Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hot practice areas for new lawyers

The National Jurist magazine says that health care law and tax are the au courant practice areas for new lawyers seeking employment.  Indeed, NJ characterizes health law in particular as a "super hot" practice area for aspiring attorneys.  Check out the full article here which also includes advice for law students about which courses to take to best prepare them for either specialty.


April 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Interns Be Paid (at Least) the Minimum Wage?

The issue of payment is popping up in college sports and in grad school teaching assistantships. Will it soon arise in law school internships?

In April 2010, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued Fact Sheet 71, providing guidance on when to pay minimum wage and overtime to interns or trainees.  To be exempted from minimum wage or overtime requirements, the DOL looks to six factors:

1. An environment that is similar to an educational environment;

2. The intern/trainee benefits from the internship experience;

3. The intern/trainee is closely supervised and does not take the place of regular employees;

4. The employer does not realize an immediate benefit from the intern/trainee’s activities (in fact, the employer’s ordinary operations may sometimes be hurt);

5. The intern/trainee is not necessarily guaranteed a job once the program is finished; 

6. The employer and the intern/trainee both understand the intern has no right to wages.

 These are factors, not elements. Even if an employer and an intern agree that the intern may not claim wages, the other factors need to be considered.  

 Last fall, the Clearspire Law firm blog advised educational institutions to take these steps:

 Partner with for-profit or non-profit entities to promote transferability of skills to professional environments.

  • Set educational goals for student interns.
  • Evaluate potential sites where interns might work.
  • Provide a framework for students to receive academic course credit for unpaid internships by assigning students presentations and academic papers related to their internships.
  • Set a specific begin and end date for the internship.
  • Require that a mentor or supervisor provide feedback to the intern on a regular basis.
  • Confirm that all career services office job postings meet each of the six DOL factors and remove any job posting that fails even one of the factors.
  • Educate students and internship sites about how to structure a compliant internship program.

You can read more here.




April 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Koch Brothers Give Grants to Colleges and Universities.

Billionaire industrialists the Koch brothers are known for funneling money into politics to support their political agenda. However, they also pour money into academia. According to the Center for Public Integrity, they give millions to foundations which then make grants to universities. The grants amounted to more than $12.7 million in 2012. Here are the top twelve recipients.

1 George Mason University Fairfax, Va. $8.49 million
2 Florida State University Tallahassee, Fla. $297,341
3 Troy University Troy, Ala. $274,500
4 University of Arizona Tucson, Ariz. $249,520
5 Utah State University Logan, Utah $170,000
6 Clemson University Clemson, S.C. $165,000
7 Kansas State University Manhattan, Kan. $149,000
8 West Virginia University Morgantown, W. Va. $146,200
9 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, N.C. $116,800
10 George Washington University Washington, D.C. $116,000
11 Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio $112,000
12 Southern Methodist University University Park, Texas $100,000

 The recipients deny that the grants influence the schools’ curricula. As I look at the numbers, few of the grants are dramatically large. Of course, donors of other political stripes also donate to academia. You can read more here.


April 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Dire Warning

No Path But One: Law School Survival in an Age of Disruptive Technology by Michele R. Pistone and John J. Hoeffner.


In the absence of a dramatic shift in their approach to legal education, law schools are approaching the last days of Rome, a time when decline cannot be reversed and only the precise date of the final fall is to be determined. The role of marauding Germanic tribes will be played by new legal education competition whose emergence is enabled by recent technological developments. The new competition will be highly flexible, unencumbered by expensive legacy costs and, because it will reside mainly online, so scalable that no traditional, place-based law school will be immune from its impact.

There will be much to lament should history take this course. When Rome fell, Europe became worse in many ways; similarly, in some ways the quality of legal education is likely to become worse, too, should new competitors emerge triumphant. For persons who wish to save the place-based law school, it is tempting – but a great mistake – to deploy this likelihood as a talisman that might, if wielded with enough vigor, by itself preserve the status quo. To the contrary, in fact, salvation lies not in asserting the superiority of the status quo, but in recognizing its weaknesses – and then fixing them. With a striking uniformity, generations of well-considered reports have agreed that those shortcomings may be summarized as a failure to teach the majority of the skills needed to succeed as a practicing attorney.

For traditional law schools, the solution to the challenge of the internet age is, first, to migrate online whatever content can effectively be delivered there; second, to make extensive use of the physical building to deliver a premium educational experience that online providers cannot copy, one which emphasizes the practical skills that have for so long been ignored; and, third, to establish the premium experience as the new and regulated norm. Adherents of the status quo will object that it will be too difficult to follow this path. The objection presupposes that there is an easier route to survival. There is not. The management of the bookseller Borders determined that building an online presence was too difficult, and focused instead on the traditional methods of selling books. Borders now exists no more. Unlike Borders, traditional law schools still have the option – if only for a short period of time – to accept the challenges of the age. If the option is declined, the law schools‘ attachment to the comfortable ways of the past will similarly doom them.

April 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NPR on manipulation of employment figures by law schools

NPR has a story about how law schools can manipulate the figure reflecting how many graduates are employed 9 months after graduation by offering them on-campus, school funded jobs.  In turn, this allows such schools to manipulate their USNWR ranking since that employment figure factors into the ranking formula.  You can listen to a 5 minute radio broadcast here (including commentary by Kyle McEntee of the Law School Transparency Project) as well as check out the accompanying written story here.

Hat tip to the Faculty Lounge: Are Law Schools Juicing Employment Numbers? NPR Jumps Into Rankings Debate.


April 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Ten Best Sentences in English Literature

The editors of the American Scholar have chosen the ten best. Here’s one:

There is nothing more atrociously cruel than an adored child.

—Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Please click here to see them all. For the story on NPR, please click here. Most of the sentences are too flowery for my taste.


April 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Joe Brown Goes to Jail

While representing a client in a child support case, Judge Joe Brown—yes, the TV judge—so angered the magistrate with his outbursts that he was held in contempt and jailed for three hours until his lawyers got him out. Judge Brown is running for district attorney in Shelby County, Tennessee. Some think his conduct was part of a publicity stunt. Judge Brown denies the accusation. You can read more here in USA Today.


April 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Huge News: ABA To End Mandated Use Of LSAT, GPA; Moves To Holistic Admissions Standard

Dan Filler reports on the Faculty Lounge (the most important legal website on antebellum architecture) that ABA To End Mandated Use Of LSAT, GPA; Moves To Holistic Admissions Standard.  This sudden reversal is very welcome.  I am particularly pleased that the ABA will allow the fMRI in place of the LSAT as an admissions standard.  Law schools should know what applicants have in their brains before admitting them.

(Scott Fruehwald)

April 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Washington Law Review symposium on "contracts in the real world."

The University of Washington Law Review, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1227-1464 (2013), has published a symposium issue on the topic of "contracts in the real world."  Below is the table of contents with links to each article.

Aditi Bagchi, The Perspective Of Law On Contract, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1227 (2013).

Brian H. Bix, Contract Texts, Contract Teaching, Contract Law: Comment on Lawrence Cunningham, Contracts in the Real World, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1251 (2013). 

Lawrence A. Cunningham, Reflections On Contracts In The Real World: History, Currency, Context, And Other Values, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1265 (2013). 

Larry A. DiMatteo,  Contract Stories: Importance Of The Contextual Approach To Law, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1287 (2013).

Erik F. Gerding,  Contract As Pattern Language, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1323 (2013).

Charles L. Knapp,  Cases And Controversies: Some Things To Do With Contracts Cases, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1357-1394 (2013).

Jake Linford, Unilateral Reordering In The Reel World, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1395 (2013).

Jennifer S. Taub,  Unpopular Contracts And Why They Matter: Burying Langdell And Enlivening Students, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1427 (2013).

Glenda A. Gertz,  Comment, Copyrights In Faculty-Created Works: How Licensing Can Solve The Academic Work-For-Hire Dilemma, 88 Wash. L. Rev. 1465 (2013).


March 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Martindale-Hubbell on Life Support?

Does anyone use Martindale Hubbell anymore? Several bloggers have asked this question. Once upon a time, it was the only game in town for identifying and ranking lawyers. But no more, particularly with the growth of the internet and the flourishing of competitors. MB argues that its death has been greatly exaggerated:

[MB President Rod] Stoddard says he's shocked by the implication that Martindale is, at best, on life support. He blames it on rumors launched by competitors looking to poach Martindale business.

"It's exactly the same as it's always been," he says. "Martindale-Hubbell has tried to connect attorneys to other attorneys so they could make decisions around 'Whom should I work with?' and 'How do I stand vis a vis my competitors?' All those things still exist, and we'll make them better."

The team in charge of what's now called has begun tweaking the rating system with improvements to online navigation and expansion of its reviewing net. The changes have resulted in more lawyers being ranked each month, Stoddard says, though he says he doesn't have data or goals.

"There's a secret sauce that's been around 104 years," Stoddard says. "The challenge is to get people into that pipeline to get ranked and to review that so you don't have one person giving a lawyer an A rating. We're also tweaking who gets solicited to do reviews."

You can read more here at the ABA Journal’s blog.


March 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

William Henderson Reviews Two Books on the Legal Profession

Steven Harper's The Lawyer Bubble and Richard Susskind's Tomorrow's Lawyers.

Full review here.  Summary here.

A couple of excerpts from the summary:

"Thanks to his prolific commentary in the legal press, Harper's critique is familar to many readers. He is angry with the elite legal establishment -- large law firms and the legal professoriate -- for succumbing to 'a culture of short-termism' that focuses obsessively on the AmLaw and US News league tables." 

"Yet, to my mind, there is an avenue for at least partial redemption -- reading Richard Susskind's slender 165 page book.  In my Counterpoint essay, I lay out the mounting evidence that the legal industry is in the early stages of a sea change.  The best theoretical treatment of this sea change is Susskind's Tomorrow's Lawyers.  Yet, I am amazed at how many lawyers and law professors know essentially nothing about Susskind's work."

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Forbes says previous list of law schools graduating students who make the highest salaries contained many flaws

In this follow up to an earlier story in Forbes, the author notes that she significantly understated the salaries of graduates from several elite law schools by relying on data supplied by a website called Payscale rather than the figures reported by the law schools themselves.  She acknowledges that the original list of 25 law schools who graduate students making the highest salaries contains several flaws.  However, even the revised list doesn't jibe with common sense.  For instance, the starting salary of Fordham law grads working in the private sector is listed at $160k.  The average salary at U. Houston Law Center is $110k and Santa Clara is listed at $100k. 

The author correctly notes that the salary data supplied by law schools is only a snapshot of what students are making 9 months after graduation while the figures supplied by Payscale average the salaries over the initial five years of practice.  She seems perplexed by the fact that in many cases the starting salaries of law grads are nearly twice as high as the figures reported by Payscale.  But the legal profession is unique in that the vast majority of lawyers who make those stratospheric starting salaries working in BigLaw will leave those firms within the first few years for jobs in small firms where few will see that kind of money again.  Thus, the original figures supplied by Payscale may be closer to the truth.  An excerpt:

Law Schools Whose Grads Make The Highest Starting Salaries

Since I published a story earlier this month about the law schools whose graduates earn the highest salaries, I’ve learned that the data I used was flawed and most of the numbers I published were inaccurate. Example: I listed the median starting salary at New York University, No. 22 in my slide show, as $76,300. In fact, the median compensation for a recent NYU grad is $160,000. I also wrote that new graduates of UCLA School of Law earn a median income of $84,200. The correct number is $135,000. In addition, I’ve discovered I made several glaring omissions, like University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where the median starting salary is $160,000, which should obviously be in the top tier. It didn’t make my list at all. We ran a story in 2013 that also had inaccurate information.


How did we get the numbers so wrong? We relied on Payscale, a Seattle-based website that provides information about compensation at companies, law firms, state and local government, and nonprofits. Payscale’s paying clients are firms, including law firms, who use the data to help set compensation levels. It gathers information from users who come to the site looking for salary numbers. Some data is available free of charge but to gain access to detailed reports, users must enter information on their own employers and compensation. Payscale has a trove of 40 million salary reports. It’s a rich data set, which is why Forbes has used it for other lists.


. . . .


But Payscale’s data has obvious flaws, which I’ll describe below. Also law schools collect their own data, which is much more extensive than Payscale’s and, I’m now convinced, more reliable. Some schools, like NYU, Columbia, Harvard and Northwestern, hear back from upwards of 90% of their graduating class, which makes their salary numbers very reliable. However other schools, like University of San Diego and University of San Francisco, hear back from only 35% or fewer.


In putting together my new list, I’ve had extensive conversations with Kyle McEntee, the executive director of five-year-old Law School Transparency (LST), a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that manages a website chock full of useful numbers for aspiring law students, including extensive salary information and response rates from law schools. 

. . . .

Continue reading here.


March 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Santa Claus Metaphor

Here’s an example of a metaphor in a white collar criminal case. It takes place in the trial employees of Bernie Madoff (They were found guilty). The defendants claimed that they were just following Madoff’s instructions with no idea that he was running a Ponzi scheme. Here is the narrative from USA Today:

A federal prosecutor presenting final government arguments in the fraud trial of five former Bernard Madoff aides Thursday described the "wonderful tale" of an "extraordinarily generous man" who brought riches to many people.

But the story is the tale of Santa Claus, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson, not Madoff, the Ponzi scheme mastermind whose massive fraud made the financier and the former co-workers wealthy. He used the analogy in urging jurors to reject "the absurdity of the premise" that the defendants were unaware of the scam.

"Madoff Securities was not Santa's factory. The defendants in this case were not children. And New York City is not the North Pole," said Jackson, who argued that even children "always figure it out" that Santa's not real.


March 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

William & Mary Law School is seeking a clinical professor for its Special Education Advocacy Clinic

Below is the job description for the position in William & Mary's Special Ed. Advocacy Clinic which is part of the law school's Parents Engaged for Learning Equality (PELE) Initiative.  You can apply here.

Position Information

Position Title Professor of the Practice and Managing Attorney
Position Summary

The Professor of the Practice and Managing Attorney for the PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic provides legal services to school-aged children with disabilities and their parents, supervises law students in providing these services, assists in training students in a clinical legal education environment, and provides education and outreach activities, including an annual Institute in Special Education Advocacy.

Required Qualifications

Required qualifications include: a Juris Doctor degree and valid Virginia state bar license to practice law; Knowledge of and experience with IDEA and Sect. 504, and experience representing children with disabilities and their families in special education advocacy required. Also must have client-based legal experience, advocacy experience, superior research and legal writing skills, and clinical teaching experience.

Preferred Qualifications

Preferred qualifications include: prior experience in K-12 teaching, experience with interpretation of educational evaluations and testing data.

Location William & Mary
Job Open Date 03/24/2014
Review Begin Date 04/24/2014
Job Close Date  
Open Until Filled Yes
Job Category Instructional Faculty
Special Application Instructions  
Background Check Statement

The College of William & Mary is committed to providing a safe campus community. W&M conducts background investigations for applicants being considered for employment. Background investigations include reference checks, a criminal history record check, and when appropriate, a financial (credit) report or driving history check.

EEO Statement

The College of William & Mary values diversity and invites applications from underrepresented groups who will enrich the research, teaching and service missions of the university. The College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

  1. Do you have a valid state bar license to practice law in Virginia?

    (Open Ended Question)

  2. Do you have knowledge of and experience with IDEA and Sect. 504, and experience representing children with disabilities and their families in special education advocacy?

    (Open Ended Question)

  3. Do you have experience in K-12 teaching and/or experience with interpretation of educational evaluations and testing data?

    (Open Ended Question)

Required Documents

Required Documents
  1. Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  2. Cover Letter


March 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Guidelines on Lawyers’ Use of Social Media Networks

The New York State Bar Association has issued detailed guidelines (not rules or best practices) to give ethical guidance to lawyers who are using social media. Topics include

• lawyer advertising;

• giving legal advice in social media networks;

• gathering evidence on social media sites;

• advising clients about social media accounts; and

• reviewing jurors' profiles and posts.

 You can read more here. And you can access the full text of the guidelines here.


March 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

ABA creates grant program to employ new law grads who help low income clients

The grants, in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, are available to bar associations, courts, law schools and other groups that propose to hire new lawyers to provide legal assistance to low income clients.  To apply for a grant, contact the Legal Access Job Corps here by May 15.  Below  are the complete details from the ABA's press release:

American Bar Association grants will promote innovations to serve unmet legal needs


The American Bar Association today announced a program of start-up grants to be awarded to bar associations, courts, law schools or other groups that propose to employ new lawyers in innovative ways to address the legal needs of poor or moderate-income individuals.


The grants, to be given through the Legal Access Job Corps initiative established by ABA President James R. Silkenat, will range from $5,000 to $15,000. The grants are not intended to be an ongoing source of funding but are meant to start projects that can be sustained by other resources.


"Our nation is facing a paradox involving access to justice," Silkenat said in explaining the reason for the grant program. "On the one hand, too many people with low and moderate incomes cannot find or afford a lawyer to defend their legal interests, no matter how urgent the issue. On the other hand, too many law graduates in recent years have found it difficult to gain the practical experience they need in order to enter practice effectively.


"The ABA's catalyst grants will help nurture innovative programs that bridge the unmet legal needs of our society and the unmet employment needs of our young lawyers," Silkenat said.


The grants are intended to foster initiatives that achieve objectives similar to those of existing programs that employ new lawyers to serve the legal needs of poor and moderate-income individuals. As part of the Legal Access Job Corps initiative, the ABA has created a comprehensive catalog of such programs, which include legal incubators that provide resources for new lawyers who start their own practices to serve moderate-income clients, postgraduate fellowships, and initiatives to ensure the availability of legal services in rural and other underserved communities. An ABA short video – “Be the Change” –highlights how such programs help employ underutilized lawyers while serving those who need a lawyer's help.


Information on the Legal Access Job Corps and the catalyst grant program, including a detailed request for proposals, is available at The application deadline is May 15, 2014.



March 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Use Only Credentialed Financial Advisors

In practice, our students will deal with a variety of advisors. It’s not too early to warn students to rely only on experts who are well credentialed. There are a lot of scam artists out there. Here, from Trust Advisor,  is the store of one alleged estate planner who bilked senior citizens out of their life savings. Consider this advice from a commenter on the article:

The only way for titles matter, and be legitimized, is for them to be issued by a governmental agency. It really is pure and simple. CPAs and attorneys are licensed by each state, Enrolled Agents are licensed by the US Treasury. Wannabe regulators who are membership organizations, marketing leads or whatever, probably do the public more harm than good. I know of several advisory firms who have adopted the policy of only allowing credentials issued by a government agency to be used - all should follow.


March 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lexis launches "Think Like a Lawyer Program" for law students that includes free unlimited summer access

We've previously blogged about students and their employers getting into trouble for the misuse of the free Westlaw and Lexis access provided to students in connection with their law school training (here and here).  Apparently some employers have hired summer law clerks chiefly for the purpose of taking advantage of their free computer research access which until now has been a violation of the end user agreement.  But Lexis is changing that with the announcement this week of a new training program called "Think Like a Lawyer" that, among other features, gives 1Ls and 2Ls free, unlimited access to computer research over the summer which they can use in their jobs.  That's going to make it easier for at least some students to find summer clerkships especially with smaller firms where free Lexis access will add value. 

Here are more details about the Think Like a Lawyer program from an email sent by Lexis this week to law librarians and LRW faculty:

[Lexis is] excited to let you know that we're again offering students unlimited access to Lexis Advance this summer! Here's an update on the LexisNexis® 2014 Summer Access program, Think Like a Lawyer program, and related teaching tools as you prepare your students for their summer and post graduate positions. We appreciate any assistance you can provide in ensuring your students know about the summer access program and all training opportunities prior to starting their summer jobs.


Summer 2014: All-Access to Lexis Advance®


1Ls & 2Ls:  Students may continue to use their current Lexis Advance® ID for any purpose this summer– including work they perform at a law firm, corporation or government agency. 


Lexis Advance ID all summer long for:

  • Any purpose at all
  • All legal content and news on their current law student ID
  • Unlimited hours-per-week

Graduating 3Ls, can register for one of our Graduate Program IDs that will extend their access beyond graduation. To learn more, visit


Think Like a Lawyer


Please share this Think Like A Lawyer  link with your students so they can take advantage of training opportunities prior to heading out this summer. As you know, many employers require or highly recommend their incoming associates attend all applicable training offered at their school. Think Like a Lawyer training opportunities include Professional Research Certification designed to include the research skills expected among incoming associates based on feedback from commercial customers. The site also provides links to the summer access and 3L Graduate ID programs.


Faculty Teaching Resources


Provide students with up to date information about Law Firm research rates and cost effective research skills:


Please contact your account executive with questions or if you would to schedule a special cost effective (or other topic) session for your students.


March 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Faking Sick to Get Out of Oral Argument

A lawyer pulled this stunt, and the Seventh Circuit was not amused. Here is the story and here is the court’s opinion (check out Part III). The Illinois Supreme Court sanctioned the lawyer: 60 days suspension and$5000 to his client.


March 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Text on Neuroscience and the Law

Several times, I have blogged about cognitive science as an important tool for learning and understanding the law.  I have used cognitive science in my own work on jurisprudence (neurojurisprudence) and on legal educaion (the neurobiology of learning).  (e.g., here)

Now, a group of authors have written a text book on neuroscience and the law.

Law and Neuroscience by Owen D. Jones, Jeffrey D. Schall, and Francis X. Shen.


This [download] provides the Summary Table of Contents and Chapter 1 of our coursebook “Law and Neuroscience” (forthcoming April 2014, from Aspen Publishing). Designed for use in both law schools and beyond, the book provides user-friendly introductions, as well as detailed explorations, of the many current and emerging issues at the intersection of law and neuroscience.

One part of the book lays general foundations by exploring the relationships between law and science generally, and by comparing the views from law and from neuroscience regarding behavior and responsibility. A later part explains the basics of brain structure and function, the methods for investigating each, and both the promise and the limitations of modern neuroscience technologies.

Core themes the book addresses include new law/neuroscience issues pertaining to: brain injuries, pain and distress, memory, emotions, lie detection, judging, adolescence, addiction, and brain death. Closing units explore current and coming legal issues surrounding cognitive enhancement, brain-machine interfaces, and artificial intelligence. The materials also consider: international neurolaw, psychopathy, decision-making, mental health, the aging brain, the veteran’s brain, behavioral genetics, prediction of future dangerousness, and neuroethics. Given the scope and nature of coverage, the book is designed to serve both as a coursebook and as a reference text for judges, practicing attorneys, and scholars interested in law and neuroscience.

March 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)