Monday, November 18, 2013
We all have bad days.How do we get over the frustration? From Classroom Q & A with Larry Ferlazzo, I am including a few brief excerpts from several contributors.
Discipline yourself to forget, just at list-making time, every affront, every disappointment that a typical day as a teacher presents you with. Try just making a list of every single moment of learning and progress that you witness in your classroom. You will start having a lot more good days in the bank to draw from when those bad days strike.
Ironically, I've found that the best things I can do to help me move on from a frustrating day at school are not school-related. Instead, it's been essential for me to try to stop the nasty self-talk tapes that start playing in my head when things aren't going well. You know how it goes. "I've done nothing but bend over backwards for these kids and they still won't follow directions. A real teacher would have had them in hand by now. And if I had planned correctly it wouldn't even be a problem.
In fact, for folks in the service professions such as teaching, I would argue that self-compassion is the quickest and strongest way to recharge your own emotional batteries and become Truly Available, consistently, to your students.
Like most teachers I had many bad days in my early years of teaching. But then I learned something important: don't concentrate on the lesson you planned to teach, but on the students. If you are determined to stick to you lesson plan, and it doesn't seem to be working--for whatever reason--you will become frustrated and, very likely, show that frustration in your tone of voice, facial Expressions, and body language.
Humor has certainly saved the day many times. When tension mounts, it dissipates it.
Whenever I'm having a bad day at school, I do one of two things-and if it's really a bad day, I do both. First, I keep a file of thank you letters from parents and students. On bad days, I take a couple of minutes to re-read these. Needless to say, it's uplifting and motivating.
I try not to think if them as "bad" days. Bad days elicit that fixed mindset that nothing can be done about them but wallow in them. In more of a growth mindset, I think of them as challenging days because I learn something every time I have one - either about myself as an educator, about students or about learning.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
The New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession Report: Law Schools
The New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession Report contains several innovative and practical suggestions. In this post, I would like to concentrate on its comments about and recommendations for law schools.
This section begins, "It is important for law schools to respond wisely and vigorously to these fundamental changes in the profession. While traditional casebook courses still have a role to play, a broad range of other approaches should be (and are being) developed." Concerning the traditional casebook method, the Report states, "The primary criticism is that it addresses only some of the key competencies needed to be an effective lawyer, as catalogued in the landmark MacCrate Commission report, providing excellent training on legal principles and legal theory but insufficient training in the practical skills necessary for practice success with clients. In other words, the traditional casebook model can excel at teaching critical thinking, reading comprehension, and logical reasoning, but provides less experience with solving real world problems, which frequently demonstrate more complexities than the distilled issues addressed in appellate court decisions." The Report also calls for more assessments throughout the semester and greater attention to corporate, transactional, and regulatory work.
Concerning proposals for reducing law school to two years, the Report declares, "With due respect, we think the proposal is too simple a solution to a complex problem. While we agree that controlling the cost of legal education is an important goal, we fundamentally believe that, at least at this time, eliminating the third year is not the right instrument to accomplish it. Indeed, the need for better prepared lawyers suggests the need for more training, not less."
The first recommendation of the task force is an "increased focus at some schools on practical skills like client interaction, factual investigation, or practice management." The Report notes, "We agree that sound scholarship must remain a fundamental building block of law school education, and that the Socratic method has its place. But we feel strongly that newer approaches should continue to be integrated into the law school curriculum." The Report continues, "In the modern legal environment, the ‘practice-ready’ lawyer must have experience identifying and solving problems, navigating the legal system, and exercising professional judgment under conditions of uncertainty. We also believe that writing and professional responsibility remain under-taught and insufficiently integrated into the curriculum, although these topics have received substantial attention from reformers in recent years."
The Report also advocates that law school training be flexible, and it advocates experimentation in legal education. "We specifically call upon the ABA and state licensing authorities as necessary to provide the rule changes or temporary waivers necessary to enable these experiments."
The Task Force believes that the core of new lawyer training should include:
• A detailed understanding of the U.S. legal system, its constitutional underpinnings, and its procedural requirements.
• Sound academic instruction and scholarship in legal reasoning, writing, and analysis (sometimes called "how to think like a lawyer").
• Command of several substantive areas of law, with an opportunity to take advanced courses in selected subject areas and potentially an opportunity to be certified as having specialized knowledge through a law school "major" or a competency certificate.
• Substantial training and experience in complex problem-solving exercises, project management, working in teams and exercising professional judgment, in litigation and transactional settings.
• Exposure to and participation in negotiation, alternative dispute resolution processes, client and witness interviewing, counseling, and oral advocacy.
• Participation in hands-on clinical or other experiential training—at least one such experience during the law school years for every law student and, optimally, more than one experience or a defined period of working full time in a highly supervised training environment.
• Exposure to welll-structured teaching by experienced practitioners, provided in coordination with academics.
• Instruction in the profession’s ethics and commitment to providing community and public service, including the promotion of access to justice through the provision of assistance to indigent clients.
• Exposure to international and comparative expertise, and the cross-cultural and cross-border aspects of sophisticated lawyering.
• Highly supervised training, feedback, and career mentoring in the initial years of practice.
Concerning the third-year of law school, the Report states, "the current third-year curriculum should not be used solely for traditional casebook courses or preparing subjects tested on the bar exam but little used thereafter. It should continue to be the subject of creative and energetic innovation in order to help new lawyers graduate with the skills and experiences needed to be ‘practice-ready’ in the modern legal environment. Thus, we encourage law schools to use the third year of law school to innovate, providing students with substantive expertise and practical experiences that will better prepare them for modern practice."
In a separate section, the Report asserts that experiential learning is critical. It continues, "the practical experience should be preceded by academic training so that it is experienced in the context of knowledge of the legal system and processes and some substantive law. It must be accompanied by meaningful supervision and feedback, as well as structured opportunities to reflect on and analyze the experience from a more academic viewpoint." The Report also recommends that law schools experiment with bridge-to-practice programs.
Finally, in a separate part of the Report, the Task Force condemns the "Arms Race" to move up in the U.S. News Law Rankings. The Report points out that "law schools have felt the need to redistribute scarce law school resources away from education and towards other efforts that will maintain or improve their schools’ rank." The Report singles out two parts of this arms race: "merit scholarships to attract students with high LSAT and GPA scores, and law-school-funded jobs for graduates." The Task Force declares: "While merit scholarships can serve useful ends, they also have negative implications when used simply as a strategic tool to affect rankings. Most significantly, the use of precious scholarship money to attract students with high LSAT scores and GPAs may diminish the pool of money available for other uses, including resource-intensive educational programs and providing need-based scholarships to qualified but financially disadvantaged individuals." The Report adds, "some law schools have been less than transparent about the conditions attached to their merit scholarships, which can lead to confusion and frustration from students who receive a generous scholarship package their first year only to find the scholarship eliminated when they fail to satisfy a certain GPA threshold."
Similarly, "The second example of law schools redistributing resources in response to the USN rankings is the hiring of recent graduates into temporary positions for the purpose of boosting graduate employment statistics. . . . Although law schools typically describe such hiring practices as designed to smooth a graduate’s transition into the working world, these positions also provide a significant benefit to the law school by potentially boosting the school’s USN ranking." The Task Force remarks, "Critics are concerned that such hiring tactics are misleading to prospective law students because they artificially boost overall employment figures and create the impression that the school’s job prospects are stronger than they really are. More fundamentally, law schools that hire their graduates to improve their USN rankings might well not be addressing adequately the fundamental problems in training and experience needed for graduates to have successful careers in today’s legal market. At a minimum, using existing law school resources to fund these types of jobs can divert those funds from being used to address more fundamental issues, impeding the innovations discussed elsewhere in this Report."
The Report’s comments and recommendations on law schools refute those in the law school field who say that there is not a consensus on the need for significant change in legal education. In addition to this Report, there have been similar reports by the ABA and the bars of New York, Illinois, and California, as well as the Carnegie Report, Best Practices, and a multitude of scholarly articles. Legal education is in a crisis, and now is the time to change it.
This is an article from The Texas Lawyer worth reflecting on authored by a psychotherapist who works with many lawyers.
What characteristics make for a good lawyer? Different sources propose such things as love of argument, a passion for writing, focus, determination, people skills and perseverance. Others include high academic achievement, structured thinking, a certain independence and diversity of interests.
. . . .
Here’s an interesting exercise. Here is the initial paragraph of The Federalist No.1. As
you know, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote an extensive
set of op-ed pieces in the New York newspapers to encourage the state to ratify
the proposed Constitution. They wrote anonymously under the collective pseudonym
“Publius.” Here is what Hamilton wrote:
AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.
Here is my modern, plain English version:
We Americans have lived under a federal government that has failed to give us an effective government.. Now we must decide whether to adopt a new constitution for the United States of America.
We deal with an important subject, and our decision may determine the fate of the most interesting empire in the world: whether our union survives and whether its states will enjoy safety and well being.
Many have remarked that we, the people of this country, have been given the duty to decide by our conduct and example whether the people of a society can establish good government or whether societies must depend for their constitutions on accident or choice.
In any case, the current crisis gives us the opportunity to decide this question. If we make the wrong choice, we suffer a misfortune and burden humanity with a misfortune.
This exercise in revision and modernization could be an interesting one for your students. For some students, it also would provide a remedial lesson in American history.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Following up on an earlier post here, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog also has the following report on the push by the New York City Bar Association to ensure new law grads have the opportunity for more practical legal skills training.
With thousands of debt-laden new lawyers entering the market at a time when plum jobs at big firms are in short supply, the influential New York City Bar Association is trying out some alternatives.
They include placing novice lawyers in apprenticeships with big banks and other employers, and starting up a law firm that will test whether young attorneys can make a decent living helping people who can't afford market-rate legal bills.
What's needed to address fundamental shifts in the legal profession is more hands-on training—both during and after law school—according to a report to be published Thursday by a task force formed by the bar group.
In the report, which was more than a year in the making, the task force of prominent lawyers, law-school deans, prosecutors and other legal professionalscalls on working lawyers to help teach skills to new attorneys through legal-education programs and mentoring.
The task force also criticized the legal profession's reliance on law-school rankings by U.S. News & World Report. It said such rankings "measure the wrong things," and urged legal educators to diversify their curricula—for example, by offering lower-cost legal degrees or programs that better prepare students to work as solo lawyers or at small firms.
Continue reading here.
Below, one of my co-bloggers has a post concerning the New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession Report. Among the changes suggested by the Task Force is "Reviewing the Bar Exam. A City Bar working group to report within a year on potential changes to the way New York State tests the qualifications of those seeking to be licensed to practice law in the state." In this post, I would like to focus on the Task Force's recommendation concerning the bar exam.
The Report states, "The requirement that lawyers pass a state-specific bar examination testing a broad range of state and federal law also has operated as an impediment to innovation in legal education and the career development of new lawyers." The Report continues. "In particular, critics argue that they [bar exams] are antiquated and fail to test the relevant skills needed to be a lawyer in the twenty-first century. First, the exams ask questions that can easily be answered through legal research. Second, the exams test an applicant’s memory about information that will quickly be forgotten after the exam. Third, most lawyers specialize in their practices, rendering the majority of the information learned for a bar exam irrelevant. (Criminal lawyers have little use for the intricacies of state commercial paper law; corporate deal makers do not need to know state-specific civil procedure.) Finally, and perhaps most importantly in an age requiring graduates to be practice ready, bar exams test few lawyering skills."
As I posted last month, "for the most part, the bar exam does not test what lawyers do in practice." "One of the topics we discussed at the ETL conference was whether states need to change the bar exam. Most of us thought that states need to radically change the bar exam. I would say that states need to reinvent the bar exam." I added, "The bar exam also has a significant influence on what law schools teach. Like it or not, much of what law schools do is prepare students to pass the bar. Consequently, law schools are forced to teach in a way that may not be the best way to prepare lawyers for practice."
I believe that part of reinventing the bar exam is to add drafting problems. Lawyers draft pleadings and documents. Accordingly, the bar exam should test applicants' drafting skills. Applicants should be required to draft a complaint, and they should be required to draft a contract, will, lease, or other document.
Recently, my co-editor brought to our attention a new study on shifts in the U.S. News law rankings ( here).
According to that study, in recent years, over 60% of the schools studies saw their reputation scores decline since 1998. The schools that began this period with the highest reputation scores declined the most, while the schools with the lowest reputation scores did the best at maintaining their scores. What accounts for this phenomenon?
My cynical nature suggests a reason that does not reflect well on my academic colleagues—trashing the competition.
The study further suggests that a school’s U.S. News ranking tends to influence its academic
Every year, U.S. News solicits me to rank legal writing programs. Each year, I toss the survey
form in the trash. This study gives me more justification for my conduct.
The article is Robert L. Jones, “A Longitudinal Analysis of the U.S. News Law School Academic
Reputation Scores between 1998 and 2013,” 40 Florida State University Law Review 721 (2013). Here is a link to the SSRN version.
Friday, November 15, 2013
From the New York City Bar blog:
Following more than a year of analysis, the New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession today released a report recommending fundamental changes in education and career focus for new lawyers.
In its report, the Task Force—comprised of eight law school deans, the managing partners of law firms large and small, two of the City’s District Attorneys, the New York City Corporation Counsel, the leaders of The Legal Aid Society and Legal Services NYC, five general counsels of large companies, and career services professionals—urges a stronger effort to match the perceived oversupply of lawyers with the unmet legal needs of the middle class, identifies “impediments to innovation” in the legal industry, and announces the launch of four pilot programs to help prepare new lawyers for a changing legal landscape:
The City Bar New Lawyer Institute. A City Bar-run New Lawyer Institute to introduce all new lawyers beginning their careers in New York City to the broader legal community and to provide them access to high-quality training and career support in the early years of practice.
“Bridge-to-Practice” Programs. New and expanded partnerships with major employers, who will work with the City Bar to develop pilot programs to provide training and employment opportunities for law students and new lawyers.
Reviewing the Bar Exam. A City Bar working group to report within a year on potential changes to the way New York State tests the qualifications of those seeking to be licensed to practice law in the state.
A New Law Firm for People of Moderate Means. A new entity, subject to funding, that will develop and pilot a commercially sustainable business model to enable new lawyers to address the unmet civil legal needs of the middle class while developing their own sustainable professional practices.
Continue reading here.
Hat tip to Joe Harbaugh.
On Saturday, November 16, I celebrate the 18th anniversary of my heart transplant. Despite the years, I remember the whole transplant experience vividly. I never thought I would last this long, but I still work long days with considerable energy. I also treasure the opportunity that the transplant has given me to grow with my family.
My longevity is not all that unusual. I hope that our readers will consider donating their organs. There remains a great shortage, and such a gift truly is a gift of life.
From Larry Bodine’s Law Marketing blog:
"Yet a look at history reveals that about 50% of all mergers subsequently fail," says the contrarian voice of Robert Denney in his November RDA Communique. He first raised this point in 2011. "In many cases the reason(s) for the eventual failures were issues that were evident beforehand and should have raised red flags about proceeding with the merger."
Denney identifies 15 red flags that are often issues that can never be resolved. They include post-merger client departures, wide differences in partner incomes, and contrasting work ethics. The list goes on to include one firm having substantial debt or an unfunded pension liability, practices that do not fit and conflicts that cause a major rainmaker to leave.
The statistic conforms to what I see. Members in a law firm are comfortable in their professional lives. A merger means change. The merger might require them to work harder and for longer hours. It may result in smaller paychecks and a reduced celebrity status. It may force them to work with people they don’t like. They don’t like the change and depart.
We might advise our students that the world of law practice is a volatile one and may lead them to change jobs with some frequency.
Yesterday, I covered the practical aspects of Professor Hilary Burgess’s excellent article, Using Multiple Choice to Teach Students to Write: Identifying Discreet Steps Experts Take. Today, I would like to discuss a very important issue in her article–we should not abandon students just because they are struggling.
She declares, "Dismissing law students takes a huge emotional and financial toll on students, faculty, and law schools. Thus, it is important that we don’t dismiss law students who could become ethical, professional, competent attorneys. Unfortunately, many of us have had hard-working, motivated students who were plenty smart enough to succeed in law, but who failed out because they just couldn’t get it. Sometimes, we want to write them off as ‘not as smart as they appear’ or ‘just not ‘law smart.’ Conversely, we say that the students who succeed are naturals."
She then mentions an organization, Jump Math, which "believes that while some people might have natural math intuition, all people have the ability to learn math." She thinks that law teachers can use similar techniques to those used by Jump Math to help "slow" math learners to help "slow" law learners. She does this through the detailed exercises I discussed in yesterday’s post. She notes, "The quizzes walk students through discreet, incremental steps that we, as experts, often don’t even realize we are taking."
She writes, "At first, I worried that I would be asking students to spend even more time studying. However, these ‘additional’ activities save students time because they help students identify the objectives of learning, teach them how to attain those objectives, and help avoid common pitfalls novice learners face. Thus, students who use the materials tend to spend less time studying with better results. Importantly, they rarely engage in activities that waste their time by not helping them attain the learning objectives."
She concludes, "If I’ve learned anything from this process, it’s that I will never be done prepping this class. There is always another quiz question that could help a struggling student. There are always more assumptions to identify. There are always more ways to make law study more efficient for law students while increasing my expectations of what students can master. It’s just a matter of providing continuously improved learning materials for students."
I agree completely with Professor Burgess’s argument. In fact, the Texas A & M Law Review is publishing an article I wrote any day now, entitled How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School, which takes a similar position to Professor Burgess. General education scholarship has demonstrated that schools can help struggling students succeed if they use the proper teaching techniques. Law schools should not ignore students who can succeed just because a few professors want to use failed teaching methods, instead of ones that have been proven to work, just because they have always used such methods.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Interview with Milbank partner on the success of its business skills training program for associates
You may remember back in 2011, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy of NYC announced an innovative training program under which associates would be sent to an eight day bootcamp at Harvard Business School to impart some of the business and financial skills they will need to thrive as BigLaw attorneys. Interestingly, the firm doesn't send new associates right away to HBS but instead waits until they are fourth years in the belief that such training would be lost on them unless they've first had a chance to practice for a few years. In this video interview with Lee Pacchia of Bloomberg Law, David Wolfson, the Milbank partner in charge of the business skills program, talks about its success which seems to have exceeded expectations.
Hat tip to the Law Librarians Blog.
In the October issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, Professor Kara Zech Thelen’s article, “Strategies to Improve Your Writing,” offers three strategies:
1. Work on your choice of words, where you place words and sentences, and use of the active voice.
2. Use plain language.
3. (The most interesting) Analyze models of good writing and use them to make over your writing.
Professor Thelen illustrates her points with helpful examples.
Professor Hillary Burgess has published a wonderful article in The Law Teacher on how to help students learn miniskills through multiple choice and short answer tests. She writes, "When students first learn how to structure legal analysis, it is important that they understand the components (IRAC). Additionally, it is important that students understand that every analysis generally has three components: a Fact, an Understanding of that fact (inferences, assumptions, etc.), and a Link to the Language of the Element or Rule. I call these three components FULLER analysis, modeled after Michael Hunter Schwartz’ FIL analysis, described in Expert Learning for Law Students."
Her quizzes cover rule statements, identifying the purpose of each sentence in a paragraph (e.g., issue, rule, analysis, conclusion; sub-elements), multiple paragraph analyses, fixing incomplete analyses (such as what part is missing?), spotting issues, synthesizing rules, identifying relevant facts, etc. To get a true sense of how good her exercises are, you really need to look at the examples in the article.
Professor Burgess’s article is yet another example of ways to create deeper learning in law students without producing a great deal of additional work. If we are to properly educate students for the 21st century, every law professor needs to do something similar to what Professor Burgess is doing.
Tomorrow, I will discuss another issue that Professor Burgess’s article raises.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Albany Law School is partnering with SUNY's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in a program called "Ecosystem for Nanotechnology, Entrepreneurship and Law." From the law school's press release:
In support of Governor Andrew Cuomo's nanotechnology-based education and economic development strategy, the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and Albany Law School today announced the launch of a joint educational program, "Ecosystem for Nanotechnology, Entrepreneurship and Law" (eNTEL), which will integrate the strengths of each institution to uniquely prepare student entrepreneurs to launch startup companies and attract business investment as a means of further driving New York's fast-growing innovation economy.
Through the eNTEL program, both CNSE and Albany Law will foster a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration that will assemble the experience, knowledge, and expertise of each institution's faculty and staff, as well as practitioners and experts in the Capital Region, to create training opportunities, joint classes and collaborative projects, all intersecting with technology, entrepreneurship, and the law.
Students will work in teams to explore ways to develop products from idea to commercialization; create a "Tech Transfer Practicum" in which students from both CNSE and Albany Law will bring business ideas generated by CNSE student researchers to market; provide Albany Law students with vital real-world experience through placement in an externship with the CNSE Office of Technology Innovation and Commercialization; and, in collaboration with Albany Law's Government Law Center, the school's Tax and Transactions Clinic will provide free start-up legal assistance to selected very early stage businesses and nonprofit organizations, including those founded by CNSE students that have educationally appropriate legal needs. These initiatives will give students from both institutions opportunities to bring ideas to market and grow them into successful businesses to create economic development opportunities in the region, and to provide opportunities for area attorneys to service the businesses after the initial stage.
Portions of the program will be implemented over the next five years, with more than 200 students expected to be trained in the scientific, commercial, and legal aspects of nanoentrepreneurship, simultaneously strengthening the network of alumni, faculty, engineers, entrepreneurs, and practicing attorneys involved with the nanoscale industry in the Capital Region and throughout New York state. Additionally, the program aims to attract top engineering, business, and law students to the region to enhance enrollment at both institutions.
Hat tip to The National Jurist Magazine.
Michele Pistone has a post on the Best Practices Blog concerning what applicants want from law schools. Professor Pistone has an excellent draft list, but she would like additional input.
The key to drafting such a list is to be student-centered.
Some time ago, I drafted this Primer on Professionalism. If you like it, please feel free to circulate it among your students.
When you enter law school, you enter a profession in which you have responsibility
for the lives and finances of others. To successfully shoulder this responsibility, you must act professionally. By professionalism, we mean conforming to the technical and ethical standards of the legal profession as well as its etiquette and culture. Your obligation to act professionally begins in law school. Here are six rules.
1. Learn all you can. You have a duty to your future clients. Although there is time for play, you must focus on your legal training. You have only three short years to lay a foundation for your career. Being a hard worker and self-starter are traits that your colleagues will notice. By being a conscientious student, you will develop your professional reputation while you are still in law school.
2. Follow the ethical rules. Law schools have honor codes and can be very harsh with students who violate them. Don't even consider cheating, plagiarizing, or destroying or hiding library books. Be careful about conduct that is borderline, for example, monopolizing library books. Questionable conduct will reflect badly on your integrity and credibility. Clearly unethical conduct can lead to a notation on your permanent record that appears in a report to the bar admissions committee. Don't ruin your career before you launch it.
3. Produce quality work on time. Take pride in your work. Develop a reputation for
producing a high quality product. What do you suppose happens to lawyers who file sloppy or ill-researched documents and miss deadlines? Their clients lose, their clients sue them, and their clients complain to the bar's disciplinary body. In law school, we also expect quality work, handed in on time. Remember those college days when you could turn in papers late and say they were only rough drafts? Remember when you could invent your own way of citing authorities in footnotes? You must leave those practices behind. If, for some serious reason, you cannot meet
a deadline, ask for an extension well in advance.
4. In the classroom, act with courtesy. What goes on in the classroom is critical to your education. You cannot afford to miss classes or fail to participate in them. You know what it is like when others disrupt your learning in the classroom. You know how disturbing it can be when another student carries on a conversation with a neighbor, reads a newspaper, strolls in late, leaves early, or wanders in and out. Be considerate. If you need to leave early, notify the instructor and sit by the door.
5. Do not whine. It is certainly appropriate to voice legitimate concerns, for example, to seek an explanation for a disappointing grade. However, it is inappropriate to exaggerate your complaint or to complain when you refuse to be accountable for your conduct and place the blame on others. When a judge criticizes you, are you going to blame your colleague or your secretary?
When you receive a dismaying evaluation from a supervisor, are you going to whine or go on the attack? If so, you are not going to be successful. Even when you present a legitimate complaint, do it with some perspective and grace.
6. Treat other people decently. Going to law school and practicing law are stressful. Make life easier by being sensitive to others. Be willing to help other students master difficult concepts. Keep the noise down in the library. Make time for people who need someone to talk with. Compliment people. Say thank you. This advice applies to the way you deal with your fellow students, faculty members, administrators, and support staff. Develop a reputation as a supportive, caring person. In later years, your classmates will continue to be your professional colleagues. Your life will be more pleasant if they like you and trust you.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Reversing a short-lived trend towards job growth during the preceding three months. The AmLaw Daily has the story:
After three straight months of gains on the employment front, the legal industry lost 900 jobs in October, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.The losses ended the positive momentum the industry built up from July through September, when—according to revised hiring figures for those months that were also included in Friday's report—U.S. employers added a total of 5,400 legal jobs to their payrolls. The revisions included bumping the original September estimate for legal industry hiring—which, along with the broader BLS report for the month, was delayed by the government shutdown—up from 1,100 jobs added to 1,200.As of the end of October, the legal industry employed 4,100 more people than it did at the same point last year, with roughly 1.129 million people all told holding legal sector jobs. Even after accounting for last month's dip, the industry still employs more people now than it did at any time between 2010 and 2012.
Impact Information, a plain language consulting firm, has issued its latest newsletter. The newsletter highlights the lag in adult literacy in the United States. It quotes a Washington
Post article on a survey by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development:
"The Americans are 'decidedly weaker in numeracy and problem-solving skills than in literacy, and average U.S. scores for all three are below the international average and far behind the scores of top performers like Japan or Finland,' said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, the data collection arm of the U.S. Department of Education.
"When it comes to literacy, adults in the U.S. trailed those in 12 countries and only outperformed adults in five others. The top five countries in literacy were Japan, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden."
Chart [showing the weak position of the U.S. in adult competencies. The "Missing" column shows the percentages of those unable to take the test because of language or reading difficulties.]
Our future lawyers need to realize that in communicating with their clients, they often may need to speak and write in very simple English.
Monday, November 11, 2013
In response to pressure for more "practical training," D.C. law schools push for reform of bar rules governing student practice
From the National Law Journal:
Hands-On Training for Law Students: D.C. would catch up with other states, and private attorneys don't seem to mind.
As law students nationwide clamor for more hands-on training, the District of Columbia's six law schools have joined forces to push for the first major overhaul of rules governing student practice in D.C. in decades.
Law school deans and faculty argue that existing rules are outdated and cumbersome. The proposed changes are aimed at streamlining how students are certified to work in clinical programs and expanding the type of work covered under the rules, from appearing in court in civil and criminal cases to advising nonprofits and small businesses on tax law and contracts.
The focus on clinics reflects growing demand from students, and their future employers, for more practical experience before they enter the job market, said Georgetown University Law Center Professor Wallace Mlyniec, who runs the juvenile justice clinic and has led the revision efforts.
At the same time, clinic directors say, the more students working in clinics, the more law schools can offer legal assistance to clients who otherwise couldn't afford a lawyer to fight an eviction, seek political asylum, get protection from an abusive partner or tackle any number of issues in and out of court.
. . . .