Out went the plastic playhouses and in came the dicey stuff: stacks of two-by-fours, crates and loose bricks. The schoolyard got a mud pit, a tire swing, log stumps and workbenches with hammers and saws.
“We thought, how can we bring that element of risk into your everyday environment?” said Leah Morris, who manages the early years program at the school in Shoeburyness in southeast Britain. “We were looking at, O.K., so we’ve got a sand pit, what can we add to the sand pit to make it more risky?”
Now, Ms. Morris says proudly, “we have fires, we use knives, saws, different tools,” all used under adult supervision. Indoors, scissors abound, and so do sharp-edged tape dispensers (“they normally only cut themselves once,” she says).
Limited risks are increasingly cast by experts as an experience essential to childhood development, useful in building resilience and grit.
. . . .
This view is tinged with nostalgia for an earlier Britain, in which children were tougher and more self-reliant. It resonates both with right-wing tabloids, which see it as a corrective to the cosseting of a liberal nanny state; and with progressives, drawn to a freer and more natural childhood. It is also supported by a growing list of government officials, among them Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, the powerful agency that inspects British schools.
Ms. Spielman has poked fun at schools for what she considers excessive risk aversion, describing as “simply barmy” measures like sending schoolchildren out on city field trips in high-visibility jackets. Late last year, she announced that her agency’s inspectors would undergo training that will encompass the positive, as well as the negative, side of risk.
. . . .
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
A story in the New York Times reports that British educators are concerned that schools have gone too far in terms of eliminating physical risks at the expense of building student resilience and grit. As a result, there's a new movement afoot to re-introduce activities that can help "toughen up" students so they are better able to deal with the hazards of life. Thus, some school administrators are saying bring on the knives, running with scissors, hammers, saws and even fire. One school has even posted a placard informing parents that "risks have been intentionally [introduced into the school environment], so that your child can develop an appreciation of risk in a controlled play environment . . . ."
Among other things, it raises the question of whether legal educators have made a similar mistake in their efforts to minimize stress in law school at the expense of helping to adequately prepare students for the multitude of stresses they'll face in practice - which can be substantial.
Here's an excerpt from the NYT article and you can decide whether the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of risk aversion in the law school context as well:
SHOEBURYNESS, England — Educators in Britain, after decades spent in a collective effort to minimize risk, are now, cautiously, getting into the business of providing it.
Four years ago, for instance, teachers at the Richmond Avenue Primary and Nursery School looked critically around their campus and set about, as one of them put it, “bringing in risk.”
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Here's a new commercial product called Objection Pro by a company named Trial Boom that's being marketed to both law students ("ace your evidence exam," "improve your mock trial skills") and attorneys (CLE approved - but only for Colorado at present). Below is a demonstration video posted on YouTube. Based on my quick perusal, it looks pretty interesting and a good teaching tool.
Symposium: Advancing Leadership Development in the Legal Profession: Addressing Challenges in Legal Education and the Practice of Law
Monday, March 12, 2018
This is a new book available on Amazon by Adam Gropper, a former partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP and the founder of LegalJob LLC, which his bio describes as "a results-oriented coaching practice." From the publisher's summary:
Law School Doesn't Teach You How to Get a Job.
This Book Does.
It arms you with a fresh perspective from students who landed great legal jobs. These personal, enlightening stories and the insight they reveal form the foundation of a straightforward six-step process to create multiple job opportunities.
You'll quickly learn how to:
- Create an entrepreneurial approach to your career planning.
- Be seen by potential employers as integral to achieving their objectives.
- Build your brand to get the job you want with the employer you want.
In an easily relatable fashion, this book shares nearly 20 years' worth of experience and advice (including guidance and feedback from all types and sizes of employers) that has helped the author's clients secure their dream legal job. Now, this book and its easy to implement, proactive approach can help you too!
Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.
Reminder - Registration is open for Conference on Law Teaching for Adjunct Faculty and New Professors
This is a conference sponsored by the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning to held at Texas A&M on April 28, 2018. The details for this one day conference and link to register are below:
Law Teaching for Adjunct Faculty and New Professors is a one-day conference for
new and experienced adjunct faculty, new full-time professors, and others who are
interested in developing and supporting those colleagues. The conference will take
place on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at Texas A&M University School of Law, Fort
Worth, Texas, and is co-sponsored by the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning
and Texas A&M University School of Law.
Sessions will include:
Course Design and Learning Outcomes – Michael Hunter Schwartz
Assessment – Sandra Simpson
Active Learning – Sophie Sparrow
Team-based Learning – Lindsey Gustafson
Technology and Teaching – Anastasia Boles
Additionally, master teacher Gerry Hess, Professor Emeritus, Gonzaga University
School of Law, will be on hand for one-on-one mentoring sessions throughout the
day for a limited number of participants. Indicate your interest on the registration
form, slots will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis, and we will notify you
prior to the conference if you have been assigned a meeting time.
By the end of the conference, all participants will have concrete ideas to bring back
to their students, colleagues, and institutions. And each participant will receive a
copy of Teaching Law by Design for Adjuncts or Teaching Law by Design.
Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel
1701 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102
For more information, contact ILTL Co-Directors:
Sandra Simpson Emily Grant Kelly Terry
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Here's an interesting research paper positing that smartphone addiction is a real thing grounded in an evolutionary imperative to monitor and be monitored by others (which is based on the premise that humans are hardwired as social creatures). The article, Hypernatural Monitoring: A Social Rehearsal Account of Smartphone Addiction is authored by interdisciplinary researchers at McGill University in cognitive neuroscience, anthropology, and psychiatry. It can be found here at Frontiers in Psychology. Here is the abstract:
We present a deflationary account of smartphone addiction by situating this purportedly antisocial phenomenon within the fundamentally social dispositions of our species. While we agree with contemporary critics that the hyper-connectedness and unpredictable rewards of mobile technology can modulate negative affect, we propose to place the locus of addiction on an evolutionarily older mechanism: the human need to monitor and be monitored by others. Drawing from key findings in evolutionary anthropology and the cognitive science of religion, we articulate a hypernatural monitoring model of smartphone addiction grounded in a general social rehearsal theory of human cognition. Building on recent predictive-processing views of perception and addiction in cognitive neuroscience, we describe the role of social reward anticipation and prediction errors in mediating dysfunctional smartphone use. We conclude with insights from contemplative philosophies and harm-reduction models on finding the right rituals for honoring social connections and setting intentional protocols for the consumption of social information.
This important study shows that taking notes by hand is more effective for academic performance than taking notes on a laptop.
Note-Taking Mode and Academic Performance in Two Law School Courses by Colleen P. Murphy, CJ Ryan & Yajni Warnapala.
"The use of laptops in law school classrooms has become fairly commonplace, especially in the last decade. Yet, studies in other higher education settings have found an association between note-taking mode and academic performance; specifically, using a laptop to take notes in the classroom is associated with negative academic performance outcomes.
This study endeavors to assess the relationship between note-taking mode and academic performance in the law school setting. We compare the academic performance of handwriters to laptop users in two required, doctrinal courses as well as the effect of a randomly assigned treatment, exposing roughly half of the students in our analysis to a memorandum explaining the possible pitfalls of using a laptop to take class notes. We find that handwriting class notes has a strong positive association with academic performance in these two law school courses, supporting findings of the benefits of handwriting class notes in other academic settings."
Friday, March 9, 2018
The latest employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the legal sector lost 200 jobs in February. This marks the second month in a row that the legal sector has lost jobs (in January, the BLS initially reported a loss of 1,200 jobs which it later revised to 1,100 jobs lost). This is despite an otherwise robust employment picture that saw more than 310,000 jobs added to the economy generally. Law.com also has a summary of the story here too.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Law school may give you the analytical skills you need for practice but most of what you really need to know to succeed professionally is learned on the job. In this column from the Penn. based Legal Intelligencer, guest commentator Raphael Castro, a fourth year associate with a Philadelphia law firm, offers advice about some of the key skills he's discovered you need for success in practice that aren't found in the typical law school course catalog:
- Prepare like your professor is going to call on you every time (perhaps a corollary to that rule is something I've always told my own students: "If you think [whatever assignment we're working on at the time] is stressful, wait until you get into practice where every single project feels like a final exam and it's do or die").
- It's a small world - so consider your reputation and interactions with every colleague. Act dishonorably or cause others to distrust you and you can assume it'll come back to bite you.
- Related to the above, in law practice as in most of life, good interpersonal skills are king.
- Get comfortable with and develop your public speaking skills.
Raphael doesn't mention this but my own thought is that, with respect to item # 1, legal educators are way too focused on making law school less stressful for students and not focused enough on stealing students for the stresses they will inevitably encounter in practice. It is indeed a stressful career and rightly so - attorneys are responsible for helping clients with some of the most challenging and intractable problems they will ever face. Lawyers are also fiduciaries when it comes to their clients which means putting service before self. In other words, if you can't stand the heat, maybe you shouldn't go work in a kitchen. Go read Raphael's column here.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
The PrawfsBlawg is continuing its symposium on Mike Madison's For a New Year: An Invitation Regarding Law, Legal Education, and Imagining the Future. There have been seven contributions so far.
In her contribution, Michele Pistone takes a pessimistic view on improving legal education. She writes,
"Law school culture is very strong. . . . we live in a time when the necessity for change is “urgent.” Who are the people who are going to act urgently to bring about this change? Could it be the very same people who are the products of a strong culture of conformity and status? The possibility is extremely remote, and we would recognize it as such in almost any other context." (emphasis added)
"In my view, law schools are unlikely to be up to the challenge of effecting necessary change absent a deliberate choice to hire people who provide some strong indication that they both disagree with major aspects of law school culture and appear willing to do something about it. As they say in Washington, D.C. “personnel is policy.” I concede that my remedy is an unnatural one, for organizational cultures exist in order to replicate themselves. The prevailing law school culture today highly favors the same qualifications it did twenty years ago, and thirty years ago, and forty years ago, and on and on (law review membership, prestigious clerkship, highly ranked law school and high class rank). But persons with these qualifications are the very people who are most likely to find comfort in the existing system – after all, the existing system was made by and for people just like them. Go ahead and hire Supreme Court clerks if you like, but only those willing to be, so to speak, “traitors to their class.” Otherwise, find some less credentialed “rebels” instead. If we really believe change is urgent, we have no other choice. Only “traitors” and “rebels” will provide the ideas and energy needed to act urgently to overcome the inertia of the prevailing law school culture."
The phenomenon that Professor Pistone is discussing is the "status quo bias"--“The tendency to like things to stay relatively the same.” This bias is an impediment to change. Yet change occurs all the time. We just need to fight harder. Law students are being educated like it was 100 years ago; isn't it time for change?
Here at the Legal Skills Prof Blog, we've been tracking the growing movement among educators and other affected groups publicizing the problem of mobile device addiction including a call to cut back on using the devices and for manufacturers to redesign them so they're less addictive (here, here, here and here). I know there are many teachers who believe we should take students as we find them in terms of conforming to their expectations when it comes to the use of smartphones and other digital devices in the classroom. But that's always struck me as a little crazy insofar as our classroom decisions should be first and foremost driven by sound pedagogy and what best serves the interests of effective learning, not student habits, behaviors or their predilection for digital devices (though both interests are not always mutually exclusive). Rather than enable habits that undermine the attentional skills needed to do intellectually demanding work, we should instead be teaching students about the many physical and mental health benefits associated with "putting down the damn phone" every once in a while (here too).
In light of that, it's good to see this article from Inside Higher Ed reporting on a group of Stanford students demonstrating outside Apple's Palo Alto headquarters to demand that the tech giant redesign its smartphones in ways that make them less addictive by helping to curb use. From IHE:
Few universities have closer ties to Silicon Valley and more love for technology than Stanford University. Walk around its beautiful campus and it's hard to find a student who isn't using or carrying a smartphone. But students there -- computer science majors, no less -- have started a protest movement urging Apple to help its customers put down their phones.
The student group, called Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices, recently held demonstrations outside Apple’s headquarters and its Palo Alto, Calif., store to draw attention to the issue of smartphone addiction.
The students held signs such as “Honk! If you’re addicted to your iPhone.”
Led by four computer science majors, the group said they were inspired to act after taking a mandatory course in ethical issues in computer science.
Though the class encouraged students to engage with the public, the students said they weren’t protesting for credit.
“We realized that we ourselves, and many of our friends, have issues with device dependence,” said Cameron Ramos, one of the students leading the group. “We thought that reaching out to Apple and engaging with consumers directly would be the best way to raise awareness about this issue.”
On the SSAAD website, the students point to research that shows excessive use of smartphones can have serious implications for people’s mental and physical health.
“It’s an important public health issue, and something that we think needs to be addressed,” said Ramos. “We want people to start talking about this in Silicon Valley and beyond.”
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The PrawfsBlawg is continuing its symposium on Mike Madison's For a New Year: An Invitation Regarding Law, Legal Education, and Imagining the Future. There have been five contributions so far.
In his contribution, Dean Bierman says this concerning change in legal education:
"What there may be, however, is a shortage of action, or at least action resulting in more fundamental change. While even a quick perusal of viewbooks and websites and the dreaded 'lawporn' that descends upon USN&WR voters each fall reveals much discussion of action masquerading as innovation in legal education, it is unclear that we collectively are undertaking little more than what Professor Madison might characterize as silos in action. Much of that action refers to innovation through a new clinic or a new program that may offer a version of something new but does not really get to the fundamental aspects of teaching and learning and preparing students to practice. The 1L year looks pretty much like it did when I started law school almost 40 years ago, let alone when my dad started law school almost 70 years ago or my grandfather almost 100 years ago. Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure and the rest taught in large sections with some legal writing thrown in remain the constant. 2L offers some opportunity for practical experiences with a few credits for clinical classes or moot court and 3L continues as an amalgam of electives while looking for a job.
This aversion to serious action addressing the critiques of contemporary legal education that are bandied about is understandable if not lamentable. . . . Are we preparing lawyers capable of serving clients or are we educating for something else?"
"This conundrum reflects the technological advancements of the information age over the past generation whereby legal information now is readily available to the masses, no longer limited to the confines of law libraries. This trend means that law schools must do more than transfer 'the law' from one generation of teachers to another generation of students aspiring to be lawyers. Our task as legal educators now must be different, teaching use of the law, or what may be characterized as judgment. Not all agree, of course, and so goes the conundrum, well described by Jerry Organ’s first post in this symposium." (emphasis added)
"Assuming that at least some of us adopt the perspective that our job as law teachers is changing due to this fundamental generational shift, then a call to action is apt. But action to what? Surely this action cannot mean doing more of the same, by just adding that extra clinic or another institute. Rather our direction must be guided by more fundamental adjustments in our curriculum so that we can affect positively the preparation of our students to be lawyers and not just knowers of 'the law.' To accomplish this task, we must act in ways that will accelerate our students’ professional maturation. We must have them work not like the law students we were bellowing our newly learned rules of law but rather like the lawyers they wish to become."
I (and I suspect most of our readers) agree with Dean Bierman. Changes at the fringes by adding a few clinics and skills courses are not enough. We can no longer prepare law students just to be "knowers" of the law. We must educate future lawyers to be self-directed learners. Law schools can do this with active learning, by teaching students about metacogntion, by using formative assessments, and by developing students' professional identities. I hope law schools follow the lead of Dean Bierman's law school and reinvent legal education.
Hat tip to our friends at the Law Librarian Blog for alerting us to this new article by Professor Jamie Baker (Texas Tech) called "Beyond the Information Age: The Duty of Technology Competence in the Algorithmic Society" which is forthcoming at 69 South Carolina Law Review ___ (2018) but can found in the meantime on SSRN here. From the abstract:
While law has generally been slow to adapt to technological change, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct amended the Duty of Competence language to include a Duty of Technology Competence. This duty requires lawyers to keep abreast of “changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” A majority of states have now adopted this new Duty of Technology Competence, but there is little guidance on its current reach. The guidance documents mainly discuss the duty in terms of eDiscovery, electronic storage, social media, and the cloud. As society moves beyond the Information Age to the Algorithmic Society, this duty should extend to the competent use of artificial intelligence and algorithms in law. As such, it behooves the legal academy to prepare lawyers for ethical practice in this brave new world.
Monday, March 5, 2018
The PrawfsBlawg is having a symposium on Mike Madison's For a New Year: An Invitation Regarding Law, Legal Education, and Imagining the Future. Jerry Organ's contribution on Professor Madison's professional identity comments are especially apt.
"But clients frequently need to know more than what the law allows or prohibits. They frequently need to understand which of a range of allowable options makes the most sense given the clients specific interests and concerns.
For lawyers to have distinctive value in an artificial intelligence world, it will no longer be sufficient for law schools to produce graduates adept at “thinking like a lawyer.” This will be necessary, but not sufficient. Legal education will increasingly have to help produce graduates who are capable at “being a lawyer” – providing great client service in the interstitial spaces where they help clients explore among a range of legal options."
"Lawyers are no longer going to be adding value by helping clients answer whether they “can” do something – whether the law allows them to do something. . . . Where lawyers are adding value and increasingly will be adding value is by helping clients work through the “should” questions. Among a range of possible options, which “should” the client select given the client’s legal and non-legal interests and concerns. “Being a lawyer” involves these type of “wise counsel” situations that require one to “think like a lawyer,” but even more so require relationship skills – active listening, empathy, responsiveness, effective framing and exploration of alternatives. These are the skills of “being a lawyer” – of building relationships of trust with clients in which they feel heard and believe their lawyers understand their interests and concerns and are helping them effectively and efficiently make decisions that will best serve their interests and concerns."
As I have declared here many times, law schools need to make professional identity development a central part of their curriculum. This requires a new approach to legal education, including helping students develop metacognitive skills, reflection, self-monitoring, and practical reasoning. These are skills needed to become a self-directed learner.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Law students from around the country joined lawyers, web developers and other legal innovators in harnessing technology to address legal problems as part of the 2018 Global Legal Hackathon.
Students from several law schools across the country set their casebooks aside to join lawyers, legal technology innovators, web engineers and others in the first-ever Global Legal Hackathon last weekend.
For three days, Hackathon participants brainstormed how to harness technology to solve legal problems, formed teams to pursue those ventures, and pitched their ideas to judges. Local hackathons were held in 40 cities in 20 different countries, and the best eight ideas will be presented in New York in April.
For the law students, the Hackathon offered an opportunity to rub elbows with those on the cutting edge of legal technology and innovation and get hands-on experience developing the types of legal programs that are revolutionizing legal practice. (You can read more about the winning team in San Francisco, which included two students from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, here.)
We caught up with Hackathon participants from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law; Suffolk University Law School; Brigham Young University J. Rueben Clark Law School; and Pennsylvania State University School of Law to learn about the projects they developed.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
LawGeex's report concludes its algorithm is on average more accurate and a whole lot faster than human lawyers, and warns that attorneys who don't embrace AI "are unlikely to thrive into the next decade."
Legal tech companies have long preached that the machine learning tools they offer are accurate and efficient. But the lingering question has always been: Is the software as accurate as a human attorney?
Now, the company LawGeex is aiming to settle any qualms attorneys might have about embracing AI with a study that concludes its algorithms not only more correctly identified key language in a set of contracts, but were exponentially faster than humans in doing so.
“[L]awyers and the public generally believe that machines cannot match human intellect for accuracy in daily fundamental legal work,” LawGeex says in the resulting report. The paper issues a warning to the profession, arguing that “lawyers failing to capitalize on the competitive advantage of technology are unlikely to thrive into the next decade.”
The results of the study—which was administered by independent attorney Christopher Ray and involved a stable of high-profile legal scholars—are striking. Using five nondisclosure agreements from the Enron data set as the baseline, 20 lawyers were pitted against LawGeex’s AI in parsing 30 provisions. On average, the LawGeex software achieved an accuracy rate of 94 percent. The humans? An average of 85 percent.
Here’s the real kicker: The fastest human attorney completed the task in 51 minutes. The LawGeex software took 26 seconds.
“This experiment may actually understate the gain from AI in the legal profession,” USC Gould School of Law Professor Gillian Hadfield, who was involved in crafting the study, said in a statement. “The lawyers who reviewed these documents were fully focused on the task: It didn’t sink to the bottom of a to-do list, it didn’t get rushed through while waiting for a plane or with one eye on the clock to get out the door to pick up the kids.”
“The margin of efficiency is likely to be even greater than the results shown here,” she added.
The lawyers who went head-to-head with the software came from a range of backgrounds, some with prior experience at Big Law firms such as Alston & Bird and corporations such as Cisco. Hua Wang, one of the participants and a lawyer formerly at Proskauer Rose and K&L Gates, said in a statement that the review process she was tasked with was “logical and credible” and “similar to how I reviewed documents” at a major firm.
So what’s the reaction from other practicing attorneys?
“I think this is the exact kind of pressure that all kinds of industries are going to be facing from AI in the future,” said Annette Hurst, a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe who leads a practice group at the firm focused on artificial intelligence and was not involved in the LawGeex study. Hurst added, though, that correctly identifying what a clause in a contract does is just one step in the process of giving legal advice.
“You still need an experienced lawyer to counsel the client, ‘OK, we spotted this issue. What do we do now?’” There are other limitations, too, she pointed out. “No AI is going to be able to understand when you need an update to the standard contract because of a change in the law.”
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
The organization is called The Institute for the Future of Law Practice will hold bootcamps this summer at Northwestern and U. Colorado and admission to the program will include a paid internship or field placement. The National Jurist Magazine has the details:
Traditional legal education is failing to produce lawyers with skills that meet the demands of a modern legal market, according to Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Bill Henderson. That is why he and a group of innovative legal educators founded The Institute for the Future of Law Practice, a nonprofit that seeks to equip law students with in-demand skillsets.
IFLP (pronounced i–flip) will conduct summer bootcamps to train law students in disciplines that are left out of a traditional law school curriculum, such as cost accounting, finance, process management, project management, service design, marketing and data analytics.
“Legal education and the legal profession are at an inflection point where traditional models of education and practice no longer fit the shifting needs of the market,” wrote Henderson.
Law schools are not able to transition their core curriculum on their own, Henderson continued. The shift will require the “integration of law with problem-solving methods that are not legal in nature.” Moreover, practitioners and other legal professionals are already deploying new approaches to legal service delivery by leveraging data, process, project management and technology.
According to IFLP’s founders, the best way forward is to create an independent organization like IFLP that can coordinate the interests of legal employers, law students, law schools, clients, and the public interest.
IFLP’s website states:
“Clients have for years been complaining about their lawyers’ inability to understand the business climate in which they operate, to manage processes, projects and risks, and to cost and price effectively and in a manner that equates price and value. These complaints are founded on a skills shortfall that can be addressed with training and a willingness on the part of lawyers to continue to acquire the disciplines necessary to meet client needs.”
“IFLP can help fill this void by identifying industry-leading practitioners and distilling their know-how and experience into an organized body of knowledge that can be taught to law students and mid-career legal professionals,” Henderson wrote.
The bootcamp will offer two tracks: a Basic Track and an Advanced Track. The Basic Track will be for rising second-year law students. The program will be held at Northwestern University Prtizker School of Law and at the University of Colorado Law School and will conclude with a 10-week summer internship.
The Advanced Track will be conducted at Northwestern Law and is available to rising third year students. Following the completion of a combined five-week basic and advanced bootcamp, students will be placed in a seven-month internship.
The training programs and internship opportunities promise to provide experiential training and employment pipelines to the legal industry’s most innovative employers.
IFLP founders were inspired by the Tech Lawyer Accelerator program at Colorado Law. Since 2014, more than 80 students have participated in a similar bootcamp at the end of their first and second year of law school. The TLA focused on technology, legal processes and business skills. After the bootcamp, students spent the remainder of their summers in paid internships.
IFLP will be hosting training bootcamps in May 2018 at Northwestern Law and Colorado Law. The program currently includes four law schools, Northwestern Law, Colorado Law, Indiana Maurer Law and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
This article explores the history of legal education, particularly the rise of experiential learning and its importance. In the early years of legal education in the United States, law schools devalued the development of practical skills in students, and many legal educators viewed practical experience in prospective faculty as a “taint.” This article begins with a brief history of these early years and how legal education subsequently evolved with greater involvement of the American Bar Association (ABA). With involvement of the ABA came a call for greater uniformity in legal education and guidelines to help law schools establish criteria for admissions and curricula. This article also discusses the influence of the ABA Standards, particularly Standard 302, in legal education. In the latter half of the 20th century, it became clear that a legal education without any professional development or practical training was deficient. A new ABA task force dedicated to “narrowing the gap” between practitioners and professors published the MacCrate Report, detailing the skills and values law students should develop before entering the profession. Lastly, although the ABA Standards have done a great deal in fixing these deficiencies, there is a great deal that law schools must do on their own. This article concludes by providing suggestions for how law schools can improve legal education in three ways: 1) by making essential lawyering skills and professional values part of the core curriculum and coordinating the teaching of these lawyering skills and values through a combination of simulation, clinic, and externship courses; 2) by providing every law student with a real-life practice experience in which each student is able to assume the role of a lawyer; and 3) by developing their curricula to respond to legal needs for today and the future.
Hat tip to Professor Robert Kuehn.
How consistent are searches among various legal research data bases? The answer is that they can vary considerably, and this is very troubling for the reliability of doing online research.
ABA Journal (Susan Nevelow Mart), Results may vary in legal research databases.
"In a comparison of six legal databases—Casetext, Fastcase, Google Scholar, Lexis Advance, Ravel and Westlaw—when researchers entered the identical search in the same jurisdictional database of reported cases, there was hardly any overlap in the top 10 cases returned in the results. Only 7 percent of the cases were in all six databases, and 40 percent of the cases each database returned in the results set were unique to that database. It turns out that when you give six groups of humans the same problem to solve, the results are a testament to the variability of human problem-solving. If your starting point for research is a keyword search, the divergent results in each of these six databases will frame the rest of your research in a very different way."
"The study also looked at the age of cases that were returned in each search. Overall, the oldest cases dominated Google Scholar’s results. Almost 20 percent of the results from Google Scholar were from 1921 to 1978. The highest percentage (about 67 percent) of newer cases were returned by Fastcase and Westlaw. Ravel and Lexis Advance had an average of 56 percent newer cases."
"Another area of diversity was the number of cases each database returned. The median number of cases returned in response to the same search varied from 1,000 for Lexis Advance to 70 for Fastcase. Casetext, Ravel and Westlaw each returned 180 results at the 50th percentile and Google Scholar returned 180. Each algorithm is set to determine what is responsive to the same search terms in vastly different ways."
"For the most part, these algorithms are black boxes—you can see the input and the output. What happens in the middle is unknown, and users have no idea how the results are generated."
In sum, what this study shows is that a researcher cannot rely on just one legal database or one approach to research. Most of us have known this for a long time. Maybe this study will help us convince our students.