Thursday, April 16, 2015
In an interview with the Employment Insider, NALP's Executive Director James Liepold offered a three-point strategy for new law grads looking for jobs in a very tough market: 1. Network through online sites like LinkedIn; 2. gain as much practical experience in law school as possible via clinics and externships; and 3. most important is to rack up serious face-time hours networking with attorneys. The Employment Insider article notes that almost half of the class of 2013 found jobs through referrals or self-initiated contact with potential employers. In particular, among those who got hired by a public defender's office, 30% initiated contact themselves. And among those grads seeking jobs with small firms having less than 10 lawyers, more than 30% also found jobs through self-initiated contact. Here's an excerpt:
No job yet? You are not alone — more law graduates are finding jobs on their own, instead of through traditional fall on-campus interviews. In fact, fall on-campus interviewing accounted for only 14.7 percent of all jobs obtained, one of the lowest figures since NALP started tracking the figure 20 years ago. Why the dip?
“The short, simple answer is Big Law is hiring fewer summer associates,” NALP’s Executive Director James Leipold said.
Instead, most 2013 graduates obtained jobs through referrals, 19.5 percent, or self-initiated contact, 18.8 percent.
Lydia Russo, assistant dean for the Center of Development & Career Strategy at Emory University School of Law, is well aware of these changes and has ramped up recruitment efforts. As a result, jobs obtained from fall on-campus interviewing have increased modestly at her school.
“It’s not a huge increase but it is in the positive direction,” Russo said. “We have been extremely aggressive with employer outreach in cities where our students have interest. A little over half of our graduates find jobs through school-facilitated means and a little less than half find jobs through relationships, some form of networking or referrals.”
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Continue reading here.
This is a sad story. Many of us in the Legal Writing community feel a connection to the school where the late Tom Blackwell taught. From Inside Higher Ed:
Appalachian School of Law, in the coalfields town of Grundy, Va., is struggling as much as any law school amid a plunge in applicants.
Last year, the stand-alone law school had an entering class of 48 students, down from 146 students in 2011. There has also been an exodus of professors and, as of now, there are at most eight professors on staff -- some say fewer -- to teach next fall.
Alumni and others close to the school now worry about its future and accuse a powerful board member of obstructing efforts to save it. These advocates believe the only way to save their school is to move it out of Grundy, a town of just over 1,000 residents. The exit of the law school might really hurt the town.
In the meantime, there is some worry about the quality of the school, which accepts students with some of the lowest LSAT scores in the country.
You can read more here.
Dean Luke Bierman has written 4 Steps for Reinventing Legal Education for the ABA Journal Website. He has declared:
"The longer we drag our feet, the greater the gap between the skills that are needed now in new attorneys and the training that traditional law schools provide them. This chasm undermines the credibility of our nation’s law schools, and threatens to waste an entire generation of promising legal talent. Legal education hasn’t changed much in a century – reinvention is long past due."
His 4 steps comprise
1. "[W]e need a redesigned curriculum that is rigorous and highly focused on the realities of being a lawyer today and tomorrow, not yesterday – we can’t focus only on fixing what we didn’t like about our legal education. We must do better in the classroom to actively engage students in developing the core legal knowledge, skills and competencies they need for the workplace. Beyond foundational law courses, students need more and better training in writing, business skills, project management, technology, data analytics, leadership development, and communication."
2. "[A]n intense focus on experiential learning. It’s not enough to cram an abbreviated clerkship or internship into the summer months or as a component of a busy semester and pretend that is enough. Instead, we need full-time, course-connected legal residencies to become a staple of the law school experience. We need to require hands-on learning through partnerships with law firms, judges, nonprofits and government agencies – where students can learn by doing in immersive and iterative programs. We also need students to test themselves in simulations led by practicing attorneys and take part in greater numbers in clinics, trial advocacy, moot court, and mock trial programs. The experiential dimensions of legal education should be integrated and strategically sequenced with rigorous courses from day one to graduation, providing students with increasing levels of responsibility for real legal work at each stage of their development."
3. "[W]e need more involvement from practicing attorneys and judges. These experts are essential to one of the key components of a successful law school experience – the development of extensive personal and professional networks."
4. "[W]ith the average debt of private law school graduates reaching nearly $125,000, the fourth critical element to an overhaul is cost – we must make law school more affordable. . . . If we are really serious about the long term best interests of students, and thus their future clients, we need to lower the tuition and guarantee that it will not increase for the entire course of study. One way to do that is to realign the curriculum so that all students can accelerate their studies and graduate in less than the typical three years."
Finally, "The school where I serve as Dean has taken to heart that success is being redefined by transformation around us. Elon Law has adopted a new curriculum that addresses each and every one of the elements discussed above, and the faculty worked hard to adopt these changes in less than six months." (see here)
Dean Bierman has not overstated the urgency of the problem. A report on Bloomberg, has concluded that "the smartest people are opting out of law school" and that "less-qualified students are filling their spots." Law schools need to adopt the changes Dean Bierman proposed in his article and the more detailed changes I have proposed here.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
This article from the Los Angeles Loyolan details how one law school is responding to the sharp drop in applicants including receipt of a $20 million payout from its parent university, a plan to decrease total enrollment by 25% in the next two years and a gradual "reduction" in faculty and staff to better match the school's smaller class size. The article doesn't say whether the reduction will be voluntary or not though it does explain the $20 million, to be paid out in increments, will be used at least in part to fund the scholarships needed to attract high quality students. From the Loyolan:
Law school enrollment has seen a dramatic decline in the last five years.
Since hitting its peak of 52,488 in 2010, enrollment at U.S. law schools has steadily fallen, plummeting to 37,924 this year, according to the American Bar Association. Law schools around the country have adopted various strategies in order to deal with this 27.7 percent decrease.
Loyola Law School (LLS) has seized this opportunity to restructure and intentionally get smaller. LMU has also approved an approximately $20 million special payout from the University’s endowment towards student scholarships at the law school.
Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Thomas O. Fleming, Jr. explained, “The special payout follows a definite plan. It’s not just ‘take $20 million and divide it by five.’ It’s an incremental thing, and it’s reviewed each year as part of the budget process. So while a payout has been approved for next fiscal year, the finance committee will be kept fully informed, and we won’t do the payout until toward the end of the fiscal year.”
Fleming also noted that, when thinking about how to deal with the situation of falling applications to the law school, it was clear that they “didn’t want to disadvantage the undergraduate education. I know that some universities are basically asking their undergraduate tuitions to take care of their funding levels as they re-size their law schools.”
LLS Dean Victor Gold stressed the specific value of funding student scholarships. “Because the applicant pool nationally has declined, there are two strategies you employ to keep the quality of your students high. One is to cut enrollment, so you don’t have as many students. The other is offer really good scholarships. It’s a very competitive market because every good law school is doing the same thing,” he said.
Gold also noted, “The other part to scholarships is mission,” and pointed to the specific scholarships LLS offers to those with a demonstrated interest in public interest law, as well as those from less represented ethnic groups.
In addition to the focus on scholarships, Gold explained, “Like most good law schools, we’re responding by getting smaller. We are reducing enrollment, and have been for a number of years, but the target which we’ll hit in about two years is a total enrollment cut of about 25 percent.”
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Overdue books are nothing new. Even President Washington was guilty. From The Week (2010), here is the beginning of the story.
Oct. 5, 1789: Five months after George Washington takes the oath of office at Federal Hall on Wall Street, the new president checks out two books from the New York Society Library. The library was located in the same building as the president's office, in what was then the nation's capital. In a ledger, next to the names of the books — The Law of Nations by Emmerich de Vattel and Vol. 12 of the Commons Debates, containing transcripts from Britain's House of Commons — the librarian writes, "President."
Nov. 2, 1789: The books are due. No sign of Washington. Fines begin accruing.
And here is the end of the story:
May 20, 2010: Mount Vernon staff returns a copy of The Law of Nations to the New York Society Library. After hearing of the missing books, employees at Washington's estate were unable to locate either of them. But they found an identical Law of Nations online for about $12,000. "We express our gratitude for your patience... and for your generosity in erasing the considerable funds that were probably owed by George Washington," James Rees, executive director of Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, told library staff. "He did not do his public duty." Nonetheless, the library has absolved Washington "and his representatives" of all fines.
For the story of the intervening years, please click here.
As my co-blogger Jim Levy mentioned a couple of days ago, David Lat has renewed the call for dropping the third year of law school. Since we at this blog have been strong opponents of similar proposals (e.g., U.S. News), I decided to summarize our arguments as a reply to David Lat's piece.
1. Under our current system of legal education, most attorneys are not ready to practice even after three years in law school. As cognitive scientists have demonstrated, developing expertise requires many hours of learning. Moreover, deep learning requires reflection, and reflection requires time. According to Dean Daniel Rodriguez, "I speak with lawyers daily and listen to lawyers' candid critiques of our current system of legal education. What I never hear is this: Beginning lawyers are over-educated and over-trained. Nor do I hear that clients are eminently comfortable with first-year lawyers' knowledge, experience, and sophistication. Indeed, I hear very much the opposite, that is, that law schools need to develop a richer, more practically focused scheme of legal education – that is, we need to do more, not less." (here)
2. Most law firms and other employers, such as public interest groups, do not have the resources or time to train new lawyers.
3. Law students need to learn more than black letter law before they practice. They need to learn the policies behind the law and how to apply the law to real-life situations. They also need to learn how the law intersects with business and other fields of knowledge. Eliminating a year would also mean that law schools could only teach the basics. Students would no longer be able to specialize in the area of law that interests them the most. Every law graduate would be a generalist. Is this in the public interest?
4. Law schools need to prepare students to be practicing attorneys in order to serve clients and the public. This requires hands-on, practice-oriented courses.
5. Finally, a two-year proposal will not stop the glut of attorneys on the market today. In fact, it might make it worse because more people might go to law school if they only have to go for two years.
I do agree with those critics who state that the third year of law school at present is worthless for many students. I believe that law schools can make the third year more valuable by giving students skills classes, clinics, and other experiential opportunities. Yesterday, I wrote about the experiential proposal of the California Bar Association, and a program like this in the third year would make the third year particularly valuable in raising the quality of legal services.
The third year of law school should be reformed, not eliminated.
P.S. One of the comments to a previous post on this topic stated, "I agree - definitely not the answer!
How, exactly, would giving students even less training result in better lawyers able to jump out and start practicing even earlier? Already the schools don't teach them how to run their own practices, offering little or no business training. With even less time, schools would be packing more "pure law" into the curriculum, leaving no time for anything practical. And then we'd expect these students to fix the access to justice issues and fill jobs in the public service.
Why not just let them write the LSAT and if they score well, they can practice?"
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
You read that right. As the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports, the judge in the infamous Atlanta teachers cheating scandal called the case "the sickest thing that's ever happened in this town" noting that thousands of children were harmed as a result. The case involved 35 educators who were accused of changing answers on state-wide, standardized student competency tests in response to alleged pressure from administrators to improve student scores.
Sentencing was supposed to happen on Monday but the judge wanted to give the parties time to negotiate plea deals. A few did opting for a public apology, probation and weekend jail time. Those who didn't received twenty year sentences - the maximum under the federal RICO statute they were charged with violating - with seven to be served in hoosegow. The prosecution had recommended only five year sentences with three served in ye olde Gray Bar Hotel. Youch.
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has more details here.
Today, Villanova launches the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance and features a speech by former Governor and first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
Compliance is a growing field for lawyers. I doubt that many fledgling law students know what compliance is. But once they learn, they will discover that it is an exciting field that quickly puts them in the thick of things.
Here’s a story about Learned Hand from Professor John Barrett’s blog (April 1).
Judge Hand made his baseball disclosure in a comment following Attorney General William P. Rogers’s remarks at the dinner. Rogers recounted that his son Doug, age 12, had recently answered two telephone calls to their home. One was from President Eisenhower. The other was from Vice President Nixon. William Rogers reported that he had explained afterward to Doug that although these calls did not mean much to him now, they would one day. Doug had listened politely to his father and promised to remember the calls. Then, with great excitement, he had asked, “Did you ever meet Mickey Mantle?” To that boy and many, many others, the centerfield of the New York Yankees was the leading national figure.
The ALI audience of course laughed. Then Rogers noticed his predecessor, former Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr., in the audience. Rogers described Brownell as “a Yankee fan” and waved to him, provoking more laughter and his wave back at Rogers. He then turned serious and commented, “Of course I realize that my story about Mantle right now is not timely.”
Judge Hand, seated at the head table, was being honored at this dinner for his fifty years of federal judicial service. During Rogers’s remarks and then his byplay with Brownell, Judge Hand was visibly perplexed. He whispered to his neighbor but appeared unsatisfied with the reply he received.
Then Judge Hand rose to speak. He thanked previous speakers for their many tributes to him. Then he volunteered that he did not know the “name” that Attorney General Rogers had mentioned.
The audience at first sat silent, unbelieving. Then gasps of astonished laughter broke out.
Judge Hand then addressed Rogers directly. “Mantle?,” he asked. “I don’t know what Mickey Mantle is or does. Is it a man or a thing?”
I grew up a Yankees fan. I remember going to a game where Mantle and Maris hit back-to-back homers.
Those of you who've followed the Law Prof family of blogs over the years no doubt remember Joe Hodnicki who founded the network with TaxProf blogger Professor Paul Caron. Joe had for years been blogging at the Law Librarian Blog before he sold his interest in the Law Prof Blogs Network to Professor Caron a few years ago. He then started blogging at the Law Librarians Blog along with co-founder Mark Giangrande. Sadly, Joe and Mark announced nearly a year ago that they'd be winding it down. As we said at the time, "it is the end of an era" for some trail-blazing bloggers.
Well, Mark just announced that he's back and is blogging again at the Law Librarians Blog. Joe is still on the masthead so maybe he'll start contributing again to the blogosphere. Whether the Law Librarian or Law Librarians Blog, Joe and Mark were always worth following. We're glad their back and strongly suggest you add them to your daily blog feed.
One of our readers, Professor David Gibbs of Chapman University, has sent me an update on the proposed requirements for new lawyers in California.
"The Trustees of the California Bar adopted and submitted to the California Supreme Court proposals that would require:
1. New attorneys applying for admission to the California bar to demonstrate that they have completed 15 credits of qualifying experiential education.
2. New attorneys will have complete 50 hours of service to pro bono or low income clients before or within 18 months of admission.
3. New attorneys will have to take an additional 10 hours of continuing legal education, including 4 hours of ethics training within one year of admission."
"Last month Associate Dean Daniel Bogart of the Dale E. Fowler School of Law of Chapman University convened a conference on the proposals that was attended by representative of 17 of the 21 accredited law schools in California and members of the Task Force, including the former Chair and now California Appeals Court Judge Jon Streeter.
At the conference I learned that:
· California law schools are implementing a broad range of innovative experiential courses and programs.
· The proposals were the result of a broad consensus of educators, practitioners, bar associations and judges to improve the practice of law and aid young lawyers in their development.
· The proposals recognize that the need for a partnership between educators, practicing members of the bar and judiciary and bar associations."
Professor Gibbs has completed a 9-page overview summarizing the 76 page report of the Task Force established by the Trustees, which can be accessed here.
Thanks for this report, David. The proposals by the California Bar are probably the most important development in legal education in recent years. I had the opportunity to hear Judge Streeter talk about the proposals at an ETL conference a couple of years ago, and I think he and his colleagues have done a tremendous job of creating a plan to significantly improve legal education for the benefit of the general public.
Monday, April 13, 2015
In this short article, David Noll explains procedural terms with which students often are unfamiliar. These terms predate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which most Civil Procedure classes seem to pass over.
These terms, like “demurrer” and “nonsuit,” may pop up not only in old court cases that students may study, but also in state court procedural rules. I remember a lawyer asking to withdraw from a case, and the judge saying, “Oh, you want to “disappear”—meaning to withdraw his appearance. Here is the article.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Assessing Experiential Legal Education: A Response to Professor Yackee by Keith A. Findley.
Above the Law's David Lat is adding his vote to the several others (here, here\Phere and here) who've said we should drop the third year of law school including President Obama. (But see hererohere and here). Mr. Lat's argument appears in The Washington Post and here's an excerpt:
. . . .
Cutting a year of classroom instruction would get students into the workforce sooner, with less debt. Getting a law degree can cost $250,000 or more these days, pushing many graduates into lucrative corporate law rather than public-interest or government careers. Cutting the price by a third would also help the more than 40 percent of law school graduates who don't have a full-time law job nine months after graduation.
Defenders of 3L year cite the large and growing body of law to be learned. As Justice Antonin Scalia put it, "To say you are a lawyer is to say you are learned in the law, and . . . you can't do that in two years." But by their third year, law students have generally taken all required courses, filling their schedules with esoteric electives instead. Fun, but hardly essential.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Torts legend William Prosser burned most of his letters. However, a bundle of letters recently turned up at a garage sale. Christopher Robinette has used those letters to develop a biography of Prosser. Here is an excerpt, describing Prosser’s first moot court competition in his first year at Harvard (1921):
One of the activities that took place in law clubs was moot courts. Prosser describes his first law club moot court argument in detail: “The famous law club case came off a week ago….About eighteen members gathered in 33 Perkins Hall, around three gallons of cider and enough indigestible donuts to sink a barge.”183 Prosser was matched against another first-year, and his friend, Bill Holbrook, on an issue about property ownership. He explains that the chief justice was supposed to interrupt at every opportunity and question us, “theoretically to make us explain our arguments in detail; but in practice in the law clubs it becomes a matter of…trip[ping] you up in every possible way.”184 Prosser states that both advocates had the chief difficulty with a third-year “who had a bad habit of putting his finger on weak spots.”185 “Holbrook started out merrily for some four minutes, and then Mr. Averbeck rose up in his path and hit him with a large and exceedingly jagged club.”186 After Holbrook “was kept on his feet an hour and a half,”187 Prosser “arose to [his] feet, and promptly got [his] quietus.” He was questioned for “over two hours and ten minutes, so you can see that the questioning was pretty lively.”188 In the end, Prosser won in a unanimous decision: “The court said it was a very well argued case for first year men, especially as it was the first case of the year, and we were both green at it.”189 Prosser would have to argue again in a week: “No rest for the wicked.”190
The full article is The Prosser Letters: 1919-1948. You can access it here. Fascinating reading.
Some of our readers may be reaching a point in life where they have acquired wealth and need some help managing it. (Don’t laugh. It’s funny how money can grow and how family money can fall into one’s hands.) If you think you need a wealth advisor, the San Francisco Business Times offers 20 questions to ask a potential advisor. Here are the questions.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
A new study reported by the Harvard Business Review says that it will definitely make you feel better, enhance your psychological well-being and improve job satisfaction to return verbal abuse in kind. Or in the jargon of the study, returning "downward hostility" with "upward hostility" . . . "weakens the deleterious effects of downward hostility on the subordinate's job satisfaction" according to analysis of "2-wave data."
The Harvard Business Review blog was intrigued enough by the suggestion that yelling at the boss is a good thing that they reached out to one of the researchers to confirm that's the case before posting the story. And it's a good thing they did because the researchers emphatically state that "no!" - the study should not be interpreted as recommending employees yell back at an abusive boss. Rather, the study stands for the very limited proposition that doing so will make you feel better before you're fired. In other words, that "2-wave data" doesn't tell the whole story.
Check out the HBR post, What Research Shows About Talking Back to a Jerk Boss, here and access the study itself, On The Exchange of Hostility with Supervisors: An Examination of Self-Enhancing and Self-Defeating Perspectives - here.
Friday, April 10, 2015
In Volume 13 of Scribes, Bryan Garner interviewed Justice Scalia on a range of topics, including his process in writing (p. 70-71). Different writers have different processes, but I was intrigued to find out that the Justice’s process is virtually the same as mine. Here is the discussion from the transcript:
BAG . . . .How would you describe your writing process?
How do you go about writing an article or a book? You
get a germ of an idea . . . ?
AS: You’ve got to outline it first.
BAG: Do you?
AS: Yeah, I always do.
BAG: Does anything happen before you outline?
AS: Well, I think about it a lot. There has to be a lengthy germination
process. You just don’t sit down cold and say, “I’m
going to do this.” You think about it. You think about it
when you’re driving home, when you’re exercising at the
gym; ideas go through your head. Then, when you think
you have all of the ideas, all of the points you want to make,
then you sit down and organize them. You say, what’s the
proper approach, what order to put them in, and so forth.
And then just sit down and write it. That’s the hardest part.
Sit down and write.
BAG: How detailed do you like your outline to be?
AS: Not very detailed.
BAG: Just the main propositions?
AS: The main propositions.
BAG: And then when you actually sit down to write a draft, do
you try to write briskly?
AS: Mmm . . . I don’t write briskly; I write painfully. And I do each paragraph one at a time and try to make the point clearly there and then go through it again and again when I’m done.
As for me, I write a broad outline. Then, when a get to a particular part of the document, I write down my points and organize them into a detailed outline. And the writing never goes briskly.
As of April 3, 2015, applicants are down 2.8% from this time last year. Applications are down 5.0% from 2014. Could the steep decline in law school enrollments be close to bottoming-out? Professor Alfred Brophy over at the Faculty Lounge thinks it could be. You can see the full LSAC report (including charts tracking the number of applications by month since 2013) here.