Saturday, April 25, 2015

How Yoda Speaks English

With a new Star Wars movie on the horizon, we might return to our fascination with Yoda-talk. As a posting on Grammar Girl points out:

Clearly Yoda is communicating using English words, and we understand what he means, so in that sense it's real. Yoda makes words plural the way we normally make words plural and conjugates his verbs the same way we do. The only difference between standard English and Yodish (as some websites call it) is the word order.

Yet, Yoda sometimes uses standard English word order, particularly when he is making a serious statement:

"The fear of loss is a path to the dark side."

“A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

For a detailed analysis of “Yodic,” please click here.


April 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Are you a professor who inspires?

If so, there may be a pile of simoleons in your future - $25K to be exact. A cash award in that amount is available from the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust for a professor who inspires students, particularly in the fields of law, psychology and medicine. Here are the particulars:




Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust Seeks Applicants for 2015

Help us expand our circle of Beckman Friends



The Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Advisory Committee is currently seeking nominations for the 2015 Beckman Award. The award is given to professors who inspired their former students to achieve greatness. Each recipient will receive a one-time cash award of $25,000. Preference will be given to educators who teach or who taught in the fields of psychology, medicine, or law. 



The Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust was established in 2008 under the will of Gail McKnight Beckman in memory of her mother, Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman. Wells Fargo Bank, N. A. serves as the Trustee. Dr. Beckman was an educator, a renowned author, and a pioneer in the field of Psychology.


Gail McKnight Beckman created the Beckman Award to benefit teachers who have inspired their former students to make a difference in their communities. The award is given to current or former academic faculty members who have inspired their former students to "create an organization which has demonstrably conferred a benefit on the community at large."


Alternatively, academic faculty members must have inspired their former students to "establish on a lasting basis a concept, procedure, or movement of comparable benefit to the community at large." The advisory committee will consider the quality of the former student's or mentee's work when selecting the award winners.



The nomination deadline is Tuesday, June 30, 2015. An award ceremony will be held in the fall in Atlanta, GA.



For more information or to nominate or apply for the award, please visit:


Hat tip to Professor Kathy Cerminara.


April 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top Ten Family Friendly Law Firms

Yale Law Women has released its list of the top 10 national family friendly firms. They are, in alphabetical order

  • Arnold & Porter
  • Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
  • Duane Morris
  • Hogan Lovells US
  • Hunton & Williams
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson
  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  • Wilmer Hale

You can read more here.


April 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Have we finally hit bottom in law school applicants?

Professor Alfred Brophy blogging at the Faculty Lounge thinks so (and here). That prediction is based on the LSAC's latest numbers showing that the number of law school applicants is down 2.6% from last year at this time while the number of applications is down 4.7% (a slight rise for each from the last report a few weeks ago).


April 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Working in Collaborative Groups – The “Two Pizza” Rule

Many of our readers explore our archive of past postings. One posting that they often access deals with the “two pizza rule. Here it is:

Many graduate students don’t care for group projects, especially when a grade depends on the work of others.  However, being able to collaborate and work well with colleagues is an important skill for law students to master.  Once students enter the “real world” as practicing lawyers, they will need to learn to work on group projects and be viewed as valuable contributors.  Often, it is these “soft skills” that may end up tipping the decision on whether to hire a summer law clerk as an associate.

A recent article in the Journal of Legal Education discusses the richness that group work can bring to the law school classroom.  “Studies demonstrate that group work by students will generate higher levels of participation, greater learning, and better products.”  William J. Rich, Balance in Legal Education: Pervasive Principles, 60 J. Legal Educ. 122, 126 (2010), citing Gerald F. Hess, Heads and Hearts: The Teaching and Learning Environment in Law School, 52 J. Legal Educ. 75, 94 (2002).  “Students who gain that understanding will be equipped to take those experiences into the firm, government, or corporate environment…and to gain greater success in their lives as professionals.”  Id.

The size of the group can certainly have an impact on the group culture and ultimate success.  A recent post on The Scholarly Kitchen about the efficiency of working in small groups discusses a rule that provides a great visual and understandable philosophy.  The “two pizza” rule (attributed to Amazon CTO Werner Vogels) is a concept that project team groups should include no more people than can be fed by two pizzas.  Maybe serving two pizzas would make the group work more interesting to law students!


The rule may means that collaborative meetings among hungry football players should include very few individuals, and meeting among dieters may include many people. In any case, I think there’s merit to the rule.


April 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Conference June 13-14

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning will hold their annual conference in Spokane on June 13-14.  You can find more info here.

Among the topics:

Experiential Learning Across the Curriculum

Drafting Legal Documents in Your Casebook Course

Incorporating Experiential Learning into Contracts (and Other First-Year Classes)

Developing the Case for 1L Curriculum Reform

Adding a Transactional Perspective to the 1L Contracts Course – Almost Painlessly

The Lawyering Lab: 1L Curricular Reform, Building Consensus for Experiential Education and Faculty Integration

Experiencing Civil Procedure

The Other Socratic Method: Reflection

Many more!

Going to a conference like this can completely change your perspective on legal education.

(Scott Fruehwald)

April 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BloombergBusiness offers five charts showing this is the year to apply to law school

From BloombergBusiness:

Five Charts That Show You Should Apply to Law School This Year

Becoming a lawyer has never been a more obvious decision

  1. Law schools need bodies.
  2. The Law School Admission Test is less competitive than it used to be.
  3. A good applicant has an excellent shot at getting in.
  4. When I say good applicant, I'm probably talking about you. 
  5. The law job market is better than it looks.

Read the whole article here.

Hat tip to ATL.


April 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Richest Universities Are Getting Richer

It’s the same old story—the rich get richer and . . . . From the Washington Post:

The 10 richest universities in America hold nearly a third of the total wealth, in cash and investments, amassed by about 500 public and private institutions. The 40 richest hold almost two-thirds of the total wealth.

And their financial edge is widening. These schools are drawing an outsized share of gifts to colleges and universities. Their assets grew at at a far faster rate from 2009 to 2014 than the portfolios of schools in the middle and bottom of the pack.

. . . .

The top 10 private names are familiar: Harvard University ($42.8 billion in cash and investments in fiscal 2014), Stanford University ($31.6 billion), Yale University ($25.4 billion), Princeton University ($21.3 billion), Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($15.2 billion), University of Pennsylvania ($11.9 billion), Duke University ($11.4 billion), Northwestern University ($10.4 billion), Columbia University ($9.9 billion) and University of Notre Dame ($9.5 billion).

You can read more here.



April 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Importance of Experiential Learning for Development of Essential Skills in Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Effectiveness

The Importance of Experiential Learning for Development of Essential Skills in Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Effectiveness by Mary A. Lynch.


"This paper explores the critical importance of clinics, externships other experiential experiences for the development of skills in cross-cultural and intercultural effectiveness. It also examines the need for law school curricula to prioritize this learning."
From the Introduction:
"In this essay, I argue two points. First, I posit that the time is ripe for systemizing the development of cross-cultural communication and IE skills in law students because of the increasingly globalized nature of our world, the American Bar Association (ABA)’s anticipated adoption of a student learning outcomes framework for law schools and the changing landscape for post-law school employment. Cross-cultural skill building will involve some core knowledge development and will require law schools to embrace professional development of values and attitudes that support IE. Second, I believe that law schools can best realize these important student learning outcomes through well-designed, well-supervised, experience-based courses in which law students can more easily overcome their resistance to or defensiveness against learning about cross-cultural issues. Experiential courses, and in particular clinical courses, are best suited for this learning because law students are motivated to improve communication and build relationships when they are responsible for real clients. In addition, because of the repeated real life examples of culture clash which current legal systems and current laws organically provide, clinical courses (including well-supervised field placements) can provide the context for working through the challenges of representing non-majoritarian clients in implicitly biased courts and under particular legal frameworks which privilege the dominant culture. Well-designed clinical and field placement courses also provide structured opportunities for reflecting upon our imperfect and evolving legal systems through intensive, supervised engagement with real legal issues over the course of an entire semester, with opportunities for continuous feedback and assessment by the faculty supervisor."

April 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ave Maria Law Plans to Purchase its Campus

Sparked by a $1 million anonymous gift, the law school has announced plans to purchase its campus, which it now is renting. It has $2.2 million to go on its capital campaign. From the Ave Maria Herald (excerpts):

The Ave Maria School of Law, which moved to Florida so it could be located on the same campus as Ave Maria University, has abandoned those plans and announced it intends to purchase its 12-acre campus at the Vineyards development in North Naples.

The Vineyards campus now is owned by Ave Maria University, which purchased it more than a decade ago as a temporary campus for the university while the town of Ave Maria and the new AMU campus was being built.

The law school and AMU are separate and independent, but both were founded by Tom Monaghan who has said he initially wanted to have them as part of the same institution that he was planning in Michigan. He said that even though the two schools had separate governance, it was vitally important to him to have them co-located. "From the beginning, I put so much money into Ave Maria School of Law because it was to be the flagship for AMU," Mr. Monaghan said in a recounting of the history of Ave Maria five years ago. "I could live with the fact it was a separate entity, as long as it had the same name and was on the same campus."


April 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Northeastern's Dean Paul says law schools must teach students to add value to clients

From an article by Northeastern University School of Law Dean Jeremy Paul published in a special legal education supplement to the New York Law Journal:

Changing the 'How' But Not the 'Why'

Law school applications are declining more slowly and entry level hiring has begun to recover. First-year law school enrollments have shrunk from more than 52,000 in 2010 to a far more sustainable 38,000 in 2014. Recent studies by Profs. Frank McIntyre and Michael Simkovic continue to vindicate the long-run earning power of the J.D. degree. Perhaps you can hear law school deans breathing sighs of relief. Alas, it is way too soon for that.

Law schools that view nascent positive trends as license to return to business as usual will be missing the far more profound changes in the legal profession that demand new approaches to legal education. The most significant change is the extent to which knowledge of the law is cheaper and easier to obtain for everyone with access to a computer. Future lawyers can expect to earn less for merely informing clients about the law. How lawyers will add value in this changed environment is the question of the day. How lawyers should be trained to do so should be a top priority for every legal educator in the United States.

Some things, of course, will never change. Clients will always need advocates capable of translating large amounts of complex information into compelling written and oral arguments. People of means will readily pay for counselors who can assist them in memorializing transactions, negotiating deals, and navigating regulatory complexity. And the lawyerly skills of separating wheat from chaff, managing complexity, and paying attention to detail will be prized by clients and employers for years to come. The Socratic method, the reading of appellate cases, and the traditional issue-spotting exam have proven successful at training lawyers in these familiar ways. But if this is all we do, our students will graduate unprepared for an economy in which a wider array of skills will be needed to thrive.

. . . .

Continue reading here.


April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Here Are This Year’s Pulitzer Prize Winners

The Pulitzer Prizes have just been awarded by Columbia University. The awards are chosen by a board of jurors for Journalism, Letters, Music and Drama. The awards for Letters include Fiction, Nonfiction, History, Biography or Autobiography, Poetry, and Drama.

Compliments of, here are the winners and descriptions of their masterpieces.


April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Sinking of the Titanic

We’re a bit late on this. On April 15, 1912, the news media reported the disaster. From Poynter, here are the front pages of newspapers spreading the news, plus a brief newsreel.


April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Newsweek: The Bar Exam is Unfair and Undemocratic: A Reply

I would love to be a libertarian like Allen Mendenhall.  I believe that freedom is the most basic of all human rights.  However, in my many years on this earth, I have observed that many human beings take advantage of their fellow human beings.  Consequently, we need government to protect individuals from those who would exploit them.

Mr. Mendenhall has penned an essay for Newsweek entitled The Bar Exam is Unfair and Undemocratic.  He declared, "The bar exam is a barrier to entry, a form of occupational licensure that restricts access to a particular vocation and reduces market competition."  He noted, "In more recent decades, economist Milton Friedman disparaged occupational licensure as 'another example of governmentally created and supported monopoly on the state level.'”  "The bar exam is one of the most notorious examples of this 'increasing tendency.'”  Among the other reasons he is against the bar exam are 1) it excludes "the lower classes from participation in the legal services market," 2) it "tests the ability to take tests, not the ability to practice law," 3) "the best way to learn the legal profession is through tried experience and practical training," and 4) the bar exam and its accompanying requirements are costly.  He adds, "Today, with services like Amazon, eBay, Uber and Airbnb, consumers are accustomed to evaluating products and service providers online and for wide audiences. Learning about lawyers’ professional reputations should be quick and easy, a matter of a simple Internet search.  With no bar exam, the sheer ubiquity and immediacy of reputation markets could weed out the good lawyers from the bad, thereby transferring the mode of social control from the legal cartel to the consumers themselves."

While I agree with many of Mr. Mendenhall's criticisms of the bar exam, he cannot overcome the main reason for having the bar exam--the protection of the public.  He can call this paternalistic all he wants, but law is a complicated field that requires many years of education under the guidance of experts.  While he may yearn for the halycon days of law apprenticeships, the world and the legal profession have become much more complex than when apprenticeships were the main method of legal training 150 years ago.  He has also failed to tell us who will provide this apprenticeship training; lawyers today do not have time to teach large groups of apprentices.

We license doctors, plumbers, car mechanics, hair stylists, and we do this for the same reason we license lawyers--for the public good.  I do not want to go to a doctor who has had just an apprenticeship.  As I have said before, doctors protect a person's physical health; lawyers protect a person's economic and social health, as well as her rights.

I do not agree with Mr. Mendenhall that consumers can properly evaluate lawyers based on internet information.  Look at a restaurant review on Yelp.  Many consist of both high praise and strong criticism for the same place.  How can I decide which one is right?  Has anybody ever bought a piece of junk on eBay?

As I have written here many times, the bar exam is very flawed, and it needs to be reformed.  The answer is not to eliminate it, as Mr. Mendenhall proposes, but to revise it to make it test what lawyers actually do in practice.

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S. Theodore Seto has made the following comment on the Tax Prof Blog concerning this story: "Mr. Mendenhall has probably never seen the consequences of really bad lawyering. Let me tell you: it's a nightmare for the client and there is no effective remedy. None. The client loses his or her rights, perhaps several decades of his life, perhaps his or her child, perhaps his or her life's savings. The really bad lawyer is almost always judgment-proof. There is no effective remedy. None."

April 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

preLaw Magazine's list of best schools for bar prep

The 2015 edition - you can check out the list and methodology here.


April 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Helping Students Deal with Stress

At Stanford, Professor Joe Bankman has collaborated with others to create a two hour course that uses cognitive therapy to deal with law school stress. I know that a few other schools also are finding ways to deal with the issue.

You can read more here.


April 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Game of Thrones and Brief Writing

Over at De Novo: A Virginia Appellate Law Blog, we get a theory on how George R.R. Martin, the author of Game of Throne writes:

I came across a blog post that makes a scientific wild-ass guess about Martin’s progress on The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth book in his series. The post itself serves as prima facie evidence that, as big a tool as I am, I barely register on the SF geekdom spectrum.

More important for our purposes, though, the post includes a link to a summary of Martin’s writing process. Here’s the short version of that process:

  1. Martin does not have a hard outline for his seven-book series. He knows basically where the story is headed, and he lets it evolve organically. He ends each book when it gets too long, or when he reaches a natural breaking point.
  2. Martin writes lots and lots of draft chapters, then eventually finalizes them. He also writes partial chapters and fragments when ideas grab him.
  3. Martin does not write in a linear order. Instead, he occupies a particular character’s headspace and stay there for weeks, writing a series of point-of-view chapters for that character. This can result in timeline problems, and it can also cause him to write way too much material for a character just because he’s fun to inhabit (ahem, Tyrion).
  4. At the end of the writing process, Martin murders every character you love and throws in a scene where starving children fight over a half-cooked puppy. (Okay, I made this one up.)

Jay O’Keeffe writes:

This really struck me, because it’s just about the opposite of the way that you’d approach an appellate brief.

Now, I recognize that epic fantasy and appellate advocacy are about as distinct as any two genres can get. And I appreciate that Martin is a super-genius writing the great fantasy epic of our time, while I’m just a hack with a blog. Even so, his organic writing process is basically a recipe for missing deadlines and overshooting page limits. That’s generally okay, if you’re the American Tolkien putting together work that people will be reading fifty years from now.* It’s somewhat less okay if you’re bound by deadlines and strict word counts, and your readership has very limited time and patience. Martin’s writing process is an object lesson in what not to do as an appellate lawyer.

O’Keefe advises writing a brief this way:

  1. Brainstorm, and hash out all of your ideas in the beginning of the process.
  2. Draft a hard outline. Explain your ideas in full sentences. Follow the outline.
  3. Write in a linear manner, from start to finish. That is how your reader will approach the document.
  4. Edit mercilessly. Aim to cut 50% of your first draft, and to file a brief that comes in at 50% of the page or word limit.
  5. Never kill off Oberyn Martell.

This method may work for some writers, but not for others. There are many ways to write. Each writer must find the way that works for him or her.



April 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Strategies for getting others to see the real you.

The Harvard Business Review blog has an interesting post by Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of the newly released book No One Understands You and What to Do About It discussing how the impression we make on others is often a complete distortion of reality. Professor Halvorson points out that the way others see us is far from fair, accurate or even rational.  We present only a partial picture of who we really are so others are left to fill in the blanks according to their biases and perceptions.  To help people form a more accurate picture of who you really are, you need to become more "judgeable" which means disclosing more information about yourself so there are fewer gaps to be filled in by others. An excerpt:

. . . .

The uncomfortable truth is that most of us don’t come across the way we intend.  We can’t see ourselves truly objectively, and neither can anyone else. Human beings have a strong tendency to distort other people’s feedback to fit their own views. We know this intellectually, and yet we rarely seem to recognize it as it’s happening.


That can cause you big problems in your personal and professional life. People may not trust you, may not like you, or may not even notice you, as a result of these errors in perception.  If you have ever felt yourself underestimated or misjudged, if you have stepped on toes without meaning to and been called to task for it, if you have wanted to cry out “That’s not fair!” when false and hurtful assumptions have been made about you, I’m here to tell you that you are right.  The way we see one another is far from fair.  In fact, much of this process of perceiving other people isn’t even rational.  It is biased, incomplete, and inflexible.  It is also largely (but not entirely) automatic.


And yet no one is entirely unknowable either. In fact, some of us are actually easier to understand than others. These people seem to express themselves in ways that allow others to perceive them more accurately.  Psychologists refer to this as being more or less “judgeable,” or as personality expert David Funder calls it, being a “good target.” What actually makes someone more judgeable? Funder has argued that in order for people to be accurate in their assessments of someone else, four things need to happen.  The target must (1) make information available and (2) make sure that information is relevant.  Then, the perceiver must (3) detect, or pay attention to that information and (4) use it correctly.


Let’s focus for now on the parts that are in the your (i.e., the target’s) control. To be judgeable, you are going to need to make information about yourself available to others, and it should provide evidence of the particular qualities you are trying to convey. (In other words, just knowing that you graduated at the top of your class at Harvard tells me nothing at all about how personable, trustworthy, creative, or resilient you are). So if you are a very shy and reserved person, who reveals next to nothing about your thoughts and feelings to the people around you, then they will know very little about you – aside from the fact that you are shy and reserved, obviously. The danger there is that people will generally fill in the blanks themselves, imagining a whole personality profile for you that may or may not – probably not – be accurate.

. . . .

Continue reading here.


April 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What’s Next? Hybrid Online Degrees

That is, students take some course work online and some in person. From JDJournal: 

Hybrid online degrees may be the new future for law schools. According to an article by CNBC titled “Digital Cracks the Final Frontier: Law School”, William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota applied and was given permission to start a hybrid online program by the American Bar Association. While there are several online law schools already in existence, they are not recognized by the ABA as one of the 205 accredited law schools. The William Mitchell College of Law’s first class of 85 students from 31 states and two countries started taking classes in January. The students include five medical doctors, a college professor, and a banker, with the ages ranging from 22 to 67.

The hybrid course requires students to participate half online and half in person. William Mitchell College of Law’s website explains that students start the 8 semester part time program with a week on campus for the first and third semesters and conclude each semester with another week on campus. This allows the students to first meet professors and then apply the knowledge gained during the semester. Students are also required to have two externships during their last two years of the program.

 Not much time on campus. Because students have to spend some time on campus, , I assume that most participants  will be local people. You can read more here.


April 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Quote of the Week

You know that saying about how a law school teaches students to think like a lawyer[?] Well, if you get into a cab, you don’t want a driver who thinks like a driver. You want someone who can drive.

Dean Jeremy Paul (here)

(Scott Fruehwald)

April 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)