Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top 25 Universities to Work For

According to Forbes, here are the top 25 universities to work for—based on a survey of employees. The top five, in order, are BYU, Carnegie-Mellon, Clemson, Princeton, and Cornell.


October 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Networking icebreakers for professionals

The successful job hunting strategy is going to involve lots of networking.  There's just no way around it even though the vast majority of people neither like it nor are very good at it.  Walking into a crowded room full of strangers with the goal of making professional contacts can be intimidating at best and at worst it's a downright anxiety provoking experience.  This post from the Business Insider may help a bit insofar as it gives a pretty good list of conversation icebreakers as well as solid advice on the art of good conversation like focusing on the other person's interests rather than talking about yourself.  Working up the courage to approach and knowing how to open is 90% of the battle   After that, it's easy (and even enjoyable).  So here you go - a bunch of suggested topics to open with in bullet form.  You'll need to go to the Business Insider to see the many examples provided there for turning these general topics into actual openers as well as some general tips and advice for working the conversation in an advantageous way.

21 Conversation Starters Professionals Can Use To Break The Ice


  • Common event
  • Company/job
  • Business/industry
  • Location
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Hobbies/interests

 . . . . .


Generally speaking, though, when you meet new people, you can be sure they all have one thing in common: self-interest. "One subject in which they're interested and know a lot about is themselves," she explains. "When you approach another person with this point in mind, it makes it easier to start a conversation. The skill is to immediately show sincere interest in them."


Conversely, one of the biggest mistakes in starting a conversation is when you try to think of something interesting, clever, or even impressive to say about yourself, rather than drawing that out in the other person.


. . . .

 Continue reading here.


October 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Men Are Overrepresented Among Law Graduates

According to a study by the American Institutes for Research, law is one of the top fields in which men are overrepresented among advanced degree recipients.

Table 1. Top 10 Academic Fields in Which Men Are Overrepresented Among Doctoral Degree Recipients

Academic Field

Doctoral Degrees per 100 Undergraduate Degrees (Men)

Doctoral Degrees per 100 Undergraduate Degrees (Women)

Women's Doctoral Degrees per 100 Undergraduate Degrees as a   Percentage of Men's

Communication Disorders Sciences   and Services




Missions/Missionary Studies and   Missiology








Family and Consumer   Sciences/Human Sciences, General




Teacher Education and   Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods




Bible/Biblical Studies




Health Services/Allied   Health/Health Sciences, General




Public Administration and Social   Service Professions, Other




Animal Sciences









N OTE: For purposes of this study, the J.D. counts as a doctoral degree.

Primary Source of Data

The U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Completions surveys from 2002–2007 and 2010–2012 served as the source of data on degree recipients for this paper.

You can find the full study here


October 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Attorney-Client Communications and the National Security Administration

Suppose the NSA were to listen in on confidential attorney-client communications. Surprise: it already does.

From the ABA Journal:

Press reports earlier this year indicating that communications between at least one U.S. law firm and a foreign government had been monitored by the Australian equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency triggered a series of diplomatic exchanges between the ABA and the NSA, focusing on the extent to which government surveillance will recognize the protections of the attorney-client privilege.

On Feb. 15, the New York Times published a story under the headline “Spying by NSA Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm.” The article recounted that a top-secret document obtained by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden shows the Australian Signals Directorate had monitored communications between the government of Indonesia and an American law firm it retained for help in trade talks with the U.S. government. The Australians did not identify the law firm, but the article noted that Mayer Brown, a global firm based in Chicago, was advising the Indonesian government on trade issues at the time the communications were monitored.

How can lawyers protect their clients’ interests? Here are suggestions from Professor Andrew Perlman, who served as reporter for the ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission. As he admits, there is no perfect solution:

In the meantime, Perlman says, lawyers should follow the revised provisions of Model Rule 1.6 as adopted in their states. “The rule requires ‘reasonable precautions,’ but what’s reasonable is going to vary depending on the circumstances,” he says. Meeting in person with foreign clients is an “extreme option” that “may be desirable in some situations, but it is probably not ethically required.” Another approach, encrypting email, “is not a perfect solution, but it is better than nothing,” says Perlman. “Another option might be best described as the Walter White solution [after the character in the Breaking Bad television series], where you and your client purchase prepaid phones that are used only for lawyer-client conversations.”

You can read more here.


October 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Reader’s Limited Capacity: A Working-Memory Theory for Legal Writers

As I have written several times, I believe that legal education reform should employ knowledge of how the mind works--the neurobiology of learning.  Over the last twenty years, cognitive scientists have undertaken many studies of how humans learn, and educators have used these studies to develop new approaches to teaching.  Several scholars have recently applied this knowledge to legal education.

The Reader’s Limited Capacity:  A Working-Memory Theory for Legal Writers by Andrew M. Carter.  In this article, Professor Carter uses insights from the neurobiology of learning to determine how "to manage the working-memory loads that his or her writing imposes on the reader."  He calls his approach the "Cognitive-Load Theory of Legal Writing."

An excerpt:

"In applying cognitive-load theory to the legal writing process, two guiding principles emerge that firmly ground the concision and economy lesson of my reader-is-a-juggler lecture. First, the legal writer must reduce extraneous load in the interpretive stage by drafting sentences and paragraphs that can be processed automatically, i.e., without the need of dedicated working-memory resources. This allows full executive-attention resources to focus on completing the critical metacognitive functions of the post-interpretive stage. Second, the legal writer must manage the intrinsic load for the reader by chunking sentences and paragraphs that, after elimination of extraneous load, still threaten to exceed the reader’s working-memory capacity."

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Nebraska, newly minted lawyers find jobs in small towns

A new program started by Nebraska State Bar Association called the Rural Practice Initiative seeks to place recent law grads looking for jobs in under-served rural communities (currently 12 of the state's 93 counties have no lawyers).  While the pay is less than city lawyers earn, there are various initiatives aimed at providing mentoring assistance and some loan forgiveness for those willing to move to sparsely populated towns.  And according to this article on the Omaha.com blog, next year will see a couple more initiatives launched to place new attorneys in smaller communities that lack access to legal services.  From Omaha.com:

Wanted: lawyers off Nebraska's beaten path

. . . .

With new financial incentives and expanded opportunities to get a taste of rural practice, public and private-sector officials across the state plan to make an even louder appeal to place more students like Hatfield in Nebraska’s most needy rural communities.

. . . .


Starting Jan. 1, 2015, a new program from the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy will begin paying participating attorneys up to $6,000 for every year they work in a county with 15,000 or fewer residents.

And come next summer, the Nebraska bar hopes to have greatly expanded its 10-week, paid summer clerkship program that is also part of the Rural Practice Initiative. Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the American Bar Association, the number of clerkships will grow from two or three to 10 or more, according to Sam Clinch, associate executive director at the Nebraska Bar Association.

“If you have a lawyer down the road, that’s fine,” Clinch said. “But if the nearest one is 100 or 150 miles away, it’s an access to justice issue.”

Meanwhile, the public advocacy commission’s Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Program begins accepting applications next month and proposes to give selected attorneys up to $42,000 each in tuition repayment over a seven-year period, said Jim Mowbray, the organization’s chief counsel.

Mowbray and his colleagues primarily work with Nebraska counties to alleviate the costs of legal representation for people who can’t afford it. They also assist public defenders and court-appointed attorneys.

. . . .

You can continue reading here.


October 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fifth Biennial Storytelling Conference in Seattle, July 2015

The popular Applied Legal Storytelling Conference will take place in Seattle on July 21-23, 2015. I have presented at the last two conferences and found them to be the best lawyering skills conferences that I have ever attended.

The conference is now accepting proposals for presentations (deadline: December 15).

The conference’s sponsors are the Legal Writing Institute, the Clinical Legal Education Association, and the Seattle University School of Law. 

Presentation Formats The conference will include 45-minute and 30-minute time slots.  We welcome panel or roundtable presentation proposals, as well as other format types, so long as they fit within the time slots.  If you wish, you may indicate a preference for a particular format; you may also indicate your willingness that we accept your proposal in any of the formats.

 Submitting a Proposal Please submit your proposals, in electronic form, to Jovana Anderson at jkanderson@lclark.edu.

General Information Regarding the 2015 Conference The conference will take place from July 21st through July 23rd, 2015, at the Seattle University School of Law.  We are planning a conference that, like previous Applied Legal Storytelling conferences, will be collegial, inclusive, and supportive of your work.

 The 2015 conference will begin with registration and a reception early in the evening of Monday July 21st at the law school.  The next two days, July 22nd and 23rd, will be devoted to a plenary session and presentations given in concurrent sessions.  During the evening of July 22nd, conference attendees will assemble downtown at the pavilion of the Olympic Sculpture Park (part of the Seattle Art Museum) for a reception and sit-down dinner.  The sculpture park venue will give us access to work by renowned sculptors such as Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, and Richard Serra, and we will dine with a sweeping view of Puget Sound while watching the sun set over the Olympic Mountains.  The conference will close with a short reception at the end of the day on July 23rd.

 The host school contact for the conference is Chris Rideout, rideout@seattleu.edu.





















 is now accepting proposals (deadline: December 15).


·         The conference will be held on July 21-23, 2015, in Seattle, Washington


·         The deadline for submitting a proposal is December 15, 2014.

 Attached with this email are two files.


·         The first is a file containing the formal call for proposals. That document contains information about the first four Applied Legal Storytelling conferences and their topics, as well as information about the upcoming conference and the mechanics of submitting a proposal. 


·         Also included with this email, as a second attachment, is a bibliography on applied legal storytelling, something that we are including to assist in generating ideas for proposals for the fifth conference.* 


The conference is jointly sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute, the Clinical Legal Education Association, and the Seattle University School of Law.  We are planning an engaging conference in a vibrant and growing city. Should you have questions, the call for proposals contains contact information for the members of the planning committee.  Please feel free to get in touch.

 We hope to see you in Seattle!


October 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law & Literature: The Humanities and Teaching Legal Skills

As law schools increasingly promise to turn out “practice ready” graduates, they focus on teaching how-to-do-it skills in a way that is practical only in the narrowest sense. Lawyers, however, are not plumbers or software coders. To be capable lawyers, students also must understand the human condition. They will be dealing with people and all their complexities. Understanding people, then, also is a practical skill, often best learned by studying the humanities.

Let me address a popular target: courses that deal with law and literature. When it comes to legal education, is literature irrelevant? No. Literature teaches us about the human condition, an essential subject for students and practitioners. I support my argument by referring you to two excellent pieces of scholarship.

In Mary Ann Becker’s What is Your Favorite Book?: Using Narrative to Teach Theme Development in Persuasive Writing,46 Gonzaga 575 (2010/2011),  she explains how she lets students talk about their favorite book  to learn about using theme and narrative, essential persuasive skills. Here is the abstract:

 This article explores new theories in the area of narrative, applied storytelling, and literature as a means to teach persuasive writing. Students, even upper level ones, often cannot answer the question: "Who cares what happens in this case?" While part of a student's perplexity as to how to apply the theory of the case arises from a lack of experience, part of it also arises from the fact that students are not able to identify with the client's story. Because good writers come from good readers, I developed a technique using students' favorite books in order to give them a concrete example of what constituted good writing and to help them answer the question of "who cares." This article analyzes the three points of view broadly presented in a narrative text and how this literary technique uses those three points of view to remedy the disparity between the abstract concepts of the theory of the case and its concrete application in a persuasive brief. By using students' descriptions of their favorite books to illustrate the underlying theme in something familiar to them, students implicitly identify the three points of view in a narrative text: the character's, the teller's, and the reader's. My article posits that these three points of view are necessary to understand and develop the theme of a brief, which makes them better able to transport a reader and control the outcome of their client's case. Further, this literary technique comports with constructivist learning theories because it is a means of connecting prior educational experiences with new ones to better teach new skills.

 In his book, Storytelling for Lawyers, Philip Meyer uses both real cases and well-known fictional stories to teach us how to hone our persuasive skills, particularly at trial. Here is a description:

 Good lawyers have an ability to tell stories. Whether they are arguing a murder case or a complex financial securities case, they can capably explain a chain of events to judges and juries so that they understand them. The best lawyers are also able to construct narratives that have an emotional impact on their intended audiences. But what is a narrative, and how can lawyers go about constructing one? How does one transform a cold presentation of facts into a seamless story that clearly and compellingly takes readers not only from point A to point B, but to points C, D, E, F, and G as well? In Storytelling for Lawyers, Phil Meyer explains how. He begins with a pragmatic theory of the narrative foundations of litigation practice and then applies it to a range of practical illustrative examples: briefs, judicial opinions and oral arguments.


October 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Why are law firms slow to adopt technology?

A blog maintained by the Boston legal consulting firm Blue Hill Research has a post discussing studies that show law firm spending on IT has not changed significantly since 2010.  Blue Hill's David Houlihan identifies some of the standards explanations for this which include attorney Luddite-ism, the billable hour's disincentive toward efficiency and the partnership model's disincentive to invest in operations.  In two follow-up posts (here and here), David suggests some additional explanations including the lawyers' cultural resistance to change, the inability of law firms to attract top IT talent, law firm incentives and structures that encourage inertia and the nature of the organizations themselves.  In the final post in the series, David suggests some strategies for removing these blockages including:


First: attorneys need to trust IT resources. Unfortunately, as a matter of culture, attorneys are primed to think of the world in terms of lawyer and non-lawyer, which, it has been observed, tends to obscure the value that other skilled professionals might provide. Firm leadership must make an effort to discourage this perception by promoting the opportunities for IT teams to serve as business partners who can facilitate legal work.


Second: IT stakeholders must be given the information and support they need to perform this function. If the first requirement is a matter of open collaboration, the second is about creating space and incentive. This is the heart of obtaining Technology Promotion as well, which relates to the creation of opportunities and incentives for IT teams to play a strategic role. The creation of incentives represents the most important step here and requires such efforts as technology opportunity reporting requirements or setting annual goals that promote efforts to contribute to reduction in operational costs or revenue margins. By taking these steps, firms can begin to create opportunities for investment that should flow into the other problem sets.


Notably, executing on most of these aims requires at least some change in attitude at the senior leadership level of law firms. However, it’s important to observe that these steps do not require fundamental changes in business process or assumptions. Rather, they are aimed at creating space within the organizational structure to open the door to technology investment while facilitating business case development and solution evaluation.


You can the first post in this series here, the second here and the third here.  Also, Law Technology News has a good summary here and a hat tip to them.


October 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Steve Martin on Writing

From an interview with comedian, actor, author Steve Martin on the Powell's Book News blog:

I really enjoy finding the right word, creating a good, flowing sentence. I enjoy the rhythm of the words. I haven't said this in a long time, but it's so true for me. When I was in college, I really liked poetry. I don't read much anymore. But my favorite early 20th-century poets were Dylan Thomas, T. S. Eliot, and e. e. cummings. Looking back, here's what I think I learned from each of them. From e. e. cummings, I learned about the rhythm of words. From T. S. Eliot, I learned about the intelligence of words. And from Dylan Thomas, I learned about the beauty of words. I try to bring all three of those elements into writing. Then, of course, you have to tell a story at the same time.

So those are my goals in prose. [Laughter] Prose should be, unless you're writing an instruction manual, a kind of poetry.

I'm impressed.


October 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Stress Booklet Now Available on Kindle/Amazon

Laryy Krieger's law school stress booklet is now available on Kindle.  You can find it here.

Book Description:

"This brief book has been purchased for students by more than half the law schools in the United States, Canada, and Australia.  It tells you why law school can be so stressful (p.s. -- it's not what you think!), and why it doesn’t have to be that way.  The content combines the experience of generations of law students and lawyers, many law teachers, and 40 years of scientific research on what determines whether you will be happy, anxious, or depressed.  

The author is a recognized expert in attorney and law student well-being.  He recently completed the largest in-depth study of lawyer mental health to date, involving several thousand lawyers in four states."

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

"The Experiential Sabbatical"

This is a new article by Professor Martin Pritikin (Whittier) and available at 64 J. Legal Educ. 33 (2014) and here on SSRN.  From the abstract:

Although many law schools are purporting to move in a more “experiential” direction, few institutions and even fewer professors are utilizing the consummate tool for faculty development — the sabbatical — to spend time gaining practical experience. Having spent my own sabbatical volunteering as a prosecutor, I provide evidence about how my time in practice has enhanced my teaching, scholarship, and service to the institution. I further address the political, financial, and logistical obstacles that may deter schools or individual faculty members from pursuing experiential sabbaticals, and offer recommendations to overcome those obstacles.


October 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ray Campbell on the Drill (the Legal Problem-Solving Process)

Ray Campbell has another wonderful post on legal education on the Faculty Lounge.  He writes, "The practice of law, in my opinion and experience, is not ultimately about knowing the law. It’s about delivering a service that solves a problem for a client, in which knowledge of the law is one of many important tools."  "The father of the modern American law school curriculum, Christopher Columbus Langdell, had a different view. As Langdell explained in his casebook on Contracts, to him the essence of being a lawyer was nothing more than having a mastery of the principles of the law."

Campbell continues, "For practicing lawyers, . . . the necessary and common methodologies go well beyond the mastery of legal principles and analysis enshrined as 'thinking like a lawyer.' Perhaps the most important methodology is the process of moving legal problems from diagnosis through task allocation to resolution."  Campbell calls this process the drill, although I would call it the legal problem-solving process.  He notes, "This ‘drill’ is not taught as a methodology in law schools, and with very rare exceptions it is not studied by legal academics. This strikes me as odd, because it’s functionally impossible to really appreciate what goes on with legal rules if you don’t understand at some level the processes by which legal problems get sorted out.  It’s also unfortunate because some of the most pressing issues facing our legal system are not 'better rule' issues but 'better process' issues."

He adds, "Legal rules are not self-executing. At the level where lawyers get involved (which is not, of course, all of where law matters) legal rules have an impact only because some kind of process makes them matter. Thinking about the rules without thinking about the processes that bring them to life misses an important part of the story."

In sum, "legal service process management [] requires digging into how legal rules are implemented."  He concludes, "Students equipped with this methodology will be equipped to deal with a changing world in which the discourse about service delivery will be far more demanding. Scholars who study the delivery of justice the way other scholars study the delivery of widgets will be equipped to inform what are now sometimes naïve discussions of how legal rules matter. I think it’s a change that’s overdue, and one that requires setting aside Langdell’s long outmoded view of what constitutes the essence of good lawyering."

Professor Campbell is right.  Law schools are good at leaching knowledge, but they are not good at teaching implementation.  This must change.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Most-Searched-For Universities on Google



From BBC News. Here they are:  

Top 20 most searched universities by Google users worldwide,    2014


1. University of Phoenix

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. Open University

4. University of Calicut

5. University of California, Los Angeles

6. Anna University

7. Stanford University

8. London School of Economics

9. Columbia University

10. New York University

11. University of Mumbai

12. University College London

13. University of Oxford

14. Florida State University

15. Harvard University

16. University of Cambridge

17. Liberty University

18. University of Rajasthan

19. University of Michigan

20. Annamalai University

You can read more here.


October 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Conference at UCLA‏

From Emily Grant:

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning is partnering with UCLA Law School for a Spring 2015 conference, featuring five professors from the What the Best Law Teachers Do book.

Engaging the Entire Class—Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning 

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning

Spring Conference 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015


(Scott Fruehwald)

October 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Touro Law School creates new concentration in "Solo and Small Practice Law"

From the Touro website:

Touro Law Dean Patricia Salkin is pleased to announce a new concentration in Solo & Small Practice Law. The concentration will be available to all entering full-time and part-time students beginning this year.


“Our administration and faculty realize the importance of keeping our curriculum in line with student preferences and employment trends,” said Dean Salkin. “I am pleased that we are able to offer this concentration in response to the realities of legal practice today. In fact, roughly one third of each graduating Touro Law class enters into a solo or small practice within nine months of graduation, and this is consistent with national estimates of the number of lawyers in this practice setting.” 


The concentration in solo/small practice responds to the growing number of new attorneys going into the field rather than joining large firms. This new area of concentration fits within Touro Law’s new Portal to Practice curriculum. Portals to Practice ensures a multi-dimensional approach for students to learn while gaining hands-on experience to ensure graduates are practice ready. This concentration is an integrated program of instruction that incrementally immerses students in the skill development required for entering solo or small practice. First year students who elect this concentration will be paired with alumni mentors who are solo practitioners or work in small firms to gain insight and knowledge from professionals. Students will also benefit from hands-on experience through pro bono projects, clinics and externships. Students will gain exposure in the kinds of practice areas that small firms and solo practitioners generally handle, including matrimonial, landlord/tenant and misdemeanor criminal matters while focusing on establishing the basic competencies required to build and manage a solo or small firm practice.


Dean Salkin also stated, “I believe the combination of law school training in solo and small practice coupled with and real life application through our incubator and International Center for Post-Graduate Development will provide unique synergies for our students and alumni and provide a stand out opportunity.”


Students interested in obtaining the concentration will be required to complete 27 credits in designated courses including two newly offered classes: Law by the Numbers – Numerical Literacy and Selected Topics in Ethics for Solo and Small Firm Practice. They will be required to enroll in a clinic and encouraged to build knowledge in at least two practice areas and take doctrinal and experiential courses in those areas.


Professor Meredith R. Miller stated, “Solo and small firm practice requires more than doctrinal knowledge. Through this concentrated area of study, students will have opportunities to put doctrine to practice, build confidence, forge a professional identity and gain valuable knowledge concerning the business of operating a law practice. This will give students a definite edge upon graduation and help them to attain their dreams of operating a solo or small firm practice.”

Hat tip to preLaw Magazine.


October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Citational Footnotes, Textual Footnotes, or Something Else?

In the Appellate Advocate, Wayne Scheiss and Elana Einhorn take on the issue: Bouncing and E-Bouncing: The End of the Citational Footnote? By “citational footnote,” they mean a footnote without text and only the essential information that is not woven into the text. Here is the abstract:

This article describes a recent article in which Bryan Garner recommends citational footnotes. The authors discuss a common criticism of citational footnotes (readers have to bounce down to the footnotes to see the authorities) and Garner's response (place key information about the authorities in the text). The authors note that few citational footnoters implement Garner's recommendation about in-text information -- probably because it's difficult -- and conclude that unless you're going to provide in-text information, you should avoid citational footnotes.

The article also makes reference to an article by my co-blogger, Scott Fruehwald:

E. Scott Fruehwald, Textual Citations in Documents Submitted to Courts and Judicial Opinions: A Reply to Bryan Garner and an Alternative Approach (February 17, 2014), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2397547 or http://dx.doi.org/ 10.2139/ssrn.2397547.

 Professor Fruehwald recommends creating a bibliography with full citation forms and defined short forms. Legal writers would place the bibliography and the short forms before the main text, much like a table of authorities for a brief. Then, in the main text, writers would cite authority with the short forms.

Professor Fruehwald’s short forms look like this: (Smith at 78).

 Scott’s solution mirrors the practice of many publications in other scholarly fields.


October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Some advice for improving legal education; more process, less law

A former BigLaw Partner, General Counsel for several large companies who now works as a legal consultant is offering some advice for reforming legal education - rather than focusing exclusively on doctrine, spend some of that time teaching students the "process" of law.  By that, the author Kenneth Grady means show students, for example, how a contract is actually negotiated rather than spending all your time on the substantive law. 

Another Reason to Re-Think Legal Education


. . . .


Legal Inefficiency Training


Think about your first year of law school. Were you ever taught how to analyze a contracting situation, a tort, or a criminal law situation as a process as well as a substantive law issue? Probably not. You were taught a way to analyze contract issues. Yet, in real life the situations lawyers handle are built largely on process, not just substance. Indeed, in many situations the law is relatively straightforward. Having a strong command of the process can mean the difference between doing well or just doing.


When I was a general counsel, I helped negotiate a complex arrangement with a licensor. The basic license agreement was straightforward. We had the license form worked out and most of the substantive terms were not changing. The real key to this license was the exhibits. We had a complicated, large set of exhibits. A lot of the work in getting the license done related to these exhibits, which meant a lot of process control. The license was worth a lot of money to our company so getting the process right (or messing it up) had significant consequences – as in, something that might require disclosure in our securities compliance documents. We also had time pressures to get the license done, putting further pressure on the process. At the end of the day, everything worked out, we met the deadline, and my client was satisfied with the result. Getting there, however, was 80% process and 20% substance.


The same teaching issue I talked about above carries through all substantive classes. Evidence is taught as concepts of law, and yet much of evidence revolves around process. Securities law is covered with process challenges, and the same is true for intellectual property, estates and trusts, and so on, but all of those classes are taught from a substance perspective with the hope, I guess, that practicing lawyers will retrain the students when they hit the real world.


Obviously, the substance of law is important. But, teaching substance as if it exists in a sterile world separated from process results in a very distorted view of law. It builds in the habit of thinking that substance and process are distinct, separate parts of law and not part of an integrated whole. Imagine if doctors were trained solely from books and without any laboratory or clinical component (and I’m not arguing medical school is the model, just pointing out a couple of obvious differences). Using clinical training as part of teaching lawyers, as Michael Dillon suggests, would help, but I don’t think it is the entire solution to the inefficiency problem.


Re-thinking how law is taught will be difficult for most law school professors. They have relatively little exposure to the practice of law, even less to the practice of law today (versus many years ago when they graduated), and virtually all of them have no exposure to lean thinking in combination with the practice of law. It would be interesting to see what percentage of law school faculty have gone through any training on modern legal services delivery, including project management, process improvement, and technology.


. . . .

Hat tip to Law Technology News.

You can continue reading here.


October 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mary Oliver on Punctuation

Here, poet Mary Oliver reads her breathless poem “Seven White Butterflies.” You will be interested in her prefatory comments.


October 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reforming the First Year of Law School II

On Monday, I argued that it is as important to reform the first year of law school as it is to add practical courses to the second and third years.  Law schools need to teach basic skills before they can teach advanced ones.  In my previous post, I asserted that law schools should continue to emphasize doctrine and "thinking like a lawyer" in the first year but that they need to do it better.  I contended that 1) the teaching of legal reasoning should be more explicit and go into more detail, 2)  law schools need to teach statutory analysis in detail in the first year, 3) first-year courses should teach law students how to apply doctrine to facts, 4) students should draft simple documents in doctrinal courses when appropriate, and 5) first-year classes should teach law students metacognitive skills.

How can law schools integrate these five items into the first year?

First, I propose that law schools add a two-hour course to the first semester in legal reasoning and statutory analysis.  This course would explicitly teach and drill the students in the miniskills of legal reasoning: rule-based reasoning, analogical reasoning, distinguishing cases, case synthesis, and policy-based reasoning.  It would also teach students basic statutory analysis.  Finally, it would help students develop their metacognitive skills.

Other first-year courses should also develop these skills within their doctrinal framework; students need to be drilled in the miniskills of legal reasoning.  An effective way of doing this is to have short problem-solving exercises at the end of each unit.  I believe that the best method of doing this is to use several short application exercises, as I illustrated in my previous post.  As the students become more proficient in applying law to facts, the professor could make the problem-solving exercises more complicated.

First-year doctrinal courses should also include the drafting of simple documents or parts of documents.  Wouldn't students better understand what an integration clause is in a contract if they had to draft one?  Wouldn't students better understand the considerations of landlords and tenants better if they had to draft a lease?

Finally, first-year professors should help their students develop their metacognitive skills.  (here)  The best way to help students develop metacognitive skills is to employ metacognitive questions.


"Do I set learning goals?"  "Why is understanding the learning process important for law students?"  "What are the strengths and weaknesses in my study techniques?"  "Do I have an effective case reading strategy?"  "What would my legal writing professor think about how I have written up my analysis?"  "What would my torts professor think about the strategy I used to solve this defamation problem?"  "How would an opposing lawyer attack my arguments?"  "Have I asked myself whether my evaluation of my work coincides with my professor’s?  If my evaluation of my work doesn’t coincide with my professor’s, why doesn’t it?"

Law schools should also consider including a course that involves statutory analysis in the second semester, such as a UCC course.

Including the above in the first year may seem daunting to some of my readers, but there is help.  The leading legal publishers are now issuing casebooks and other texts that a professor can use to integrate the above skills into the first year.  The best of these for the approach I have proposed above is the Context and Practice Series from Carolina Academic Press.

Now that law schools have recognized the need for experiential courses in the second and third years, law schools also should reform the first year.  You can't build a house without a foundation.

(Scott Fruehwald

October 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)