Sunday, July 19, 2015

New President of Florida Bar calls for changes to allow law schools more freedom to prep students for practice

In a speech during his recent swearing-in, the new Florida Bar President, Ramón Abadin, issued a "wake-up" call to lawyers that they need to embrace the changes sweeping the profession - largely due to technology - that are loosening their monopoly grip on the way legal advice services are dispensed. Among the changes he'd like to see, Mr. Abadin would like to permit fee-splitting with non-lawyers so they can work together with new, online legal service providers, the "unbundling" of legal service in civil matters, easing restrictions on reciprocity between jurisdictions (at present Florida does not allow it), adopting the Uniform Bar Exam and giving law schools more freedom to develop courses to better prepare students to practice law. 

Regarding the latter, here is what Mr. Abadin told the General Assembly at the recent annual Florida bar meeting

[The bar should work] closer with law school deans to fix what a broken system it is, and change the model of legal education to accommodate an academic and practical experience. We could decrease the number of subjects on the bar exam, so students can take more practical courses in law schools. We could encourage the ABA to remove arcane and obsolete restrictions on law schools so they can produce better, more well-rounded professionals.

You can read his full remarks at the Florida Bar News website here.


July 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Second Circuit on Unpaid Internships

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A recent ruling on the legality of unpaid internships may require closer coordination between employers and colleges, experts say.

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that unpaid internships may be legal as long as the intern is the "primary beneficiary" of the intern-employer relationship. The ruling also emphasized that the purpose of the internship should be educational.

In highlighting the educational nature of an internship, the court, using strong language, dismissed what it called a "rigid" list of six points used by the Department of Labor to determine whether an internship was legal. Instead, the court presented a set of seven guidelines, in addition to the primary-beneficiary principle, to consider in evaluating internships.

The guidelines include "the extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal academic work," and the degree to which the internship was similar to an educational environment.

If you have a subscription to the Chronicle, you can read more here. And here is a link to the opinion, which promises to be influential.


July 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Designing a Solo and Small Practice Curriculum"

This is a new article by Professor Meredith Miller (Touro) and available at 83 UMKC L. Rev. _ (forthcoming 2015) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:

There is a reality commonly ignored by the curriculum in most law schools: the largest segment of law graduates will eventually be solo or small firm practitioners. Even before the Great Recession, nearly two thirds of lawyers in the United States practiced in solo or small firms. Since 2008, trends show an increase in the number of recent law graduates that “hang a shingle.” According to a 2012 report of the American Bar Association, about three-quarters of lawyers in the United States work in private practice. Of those attorneys, about seventy percent are in solo or small firms. Many find themselves in this practice setting soon after graduation. The National Association for Law Placement (“NALP”) statistics for the class of 2013 show that 42% of graduates in private practice are working in firms with 2-10 lawyers; about 5% are already operating solo practices. 

In short, more than half of the attorneys in the United States are small business owners – they are operating, managing and growing a law practice. As framed by Professor Luz Herrera, they must become “lawyer-entrepreneurs.” However, the law curriculum rarely presents students with opportunities to build the competencies necessary to operate a practice. As William Hornsby, staff counsel at the American Bar Association (“ABA”), has written: “Simply put, law school graduates are ill-prepared for the future they are most likely to pursue.”

A confluence of factors have brought solo and small practice to the forefront, including: the lagging job market for recent law graduates; the contracting of “biglaw” firm practice; the hope that regional and community practices will begin to fill the “justice gap” for low and middle income individuals; the entrepreneurial spirit of recent college graduates (“Millenials”), who long to be free agents and care deeply about their communities and work-life balance; and technological advances that have increased the efficiencies and decreased the overhead of operating a solo or small firm. Add to these factors that substantially decreasing law school enrollments have increased the pressure on law schools to innovate and recognize the realities of modern law practice.

In law schools, from the “MacCrate Report” to the “Carnegie Report” to “Best Practices,” to a number of familiar revisits to the “MacCrate Report,” we have seen over 20 years of debate about the role of “practical skills training” in the law school curriculum. I do not intend to rehash those debates here. To the extent that law schools have introduced more opportunities for practical training, it is a step toward building a solo practice curriculum, but it does not go far enough. There is still a gap between the doctrinal knowledge and practical competencies taught in law school and those necessary to successfully operate a solo practice. While most law schools currently provide thorough instruction in doctrinal law and legal reasoning and some exposure to “skills” training, they do not provide guidance in the “diverse set of business, legal, and interpersonal skills” that operating a law practice requires.

There is a small but growing chorus urging law schools to do more to prepare graduates who will operate their own practices. However, there have not yet been comprehensive or concrete proposals for the law school curriculum. To the extent law schools have responded to this need, they have done so by adding a Practice Management course and/or opening a post-graduate incubator or residency program. The Practice Management course is a key component of designing a solo practice curriculum but its two or three credits are far from a comprehensive exposure to the necessary competencies. Moreover, while post-graduate programs are important steps in assisting attorneys in gaining the competencies to operate their own practices, this education should be more widely available to all students and it should begin before graduation. The post-graduate programs should inform and supplement the curriculum but they cannot be the only answer to the disconnect between the curriculum and the way that law is actually practiced by such a great number of graduates.

It is the responsibility of law schools – especially those with a regional focus – to offer a suite of courses designed to position students to manage and operate their own practices. Borrowing from my experience designing a solo practice curriculum at the Touro Law Center, this Article provides the contours of a suite of curricular offerings for those students who have an interest in operating their own practices. At Touro, we have created a Solo & Small Practice Concentration (the “Concentration”). While still a work in progress, the core courses that make up the Concentration are consciously intended to build the business and interpersonal skills necessary to operate a solo practice. Students who opt to declare the Concentration and complete all of its requirements receive a notation on their transcript.

This Article begins by detailing the nature and goals of the core courses that we have identified as making up a solo and small practice curriculum. After describing the courses and their educational objectives, the Article identifies some of the hurdles in building the curriculum. It also identifies potential synergies between the curriculum and post-graduate programs. Finally, the Article concludes by briefly placing the solo and small practice curriculum within the current context: in light of a shifting legal landscape, law schools must recalibrate to better prepare graduates for the actual challenges of the legal market.


July 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Key to Job Hunting Success: Your USP

USP stands for “Unique Selling Position.” Law recruiter Harrison Barnes argues that a job seeker needs to identify his or her unique quality that will attract an employer. I doubt that many of my students have thought about identifying their USP, much less using it as a selling point in a job search.

Every attorney and every person has a USP that can be used with employers.

Sometimes it’s the obstacles the person has overcome.

Sometimes it’s their unique writing ability.

Sometimes it’s their passion.

Sometimes it’s their character.

The point is, everyone out there has a particular USP. You are different from other people and there is something different about your candidacy and experience than everyone else’s out there. You need to say so, and you need to be as upfront as possible about this. Have something in your USP that no one else out there offers.

.  .  .

Just as a Unique Selling Position (USP) is important to sell a product, your own USP is vital for marketing yourself to potential employers. You must define your USP before even creating your résumé, as it comprises the basic product that you are trying to sell in your interview. Focus your USP on a specific niche, for which there is market demand, and make it thoroughly persuasive.

You can read more here.


July 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Upside of the Legal Crisis according to one prof (via the Chronicle of Higher Ed)

Professor Benjamin Barton (Tennessee) has a new book out called Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford U. Press - go here for the publisher's summary) as well as an editorial in the Chronicle of Higher Ed that offers a nice overview. After identifying the usual suspects and circumstances that have led the legal profession (and law schools) to the present "crisis," Professor Barton says that "after some rough sledding," (including some law school staffing shake-ups) the public, the profession, and even the law school professoriate will be better off in his opinion. 

The public will benefit via technology and web offerings that over time will get better and thereby provide the public with access to good quality legal help for routine matters at a much more reasonable (i.e. affordable) cost. The profession will go through a period of "wretched " change but will eventually benefit from less competition between lawyers due to smaller law school graduating classes. As for law schools, Professor Barton predicts that the pressure to attract students will mean some will focus less on USNWR rankings and more on providing the kind of educational experience that actually prepares students for practice. Related to this, he predicts some schools will forsake the Ivy League model and instead will encourage faculty to focus on quality teaching and practical scholarship.  As for me, I'm still skeptical about the latter because chasing prestige is so deeply embedded in legal education - polls of prospective law students continue to show that they care most about a law school's ranking when it comes to deciding where to enroll - but hey, maybe Professor Barton will turn out to be right. Despite my skepticism, I hope he is right.

Check out Professor Barton's column in the CHE right here. And you can buy his book on Amazon here.


July 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Illinois Law Dean Demands Pay Cut

From the Wall Street Journal blog:

[Vikram] Amar, brother of Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar, comes to Illinois from University of California-Davis School of Law, where he has taught constitutional law and civil procedure and has been a top administrator for academic affairs.

In a statement, Mr. Amar stresses that he’ll be doing his part to make legal education more affordable by making less than his predecessor:

Another priority is to begin to restore affordability to legal education so that cost does not deter talented people from pursuing a law degree. True, great law schools require great personnel and programs, both of which cost money. But those of us privileged to serve in our great law schools must be ever vigilant to keep these schools within the reach of all persons of ability, especially the younger generation’s gifted aspirants who come from modest backgrounds—the next generation’s Abe Lincolns* and Barack Obamas. That it one reason why I insisted, as a condition of my appointment, that my overall dean compensation be somewhat lower than the recent norm, both at Illinois and at other elite law schools.

A University of Illinois spokesman said the dean will make $324,900 — about $1,500 less than what the school annually paid the last man to hold the job in more than an interim capacity, Bruce P. Smith.

You can read more here. Good for him. But he’s still getting a mighty big pay check.


July 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What is the Definition of “Professional”?

Attorney at work has a very interesting article on the topic. It first defines “professional” in traditional terms. My translation: Conform to a stereotype; don’t rock the boat. It then offers an alternative: being visibly good at what you do. You can read more here.

Of course, your choice a definitions depends a lot on where you work and who your clients are. You need to find the right compromise. The advantage of the second definition is that it focuses on what clients want the most—good results.

For legal educators, your choice depends on who your colleagues are and who your students are. Still, if you teach well and keep up your scholarship, you will be considered a professional. It also helps to be nice to people.


July 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Homeless man has Harvard Law degree

The Washington Post has a story about a guy who is likely the most highly credentialed homeless man in D.C. with degrees in economics, accounting and law. While working as an associate at Shaw Pittman in D.C. during the early 80's (he graduated from Harvard law in 1979) Mr. Postell was struck by Schizophrenia which at first "creeps" before eventually leading to a psychotic break that changed his life. Check out this fascinating story here. Below is an excerpt:

The homeless man who went to Harvard Law with John Roberts


The judge settled his gaze on the homeless man accused of sleeping beside an office building in downtown Washington.


It was a Saturday afternoon in early April at D.C. Superior Court, and Alfred Postell, a diagnosed schizophrenic, stood before Judge Thomas Motley.


Postell’s hair was medium length and graying. His belly spilled over his pants. A tangled beard hung from his jowls.


“You have the right to remain silent,” a deputy clerk told Postell, according to a transcript of the arraignment. “Anything you say, other than to your attorney, can be used against you.”


“I’m a lawyer,” Postell replied.


Motley ignored the seemingly bizarre assertion, mulling over whether Postell, charged with unlawful entry, posed a flight risk.


“I have to return,” Postell protested, offering a convoluted explanation: “I passed the Bar at Catholic University, was admitted to Constitution Hall. I swore the Oath of Office as an attorney at Constitution Hall in 1979; graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979.”


That got Motley’s attention. He’d also graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979.


“Mr. Postell, so did I,” Motley said. “I remember you.”


. . . . 

Continue reading the Washington Post story here.


July 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Firms with the Best Summer Associate Programs lists the 100 law firms with the best summer associate programs. Here, in order, are the top 10. You can access the full list here.




Morrison & Foerster   LLP


San Francisco, CA



Foley Hoag LLP


Boston, MA



O'Melveny & Myers   LLP


Los Angeles, CA



Venable LLP


Washington, DC



Gibson, Dunn &   Crutcher LLP


Los Angeles, CA



Shook, Hardy &   Bacon L.L.P.


Kansas City, MO



Schiff Hardin LLP


Chicago, IL



Baker, Donelson,   Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC


Memphis, TN



Holland & Knight   LLP


Miami, FL



Kaye Scholer LLP


New York, NY


July 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New study analyzes traditional predictors of law school success

The Wall Street Journal Law blog is reporting on a new longitudinal study posted to SSRN here by Professors Alexia Brunet Marks and Scott Moss (both of Colorado) that analyzes the predictive value of traditional measures like LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA to law school success. The article is titled What Makes a Law Student Succeed or Fail? A Longitudinal Study Correlating Law Student Applicant Data and Law School Outcomes

According to the abstract, the researchers found that schools may be relying too heavily on LSAT scores and not enough on UGPA. Interestingly, the researchers also found that matriculants who have a STEM or EAF (economics, accounting, finance) undergrad major is a "significant" plus in predicting a good outcome as is several years' work experience before coming to law school (with 4 to 9 years being the "sweat spot"). And work experience as a teacher is a real positive in this regard while  military experience is a weak contributing factor insofar as predicting a positive law school outcome. You can read the full abstract here. The Wall Street Journal Law blog has some additional comments and insights from the authors here.


July 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dealing with Negative External Tenure/Promotion Reviews

They can be devastating. From Vitae, here’s some good advice. For “chair,” please read “the person who is writing up the committee report on tenure and promotion."

One challenge for chairs is that the institutional structure usually dictates that no negative letter can be tossed out or disregarded. In other words, once a letter has come in, it must be included in the file. So a supportive chair who is suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with a negative letter must now move mountains to rationalize and explain it, so that it doesn’t destroy the candidate’s case at the department or upper levels. The chair needs exceptional rhetorical skills to contextualize the letter, perhaps by pointing out the divided nature of the field, and the competition or hostility between different camps. A really talented chair can sometimes neutralize a bad letter -- if the rest of the file is unassailably strong. But it’s always a challenge.

You can read the rest here. By the way, people do overcome the nasty review letter. If worse comes to worse, move to another school—not impossible, even in these troubled times. Even if that school is not as elite as you would like, go there, teach well, and write your way out. Scholarship is the key to academic advancement.


July 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Brooklyn Law School Offers a Safety Net for New Students

From the New York Times:

"Beginning with students entering this year — whether in two-, three- or four-year programs — Brooklyn Law School is offering to repay 15 percent of total tuition costs to those who have not found full-time jobs nine months after graduating. That, according to school officials, is how long it typically takes graduates to get such jobs and, if necessary, to obtain the requisite licenses."

“This builds on the overall approach that we’ve taken to be very student-centric, to listen to what students need,” said Nicholas W. Allard, dean of Brooklyn Law School. He said it was the school’s strong financial standing, including an endowment of $133 million as of May, that made the program possible.

"Last year Brooklyn Law School, which had a total enrollment of 1,117 in the 2014-15 academic year, reduced its tuition by 15 percent, so that students entering this year pay $43,237 on average per year."

"Now, with the tuition-reimbursement plan, the school is offering her and other new students additional financial relief."

"Mr. Allard, the school’s dean, explained that the program was meant to motivate students to seek out career resources on campus and to give them time to seek a job they want, rather than settle for the first option that comes along because of financial pressure."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

NYU's Professor Stephen Gillers says more states should authorize "licensed legal technicians"

Washington was the first jurisdiction in the nation to approve LLTs (here) who are non-lawyers authorized by the state to provide limited legal services and advice that a client would otherwise have to seek out a lawyer for (and pay lawyer rates). Other states like California (here) and New York are also considering the idea. Of course some lawyers worry that LLTs are going to take business away from them at a time when the legal services market has never been more competitive. In a short letter to letter to the New York Times, NYU's Professor Stephen Gillers endorses the idea as a great way to connect clients who otherwise would not be able to afford the cost of an attorney with someone licensed by the state to provide legal advice. Professor Gillers suggests that LLTs don't in fact threaten lawyers' livelihood because they've already priced themselves out of that segment of the market. Nonetheless, in a follow-up interview with Bloomberg Law, Professor Gillers says that he expects lawyers are still going to fight the spread of LLTs to other jurisdictions. And as he notes, at present there is precedent for their arguments: “Courts have upheld unauthorized-practice injunctions against non-lawyers who have tried to render modest services the courts deem ‘legal,’ like former legal secretaries who aid parties to a simple divorce in filling out forms,” and “courts have also invalidated legislative schemes that create licensing of people to perform services courts deem ‘legal,’ but which save consumers much money.”

You can read Professor Gillers' letter to the NYT here and his follow-up interview with Bloomberg here.


July 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Colleges and Universities are Doing Better Financially

From Moody’s Investment Services:

Fiscal year 2014 medians for public and private universities show much of the higher education sector stabilizing into balanced operations, increased liquidity, and slowly strengthening balance sheets, Moody's Investors Service says in two new reports. Nonetheless, approximately 20% of universities continue to confront material revenue growth pressures.

For private colleges and universities, revenue growth outpaced expense growth for the first time in four years, with median revenue growth at 3.4% while expense growth was 2.9%.

"Double-digit investment returns, robust philanthropic support and limited borrowing led to continued strengthening of private university balance sheets. Strongly correlated with investment returns, total gift revenue grew 7.3% in FY 2014, and larger, wealthier institutions continue to benefit the most," Moody's AVP-Analyst Michael Osborn says in "Signs of Moderating Stress in Private University FY 2014 Medians."

Median growth in net tuition revenue, typically a private university's largest revenue source, stabilized in the 3% range for FY 2013 and 2014. This is much lower than the 7% range from 2005-2008 but equivalent to inflation.

You can read more here. Despite the uptick, I don’t see any indications of financial easing in the way colleges run themselves.


July 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The number of LSAT test-takers in June rises 6.6% from last year

It is causing some commentators to suggest that the national decline in law school enrollment may have bottomed out. The LSAC is reporting here that the number of LSAT test-takers for the most recent June administration of the test is up 6.6% from last year at this time.  In total, 23,238 prospective law school applicants took the test last month compared to 21,803 in June 2014. As the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports, though the number of law school applicants for fall 2015 is still down 2% from last year, the recent upswing in LSAT test-takers suggests that perhaps the worst is over with respect to enrollment figures. You can see the data on the number of LSATs administered per quarter from 1987 forward here and read some brief commentary about what the latest numbers may mean for law school admission figures here at the WSJLB. 


July 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Former Charleston Law Profs Sue the School

From the Courier & Post (abridged): 

Two former Charleston School of Law professors have sued the school and its owners claiming they were fired in retaliation for their opposition to a sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System.

Allyson Haynes Stuart and Nancy Zisk, two tenured professors, were among the seven professors the school terminated in May.

 Stuart and Zisk late last month filed breach of contract lawsuits in Circuit Court. They are asking for unspecified damages including loss of wages, health and pension benefits and future academic employment opportunities. They also are asking for an injunction, which would allow them to retain their tenured professor money is available to pay Haynes’ and Stuart’s salaries.

 According to court documents, Stuart and Zisk both said school leaders told them they were being terminated due to a financial exigency, or crisis, caused by declining enrollment. They were selected for termination because of their high salaries.

 Tough times for law schools and law profs. You can read more here.


July 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The New Law School: Teaching Students to Practice Like Lawyers"

A new book coming by Professor Adam Lamparello  and Charles E. MacLean (both Indiana Tech) from LexisNexis but available now for download on SSRN here. From the abstract:

The twenty-first century has ushered in a new era for legal education. Rapid advances in technology, a decline in law school applicants, and outsourcing at law firms has changed the way law is practiced and legal services are delivered. Members of the bench and bar have criticized law graduates for lacking the essential skills needed to practice law, and clients are refusing to pay for hours billed by new associates. To make matters worse, graduates are no longer entering a profession where employment opportunities are plentiful and on-the-job training is provided.


In response, law schools across the United States have been forced to re-examine their programs of legal education. Some have made fundamental curricular changes and vowed to produce “practice ready” graduates who can competently practice law from the outset of their careers. In fact, the most common phrase that reverberates throughout the legal academy – the new “it” factor in legal education – is “experiential learning.” Indeed, law schools are almost tripping over themselves to claim that they are more “experiential” than others. Ironically, as law schools have boasted about their practice-ready curriculums and touted their clinical offerings, externship placements, and simulation courses, the criticism of graduates’ practice readiness has increased, not decreased.


The problem is that few law schools have defined what experiential learning means, and hardly any are being “experiential” in the way that will actually produce practice-ready graduates. More clinics, externships, and simulations are beneficial, but the truth is that they will not make students “practice ready” in a meaningful sense because law schools continue to ignore the core problem with legal education: the curriculum does not devote sufficient time or credits to developing outstanding legal writers. Make no mistake: legal writing is the most important skill that lawyers need to practice law competently, and is the essence of what it means to be experiential. Indeed, the criticism that lawyers and judges hurl at new graduates is not because students have not participated in enough oral arguments or simulated depositions. It is because many graduates cannot write persuasively in a variety of real world contexts. In fact, many have never even seen the documents they will encounter in law practice, much less actually drafted, for example, a motion to dismiss or a set of interrogatories.


Thus, law schools that do not adequately focus on developing outstanding legal writers are not experiential, no matter how many clinics or field placements they offer. Currently, law schools are failing in this regard, and offering, on average, less than six credits of required legal writing. Experiential Legal Writing: The New Approach to Practicing Like a Lawyer, proposes a groundbreaking curriculum that trains students to think, write, and practice like lawyers.


July 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Missing Comma Decides the Case

Here’s the story:

Back in February 2014, Andrea Cammelleri was cited for a violation when she left her pickup truck parked on a street in West Jefferson, Ohio.

That was because an ordinance in the village stated it was illegal to park “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” on a street for more than 24 hours.

At a bench trial, Cammelleri argued that “the ordinance did not apply because the language prohibits a motor vehicle camper from being parked on the street for an extended period of time.”

That’s: Motor vehicle camper.

Not: Motor vehicle, camper. 

Ms. Cammelleri lost at the trial level and won at the appellate  level. She had parked a motor vehicle on the street, not a motor vehicle camper. Saved by the missing comma!

You can read more here.



July 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World is Out!!!

Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World edited by Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radke Bliss, Carrie Wilkes Kaas, and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is out.  It is available for free in ebook format here.  LexisNexis will issue a print version shortly for $50.

Description: "Building on Best Practices is a follow-up to Best Practices for Legal Education, a project of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), authored primarily by Roy Stuckey. With contributions from more than 50 legal educators, this new volume is not a second edition, but is intended to be used in conjunction with the original volume, as the core content of Best Practices remains just as useful as when it was originally published. In teh wake of new ABA Accreditation Standards, the MacCrate Report, and other changes, legal education is called upon today to respond to a broader view of what lawyers must be trained to do. Building on Best Practices identifies ten such areas and provides guidance on what and how to teach them. The demand to teach a broader range of knowledge, skills, and values presents difficult trade-offs, however, that are also considered." 

Best Practices for Legal Education: A Vision and A Road Map by Roy Stuckey and others was one of the two key books in legal education reform (along with the Carnegie Report).  I am sure that this follow-up will be just as important.  We already reviewed several of the chapters earlier this year on this blog.

(Scott Fruehwald)

Table of Contents

FOREWORD by Roy Stuckey




July 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

California pushes forward with proposal to require 15 credit hours of law school skills training for admittance to the bar - and out of state deans are not happy.

A task force appointed by the California issued a report last year recommending that new applicants to the bar "certify" that they've taken at least 15 credit hours of practical legal skills or experiential training in law school. You can read the task force's report and recommendations here. In the meantime, the National Law Journal is reporting that the Association of American Law Deans is not happy about this proposal because in their minds it's going to make it harder for out of state students to gain admittance to the Cali bar. 

California’s Practical-Skills Plan Alarms Out-of-State Deans


The State Bar of California is pushing forward with a proposal to require candidates for admission to the profession to have completed 15 credit hours of practical training, over objections from deans around the country.


The idea is to ensure that new lawyers are ready to practice law. But the Association of American Law Schools’ Deans Steering Committee warned the proposed rule would stifle curricular experimentation, limit the flexibility students now enjoy in choosing courses, and create a confusing patchwork of differing state requirements.


Moreover, the repercussions would be felt well beyond the Golden State, since so many graduates want to practice there, the group said in a written statement.


“The intention comes from a good place, but it would make things difficult for thelaw schools and the students, operations-wise,” said University of Nebraska College of Law Dean Susan Poser, one of the 15 deans on the steering committee. “We already have an accreditor. It’s the [American Bar Association]. They tell us what we need to teach. To potentially have 50 state bars accrediting us is very complicated.”


The deans want California to hold off in light of the ABA’s new rule that every law graduate complete at least six credit hours of hands-on coursework. The ABA approved the rule in August, as the California Bar finalized its own proposal. The state should allow the ABA to implement and assess its rule before it adds requirement for new lawyers, the steering committee argued.


Shauna Marshall, professor emeritus at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and chairwoman of the California Bar committee that developed the requirement, said the critics have misinterpreted it.


“Flexibility is the keystone of our proposal, and thehope is that it will spur innovation in law schools,” Marshall said. “We didn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. I appreciate my colleagues’ concerns, but I think the profession has changed. Many graduates have to hit the ground and they have to know how to do it—the practice and the theory.”


The proposal still must win approval by the California Supreme Court and state Legislature, and bar spokeswoman Laura Erne said neither body has indicated when it would act.

. . . . 

You can continue to read the NLJ story here.


July 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)