Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Unfortunate Study on the Quality of Professors

John Yoo (remember him?) & grad student James Cleith Phillips measure the “relevance” of law professors by how frequently the profs are cited.

Questions to ask: (1)Why doesn’t the study of relevance include any mention of teaching excellence? (2) Is it possible that the highly ranked profs from elite schools get cited because they are from elite schools while the scholarship of other profs gets read, but not cited? (3) If many or most cites really are only window dressing for other articles, what exactly does this study measure?

You can read more here.

(ljs)

May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Perils of Empirical Interdisciplinary Scholarship

Lynn Lo Pucki has written an important article pointing out the downside of overemphasizing the methodologies of empirical work at the expense of legal scholarship. “Disciplining Legal Scholarship” 90 Tulane Law Review 1 (2015) (forthcoming).

American law schools are hiring large proportions of J.D.-Ph.D.s in tenure-track faculty positions in an effort to increase the quantity and quality of empirical legal scholarship. That effort is failing. The new recruits bring methods and objectives unsuited to law. They produce lower-than-predicted levels of empiricism because they compete on the basis of methodological sophistication, devote time and resources to disputes over arcane issues in statistics and methodology, prefer to collaborate with other Ph.D.s, and intimidate empiricists whose work does not require high levels of methodological sophistication. In short, Ph.D.s impose the cultures of their disciplines on legal scholarship.

Importing people rather than ideas from other disciplines threatens the role of legal scholarship as a disciplinary meeting ground. The risk is that substituting disciplinary scholars for legal scholars will substitute disciplinary scholarship for the interdisciplinary scholarship currently prevalent in law. One scenario by which that might occur is for Ph.D.-hiring to become ubiquitous, for the disciplines to divide the fields of law among them, and for peer review to eliminate legal scholarship that fails to meet disciplinary requirements.

My vision is one in which empiricism is distinguished from statistics, methodological sophistication is valued only as a means of discovery, and all legal scholars feel free to report empirical findings. Two changes are central to achieving that vision. The first – already implemented in some schools – is to provide empirical legal scholars with assistance from non-tenure-track faculty statisticians. Doing so will relieve the pressure on law faculties to acquire statistical expertise by hiring Ph.D.s in tenure-track positions. The second is to build a culture in the law schools that values empirical discovery and the advancement of knowledge over methodological sophistication.

You can read the article here

(ljs)

May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Conditional Scholarships and a Law School's Duty to Instill Professionalism in Its Students

While I was in the hospital last week, there was a debate on the ethics of how law schools have used conditional scholarships (sometimes called bait-and-switch scholarships).  (e.g., here, here)  I do not want to rehash all the arguments today, especially since I have criticized conditional scholarships in posts over the last several years.  (e.g., here, here)  However, I would like to mention my main reason for opposing conditional scholarships.

The way law schools have used conditional scholarships, particularly their failure to disclose the retention rate until recently required by the ABA, has sent the wrong message to law students.  One of law schools' major purposes is to turn out ethical, professional students.  Law schools cannot do this if they are not fully disclosing information and being fair to their students.  Law schools and law professors serve as role models to their students.  You cannot produce an ethical lawyer from a law school that adopts unethical practices.  Law schools must go further in being fair and ethic than other professional and graduate schools because of its role in society.  A medical school will not produce graduates skilled in patient relations if the professors at that school don't treat patients well.  Likewise, a law school will not turn out ethical, professional students, unless they hold themselves to the highest standards.

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Academics Stink at Writing

Here, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker digs deep and tells us in 16 insightful (double spaced) pages—too much to summarize here. Worth reading.

(ljs)

May 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should law schools be teaching entrepreneurship?

That's the argument made by J. Mark Phillips, an Assistant Professor at Belmont University’s Massey School of Business and an entrepreneurial consultant to solo legal practitioners, in this new article called Entrepreneurial Esquires in the New Economy: Why All Attorneys Should Learn about Entrepreneurship in Law School and available at 8 J. Business, Entrepreneurship &  Law 2 (2015). From the abstract:

As the legal industry continues to recover from the shock of the recent recession, it finds itself in a fundamentally different place than it was ten years ago, with even more tumultuous change on the horizon. Economic pressure coupled with continued technological innovation has increased attorney unemployment levels, shifted law firm business models, and changed the expectations of legal clientele. Yet, despite this radically shifting market place, legal education has remained fundamentally unchanged. This article examines the current state of the legal industry through an entrepreneurial lens and juxtaposes it with the current state of legal education. In doing so, this article sets forth three key claims: (1) the legal industry is not only ripe for entrepreneurial attorneys but will actually depend upon them for survival; (2) as a whole, law schools are currently ill-suited to provide entrepreneurship training; and (3) all attorneys, regardless of their chosen career path, would benefit from exposure to entrepreneurship education in law school.

(jbl).

May 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pep Talk for Academic Support People (& Maybe the Rest of Us)

Over at the Law School Academic Support blog, Amy Jarmon reminds her ASP colleagues that now they have time to breathe:

I know as an ASP'er that now is the only chance that I have to breathe.  Not that I will be relaxing, mind you.  I will be working my way through a massive list of projects and deadlines. 

By breathing, I mean that I can look up and not see the next student waiting in line.  By breathing, I mean I will not be finishing one meeting only to rush to another obligation.  By breathing, I mean that instead of answering an avalanche of e-mails and handling last-minute crises, I can focus on completing a task and spending quality time with that task.

But you know the best part of being able to breathe for a few days?  I get to step back and remember why I love ASP work.  I can re-focus on what really matters: the many successes, the many thank yous, the academic and life changes that I have had the honor to be part of, the student tears that have led to smiles on those faces as skills were honed, and the reality that some students would have given up without my help .

So, my dear colleagues, take time to breathe.  Remind yourself of why you love ASP work.  Remember the little and big miracles you have witnessed and been part of this year.  You are a blessing to your students and a blessing to your ASP colleagues. 

Once the rest of us get our grades in, maybe this advice will apply to us and lift our spirits. You can read more here.

(ljs)

May 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching the Digital Caveman: Rethinking the Use of Classroom Technology in Law School

It is my pleasure to introduce a wonderful new article by our co-blogger James B. Levy Teaching the Digital Caveman: Rethinking the Use of Classroom Technology in Law School.

Abstract:     

"The term 'digital native' was created by an educational consultant more than a decade ago to suggest a sharp divide between students born into a digital world and 'digital immigrants.' It has sent legal educators into a tizzy ever since trying to figure out how best to teach this supposedly new breed of law student. Do we allow laptops in the classroom or ban them? Is multitasking part of a new learning style or does it interfere with learning? Are today’s students primarily 'visual learners' who learn best with technologies like PowerPoint or is traditional media like print more effective?

This article begins by putting the present debate over the learning styles of 'digital natives' into historical context revealing that new technologies have always led to a 'moral panic' that they are changing the way students think and learn. To avoid making the same mistakes again, this article suggests we reject popular stereotypes and clichés about digital natives and look instead to learning science for a more objective understanding about how our students really learn. Only by understanding how the brain works and what it was originally designed to do can we make well-informed decisions about when to use classroom technologies and when to shut them off. Based on the foregoing, the last section of this article offers guidelines for making better use of several popular classroom technologies in ways that promote the critical thinking skills at the heart of a legal education."
 
Jim's article contains a very clear introduction to the brain and learning sciences.  It then shows how we should use this knowledge in connection with legal education, particularly the use of technology in the classroom.  I was struck by this sentence in Jim's article, "A more accurate picture of how today’s law students really learn is suggested by the title in that they use digital tools to gather information but still process it into knowledge using the original factory equipment of our caveman ancestors."
 
We on this blog have often stressed the importance of using learning theory to reform our approaches to teaching law students.  My emphasis has been to show how traditional law school teaching methods are not the most effective ways of educating students.  In his article, Jim has looked at it from the opposite perspective: how improperly using technology can hinder the learning process and how it can aid the learning process when it is used in connection with how the brain learns.  I think that Jim has written a very important article.
 

May 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Legal sector adds 2,300 jobs in April

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the story:

The U.S. legal services sector added 2,300 jobs in April, raising employment levels to their highest point in months, the Labor Department said Friday.

 

As U.S. employers throughout the economy resumed steady hiring last month, the legal-sector hiring enjoyed a modest bounce as well. The total number of legal jobs stood at 1,122,100 in April, a preliminary and seasonally adjusted figure.

 

That’s the highest figure for the sector since August 2014 and about 2,000 above the figure at the start of this year.

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

May 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top Law Schools in the World

Here’s another ranking. QS ranks its 50 top law schools. Here are its top 10, for what it’s worth.

 (ljs)
 
Rank University   Location QS Stars ?
Overall Score
Overall Score
 
Overall Score
Academic Reputation
Employer Reputation
Citations per Paper
H-index Citations
Faculty Value
 
                 Reset Search
 
                           
1 99.8
United States
 
2 96.7
United Kingdom
 
3 96.0
United Kingdom
 
4 93.7
United States
 
5 92.2
United States
 
6 90.7
United States
 
7 90.3
United Kingdom
 
8 89.4
Australia
 
9 87.9
United States
 
10 86.9
United States
 

May 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

An Example of Citing Too Many Authorities

In an amicus brief in the current same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, we find 26 pages listing cited authorities in a brief with an Argument section of 36 pages. The amici are “100 Scholars of Marriage.”

I suppose the drafter believed that including all these authorities would lead the Justices to give credence to the argument: Same sex marriage leads to a breakdown in the tradition marriage, leading to increased sexual activity outside of marriage, leading to more unwanted pregnancies, leading to more abortions.

Reasonable minds may differ, but I don’t think this argument or the list of cited authorities will sway the Court. You can read the brief here and see what you think.

(ljs)

May 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 8, 2015

“On Editing”

An excellent treatise on editing and writing is Jonathan Van Patten’s article “On Editing,” 60 South Dakota Law Review 1 (2015). Employing an extremely clear writing style, he states and explains his propositions on good writing. I plan to distribute the article to the editors of my school’s law reviews.

You can access the article here.

(ljs)

May 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law schools with the most improved employment rates for grads

From National Jurist Magazine:

Wake Forest, Wash U. among schools that improved employment rate the most

While the nation's law schools collectively saw a slight uptick in employment success for their grads from 2014 compared to 2013, some schools managed to do much better than average. Why? A better job market, more aggressive career services programs and student grit were among the answers.

 

Wake Forest University School of Law saw the biggest jump of all law schools in the percentage of recent grads landing full-time, long-term jobs. In 2014, the number was 83.4 percent, up from previous year's 62.3 percent — a 21.2 percent rise.

 

Overall, for all law schools, grads landing full-time, long-term jobs rose about 6 percent, according to figures released recently by the ABA. (For full-time, long-term jobs that require a law degree, the number increased about 3 percent. The numbers the National Jurist uses in this article also include full-time jobs that don't require a law degree.)

 

Even though the total number of legal jobs decreased from the year before, the number of students graduating and competing for those jobs fell as well. That also helped improve the employment numbers.

. . . .

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

May 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Charleston Law School May Shut Down

From the Post and Courier:

While students were taking final exams Tuesday, George Kosko and Robert Carr, the remaining owners of the troubled law school, released a statement that said they might not enroll a new class of students in the fall.                   

They did not elaborate on what the statement might mean for the future of the for-profit law school, and said they would not make additional comments until next week, when they plan to release an update on the school’s situation. 

You can read more here. More news to come.

(ljs)

May 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 11 Northeast Law Schools in Employment Rates

 According to current ABA statistics, here they are

  1. University of Pennsylvania with 278 graduates and an employment rate of 97.8 percent.
  2. New York University with 479 graduates and an employment rate of 96.7 percent.
  3. Cornell University with 191 graduates and an employment rate of 96.3 percent.
  4. Columbia University with 468 graduates and an employment rate of 95.7 percent.
  5. Harvard University with 586 graduates and an employment rate of 94.4 percent.
  6. Yale University with 230 graduates and an employment rate of 86.1 percent.
  7. Boston College with 273 graduates and an employment rate of 83.9 percent.
  8. Seton Hall University with 285 graduates and an employment rate of 83.5 percent.
  9. Boston University with 246 graduates and an employment rate of 80.1 percent.
  10. Villanova University with 220 graduates and an employment rate of 77.7 percent.
  11. Rutgers University Newark with 227 graduates and an employment rate of 75.8 percent. 

You can read more here.  Here are more statistics on Villanova:

 

VLS Class of 2014
 
as of Mar. 15, 2015

National Average, per the ABA

Class of 2014

Class Size
 
(all JD graduates from Sept. 1 - Aug. 31)

220

N/A

Overall employment rate
 
(inc. all full/part time and long/short term   employment)

90.0%

(198 graduates)

N/A

Employed in full-time, long-term Bar Passage required or JD   advantage positions

77.7%

(171 graduates)

 

71%

 

Employed in long-term, full-time bar passage required jobs

65.0%
 
(143 graduates)

59.9%

Employed in long-term, full-time JD advantage positions 

12.7%

(28 graduates)

11.2%

 

Unemployment rate
 
(inc. unemployed--seeking)

7.7%

(17 graduates)

9.8%

 

 

ljs)

 

May 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Six Quotes on Failure by J.K. Rowling

From Bustle.com, here are the first two:

“There is an expiration date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”

“Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates.”

For the other four, please click here.

(ljs)

May 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The only impediment to technology replacing lawyers are the lawyers themselves

That was the message from one speaker at the recently concluded CodeX FutureLaw Conference at Stanford Law School. Professor  Oliver Goodenough (Vermont) who is visiting this semester at CodeX, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, told conference attendees that the practice of law is fundamentally a computational exercise that can be done by machines. The only impediment to that happening are the lawyers themselves.  Bloomberg posted this report on the conference:

Will Powerful Technology Replace Lawyers?

Lawyers could become legal concierges and should adopt computational law for their practices and stay current with technology, or else risk fading away, according to speakers at the CodeX FutureLaw Conference on April 30 at Stanford Law School.

 

. . . .

 

Judges and courts already get it and technology companies are pushing it, Goodenough said. “The lawyer as we conceive of it today is the problem, not the solution.”

Those lawyers who “reimagine themselves will do fine. Those who don’t will just fade away,” he said.

Jerry Kaplan, a CodeX fellow and visiting computer science lecturer, told reporters during a luncheon that most tasks lawyers do are transactional, and thus can be done by computer programs.

. . . .

Continue reading here, if you dare.

(jbl).

May 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Languages: Which Are Spoken the Most?

This infograph represents each language within black borders and then provides the numbers of native speakers (in millions) by country. The color of these countries shows how languages have taken root in many different regions. The comments point out the map’s limitations.

You can access the infograph here.

(ljs)

May 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Mexico Dean to Step Down

Dean David Herring has announced that he is stepping down after two years in his position. Apparently disagreements with the faculty precipitated his resignation:

Herring said, “I think in the end it wasn’t a good fit, for me to lead this law school. I came in with clear goals and the faculty seemed excited. But things change.”

The school suffered a fifty percent drop in applications over a six-year period.

Two of Herring’s goals when he became dean were a “rigorous assessment of student learning outcomes,” which is now required to be accredited by the American Bar Association, and to “build incentives for the faculty t engage in interdisciplinary, empirical scholarship.” In a separate interview, with Albuquerque Business First, Herring said that learning a budget inside and out was the most important thing he’d learned.

According to [Provost Chaouki Abdallah, the faculty was not keen on moving as quickly on the issues as Herring preferred. The resignation was discussed for a “couple of days” before it became official.

You can read more here.

(ljs)

May 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 5: Nellie Bly’s Birthday

In addition to Cinco de Mayo, today is the Birthday of fearless journalist Nellie Bly. You can read about her colorful life here.

(ljs)

May 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Please donate to the Nepal relief effort

Here's a link to donate to the Nepal relief effort via the Red Cross. Any amount you are able to give is a help.

Red Cross Nepal Relief Effort.

(jbl).

May 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)