Friday, March 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

Reading is a mental act that literally changes the thought processes of the reader.

Daniel Willingham

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Do Congressional Members Owe $$ in Student Debt?

According to the Open Secrets blog, the answer is yes—probably between $1.8 and $4.6 million:

Forty-seven members of Congress had a cumulative total of between $1.8 million and $4.6 million in student loan debt in 2013, according to their personal financial disclosure statements. That includes loans for themselves, their spouses or their children.

The 2013 numbers — the most recent available — represent an uptick from previous years. Last year, OpenSecrets Blog found that in 2012 just 41 members of Congress carried student loan debt, totaling between $1.5 million and $3.8 million (an exact figure can’t be pinpointed because lawmakers list their assets and liabilities in broad ranges). But to put things in context, just over 8 percent of members of Congress have some form of student loan debt, compared to almost 13 percent of Americans overall (an estimated 40 million) who hold a total of more than $1.2 trillion in such debt.

The 47 members had, on average, $68,500 in student loan debt — significantly higher than the $26,842 owed on average by American households with student loan debt in 2010.

It can be difficult to determine exactly who owes the money in a congressional household. Some members of Congress disclose whose education was being financed and at what institution, but others are vague. Of the 62 total student loans disclosed (some lawmakers listed more than one loan), seven were explicitly described as being for a child and 15 were in the name of a spouse.

Six lawmakers were at the top end of the average amount owed — $170,000 (or between $100,000 and $250,000). All are House members, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats: Reps. James Bridenstine (R-Okla.), John Carter (R-Texas), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y) and Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.).

You would think they would have more sympathy for struggling students. You can read more here.


March 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Publication opportunity for LRW faculty, law librarians, clinicians and practitioners interested in legal research and writing training

Here's a great opportunity to get published if you're interested in writing about issues related to the teaching of legal research or legal writing whether you're a LWR faculty member, clinician, doctrinal faculty, law librarian or practitioner. Perhaps you're a practicing lawyer involved in mentoring or training junior lawyers and you've some good teaching techniques, observations or insights you'd like to share.  Or perhaps as a practicing lawyer teaching part time as an adjunct faculty member you have a unique perspective on LRW pedagogy. This is your chance to reach more than 5,000 readers by submitting a short manuscript to Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, a Thomson Reuters publication. The submission guidelines and publisher's contact information are below (ignore the part about a mid-July deadline and instead submit whenever your manuscript is ready).

Perspectives is a journal for law librarians, law professors, and everyone else who is intrigued by the challenge of teaching legal research and writing. In three electronic publications each year (fall, winter, and spring), Perspectivesprovides a forum for exploring a broad array of teaching theories, techniques, and tools. Readers and authors include: 


  • new and experienced law librarians and law professors;
  • practicing attorneys who help associates to develop as researchers and writers or who serve as adjunct faculty at law schools; and
  • writing specialists at law schools, law firms, courts, and other legal institutions. 

Submissions from authors are generally due in mid-July for the fall issue, in mid-September for the winter issue, and in mid-January for the spring issue. Perspectives articles tend to be short, typically between 1,500 and 5,000 words (between two and eight double-spaced pages). The articles generally examine how teachers can best help law students, young lawyers, and others learn to research and write efficiently, enjoyably, and effectively. The articles do so, moreover, in a relaxed, lightly footnoted, and highly readable prose—more like that of many bar association publications than that of traditional academic journals. Most articles focus on a practical issue, task, or topic, for example: 


  • the use of wikis as a teaching and learning tool;
  • game-based teaching techniques;
  • clinicians’ insights for research and writing professors;
  • student engagement with appellate advocacy assignments;
  • incorporation of frequent student-to-faculty feedback;
  • collaborations between research and writing instructors; and
  • creating and managing online courses. 

In addition, regular columns address curricular design, teachable moments, technology for teaching, thorny research matters, and experts’ writing tips. Members of the Perspectives editorial board manage these columns. The editors are experts in teaching research and writing in law firms, libraries, and law schools. They have discretion to edit articles, including by shortening them to conform to available space, and the editors are available to advise prospective authors. 


Perspectives is available in PDF at 


Submitting Articles to Perspectives 

  1. How, to Whom, and When to Submit 

Submit manuscripts by e-mail as an attachment to:

Elizabeth Edinger, Editor

Catholic University of America Law Library



Alternatively, particularly if your article would fit well in a regular column, you may submit an article to a column editor. The editors’ names are listed in each issue of Perspectives. Deadlines are generally in mid-July for the fall issue, in mid-September for the winter issue, and in mid-January for the spring issue.


        2.  Manuscript Form and Length 

1. Author Information. Provide only your name, professional title, and institutional affiliation. Place this information immediately after the article’s title, not in a footnote.

2. Typeface and Margins. Type in standard-face, double-spaced text with 1.5-inch margins.

3. Length. Articles should run between 1,500 and 5,000 words (two and eight pages). Longer articles may be considered but also may be shortened to fit available space.

4. Footnotes. Use footnotes, not endnotes. Identify notes in the text by superscript numbers.

5. Citation Form. Conform citations to The Bluebook (19th ed. 2010). Follow in particular its “Bluepages,” which describe citation form for legal memoranda and court documents and use regular fonts, not LARGE AND SMALL CAPITALS. Use italicizing, not underlining.

6. Ellipses. Treat an ellipsis as a single word, constructed of three periods preceded and followed by a space—for example: “The idea was ... hers.”

7. Commas. Use “serial commas.” That is, in a series of three or more elements, separate each element by a comma—for example: “The names were Ax, Boxx, and Crux.” In addition, do not use a comma to separate Jr. or Sr. from the name—for example: John Kennedy Jr.

8. Word Preferences.

a. Use appendixes or indexes, not appendices or indices.

b. Use citation, not cite, and citing, not “Bluebooking.”

c. Generally, do not hyphenate legal writing or legal research.


March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Just Say No To U.S. News II

A couple of days ago, I posted my annual "just say no to U.S. News" post.  It appears that many in the law school world are saying no to U.S. News. (here and here)  According to Dean David Yellen, the response rate for academics has fallen from 67% to 58%.  He adds that "Among judges and lawyers, the average response rate over that time period has been 22%.  Several years ago, US News started using two years of the judge/lawyer responses each time, probably in recognition of the low response rate.  This year, US News did not even publish that response rate.  And, they moved to a 3-year average.  This strongly suggests that the response rate dropped significantly."

The low response rate for judges/lawyers has been one of my major objections to the usefulness of the law rankings.  Now that U.S. News isn't reporting the response rate, it makes me question the rankings even more.

While some significant changes have been made in the rankings criteria, especially in the employment statistics, the law rankings are still more harmful than helpful, particularly due to the gaming.  It is encouraging to hear that many in legal education are no longer taking them seriously.

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Tuition Still Increases at Elite Schools

From JD Journal:

Although the demand for a law degree is diminishing, tuition continues to rise at law schools nationwide. Tuition has especially risen at prestigious schools whose graduates land jobs at some of the country’s biggest law firms. According to Newsweek, tuition has risen in excess of inflation for the past forty years.

Last year, Columbia’s annual tuition was $60,274, with Cornell Law trailing closely behind. There are ten law schools in the United States that charge over $55,000 per year. Five years ago, Columbia, Yale, and Cornell passed this threshold for the first time.

 In all American Bar Association-accredited law schools, average tuition has increased from $32,227 (2011) to $35,312 (2014), marking close to a 10 percent increase. However, in higher-ranked schools, the tuition rates rose even more. Ten schools that sent the highest percentage of the class of 2014 to the largest 250 firms in the United States (these schools are called “Go-To Schools”) increased their tuition, on average, by 13 percent from 2011 to 2014. In 2011, the average tuition was $49,907; in 2014, it was $56,292.

 You can read more here.

 Before the economic collapse, many felt that law school tuition was nearing a ceiling—students and parents simply would not pay more for the J.D. For many schools, the economic crunch lowered that ceiling, but apparently not for the most elite schools. Economics aside, is there an ethical question in raising the tuition bill year after year?


March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Legal sector adds 3,100 jobs in February

The ABA Journal Blog has a summary here of the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for February 2015. The AmLaw Daily has also got the story here (subscrip. req.).  The BLS has revised downward the figure for January from 1,400 jobs lost to 1,800.


March 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Too Many Commas

In a recent posting on the blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education (here), writer Ben Yagoda takes on the issue of commas. If gives two examples of comma-laden sentences from the New Yorker and offers rewrites:

 “Before [Lee] Atwater died, of brain cancer, in 1991, he expressed regret.”

 “In 1991, Atwater had terminal brain cancer; shortly before his death, he expressed regret.


“When I was in high school, at Horace Mann, in the Bronx, in the nineteen-seventies, everyone took pride in the brilliant eccentricity of our teachers.”

“In the 1970s, I went to a high school in the Bronx, Horace Mann. Everyone took pride in the brilliant eccentricity of our teachers.”


March 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Here are the U.S. News Rankings

Here are the 2016 U.S. News Rankings, for what they're worth (not much IMHO).  I fully agree with Scott's posting. Each year, U.S. News sends me an appraisal sheet for law school Legal Writing programs, and each year, I throw it away.


March 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Meeting Law Students’ Experiential Needs in the Classroom: Building an Administrative Law Practicum Implementing the Revised ABA Standards"

This is a new article by Visiting Professor (and Assistant University Counsel) Jeffrey Thaler (Maine) now available for download via SSRN here. Professor Thaler says that if any of our readers would like the syllabus for the course that is the subject of his article, you can contact him directly at and he'll be happy to oblige.

Now onto the abstract:

In August 2014 the American Bar Association approved Revisions to the Standards for Approved Law Schools Relating to Learning Outcomes and Experiential Learning. Standards 302-304 set forth, generally, desired skills, competencies and goals to promote experiential learning opportunities for students. This essay is the first to detail, from start to finish, how a practicum or simulation course can be successfully developed to implement those Standards. Many students are not being sufficiently prepared for a 21st-century America where attorneys who litigate are largely doing so not before judges or juries, but before regulatory bodies or non-judicial officers. The art of advocating for clients in a regulatory arena is very different from that in the courtroom, yet while almost all law schools have a trial practice course, there are virtually no comparable administrative or regulatory law practicum (versus clinical or externship) courses. Thus, this essay uniquely details the steps needed to blend doctrinal and clinical pedagogies into one hybrid course, which focused on ethical, environmental and administrative law issues arising out of a proposed $200 million wind power project; the nuts-and-bolts of developing the course; and its implementation and outcome, including a case study that kept changing during the semester and a dozen exercises. The goal is to help interested faculty, deans and others to more effectively craft similar, blended courses that students both greatly need and will welcome.


March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Just Say No to U.S. News

The U.S. News law rankings are due out today, and it's time for my annual "Just Say No to U.S. News" column.  My objections to the law rankings are that they don't give prospective law students relevant information and they can be manipulated by law schools.  Since the latter is in the news now let's focus on how the rankings can be manipulated.

The Tax Prof Blog has a post today on how 38 law schools boosted their rankings with school funded jobs.  (here based on a chart by Robert Kuehn)  The top five law schools using this device were William & Mary (25.90%), Emory (25.41%), George Washington (18.76%), Virginia (16.67%), and American (16.02%).

Based on the above, I hope you see why I think that the U.S. News law school rankings give no useful information to prospective law students.  (here)

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Drafting Supplemental Briefs

Sometimes a judge will ask for a supplemental brief to further clarify issues or facts. The Lady Legal Writer blog offers some rules on drafting these documents. Here are the headlines for the advice:

Remind the judge what you were asked to do.

Address only the issues you were asked to address.

Don’t exceed the page limit.

Clarify facts, if asked, but don’t restate facts outlined in your initial brief.

Include relevant authority or admit if there is none.

You can read full explanations here.


March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Did A Law Firm Break the Rules in Filing a SCOTUS Amicus Brief?

That’s the issue before the Supreme Court. Here are excerpts from the relevant National Law Journal article:

A dispute has broken out between parties in a pharmaceutical case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, with one side accusing the other of filing an amicus curiae brief that violates court rules.

To discourage a party from filing what amounts to multiple briefs in the same case, the Supreme Court’s Rule 37 requires amicus briefs to disclose whether “counsel for a party authored the [amicus curiae] brief in whole or in part.”

Louis Bograd of the Center for Constitutional Litigation filed an objection on Feb. 23 claiming that the amicus brief in Pliva Inc. v. Huck was written by a law firm that represents Pliva and did not reveal that fact, contrary to court rules.

Bograd, who represents Theresa Huck, an Iowa woman injured by the reflux medicine Reglan, claims that an amicus brief supporting Pliva violated that rule by failing to disclose that the brief’s author actually represents Pliva in the lower courts in her case. Bograd says he has received no notification that the representation ended.

The brief, written on behalf of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), lists Joseph Thomas of Ulmer & Berne in Cincinnati as counsel of record. It states that that “no counsel for a party in this court wrote this brief in whole or in part.”

Bograd asserts that by using the qualifier “in this court,” the law firm was trying to finesse the rules and “hide the firm’s role as Pliva’s counsel in this very case.”

Asked to respond to Bograd’s objection, Ulmer’s Thomas said in an emailed statement, “Ulmer & Berne has represented Pliva Inc. in the state court proceedings. That is a matter of public record. However, Ulmer & Berne is not counsel to Pliva before the United States Supreme Court. Kirkland & Ellis is Pliva’s only counsel in that matter.” Thomas added, “The disclosures required by the Supreme Court's rule were made in the GPhA brief.”

This sort of alleged finessing is unfortunate.


March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Excellent Website on Education and Learning

I have previously mentioned the book How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching by Susan A. Ambrose, which contains a wealth of information on teaching and learning.  These authors also have an excellent website on education here.  The topics on the website include designing a course, technology, assessment, solving a teaching problem, and teaching & learning principles.  From the Teaching and Learning Principles page:

"This learner-centered perspective is a hallmark of the Eberly Center’s approach to teaching. We strive to empower instructors by helping them develop a deep understanding of how students learn, so that they can effectively apply and adapt teaching strategies to meet their own goals and their students’ needs.  The purpose of the following materials is to present current research and theory on student learning in a way that can inform and guide effective teaching practices."

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A new tool for tracking bar pass rates

Here's a handy tool that lets you see the bar pass rates per state and per school within each state (including how the out of state test-takers did).  Note, though, that at present the bar pass rates posted are for the Feb/July 2013 testing cycle.  Check it out here via

Hat tip to ATL.


March 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Issue Spotting Exams Encourage Bad Legal Writing?

Over at PrawfsBlawg, Rick Hills says “yes.”

Do law school exams teach lousy legal writing? I am thinking of the “issue-spotting” exam in which the student is expected (or thinks that he or she is expected) to touch on as many issues as possible to demonstrate that he or she did her time in the course, taking notes, briefing cases, and soaking up information. Typically, such exam answers consist of lots of points hurriedly raised and rarely resolved or argued effectively. Such answers often adopt an indecisive “one-hand-other-hand” style of a bad bench memo, noting that there are opposing arguments on a point but not making any effort to evaluate whether and how one argument is better than another.

These symptoms of a certain type of exam answer writing also seem to be characteristics of bad legal writing by young attorneys starting out as associates, at least according to senior partners that I canvassed a couple of summers ago, in an effort to learn how to improve NYU’s legal writing program. The most common complaint was that new hires’ emails, memos, and draft briefs did not make an argument for a particular position. Instead, the novices summarized too much at too great length without arriving at any plain bottom line. “Don’t they know they we’re paid to be advocates?” one lawyer complained. “Clients pay for answers, not encyclopedias,” said another.

You can read more here.

I agree. Successful law students spot as many issues as they can and discuss them all—even the weakest ones. Good lawyers look for the issue that gives their client the best chance of winning and run with it. I gave up on issue spotting exams years ago.

Thnx to Jennifer Romig.


March 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

How to Stand Out at a Conference

From Daily Worth, here are six ways to stand out at a conference and to network. This is not the usual advice and in some cases, explains how to use social media to increase your name recognition. I would think about using these techniques not just at academic conferences, but also at your school’s alumni and other events to promote yourself and your program.

You can read more here.


March 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What do Millennials say they want in the workplace?

This short post by Forbes editor Allan Murray writing on the LinkedIn blog summarizes a new study by the Pew Research Center that endeavored to find out what do Millennials really want out of life?  Mr. Murray has summarized the parts of the study relating to the workplace and notes that some commonly held assumptions about Millennials are proven wrong while others are closer to the mark.  Here are the salient points:

 Millennials want to change jobs frequently.

    This one is just wrong . . . .

Money doesn’t matter.

     Maybe. . . . .

Every millennial wants to be an entrepreneur.

    They all may want to be Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s not happening.

Read more of Mr. Murray's commentary at the LinkedIn blog here or you can read the full Pew study here.


March 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Former Acting Solicitor General Acts in House of Cards

Once again, politics and TV entertainment join forces as the former Acting Solicitor General trades the real courtroom for the TV courtroom. From the National Law Journal:

In a witty fictional twist, Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal battles an on-screen version of himself in an episode of the just-released third season of the popular Netflix series, House of Cards.

Katyal—the former acting U.S. Solicitor General in real life—plays a character arguing before the Supreme Court on behalf of Kaseem Mahmoud, a man left wheelchair-bound by an American drone strike in the Middle East.

His nemesis: an ambitious U.S. Solicitor General.

You can read more here.


March 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Excellent Legal Writing Articles by George Gopen

George Gopen has been writing columns on legal writing for “Litigation,” the magazine of the ABA Section on Litigation. You can access them here.

I cannot speak too highly of George’s work. Years ago, I attended one of his workshops and discovered a new way to think about writing. I have passed the lessons down to my students, and now, even years after they graduate, they tell me how greatly those lessons transformed their writing and contributed to their success.


March 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Daylight Savings Time Begins this Weekend

Clocks go forward one hour. “Spring Forward. Fall Backward.”


March 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)