Thursday, February 12, 2015
Hillel Levin has just written a new casebook on teaching statutory interpretation: Levin's Statutory Interpretation: A Practical Lawyering Course (West 2014). Unlike previous casebooks on statutory analysis, this text integrates skills building exercises. Professor Levin has written,
"The result is Statutory Interpretation: A Practical Lawyering Course, a new paperback (and thus comparatively affordable) coursebook that serves as a standalone text for any course anchored to statutory interpretation, though it also includes materials suitable for related courses, like Legislation or Leg/Reg. It covers the leading cases and doctrines, but it also offers a variety of experiential and skills-building exercises. The teachers’ manual includes a sample syllabus, case summaries, points for discussion, and perhaps most importantly, detailed suggestions for how to successfully use the exercises. It offers guidance for exercises geared to improving students’ skills in negotiating and drafting legislation, strategizing, organizing arguments, responding to counter-arguments, conducting legal research, writing briefs, and more. My plan is to refresh the book every two years in order to keep the cases and assignments current.
The central innovation of this book (I hope) is that it brings practical lawyering skills into the framework of the doctrinal classroom without casting off the benefits of traditional law school pedagogy. It explains why students are asked to do some things that may be unfamiliar to them, and it makes explicit the connections between the traditional doctrinal and case-based materials, the novel materials and exercises, and the role of the attorney in the real world. In addition, it gives professors substantial freedom to work with these materials as they see fit.
Publishers have finally begun to respond to the demand for these kinds of materials by offering a variety of products. We are in an exciting period of innovation in law school teaching, and I am thrilled to be a part of it." (here)
I couldn't agree more with the last paragraph.
Although we encourage our students to employ narrative in making persuasive arguments, I do not think many of use a narrative style in teaching.
I often see the narrative used in books teaching about business management, for example, the “One Minute Manager” series. In Legal Writing, the only effort of which I am aware is Mark Cooney’s entertaining Sketches on Legal Style. Here is a chapter, “A Legal-Writing Carol,” reprinted in the December 2014 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal.
National Jurist has graded law schools from "B" to "A to A+" for the practical skills training they provide to students based on "the number of full-time students who take simulation courses, externships, clinics, or who participate in interschool skills competitions." You can read the full feature here. Below is the list of top ranked schools in alphabetical order. Go to National Jurist (here) to see the remaining schools rated "B" to "A-."
Brigham Young University
Brooklyn Law School
Florida Coastal School of Law
Golden Gate University
New York Law School
UMKC School of Law
University of Arizona
University of Colorado
University of Denver
University of Hawaii
University of St. Thomas - Mn.
University of Utah
University of Wisconsin
Washington and Lee University
William and Mary Law School
Yale Law School
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
From the Legal Intelligencer (excerpts):
David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo, both Villanova University School of Law graduates, have given the school $5 million for the establishment of the Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance.
The donation is part of the overall university’s $600 million capital campaign and the center is in line with the law school’s new curriculum focused on the intersection of law and business, law school Dean John Y. Gotanda said.
Girard-diCarlo said examples of unethical behavior in business and the law, among other areas, are prevalent.
“I hope our careers are exemplars that you don’t need to compromise your values. You can stick with high values and be successful. The center’s mission is to try to teach young people that it’s OK to have high standards,” Girard-diCarlo said.
“We need more exploration on the intersection of business ethics and legal ethics,” Gotanda said. “Compliance is really probably the hottest growth area in the business sector in terms of jobs and lawyers are well suited to do this type of work.”
You can read more here.
There have been several discussions in the legal blogesphere about Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes? by Jason W. Yackee. (e.g., here and here). Because I find the article to be limited and flawed, I write further about it today.
Before I begin here is the abstract:
"This short paper provides an empirical examination of the link between law school experiential (or 'skills') learning opportunities and JD employment outcomes. The current 'law school crisis' poses a number of serious challenges to the legal academy, and how law schools should respond is hotly debated. One common suggestion is that law schools should reform their curriculum to emphasize the development of practical skills through experiential learning, rather than emphasize what is described as the impractical, theory- and doctrine-heavy book learning of the traditional law school curriculum. Employers are said to be more likely to hire those with substantial skills training. This paper provides a simple empirical examination of that basic hypothesis. To summarize the paper's key finding: there is no statistical relationship between law school opportunities for skills training and JD employment outcomes. In contrast, employment outcomes do seem to be strongly related to law school prestige."
To begin, both the title, the abstract, and the first sentence of the article are misleading. The article does not encompass all experiential learning; it is only a limited study of the effect of offering clinics on employment outcomes. The problem with this is that it allows bloggers and others who have not thoroughly read the article to make proclamations about experiential education that are not based on facts.
In addition, those of us who advocate legal education reform are not doing so only to improve job outcomes; we want law schools to graduate better lawyers. As Professor Michael Risch has written (here), "Of course, increasing clinical education because it leads to better learning outcomes may make the investment worthwhile." Concerning his own law school's clinics, he added, "we've ramped up our efforts, opening two new clinics, expanded externship opportunities, and created week-long modules targeted at real-world learning. Why? Because our students asked for it, our employers asked for it, and we think it will help our students be better lawyers earlier (even if I'm skeptical about being ready on day one)."
Professor Jamie Baker Roskie similarly wrote in the comments to Risch's post, "This is why I think it's a bad idea to focus on clinics as a direct cause of better employment numbers. It's shortsighted, although understandable from a budgetary perspective. But to me, as a former clinician, the real issue is that we are failing to train good lawyers. This creates a crisis in access to justice and client service. That's why clinics are important. As a profession we need to move away from this ridiculous outdated model of "let's try to get all our graduates jobs in prestigious firms." We're so far past that - our graduates are leaving the practice of law altogether (if they even start there) and meanwhile there's a huge crisis out there in terms of clients being able to access services. The discussion needs to be much much broader."
Professor Risch also criticized the paper: "But can clinics make a marginal difference? I don't think this paper gets us there because it is only a cross-section. While prestige and state unemployment explain a lot, there are obviously many other factors, such as state population. Further, changing enrollment will affect outcomes longitudinally. For example, Villanova has reduced its class size while increasing its clinical offerings. Assuming fixed employment demand, both employment rates and clinical position/JD population rates will increase, but I would be hard pressed to say that it is the clinics alone that cause any employment outcome changes."
Professor Brian Galle also has criticized Yackee's study (here): "The problem with this interpretation is that the causation story could well be backwards. Schools whose graduates are struggling may believe that clinical training will help---or, at least, they believe that applicants will think it helps. That would give us the negative correlation Jason observes. Dealing with this kind of endogeneity problem in data this coarse will be tough. As a first pass, though, it would be nice to see a dynamic model in which we can see the evolution of job outcomes and rankings over time. If lagged clinical offerings predict job outcomes, but not vice-versa, that would support Jason’s story a bit more."
He adds, "I’d also like to see some efforts at refining the data. Jason uses single-year U.S. News rankings, or alternatively peer-reputation rankings, as his measures of the school’s reputation on employment outcomes. We know that rankings are noisy, especially below the T-14, so a rolling average would probably make more sense. And why not use the professial-reputation score, which presumably represents the views of some employers? A more thorough version would also include alternate measures of placement outcomes, lagged placement outcomes, employment conditions (e.g., use employment rates for major MSA's where graduates go, not the rate for where the school is) and alternate measures of clinical positions available.
There’s also a big omitted variable, which is student ability. U.S. News ranking is of course correlated with that, but not perfectly (some schools in desirable job markets have higher LSAT averages than schools ranked well above them in U.S. News, e.g.). At a minimum, I’d want to see 25/75 percentile LSAT scores and a measure of student body diversity (which I think is usually a positive for employers)."
Finally, Professor Yackee makes a very questionable statement concerning the reason for poor job outcomes at certain universities, especially considering that it is contained in a statistical study. He notes that both Northeastern and Washington and Lee both heavily market their skills based programs, but have poor employment outcomes: "Both schools nonetheless under-perform in employment outcomes, Washington and Lee greatly so."
This is a questionable statement to make in a statistical study. Professor Yackee has not eliminated other possible causes of the poor employment outcomes at these law schools. Correlation does not equal causation. Equally important, are two instances statistically significant? Has the experiential program at Washington and Lee existed long enough that statisticians can draw conclusions concerning its effect on employment outcomes?
In sum, while I find Professor Yackee's study to be flawed (and overstated), it is important to undertake such studies. The science community frequently does multiple studies of the same subject matter in order to support or refute the original study. We need multiple studies of legal education reform to see if it is working, and, if so, how it is working. I have great confidence in the legal education reform because the learning techniques being used and proposed have been shown to work in other fields of learning. However, it is also important to do studies specifically on legal education.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
According to Inside Higher Education, the student transfer market is heating up:
Law schools across the country are fighting for transfer students in a testy cat and mouse game that involves some questionable practices.
In cities with multiple law schools -- like Jacksonville, Phoenix and Washington -- the transfer market has lately exposed the contentious underbelly of legal education. The transfer market has become particularly active in recent years as overall law school enrollment has fallen dramatically.
Critics say law schools farther up the rankings chain are enrolling students whose Law School Admission Test scores made them undesirable to enroll as first-year students. Law schools generally do not give transfer students the sort of competitive scholarship discounts they dangle in front of first-year students, making transfers a potentially lucrative source of revenue.
The article mentions several schools including Georgetown:
Georgetown University Law Center, one of the top law schools in the country as judged by U.S. News and World Report rankings, took 113 transfer students last year -- more than any other law school in the country. About a sixth of Georgetown’s second-year law school class is students who were not initially admitted to Georgetown.
You can read lots more here.
In this column from Mark Herrmann at Above the Law, he observes that a gap is starting to develop between associate compensation at "rich" law firms and pay at the "super-rich" firms. As profits-per-partner widen between the "rich" and "super-rich" firms, Mr. Herrmann predicts the associate pay discrepancy will get worse as well leaving the merely "rich" firms unable to compete for top law school talent. Click here to read Mr. Herrmann's entire column and here for a related story from the ABA Journal Blog.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Nix the Acronyms by Judith D. Fischer.
Amazon has struck deals with three major universities to create online university stores, which will sell course textbooks and other university-branded goods.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which is one of the institutions along with Purdue and University of California, Davis, estimates that its students will save about $380 a year in textbook costs, because of lower prices through Amazon.
"This is something that students have already started to do," says Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesperson for UMass Amherst. "Online sales of books have been increasing."
Blaguszewski is right. Many students already try to purchase books on the internet before turning to campus book stores where the prices are normally higher. The real key to savings lies in buying used books. So I wonder if Amazon’s move really changes student purchasing habits.
On the other hand, if Amazon becomes the place to buy a college’s hoodies and caps, it will make money.
You can read more here.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Last week, my co-blogger, Jim Levy, posted a link to the executive summary of a study of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. IAALS and ETL have now posted the full report.
Ahead of The Curve: Turning Law Students into Lawyers by Alli Gerkman & Elana Harmon.
“The legal profession is consistent in its call for new lawyers who can hit the ground running,” said Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers and co-author of the report. “Our findings show that this program delivers that. And we believe that the program’s success is replicable at other law schools on both grand and small scales.”
While this is the first comprehensive study of a reform program in legal education, numerous studies in other fields have also demonstrated that students learn more and can use knowledge better in programs that involve active learning, reflection by students, authentic learning experiences, and frequent formative feedback. The results of the IAALS/ETL study and the many other studies in other fields demonstrate that law professors are doing their students a great disservice if they don't use these teaching techniques in all their classes.
Somehow this slipped by me but better late than never, eh? Last month St. John's launched a new two week intersession program that runs prior to the start of the spring semester to offer students several opportunities for practical skills training. Not limited to just upper class students, 1Ls participate in the program too by taking an intensive one week, two credit course that focuses on negotiation skills, client interviewing and drafting skills. Upper class students can choose from a wide array of course offerings including business practice for lawyers, deposition practice, software licensing agreements, representing clients in complex litigation, and New York legal research among many others. The intersession courses are taught by both full time faculty and local practitioners. Here's an excerpt from the SJ's website describing more details.
It’s early January and, while many of their peers at other law schools are still on break, St. John’s Law students are hard at work honing their writing, dispute resolution, trial advocacy, drafting, and other practical skills through a new suite of intersession courses. Designed by the Law School faculty in response to the challenges and opportunities of the new legal marketplace, the intersession courses are part of a balanced approach to legal education.
“Using the intersession format, we’re giving students the skills-based education they’ll need in their careers,” says Associate Academic Dean Larry Cunningham. “At the same time, our curriculum remains grounded in the fundamentals of the law taught in classes like contracts, tax, evidence, trusts and estates, and criminal procedure. Together, this balance of tradition and innovation will prepare our students well for the profession.”
Among the new intersession offerings designed to help students gain targeted expertise is a required one-week Lawyering class for 1Ls. Developed by Elayne E. Greenberg, assistant dean for dispute Resolution, professor of legal practice, and director of the Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution, and Paul F. Kirgis, professor of law and faculty chair of the Carey Center, this two-credit intensive focuses on negotiation skills and the companion skills of interviewing clients and drafting agreements—core competencies for lawyers.
Upper level students are also benefitting from a range of intersession opportunities offered at no additional cost in the week or two before the spring semester begins. The January 2015 intersession classes include Business Basics for Law Students. Taught by Michael Perino, the Dean George W. Matheson Professor of Law, the course introduces students to the fundamental accounting, economic, and finance concepts they need to know in order to advise their clients effectively in a range of practice areas.
. . . .
In addition to these courses, the January intersession courses offered on campus at St. John’s include: Drafting: Contracts; International Business Law Advanced Topics: Global Compliance; Law Through Film; New York Legal Research; and Representing Clients in Complex Litigation. The intersession also takes students off campus and across the globe through the Dean’s Travel Study Program. During their one-week excursion, students have a unique opportunity to gain substantial and comparative knowledge about a variety of common law, civil law, and mixed legal systems worldwide. Students in the January 2015 program—Comparative Legal System: Ireland—traveled to “The Emerald Isle" where they enjoyed guest lectures by law professors, judges, and practitioners as well as historical walking tours of sites significant to the country’s legal system and law makers.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
According to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, here they are:
They Ask Questions
They Put Away Their Phones
They Are Genuine
They Don’t Pass Judgment
They Don’t Seek Attention
They Are Consistent
They Use Positive Body Language
They Leave a Strong First Impression
They Greet People by Name
They Know When To Open Up
They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)
They Balance Passion and Fun
You can get more detail here.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
The Volokh Conspiracy, via the Washington Post, has a short piece discussing a new article posted on SSRN (is that circuitous enough for you?) that plots the number of clinical slots available to students at a given law school against the number of grads who obtain full time, JD required employment 9 months after graduation. The article, by Professor Jason Yackee (Wisconsin), finds no correlation between the two suggesting that employers do not place much value on experiential training though the prestige of the graduate's school still matters like it always has according to the study (no surprise there - nor can I imagine that's ever going to change). You can find Professor Yackee's article on SSRN here. From the Washington Post, here's an excerpt of Professor Kerr's take on it.
Do law school clinics lead to more jobs for law school graduates?
. . . .
As Yackee makes clear, the paper does not try to assess the value of clinical education. Instead, it tries to assess whether employers of newly-minted JDs see such education as valuable based on their hiring patterns. As I understand things, the basic methodology is to look school by school at two variables: (a) the percentage of slots available at that school in faculty supervised law clinic courses as compared to overall JD enrollment, based on the ABA Standard 509 Information Report of that school; and (b) that law school’s Law School Transparency “Employment Score,” which “measures the percent of recent graduates obtaining full time employment, within nine months of graduation, for which a JD degree and bar passage are required.” The basic question is, do schools that have a high proportion of clinical spots do better employment-wise than those that don’t?
. . . .
I’ll be interested to see how other empirical legal studies scholars respond to the paper, and whether they think its conclusions hold up.
Continue reading here.
According to this survey by Attorney at Work, lawyers use social media for marketing far more than I expected:
91% said they use social media, and a surprising 60% identified their social media use as part of a marketing strategy.
91% are on LinkedIn, with 73% saying they are on Facebook. Twitter ranked third, with 45% of lawyers prepared to Tweet, and a paltry 21% say they use Google+. Conversely, the lawyers responding said the platform they use most frequently is Facebook with 43%. Only 2% say they most often use Google+.
39% said LinkedIn is the most effective client-getter. In fact, those who say their use of social media is part of an overall marketing strategy actually use Facebook less and LinkedIn far more frequently than those who identify no marketing strategy.
Yet, lawyers don’t seem sold on the effectiveness of social media.
As for return on investment, only 4% said social media is “very responsible” for getting them new clients, while 31% said no social media platform is effective at bringing in new clients.
A significant amount of skepticism remains — 56% of lawyers responding think the talk about lawyers using social media for marketing is “more hype than reality.” Women lawyers are slightly less skeptical than men, with 51% believing the talk is hype.
You can read more here.
Dean Patricia Salkin has an excellent post about law school incubator programs on the Faculty Lounge. Such programs can be an effective method to help students prepare for serving the middle class and poor, two groups that often lack access to legal help. Despite the lawyer unemployment problem, society needs many more lawyers who can handle family law, criminal defense, wills, evictions, and other every day problems. Moreover, the lawyers who generally deal with these problems usually work as solos or in small firms, where they lack the mentoring possibilities of large firms.
The second annual conference on Enhancing Social Justice Through the Development of Incubator and Residency Programs will take place later this month at Southwestern Law School. All law schools need to send a representative to this conference.
Friday, February 6, 2015
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog is reporting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has published the January job stats showing that the legal services sector lost 1,400 jobs last month after a stagnant 2014. The legal services sector includes lawyers, paralegals, legal consultants, process servers, notaries and patent agents, among other occupations. You can check out the BLS report for January, 2015 here.
Here, the Sixth Circuit upholds the decision by Case Western’s medical school not to grant a degree to a student whose conduct allegedly ran the gamut from tardiness to sexual harassment. The parallels to law school are obvious.
Here is a link to the opinion. Please note the second last paragraph. Think about the allegations that some law schools don’t report bad conduct to bar admissions committees.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
The first volume of the Touro Law Center's Journal of Experiential Learning is out now and available here. The second volume is in the works and will be devoted to law school incubator and residency programs. The journal is accepting submissions until March 15. Here are the full details.
CALL FOR PAPERS
FOR THE SECOND VOLUME OF THE JOURNAL OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
INCUBATORS & RESIDENCY PROGRAMS
On behalf of the Touro Law Journal of Experiential Learning, we are pleased to invite you to consider submitting an essay or article on law firm incubators and residency programs for our second issue of the Journal. Please note that pdfs of the articles that appear on the website will be posted by mid-January.
Submissions for the special issue on incubators and residency programs are due by March 15, 2015. However, we need to know whether you plan to submit and what you propose to write on so that we may plan accordingly. Please contact our coordinating editor, Associate Dean Myra Berman, at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your contribution.
Dean and Professor of Law
Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center
Evolving technology seems to bring along legal issues that many of us may not foresee. For example, in the Texas Bar Journal, John G. Browning, explores legal issues arising with Google Glass (“wearable technology”):
In January 2014, a moviegoer wearing
Google Glass was removed from a
theater and questioned for two hours by
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
agents over potential film piracy
charges. The man, who said he was
wearing the device because it had his
prescription lenses in it, was ultimately
able to connect his glasses to a PC and
demonstrate that he wasn’t recording
the movie. Around the United States,
establishments ranging from a restaurant
in Seattle to strip clubs in Las
Vegas have banned the use of smartglass
You can read more here.