Saturday, January 7, 2017
Friday, January 6, 2017
If you haven’t had a disastrous dean yet, you may well before your career ends. From Kellogg Insight:
Jon Maner, a professor of management and organizations at Kellogg School of Management, has studied a specific breed of bad boss—those who intentionally sabotage their teams’ cohesion in order to protect their own status as leader.
Maner’s research shows that leaders will intentionally sideline high-performing team members, limit communication and social bonding among team members, or compile ill-matched teams if they think it will help ensure their own place at the top.
The posting also offers suggestions on how to curb bad behavior. You can read more here.
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Charlotte School Of Law Should Be More Transparent, Immediately by Kyle McEntee and David Frakt.
"Several students report to us that, despite CSL’s assurances, information has been both limited and not particularly useful as they try to assess their options. Furthermore, these students report that administrators have been unavailable to answer questions. The school appears to have completely shut down for winter break from December 22 through January 3 despite the urgency of the situation that has developed in Charlotte. These administrators have likewise not been available to the press since the Education Department’s announcement in December."
"At this point, CSL students cannot make informed decisions because CSL has not been sufficiently transparent. As such, Law School Transparency has sent CSL a letter with an urgent request for information that will help CSL students make the choice that is best for their personal career ambitions."
"While we understand that the situation is fluid, and that the school’s plans may be contingent on a variety of factors that are outside of its control (such as regaining federal funding), CSL must not let uncertainty prevent timely release of information. If in doubt, CSL should err on the side of full disclosure and immediately release any information that could conceivably affect its students’ decisions." (emphasis in original)
There is much, much more in the article.
As Above the Law has pointed out elsewhere, "As of today’s date, Charlotte Law is still providing information on its Financial Aid webpage as to the types of federal loans that students may access to finance their education at the school." I just checked at 12:10 on January 5, and this is still true. ABA Standard 509 (a) states: "All information that a law school reports, publicizes, or distributes shall be complete, accurate and not misleading to a reasonable law school student or applicant." Our readers can decide for themselves whether this statement on Charlotte's website violates 509 (a).
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Law profs, and educators in general, tend to have pretty strong feelings by this point on the issue of student use of laptops in the classroom; you're either for 'em and agin 'em. (For the record, I wrote a pretty detailed article discussing both sides of the debate and ultimately concluded that they should definitely be banned unless the prof is actively managing their use during class by having students engage with laptops as part of a classroom exercise). So this New York Times opinion piece by Professor Darren Rosenblum of Pace law school arguing against laptops may not win any new converts but it is well written and puts a slightly different spin on the decade-old argument. Professor Rosenblum suggests that a laptop ban is an important part of teaching students the professional ethos and judgment needed to be effective lawyers by helping them learn about the need to unplug so they can be more fully present when tackling whatever task is at hand.
I'll also note that although Professor Rosenblum describes encountering some student resistance to his laptop ban, that hasn't been my own experience since I began explaining to students at the start of the semester why I ban them. It boils down to describing for them the substantial research that exists which shows unrestricted, unsupervised student laptop use during class can have a significant, negative affect on their grades and learning. More importantly, the research also shows there's a contagion effect when it comes to classroom distractions such that even when a student is trying to stay on task, if a neighbor is inappropriately surfing the web, it can also distract others in the vicinity as well.
You can read Professor Rosenblum's full NYT opinion piece here.
At Word Rake, Gary Kinder recently posted inviting opening lines from books. Here are a few:
Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country:
There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.
Ivan Doig’s This House of Sky:
Soon before daybreak on my sixth birthday, my mother’s breathing wheezed more raggedly than ever, then quieted. And then stopped.
The remembering begins out of that new silence. Through the time since, I reach back along my father’s tellings and around the urgings which would have me face about and forget, to feel into these oldest shadows for the first sudden edge of it all.
Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man:
I am an invisible man.
No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids--and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
You can read more excerpts here.
Reading these introductions gave me an idea for my Property class. Instead of asking a student to state the facts of a case –a boring and generally useless exercise—I asked the student to introduce the case in a way that would make it sound interesting, even worth reading. That exercise could help build skills in storytelling and persuasion.
Tomorrow, our co-blogger, Lou Sirico, will be moderating a panel at AALS entitled Building and Sustaining Academic Communities Through Blogging and Other Tools. In the past, intellectual communities have centered around cafes in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin. Today, such communities revolve around conferences and blogs. This has occurred because scholarly communities are now spread around the world. Although conferences are very important to intellectual exchange, since they occur only periodically, they lack the frequent opportunities for scholarly dialogue offered by blogs. While blogs lack the face-to-face contact (and availability of the free flow of wine) of cafes, blogs offer immediacy, accessibility, and a certain amount of permanence. Blogs are the new scholarly communities.
Blogs serve many specific legal communities. There are tax blogs, administrative law blogs, agriculture law blogs, aviation law blogs, etc. (more examples here) Each of these blogs offer those interested in the topic a place to read about the latest scholarship and developments in their field and to comment about their field. They are a place to come together, just like the Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots were in the first part of the Twentieth Century.
Blogs evolve and help their communities evolve. This blog was originally devoted to legal skills, with a few subtopics including legal education. As time went by, we discovered that legal skills and legal education were closely interconnected. Thus, we became a blog community for legal education reform.
I have heard many comments about the importance of our blog at conferences and by email. We also often receive requests to include items about legal education. While we do scan the Internet daily for legal education and legal skills items, we highly appreciate the tips from our readers.
It has been a pleasure being a part of this blog, and I thank Jim and Lou for asking me to join them. Legal education reform is an exciting field, and it is vital to the future of the legal profession. I hope our readers have enjoyed our posts and considered our blog a community.
One thing: I would like to see more comments to our posts. The topics we cover are often controversial, and we would like to hear from you.
Happy New Year,
P.S. I advise you to get to Lou's session early tomorrow. The room only holds 497 people.
Do Law Schools Adequately Prepare Students for Practice? Survey Says . . . No! by Robert Kuehn (Washington University). In this important article, Professor Kuehn discusses the conclusions of several recent studies on whether law students are prepared for practice. After examining these studies, he concludes,
"Fifty years ago the dean of the University of Chicago School of Law stated that the aim of law school 'is not to train lawyers, but to educate men [and women] for becoming lawyers.' If the attitude of the ABA and law school deans has changed since then, it isn’t reflected in the readiness of law school graduates for practice when over 90% of lawyers give legal education a failing grade. So while educators worry about declining grades on the bar exam, isn’t it also time to fix legal education’s longstanding failure to meet its duty to adequately prepare its students 'for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession'?"
It has now been almost ten years since the publications of the Carnegie Report and Best Practices for Legal Education. Both these reports called for significant changes in legal education. Yet the details of Professor Kuehn's post show that law schools still have a long way to go in providing their students the best education. Many are working hard to reform legal education, but everyone in legal education must do so if we are to turn out the lawyers needed for the 21st Century.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
With the ease of posting and accessing articles on SSRN and similar platforms, will law reviews outlive their usefulness? Professor Thomas Merrill argues no. The perceived prestige of publishing in a law review will permit them to survive:
What has not happened—and what I see no sign of happening—is that legal scholars are forgoing opportunities to publish in law reviews. Many of my colleagues—especially the younger ones—post their manuscripts on SSRN before they submit them to reviews. And some insist that SSRN is more important to them as both a vehicle for dissemination of their scholarship and a source for finding other scholarship. But, oddly enough, they continue to submit their work for publication in law reviews.
Indeed, no young scholar interested in getting hired to teach at a law school, or in receiving tenure at a law school, or in securing a lateral offer to teach at another law school, would think of building a resume consisting solely of postings on SSRN. This would be a very high-risk strategy—indeed, I would think, the kiss of death. At least two things of importance are revealed here.
First, everyone— by which I mean senior faculty, junior faculty, and aspiring faculty— continues to behave as if getting published in law reviews is a significant measure of quality. The multiple-submission policy may be crazy, and the expedited-review process may be nuts. But getting one’s scholarship accepted for publication in a law review is still regarded as a meaningful signal that the work is serious and should be taken seriously.
Second—and here I think we alight on the secret to the enduring success of law reviews—law reviews provide something that SSRN is never going to supply: namely, free editorial service. Law reviews rest on the following unstated bargain: Students supply free labor. In return, they get the prestige and the educational experience of running a professional journal.
Thus, the argument goes, law reviews will survive because publication in them is perceived as a measure of quality (I have my doubts about relying on student editors to assess quality.) and because law reviews provide free editorial services (It really depends on the quality of the student editor.) You can read the article here.
Tax Prof Blog: The Top 10 Legal Education Stories Of 2016 by Paul Caron.
Monday, January 2, 2017
The Student Lawyer Division of the ABA has another year end round-up feature on its blog that collects news on legal skills related developments from around the nation including a veterans clinic at U. Wisconsin School of Law, the first law school sponsored incubator program in Texas at Texas A & M University School of Law and new courses (here and here) at California law schools Berkeley and Pepperdine that help prepare students for careers in entertainment law. Check out the further details here.
Off Topic: Google Trends lists the most common Google searches in a variety of categories—e.g., recipes, news, actors. Alas, no search listings for legal education. Here are the most searched for recipes:
Green Bean Casserole
Here’s the list for TV Shows
Making a Murderer
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
For other search topics, please click here.
Sunday, January 1, 2017
If you are going to the AALS Annual Meeting, please consider the Arc of Career presentation, Building and Sustaining Academic Communities Through Blogging and Other Tools, Thursday, Jan. 5, 8:30-10:15. A diverse group of people will lead discussions.
Eric Rosser and I are planning an informal program—no talking heads—in which everyone who comes will have the opportunity to learn about and share experiences with blogging and other social media.
Demographics tell us that the number of potential students in the typical age group is declining. Undergraduate institutions are already feeling the consequences. We’re next. From the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Daily Briefing (Dec. 15):
Most enrollment officers focus on two goals year-round: making enrollment numbers and net tuition revenue. But as the number of high-school graduates declines, it's tougher for colleges to attract enough students and still cover expenses. Here are some findings from a recent Chronicle survey on those issues:
- In the most recent admissions cycle, two-thirds of private colleges and more than half of public colleges missed at least one of their goals.
- About half of public colleges and a third of private colleges met both goals.
- Private colleges hit their lowest mark for both goals in the past four years.
To entice more students to enroll, about four of 10 colleges, slightly more private than public, reported that they were increasing financial aid this year.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
The Law Student Division of the ABA has put together a resource page for students interesting in trying their hand at writing competitions as well as looking for financial scholarship opportunities. More specifically, writing competitions are listed in subjects including entertainment law, affordable housing and intellectual property, among others. Financial scholarship opportunities exist for students interested in criminal law and those belonging to groups that have been historically underrepresented in the legal profession. It looks like this might be part of a regular column on the part of the Law Student Division so you may want to bookmark the page and check it out periodically for updates.
At Education Week, 7th grade teacher Siobhan Gearty matches her teaching goals with lines from the super-popular musical “Hamilton.” See if you agree.
- The importance of grit:"The $10 founding father without a father / Got a lot farther by working a lot harder / By being a lot smarter / By being a self-starter"
- The power of words:"I wrote my way out of hell / I wrote my way to revolution / I was louder than the crack in the bell"
- The relevance of history: "If we try to fight in every revolution in the world, we never stop / Where do we draw the line?"
“Engaged learners are constantly asking questions about the world around them.” Teaching students to ask, “How did we get here?” and “Who wrote this narrative?” puts them on pathways to the truth.
- The acknowledgement of human error: "I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects / Not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors"
You can read full explanations here.
Friday, December 30, 2016
The answer may be yes. From the ABA Journal online:
Law firm partners are reaping “soaring” profits amid flat demand for law firm services, creating “an unsustainable model” for law firms, according to the co-founder of a company that developed virtual workplace technology.
Writing at Forbes, Mark Cohen says an increasing percentage of legal services are being provided outside of law firms, even as partners are earning more. Law firms, he asserts, “have an unsustainable model that remains largely intact even as clients are seeking options.”
Cohen wrote his essay shortly before the release of a report predicting 2017 will likely be another year of modest growth for law firms. The report by Citi Private Bank’s law firm group and Hildebrandt Consulting found that demand for law firm services grew by just 0.3 percent the first three quarters of this year. During that same time frame, expenses grew by 3.4 percent and revenue increased by 3.7 percent, fueled by an increase in billing rates. Bloomberg Big Law Business and the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) covered the report.
Cohen blames the lagging demand for law firm services partly on the traditional law firm model, which is built on business generation and revenue, achieved by lots of billable hours. As result of that model, Cohen says, “law firms have generally been laggards in effectively deploying technology.”
You can read more here.