert Dennis Kennedy has awarded our blog a “Blawggie” for the best law professor blog.
Here is his write-up:
Best Law Professor Blog – Legal Skills Prof Blog
Although, I’m nominally a contributing editor of the Legal Skills Prof Blog, I’m way more a reader than a contributor. As the debate about the future of legal education blossomed and took on a sense of urgency in 2014, the “practical skills” approach in law school programming started to get a lot of attention. This blog’s coverage of those issues was excellent and it’s a great place to keep up-to-date on discussions about the future of legal education, analysis of current trends, and generally helpful links and information.
From JD Journal:
Matthew Diller, the dean for the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, has been named the new dean of Fordham Law School, according to a press release from Fordham Law School. The announcement was made by Fordham on Monday. The school said that Diller will begin work as the law dean with the next academic year.
You can read more here.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
This is a new article by Cassie DuBay, a Research and Faculty Services Librarian at SMU Law School, called Specialized Legal Research Courses: The Next Generation of Advanced Legal Research at available at 33 Legal Ref. Serv. Q. 203 (2014). From the introduction:
This article examines the current state of Advanced Legal Research (ALR) courses and the emergence of Specialized Legal Research (SLR) courses. It surveys the curriculum of all ABA-accredited law schools and provides updated statistics of ALR course offerings. It also identifies for the first time (1) the law schools currently offering SLR courses, (2) the most popular SLR course topics, and (3) the role of the law library in determining whether to implement a SLR course. The results of the survey will hopefully educate law schools about the trends and variety of legal research course offerings.
Over at the Business Law Prof Blog, Joan Heminway responds to my earlier posting (here) on this topic. Here is some of her advice, promoting flexibility in the interview dress code.
So what do I recommend to female students? NOT bold pink suits, I can assure you. Having said that, the traditional black, navy, or gray skirt-suit-and-shirt-or-blouse ensemble, while almost always appropriate for law job interviews, is sometimes not the right approach for a specific individual interviewing for a particular position. As alternatives, I favor: a silk (or similar fabric) shirt dress with a black or dark short blazer; a sheath dresses with a matching blazer (very versatile for travel, too); or a matching patterned skirt/top combo with a black or dark blazer. Make sure suit jackets and blazers fit properly. I never used to do that, but it makes all the difference in the world.
You can read more of her advice here.
Friday, January 9, 2015
We've posted some funny, or at least offbeat, lawyer video advertisements (here, here and here) before (in my book, Adam Reposa (and here) is the all time champ of over-the-top, insane advetisements) but this one is just plain weird. I'm not really sure what the point is - the advertisement involves a talking doll that makes lewd remarks (NSW). Maybe you can figure it out. Enjoy!
Over at Daily Worth, Carinn Jade tells a common tale of how having a second child led her to walk away from the demanding practice of law—despite working for an understanding firm and having great flexibility in her work schedule (here). Most of the comments following the article tell similar stories.
I suppose every parent or couple has to work out a unique solution. But still, there are no easy answers. For my wife and I, we gained more manageability when she left her firm and went solo (and incidentally increased her income when her clients followed her and she got to keep the $$ without a high overhead). In addition, as a professor, I had far more flexibility than most working dads.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
David Frakt has made one of the strongest attacks yet on the lowering of law school admissions standards on the Faculty Lounge.
"What is truly alarming about the NCBE report is not the declines at top schools, but the massive declines in the 25th percentile at many bottom tier schools, including Charlotte School of Law, Suffolk and Arizona Summit with 7 point drops, Valparaiso, Faulkner, Western New England, New England School of Law and Ave Maria with 6 point drops and Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Whittier, Pace, Capital, Charleston, Florida Coastal, and Dayton all with 5 point drops. The biggest drop in terms of LSAT percentile score between 2010 and 2013 was actually not at Emory, but at Suffolk. Their 25th percentile went from 152 to 145, a drop from 51.6% on the LSAT to 26.7%, a 24.9% decline. And the most alarming drops were at Charlotte School of Law, Arizona Summit, Florida Coastal, Valparaiso and Ave Maria, all of which dropped their bottom 25th percentile LSAT to 141 in 2013 or 15.8% on the LSAT. (Texas Southern and Thomas Cooley were also at 141 in 2013 but didn’t have to drop as far to get there.) Dishonorable mention goes to Faulkner University with a 25th percentile at 142 or 18.1%.
Looking at the recently released ABA Standard 509 reports for 2014, several of these bottom-feeding schools have continued to lower their standards into the abyss. Suffolk, for example, continued their downward spiral and came in at 143, joining Texas Southern and Thomas Cooley, who both rebounded somewhat this year to 143, up two points. Faulkner held the line at 142 this year, while Valparaiso held steady at 141. But other schools that could ill afford to lower their standards any further, did so anyway. The 2014 25th percentile Hall of Shame: tied for third place, Arizona Summit and Florida Coastal School of Law, down one point to 140 (13.4%); in second place, Ave Maria, down two points to 139 (11.6%); and our Grand Prize Winner (drum roll please) - Charlotte School of Law, down 3 points at 138, cracking the vaunted 10th percentile barrier at 9.7%!
And the really scary thing? 24% of students at these schools may be even lower."
Frakt's criticism are particularly relevent in light of the remarks made by Dean Daniel Rodriguez to the AALS House of Representatives last weekend (here):
“At the risk of coming across as insufficiently sensitive, let me say this: No law school has a right to a certain size entering class or a class of a certain level of credentials. The idea that a law school is struggling because it cannot maintain a size adequate to assure that the fixed costs of its faculty, its infrastructure, its financial contribution to the central campus is essentially a non sequitur. The law school’s structure can only be a function of how many qualified students can be persuaded to apply and to enroll. The turbulence in law school enrollment will no doubt continue and, although this will present real challenges to particular member schools as they manage their budgets, it is not the predicament which should and must occupy our attention. That predicament – the one worthy of our attention – is whether and to what extent law schools are serving the fundamental aim of providing high quality education to law students who have the requisite skills to be in our nation’s law schools and who, with the benefit of this high quality education, will be able to serve clients and do justice as new lawyers. . . . the question is how best to assure that the architecture of American legal education is meeting the needs of a diverse, demanding public and of a profession in flux.”
The law school crisis has existed for several years. I think that many were hoping that it would go away as the economy improved. However, the economy has improved, and the law school crisis remains. It is clear that law schools must act now in response to the crisis. Not only is this important for the future of law schools, it is vital for the public that depends on well-educated lawyers.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
According to the LSAC website, the number of LSAT test-takers was up .8% from last December's administration of the test - 28,858 this year compared to 28,363 in December 2014. Overall, the number of LSATs administered during the past year is down 6.2% from the previous year.
Here is an example of framing that should work very well in a class discussion. It comes from an presentation by Kenneth Suggs in a CLE for the American Association for Justice:
Imagine we anticipate the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease are proposed. The consequences of the two programs are:
1. If Program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved.
2. If Program B is adopted, there is a 1/3 probability that 600 people will be saved, and a 2/3 probability that no people will be saved.
Subjects are then asked to choose between the two programs. Given this scenario, 72% of respondents chose Program A, saving 200 people for sure. The question is then posed with a different frame.
1. If Program C is adopted, 400 people will die.
2. If Program D is adopted, there is a 1/3 probability that nobody will die and 2/3 probability that 600 people will die.
Obviously, A and B produce the same result as C and D. Yet, with the question framed this way, 78% of respondents chose Program D.
Academics tend to think of the framing bias as relating to risk acceptance or avoidance. In the example above, people vote for Program A because it has a certainty of saving life (and because it requires them to do no math). In comparing Programs C and D, however, the respondents are willing to take the extra trouble to think about the fractions in Program D because they are averse to choosing death.
You can find the full discussion here at Westlaw.
From Progressive Law Practice:
- As early as 2016, all U.S. Supreme Court filings—from petitions to motion responses to merit briefs—will be accessible for free on the Court’s website. So reports The New York Times.
For copy of briefs submitted to the Court, the Court’s website currently directs users to a site maintained by the American Bar Association. Electronic copies of other materials, including the more than 7,000 petitions seeking review filed each year, are even harder to find.
Who knows? Next, the Justices might permit videos of the proceedings.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
If you're thinking about an LLM this year, the online ABA Student Lawyer Magazine has posted a comprehensive list from A (for Admiralty Law) to U (for Urban Affairs) including links to each school's website where you can get additional info. Check it out here.
AALS President Daniel B. Rodriguez addressed the AALS House of Representatives a few days ago. (here)
A few excerpts:
"Let me first say just a word about this annual meeting and the theme. Looking over the program, I am struck by the ways in which legal educators are looking at old issues in creative new ways and at new issues with similar imagination and passion. In a presidential panel this morning, we gathered to talk about 'implementing innovation in law schools' and we heard some really ingenious strategies for improvement and perhaps even more significantly reflected on the opportunities and challenges to implementing change in our schools. The programs over the course of the remainder of this meeting are likewise valuable and give our community a sense that things are well in American legal education and great energy can be and is channeled to make constructive progress and to provide ever new ways of seeing our complex world."
“But what I really want to reflect upon for just a few minutes is what I have observed and learned through this action-packed year, a year that has taken me to a large number of member schools and, in addition, engagement and dialogue with deans and professors at many other schools.”
"First, the pace of real innovation is ever growing. A number of law schools have encountered this period of substantial challenge in enrollment and post-graduate placement with diligent attention, with acceptance of the imperative of change, and with resolve to respond constructively in their academic choices. New courses and curricular initiatives, yes indeed. But more far-reaching reforms are well in the works. At more than a few member schools, deans have reconfigured their clinical programs to emphasize a more comprehensive approach to new lawyer training through, for example, incubator programs and, in some cases, law school embedded law firms. Corporate labs and entrepreneurship programs have become vehicles by which law schools have joined legal training with foundational business skills – this in an era in which the intersection of law and business is increasingly important. Design thinking has found its way into law school pedagogy and, with it, the shrewd metaphor of the T-shaped lawyer, she who has deep legal skills, but also the ability to collaborate across many disciplines. Public interest remains squarely in the canon of law school curricula – and I should pause to note this remarkable fact, given the temptation to deemphasize public interest in an era in which post- graduate employment is challenging to say the least and in which student debt is ubiquitous. Member law schools are making more sophisticated use of adjunct faculty and, as well, residential faculty who come to the law school with valuable experience in legal practice. To be sure, ABA and AALS regulations regarding faculty governance and tenure present challenges to this creativity but, as witnessed by various innovations in staffing models, these regulations have not proved to be serious obstacles to ingenuity, but, instead, a broad structure to think about employment models which serve well the aims of student learning and academic freedom."
“Moreover, imaginative revisions of the law school’s essential structure are underway.”
“Technology looms large as both an external source of pressure and as a focal point for law school innovation.”
“I should pause here to express at least a bit of dismay about how law schools are still portrayed in the media. . . . Yes, the evidence is clear that law schools have struggled to meet their enrollment targets and to maintain the quality of their entering classes. But, in the main, this is not an existential threat, and not a predicament worth major public attention. At the risk of coming across as insufficiently sensitive, let me say this: No law school has a right to a certain size entering class or a class of a certain level of credentials. The idea that a law school is struggling because it cannot maintain a size adequate to assure that the fixed costs of its faculty, its infrastructure, its financial contribution to the central campus is essentially a non sequitur. The law school’s structure can only be a function of how many qualified students can be persuaded to apply and to enroll.”
“Rather, the question is how best to assure that the architecture of American legal education is meeting the needs of a diverse, demanding public and of a profession in flux.”
"Our member schools are taking significant steps to alleviate the debt burdens of our students. Tuition increases appear to be slowing; and, more to the point, the discount rate of law school tuition is increasing and, in some instances, skyrocketing."
“In short, law schools are working hard at controlling costs and this is beginning to have a salutary effect.”
"Of the many concerns, I want to highlight two:
First, there are tough choices facing our member schools who are under economic stress and strain. One choice is whether and to what extent to invest in faculty development and well-being. We discuss in many venues the conspicuous issue of law school staffing – whether, for example, there will a turn away from tenured faculty to others with less job security. But looming alongside these hot-button issues are the seemingly more mundane issues of faculty well-being. Will law schools continue to be able to support faculty research and travel? Will law faculty be assisted in their teaching work through, for example, use of technology? Law faculty are the principal assets in the educational structure of law schools and they are at risk when law schools face economic pressure."
"The second concern I want to mention is one that has emerged with verge in the past year. While we are hard at work in our law schools at reforming and reshaping our programs in order to accomplish meaningful innovation and safeguard our core values, a number of external stakeholders have undertaken to add state-specific graduation requirements on law schools. The adoption of New York’s mandatory pro bono requirement – a requirement imposed, remarkably, on law students, but not practicing lawyers and without the breadth and depth of input that befits such a major change – proved to be the opening salvo in a movement to impose new regulation on law schools. California has nearly dropped the other shoe, with the imposition of significant new curricular mandates on law students who would sit for that state’s bar. Just taken in isolation, the new requirements in these two large states represent a real impact, and not a particularly positive one, on law schools whose graduates would look to practice in these states."
“So, as I look back at this year of change, I am heartened, but also worried.”
P.S. While I agree with most of what Dean Rodriguez has said, I cannot agree with his criticism of the new experiential requirements the California Bar is enacting. I heard former California Bar President, Jon Streeter, speak about the new requirements at the ETL 2013 conference, and I have carefully studied the documents the California Bar has posted on the Internet concerning these changes. I believe that the new requirements are well-thought out and that they will significantly improve legal practice in California. Sometimes, law schools need a little push by an external source.
Last month we reported that former Supreme Court justice Joan Orie Melvin had completed the term of her sentence for corruption by writing letters of apology to judges and staff. We spoke too soon.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus did not find the letters brought the case to a conclusion, criticizing them as “generic” and “unsatisfactory.” He reinstated Melvin’s house arrest and ordered her to write new letters, personalized to each of 600 jurists and staff. Melvin will be confined to her 3,650 square foot home in Marshall, except for church services. At least it isn’t an apartment.
"The four-day annual meeting wrapped up on Monday. Attendance was down by about 15 percent from last year, and the agenda was a bit more austere than in years past, with fewer law school receptions and no offsite gala."
"But the atmosphere was hardly one of doom and gloom. Plenty of speakers acknowledged legal education’s challenges, including falling enrollment, higher costs and fewer traditional law jobs. But AALS leaders highlighted efforts by law schools to meet those challenges by offering more practical skills training, interdisciplinary courses, degree options and business and leadership skills."
“'These are exciting times in American legal education,' said incoming AALS president Blake Morant, dean of George Washington University Law School. 'We see legal education evolving.'”