Sunday, May 13, 2018
Upending the Double Life of Law Schools: Millennials in the Legal Academy by Ashley Krenelka Chase.
This article discusses Holloway and Friedland’s vision of the law school of 2025, with a focus on the need for technology education and a cultural shift in the legal Academy and the law school curriculum. It surveys the landscape of millennials as both students and employees, briefly describing their strengths and weaknesses in both arenas. Finally, this article brings the discussion together, describing benefits the law school of 2025 will receive by welcoming Millennials into the Academy, and will predict the changes legal education can expect with an innovative group of narcissists leading the way.
Saturday, May 12, 2018
To all our loyal readers, I'm presently teaching a mini-course to Italian law students in Roma so I'll be blogging from the Eternal City for the next couple of weeks. Insofar as you notice any gaps in my blogging routine, that's why. But please keep those tips, emails and letters coming. They are most welcomed and appreciated.
p.s. If you have any unusual sightseeing tips (things off the typical, beaten track), please get in touch!
Friday, May 11, 2018
Friday diversion: Professor Paul Campos opines that it was Trump who paid hush-money to Playmate Bechard not Broidy
Though this is not directly related to "legal skills" per se, Professor Campos' recent article in New york Magazine is not only very interesting reading, but it strikes me as also being a very good example of the type of cognitive skills at the heart of a good legal education. To wit, the questioning of assumptions, pattern recognition, the ability to draw reasonable inferences, etc. In the article, Professor Campos makes a compelling argument to support his theory that the previously reported $1.6 million payment in hush-money from Michael Cohen to former Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard was not, as the press had previously reported, to cover-up Republican lobbyist Elloitt Broidy's illicit affair with Bechard (resulting in an allegedly aborted pregnancy) but instead - get this - to cover up the same deed perpetrated by Donald Trump. Is Campos right? How the heck would I know? But if you read the relatively short article, he makes a pretty persuasive case to support his theory, particularly insofar as it serves as a better "fit" given the pattern of previous behavior by both Broidy and Trump.
I point it out here because I could see law profs using this short article about a topical subject during 1L orientation, for example, to illustrate how "thinking like a lawyer" means always question assumptions (i.e. most of the mainstream press never questioned Broidy's confession to the affair with Bechard which, as Campos points out, could have been a false one intend to protect Trump), draw reasonable inferences from the facts, read between the lines, and think critically
What do you think? Does Campos make a good case? Does it reflect a good lay example of critical thinking? You can read the full text of his article here.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is reporting that the legal sector added 800 jobs in April after remaining relatively flat through February and March (BLS had previously reported that the legal sector lost 200 jobs in February but later revised that figure as it often does once more data comes in). You can check out the raw data at BLS's website here (scroll down).
The American Lawyer has reviewed the total numbers of jobs in the legal sector (which includes non-lawyer positions like paralegals legal assistants) and found that the figure has remained relatively stable on an annual basis over the past couple of years (i.e., flat). That's consistent with a recent ABA report that employment for law school grads is up slightly but it's because the overall applicant pool has shrunk.
Law School Leadership and Leadership Development for Developing Lawyers by Louis D. Bilionis.
"A growing number of legal educators are calling for greater attention to leadership development as an element of legal education at American law schools. Some make the case directly in the name of leadership education. Others see leadership development as part of a broader law school responsibility to provide purposeful support for students in the formation of their professional identity. For yet others, development of leadership skills figures in a law school’s appropriate commitment to the professionalism, professional development, or wellness of its students. These educators, though employing different locutions, constitute a “coalition of the willing” – law school faculty and staff who are adopting innovations to help advance their students in their development as professionals.They are promoting, at bottom, the same fundamental innovation: the institution of purposeful, more systematic educational effort by the law school to support each student’s formation of professional identity and purpose.
Were this innovation to take hold, it would bring about a major and beneficial reframing of legal education. This article submits that the reframing is within reach. To attain it, however, will take effective leadership. Drawing on Everett M. Rogers’ classic work, Diffusion of Innovations, this article demonstrates that the conditions for successful leadership are present. The necessary leaders are in place and identifiable. They are the members of the “coalition of the willing” – opinion leaders with the greatest potential sway on those colleagues who have yet to adopt. The necessary followers similarly are in place and identifiable. They are legal education colleagues with discernible sensibilities – and they are disposed to give the innovation deliberate and open consideration, and to value heavily the examples set and opinions shared by their colleagues in the coalition. The consideration these potential adopters will give to the innovation will follow a predictable process and take into account predicable factors – permitting the leaders to engage in purposeful, effective leadership that meets their followers where they are, providing them the information they need in the form and manner most conducive to their adoption. A well-informed and well-led consideration should leave the potential adopters impressed with the innovation. Purposeful support of professional identity formation is an innovation that is compatible with their values, easy to try and implement, and replete with relative advantage for students, the law school, and the faculty and administrators who work there."
This paper is part of a symposium at Santa Clara on leadership development, legal education, and the legal profession. I will post abstracts of additional papers when they become available.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Somehow I missed the initial press release for this back in February but better late than never, right? The Institute for the Future of Law Practice is a consortium of four law schools, at present, including U. Colorado. Northwestern, Indiana, and Osgoode Hall (Toronto) that, among other things, is offering a series of bootcamps this month and into the summer to rising 2L and 3L law students to better prepare them for the practice of law. Applications for this year's bootcamps have already closed. But topics covered during the bootcamps will include basic accounting and business principles; professional communication and teamwork; exposure to core elements of mergers & acquisitions, litigation management, IP strategy, and high-volume commercial contracting; and basic principles of project management, process improvement, and data analytics. The curriculum is organized around modules with subjects like "introduction to in-house practice," "business fundamentals," and "practical legal skills."
Each bootcamp also offers participating students a 10 week summer paid internship and 7 month field placement. The inaugural program is being held at U. Colorado and Northwestern though program spokesman Professor Henderson says the plan is to expand this initiative to other schools. At present it's not clear to me from the website whether the program is only open to students attending the participating schools and whether attendance is already covered by the existing tuition at those schools or instead participating students must pay additional fees to attend (anyone interested in sponsoring the IFLP's work can click here).
The website looks impressive (check out the list of IFLP faculty, industry representatives and legal practice experts here). Professor Henderson states that the goal of the IFLP is to help bridge the gap between legal education and the skills needed to actually practice law "by identifying industry-leading practitioners and distilling their know-how and experience into an organized body of knowledge that can be taught to law students and mid-career legal professionals." It's an ambitious experiment that's worth following to see if it catches on at other law schools and among students and their prospective employers.
You can access the IFLP website here and a blog post by Professor Henderson at his Legal Evolution website that describes the project and it goals in more detail here. Above the Law covered the initial launch of IFLP here.
I've been saying this for over ten years:
Gerald P. Lopez (UCLA), Transform—Don’t Just Tinker With—Legal Education, (Part I)
Gerald P. Lopez (UCLA), Transform—Don’t Just Tinker With—Legal Education (Part II)
"In this two-part article, Part I evaluates how the past decade’s “transformation” of legal education amounts so far to just so much time-honored tinkering. Over the past ten years, most schools changed very little, and the small number that changed a fair amount (overwhelmingly in the second and third years) borrowed directly from what other law schools have been doing for decades. . . . Part I aspires to present in something like realistic form the institutional, material, and ideological forces we all encounter and too often reproduce. What makes the past decade’s near-ritualistic experience all the more regrettable is that we have available an alternative vision of legal education ready now for a full roll-out. . . . Part II will sketch the radically different assumptions, methods, and aspirations that define how this vision contrasts with the at best status-quo-plus version of legal education strongly internalized and widely practiced. . . . Part II of this two-part article presents the Alternative Vision of legal education discernible in the best of clinical legal education—not as a supplement to the at-best-status-quo-plus model that still dominates legal education, but as a complete substitute ready now for a full roll-out. . . . Part II sketches the radically different assumptions, methods, and aspirations at the heart of the Alternative Vision, explains why we should ban the Socratic case method and scrupulously scrutinize all familiar learning formats, and measures all of us involved in legal education by how well suited we are (or could become) to the teaching and learning a transformed legal education demands." (emphasis added)
This is an excellent article with many good ideas. However, I don't think law schools should completely throw out the traditional methods of legal education. The Socratic method is still valuable as one tool to help students satisfy Bloom's Taxonomy. Let's combine Professor Lopez's suggestions with a revamped first year that combines the Socratic.case method with problem-solving, metacognitive training, and frequent formative assessment. We need to transform legal education, but that doesn't mean we have to change things that work (in proper quantities).
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Adela Rogers St. John, Final Verdict (it is out of print, but it is the single best trial lawyer book ever written)
Francis L. Wellman, The Art of Cross-Examination
Thomas Thompson, Blood and Money
John Barth, The Floating Opera
Melvin Belli, Modern Trials (just be familiar with the concepts)
David Boies, Courting Justice
Herman Melville, Billy Budd
Plain English for Lawyers, Richard Wydick
Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams, Jeremy R. Paul and Richard Michael Fischl
One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School, Scott Turow
The Five Types of Legal Argument, Wilson Ray Huhn
Succeeding in Law School, Herbert N. Ramy
1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School, Andrew McClurg
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck
Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer, E. Scott Fruehwald
Think Like a Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals, E. Scott Fruehwald
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, Gilbert King
A History of American Law, by Lawrence M. Friedman
Reading Like a Lawyer, Cynthia McKinney
Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success, Helene & Marshall Shapo
The Prince of Tides: A Novel, Pat Conroy (recommended for good story telling and vocabulary)
Monday, May 7, 2018
Advice from practicing lawyers to students thinking about law school and what skills they need to develop
Legal consulting and staffing firm Robert Half commissioned a survey of 350 practicing lawyers in the U.S. and Canada to ask them what advice they would give someone contemplating law school. The survey also asked attorneys what skills they think students need to develop because they are essential to the practice of law. Not surprisingly, survey respondents emphasized the need to develop good critical thinking and writing skills. Further, as one attorney put it, "don't get involved if you don't like reading." Amen, brother.
Here's what else the survey participants said:
1. "Take time and interview people in the profession before making a decision."
2. "Shadow an attorney first."
3. "Take a year off between college and law school to work at a law firm before embarking on school."
4. "Have a clear idea of what you intend to do with the degree."
5. "Map out the first 10 years of the career. Work back 10 years out from law school and figure out what value law school provides in terms of access to roles, skills and return on investment."
6. "Go to law school in a geographic area you would like to practice in."
7. "Be open to different applications of the degree."
8. "Don't do it for the money."
9. "Consider how long it will take to pay back your student loans."
Lawyers also emphasized the importance of developing key skills and experience during law school to prepare for a legal career:
10. "Learn to think critically."
11. "Try to concentrate on courses that relate to business, because part of the challenge in the practice of law is how to run a business."
12. "Don't get involved if you don't enjoy reading."
13. "Get a more scientific, technical background as opposed to a general arts background."
14. "Keep your options wide open, don't focus on one area of law."
15. "Be prepared for a marathon and take advantage of internships."
16. "Focus on a writing course so you stand out more when you become a lawyer."
17. "Get involved in the community, help people and network."
. . .
Lawyers offered the following guidance to help students maximize their educational experience and prepare for a future legal career:
. . . .
Continue reading the remainder of the Robert Half survey responses here.
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Yale Law School seeks to hire clinical fellow for Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development
Here are the details:
YALE LAW SCHOOL LUDWIG CLINICAL FELLOWSHIP
Community and Economic Development Clinic
Yale Law School is seeking applications for a Ludwig Clinical Fellow to begin on July 1, 2018. The Fellowship is designed for a lawyer with a minimum of three years of relevant practice experience who is interested in preparing for a career in law school clinical teaching. The Fellow will work with the Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development (CED).
CED provides transactional legal services to clients promoting economic opportunity and mobility. CED’s clients include affordable housing developers, community development financial institutions, farms and farmer’s markets, fair housing advocates, and neighborhood associations. CED’s legal services help our clients to expand access to financial services, bring arts institutions and grocery stores to chronically under-resourced communities, break down barriers to affordable housing development in high-opportunity communities, promote access to healthy foods, and facilitate entrepreneurship among low-income people.
On behalf of our clients, our students negotiate and draft contracts; provide advice on the tax consequences of deal structures and entity choices; structure and carry out real estate transactions; represent borrowers and lenders in financings; engage in legislative and regulatory advocacy; form for-profit and not-for-profit entities; and resolve land use and environmental issues. In addition to representing clients, students in their first semester of the clinic take a seminar which covers federal, state and local policies affecting urban and suburban places; substantive law in tax, real estate development, and corporate governance; and transactional and regulatory lawyering skills, such as negotiation and drafting contracts.
The Fellow’s responsibilities include representing clients, supervising students, assisting in teaching classes, and pursuing a scholarship agenda. The Fellow may be asked to co-teach a section of a half-semester research and writing program for first-year students. Candidates must be prepared to apply for admission to the Connecticut bar. (Candidates may qualify for admission without examination.) The Fellow will be supervised by the clinical faculty.
The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization is committed to building a culturally diverse and pluralistic faculty and staff committed to teaching and working in a multicultural environment. Candidates must be able to work both independently and as part of a team, and must possess strong written and oral communication skills. Experience in creative and community-driven advocacy is a strong plus. The position is for twelve months (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019) with the potential for renewal for an additional year if mutually agreeable. Annual salary is $63,000-68,000. In addition, the Fellow will receive health benefits and access to university facilities. Email a resume, cover letter, writing sample, and names, addresses and telephone numbers of three references to Osikhena Awudu, Program Manager, The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be accepted until May 31, 2018 but will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Yale Law School is an Affirmative Action,
Equal Opportunity, Title IX employer
Yale University considers applicants for employment without regard to, and does not discriminate on the basis of, an individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. Questions regarding Title IX may be referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, at TitleIX@yale.edu, or to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 8th Floor, Five Post Office Square, Boston MA 02109-3921. Telephone: 617.289.0111, Fax: 617.289.0150, TDD: 800.877.8339, or Email: email@example.com.
Thursday, May 3, 2018
Clinical fellowship at University of Georgia School of Law for Community Help and Family Justice Clinic
Here are the details of this two year paid fellowship:
The University of Georgia, School of Law’s Family Justice Clinic (FJC) and Community Health Law Partnership Clinic (Community HeLP), will jointly host a fellow over two years as part of the Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps. The fellowship should begin on or about June 1, 2018 and end May/June 2020.The fellow will be supervised by the faculty directors of two co-located law school clinics based at the University of Georgia, School of Law, in Athens, Georgia. Community HeLP is a medical-legal partnership clinic that focuses on immigration law and public benefits. FJC specializes in family violence and stalking protective orders and domestic relations law. Under the supervision of the two clinic directors, both of whom are former fellows and members of the Georgia Bar with deep experience in the relevant practice areas, the fellow would work with law students on a shared docket of cases involving immigrant crime survivors and conduct community outreach.The Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps is a legal fellowship program designed to increase capacity and access to civil legal help for crime victims. A cohort of approximately sixty fellows are placed at nonprofit organizations across the country to provide direct representation, outreach, and education, to victims of crimes, including human trafficking, fraud/identity theft, campus sexual assault, and hate crime, and immigrant victims of crime with meritorious claims for immigration relief. All fellows will incorporate crime victims’ rights enforcement into their practice and will receive training from the National Crime Victim Law Institute and other training and technical assistance providers.This program is supported by an award from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, Award Number 2017-MU-MU-K131, and private funding.
Integrated Reflective Practice: A Critical Imperative for Enhancing Legal Education and Professionalism by Michele Leering
Twenty-first century legal professionals need a reflective legal education that emphasizes self-assessment and self-efficacy; supports life-long learning; and builds the capacity for innovative thinking and responding creatively and constructively to “wicked problems”. “Reflective practice”—a core competency in other professions—has the potential to enhance the education of legal professionals by developing these skills. Encouraging and modelling reflective practice is best started in law school. This article aims to facilitate a dialogue about how reflective practice might be integrated into the law school curriculum and provides conceptual frameworks to help envision how reflective practice might be operationalized. Examples of reflective methods to help develop it as a competency will also be given. Reflective practice, as a disciplined form of reflective inquiry, offers the potential to enhance law student learning and, more systematically, develop professional expertise. Amongst other imperatives for enhancing legal education, various national reports call for strategic, collective and aligned action to better prepare future legal professionals to respond to growing gaps in access to justice and predictions of a disruptive and challenging future for the legal profession. Thus, this article will set out how reflective practice can nurture a positive, dynamic professional identity, cultivate resiliency, and forge a stronger sense of legal professionalism, while also supporting students to become both “justice ready” and “practice ready”.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
The Florida Bar has teamed up with its Young Lawyers Division to designate May as "health and wellness" month. (You can read the press release here) Although the partnership with the bar association is new, it's an initiative that the YLD began four years ago and now includes a website hosted by the Florida Bar devoted to mental health and wellness issues which you can check out here. I'm curious about what other state bar associations have developed similar programs.
And for those who are interested, there's a federal government website that lists all the national health observances on a month-by-month basis here (in case you're keeping track).
Hat tip to Rebecca Bandy (Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, The Florida Bar)
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
UPenn initiated the program a few years ago but I only recently ran across it on the school's website and figured I'd share it with our readers. It's a great idea that involves using local alums and practitioners to teach 75 minute mini-classes at the end of each spring semester that cover key practice skills students will need in their first jobs (whether it's a summer associate position or a full-time, post bar exam job). The "Nuts and Bolts" series is managed by Penn's Center on Professionalism and offers three tracks based on practice areas that include litigation, corporate law and "lawyering in the public interest." For example, students taking the litigation workshop may learn how to draft discovery requests as well as develop e-discovery strategies. Here's a more complete description of the program from UPenn's website:
Penn Law students have the good fortune of encountering a vast array of guest speakers who visit the Law School — noted scholars, expert practitioners, and even the occasional Supreme Court justice. These visitors are often at the peak of their legal careers and are able to serve as preeminent role models of the sophisticated attorneys Penn Law students may one day become. But before students acquire the experience and skill necessary to emulate these accomplished practitioners, they are eager to learn what the first few months or years of their career will look like.
“We wanted to create a program that demonstrates for students the skills they will need to perform the tasks they will be assigned during the very early days of practice,” said Jennifer Leonard L’04, director of Penn Law’s Center on Professionalism (COP).
To help students prepare for the early years of practice, COP has created a series of programs it offers through its Penn Law Practices portfolio. This hands-on, highly interactive suite of programs provides students with a variety of opportunities to learn about and practice some of the skills they will need in practice.
Through COP’s programming, students get a glimpse into how their skills and interests will align with different practice areas. One popular program under the Penn Law Practices umbrella is the Nuts & Bolts Series for 1L students, a collaborative effort among COP, Legal Practice Skills, and Alumni Relations. This three-part series gives students a chance to learn about and engage in the kinds of tasks that a junior attorney would be assigned in practice.
“By attending a Nuts & Bolts session, students learn — directly from practitioners — what is expected of young lawyers in particular practice areas,” said John Bradley, Legal Practice Skills Lecturer. “Through this exposure, students are able to evaluate whether a practice area is the right fit for them, they are better prepared to articulate their interest in interviews, and they gain a real-world understanding of what they should be prepared to do during their first months on the job.”
Penn Law offers the Nuts & Bolts series each spring, and students can choose from three different programs: litigation, corporate law, and lawyering in the public interest. Each program consists of a 75-minute workshop led by two Penn Law alumni who are practicing attorneys — one new member of the bar who is currently tackling the kind of work recent graduates will handle, and one senior attorney who can provide a more global perspective on how a junior attorney’s discrete assignments support the larger client representation.
During each session, students get to practice what they would be doing as junior attorneys through a series of exercises. For example, in the litigation workshop, attorneys might work with students to create requests for production of documents, interrogatories, and explore other aspects of e-discovery strategy.
In the corporate law workshop, on the other hand, past leaders have asked students to work with a binder of documents for an upcoming closing. Based on changes relayed to them by the senior attorney in the lead-up to the closing, students determined what they needed to update in the closing binder and were also required to understand and be able to explain why those updates should be made.
During last year’s lawyering in the public interest session, Rob Ballenger L’04, an attorney with Community Legal Services, presented students with a common problem a client might bring to CLS: the City had shut off the client’s water because the client’s landlord — who was responsible for paying the water bill — had neglected to pay the bill. Ballenger guided the students in developing questions an attorney might ask during the client intake stage, identifying the client’s immediate needs, the various ways the attorney might meet those needs, and the pros and cons of bringing a class action suit on behalf of similarly situated tenants of the same landlord.
“The Nuts & Bolts Series is a valuable tool for both our students in attendance and our alumni session leaders alike,” said Corey Fulton, Director of Alumni Relations. “In creating and leading these hands-on programs for current students, our newer Penn Law graduates are allowed a unique opportunity to take a step back and think critically about their indispensable roles as junior attorneys in supporting specific deal teams and litigation teams; managing senior attorney, partner, and client requests; and furthering the overarching goals of their practices and organizations.”
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
The Innovation Clinic focuses on transactional work by representing start-up ventures. The IC works closely with the University’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Details about the available position can be found here in addition to the advertisement below.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL is seeking qualified applicants for a full-time position teaching in a transactional clinic providing legal services for start-up ventures in the innovation sector. The appointment for the Bluhm-Helfand Director of the Innovation Clinic would begin during the 2018-19 academic year, with a strong preference for beginning on July 1, 2018. The position would also involve teaching a related seminar and/or clinical skills courses.
The position would include an appointment as Lecturer or an appointment to the clinical professor track, depending on experience and qualifications. Candidates must have a J.D., must have at least two years of relevant experience, and must be admitted to or eligible for admission to the Illinois bar. Candidates who teach in a law school legal clinic or who have prior experience supervising or teaching law students or other attorneys are strongly preferred and will be considered for appointment to the clinical professor track. Excellent writing, editing, and supervision skills are required. We value candidates who will contribute diverse backgrounds and perspectives that will enrich and improve student experiences and the Law School's intellectual culture.
Each candidate should submit a curriculum vita or resume, a list of references, a legal writing sample, a law school transcript, a cover letter that includes a detailed description of the candidate’s relevant practice experience and teaching experience, and course evaluations from prior teaching experience if any. Other material relevant to your candidacy may be included as well. Candidates must apply online and upload application material at:https://academiccareers.uchicago.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=55518, for consideration for a Lecturer position, and at https://academiccareers.uchicago.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=55546, for consideration for the clinical professor track position. All application material must be received by May 21, 2018.
The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination at http://www.uchicago.edu/about/non_discrimination_statement/. Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-0287 or emailACOppAdministrator@uchicago.edu with their request.
Over at the Best Practices for Legal Education Blog, former CLEA President Professor Robert Kuehn has a key post (complete with several helpful graphs) that takes a snapshot of student enrollment trends in clinical and other experiential-type coursework at all accredited ABA law schools since 2005 when the ABA implemented a "professional skills" curricular requirement. Professor Kuehn observes that total enrollment in clinical courses, externships and practice simulation courses has increased by almost 25% in the past 10 years. His review of the data also responds to those critics who assert that one explanation for the recent nationwide downturn in bar passage rates is that students have been diverted away from more traditional doctrinal coursework toward experiential classes. But Professor Kuehn refutes that by offering data that shows bar passage rates were in fact pretty stable from 2006 to 2013, a period during which student enrollment in experiential courses increased by more than 50%.
Professor Kuehn says that a full length article discussing this data in more detail is forthcoming from himself and co-author Professor David Moss (Wayne State). In the meantime, however, he's providing the aforementioned teaser here.
Friday, April 27, 2018
This is a new article by Professors Colleen Shanahan (Temple), Jeffrey Selbin (UC Berkeley), Alyx Mark (American Bar Foundation) and Anna Carpenter (Tulsa) that can be found at 92 Tul. L. Rev. 547 (2018) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:
Legal education reformers have long argued that law school clinics address two related needs: first, clinics teach students to be lawyers; and second, clinics serve low-income clients. In clinics, so the argument goes, law students working under the close supervision of faculty members learn the requisite skills to be good practitioners and professionals. In turn, clinical law students serve clients with civil and criminal justice needs that would otherwise go unmet.
Though we have these laudable teaching and service goals — and a vast literature describing the role of clinics in both the teaching and service dimensions — we have scant empirical evidence about whether and how clinics achieve these goals. We know from studies that law students value clinics, but do clinics prepare them to be lawyers? We also know from surveys that clinics provide hundreds of thousands of hours of free legal aid in low-income communities, but how well do clinic students serve clients?
These are big questions across a complex field and set of practices that cannot be answered by a single study. Nevertheless, we report here findings from a large data set of cases that shed some light on the teaching-service promise of law school clinics. Analyzing thousands of unemployment insurance cases involving different types of representation, we are able to compare clinical law students’ use of legal procedures and outcomes to those of experienced attorneys in cases in the same court.
We find that clinical law students behave very similarly to practicing attorneys in their use of legal procedures. Their clients also experience very similar case outcomes to clients of practicing attorneys. Though further research is needed on the impact of law school clinics in the teaching and service dimensions, our findings are consistent with claims that law school clinics help prepare students to be practicing lawyers and to serve low-income clients as well as lawyers do.
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Dear Dean Rosenbury,
I read your comments concerning The University of Florida Levin College of Law's problems on the February Florida bar. [From Daily Business Review, "The University of Florida Levin College of Law, for instance, came in last on the February exam with a 31.8 percent success rate. A statement attributed to its dean, Laura A. Rosenbury, called the “shocking” results “a clear wake-up call.” “The results are utterly unacceptable given the caliber of our students and the quality of their education,” according to the email. “The efforts we undertook prior to the February bar exam were clearly insufficient. We will be increasing the support we provide to the students taking the July 2018 bar exam. We have a long tradition at UF Law of respecting our students’ autonomy and control over the courses they take. Given these shocking and disheartening results, we are rethinking this approach and doubling down on our intervention strategy.”] Below are my suggestions on how to improve your bar passage rate.
You don't have to reinvent the wheel to improve your bar passage rate. There is plenty of research out there on how to improve law student performance. In addition, law professors have written many casebooks and texts that reflect the new learning on legal education.
As FIU Dean Tawia Ansah declared, “You can take really good bar-prep courses … but if the leadup to that isn’t sufficient, it’s going to show up in the results.” More specifically, educational research has demonstrated that you need active learning during all three years of law school, including the use of problem-solving exercises and frequent formative assessment, especially in the first year. Law schools also need to help students improve their metacognitive skills. Students particularly need to change their study skills. For example, pacing learning throughout the semester and self-testing instead of just rereading help both retention of knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge. I have discussed active learning and metacognition in depth in my article How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School , 1 Texas A & M Law Review 83 (2013). Moreover, Louis Schulze has written an article about the academic success program at Florida International University (here). Not only will the above techniques help you improve your bar pass rate, they will help you turn out more effective lawyers who are self-directed learners.
There are many books on teaching in general. I highly recommend Susan A. Ambrose et.al., How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (2010). Every law professor should read this book.
Establishing a more effective teaching program is not as hard as it sounds because numerous authors have written casebooks and other texts for this purpose. Foremost among these is the Context and Practice Series from Carolina Academic Press. The books in this series are casebooks, which provide opportunities for feedback, problem-solving exercises, self-directed learning strategies, and materials on professional development. CAP also has a Skills & Values Series, which professors can use as a skills supplement to their favorite casebook. Wolters Kluwer has developed The Law Simulation Series, and West Academic has four series to help students develop skills. (here)
Law schools can give their students a head start by having them read books that develop their foundational cognitive skills during the summer before law school. I have written two books for this purpose: Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer (2015) and Think Like a Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (2014). My book A Companion to Torts: How to Think Like a Torts Lawyer (2015) helps students develop legal reasoning and problem-solving skills within a torts context.
Best of luck with improving your bar pass rate.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Following up on a recent report from the ABA on the employment stats for the class of 2017 (which overall fared a bit better than the previous class due in part to fewer students chasing the available jobs), Law.com has taken the data and teased out some additional info in order to assess how individual schools stacked up against their peers. Specifically, Law.com has analyzed the job data in terms of which schools had the highest percentage of students obtaining jobs where bar passage is a requirement; which schools have performed the weakest in that regard; which schools are sending the most students into federal clerkships; into large firm jobs; and government and public interest jobs. Click here for a link to a series of charts prepared by Law.com that shows the following:
- Schools ranked # 1 to # 204 when it comes to placing students in full time, longterm jobs where bar passage is required (and the jobs are not funded by the schools themselves).
- Schools ranked # 1 to # 204 when it comes to placing students in either full time jobs where bar passage is required or in so-called "JD Advantage" jobs.
- The top schools ranked in terms of the highest percentage of students who are employed in school-funded jobs.
- Schools ranked in terms of highest percentage of graduates who had not found work more than 10 months after graduation.
- Schools ranked in terms of highest percentage who were underemployed 10 months after graduation (because they were either unemployed, working in temporary or part-time jobs ,or non-professional jobs).