Monday, April 24, 2017

10 Worst Airlines for Overbooking

Apropos of the recent United Air debacle: from the Conde Nast Traveler:

Here's the full list of the worst airlines and their rates, in terms of oversale IDBs.

According to the Department of Transportation's most recent Air Travel Consumer Report, the unfortunate crown goes to Southwest Airlines, with a rate of 0.99 IDBs per 10,000 passengers in 2016. Effectively, that means for every 10,000 people who get on Southwest planes, one is getting kicked off. And remember: just because you bought a ticket, it doesn't mean you're guaranteed a seat.

  1. Southwest Airlines 0.99
  2. JetBlue Airlines 0.92
  3. American Airlines 0.64
  4. Frontier Airlines 0.58
  5. Spirit Airlines 0.58
  6. United Airlines 0.43
  7. Alaska Airlines 0.40
  8. Virgin America 0.12
  9. Delta Air Lines 0.10
  10. Hawaiian Airlines 0.05

You can read more here.


April 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

David Dao’s Emergency Bill of Discovery

In case you were wondering what an Emergency Bill of Discovery looks like, here is the one filed by the attorneys for David Dao, the man who was dragged off the United Air plane in Chicago.

A nice classroom exercise would be to have students list the potential discovery items that they would want preserved and then compare their results with what the attorneys requested.


April 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

10 Teachable Moments from Harry Potter

From Education Week:

We don't choose familial situations, but we can choose to make the most of what we are given. Harry clearly doesn't fit with the Dursleys, but they are his family and they are the only ones he has known.

Friendship often comes with a simple kindness. Harry had no idea where he'd find his place in this new wizarding world, but his closest friendship is literally stumbled upon.

  • Helping those in need always has its rewards. 
  • We often misjudge what we don't fully understand. Harry often thinks that Snape is out to get him, but we learn at the end of the first novel that Snape was actually protecting Harry.
  • Breaking the rules is sometimes necessary. In order to do what is right, we often have to bend the rules to accomplish these feats. Harry and his friends often choose to do what they know is wrong but for the benefit of everyone else.
  • Having rules to break is also necessary. Rules establish boundaries and boundaries are necessary for students to thrive. Neville understands this and stands up to Harry, Ron and Hermione when they could possibly get Gryffindor in trouble for sneaking out. Additionally, Hogwarts has a whole system of points that helps students win and
  • Love is a great protector. When we give love purely like Lily Potter does to Harry, that love provides protections that we don't even know the full reach of until much later on.
  • Every child has the power to take on great evils. There are many things our kids have to overcome and like Harry who literally has to fight odds to take on Voldemort, he believes that he can do it.
  • The choices we make define us. At different times, almost every character in the Harry Potter novels has a moment where he or she makes a choice that defines him or her. Starting at the beginning, Hagrid uses magic despite the fact that he isn't supposed to so that he can help Harry.
  • Learning happens everywhere, we just have to take the time to notice. The characters of the Harry Potter novels are always learning new things whether they going to the library and digging through books they shouldn't be looking in or they notice something on the back of a card that came with chocolate, they are deeply cued into the fact that there so many things to learn(ljs)
  • You can read full explanations here.

April 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Admiral McRaven: Make Your Bed

Climbing the best seller lists is Admiral William McRaven’s inspirational Make Your Bed. The book is based on a commencement speech he delivered at the University of Texas in which he offered life lessons he learned as a Navy Seal. To view the speech, please click here.


April 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Importance of Formative Assessment for Improving Law Student Learning

Two interesting items came past my desk this morning.  (Actually, past my computer screen.)  The first one concerned the news that Whittier Law School will be closing.  (This is very sad news for the students and faculty.)  The other was a study of the effectiveness of  formative assessment for student learning.  I think these two very different stories are related.

Law schools have changed radically over the last fifty years.  More students are going to law school, and these students come from very diverse backgrounds.  In addition, many of these students come from poor educational backgrounds.  Furthermore, colleges seem to be dumbing down their curriculums, particularly in the areas of writing, logical thinking, and critical reasoning.

Some law schools have reacted to the new type of students; others haven't.  I wonder if Whittier's low bar score isn't largely due to the fact that it failed to change in reaction to the new type of students it was admitting.

I have argued that formative assessment with prompt and frequent feedback is critical to teaching the new type of law students.  (E. Scott Fruehwald, How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School, 1 Texas A & M Law Review 83 (2013) (here).)  I think that formative assessment is particularly vital in the first year when students are developing their legal reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Now, a group of scholars at Ohio State has written an important study concerning the effectiveness of formative assessment on law student learning: Deborah Jones Merritt, Ruth Colker, Ellen E. Deason, Monte Smith and Abigail B. Shoben, Formative Assessments: A Law School Case Study.


"Several empirical studies have shown that formative assessment improves student learning. We build on those studies by reporting the results of a natural experiment at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Students in one of three first-year sections had the opportunity to complete a formative assessment in their spring-semester Constitutional Law course. The assessment consisted of an essay question that the professor had used on a prior exam. Students who submitted an essay answer received prompt, extensive written feedback; they also had the chance to discuss their answer with the professor.

Over the course of three years, about half of the students enrolled in the section took advantage of the formative assessment. Those students achieved significantly higher grades on the final exam even though the assessment score did not factor into their course grade. Notably, students receiving this formative feedback also secured a significantly higher GPA in their other spring-semester classes. Both of these effects persisted after controlling for LSAT score, UGPA, gender, race, and fall-semester grades. These controls helped reduce any effect of selection bias on our findings.

In addition to exploring these relationships between formative assessment and academic achievement, we discuss several race and gender effects that emerged in our analyses. Women, for example, were significantly more likely than men to complete the formative assessment. Women also received significantly higher grades than men in a spring-semester course on Legal Analysis and Writing; men, conversely, received significantly higher grades than women in a Legislation course. A race effect, meanwhile, emerged for students with LSAT scores at or above the school median: Among those students, nonwhite students who completed the formative assessment achieved significantly higher grades in Constitutional Law than white students who submitted the same exercise.

All of these relationships deserve further empirical study. In particular, our results suggest the importance of examining the transfer effects of formative feedback, gender differences in law school learning, and paths for improving the academic experience of minority students."

If law schools do nothing else to improve law student learning and, consequently, their bar passes rates, they should add frequent formative assessment to their first-year classes.  The studies show that this will significantly improve student learning.

Update: "Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger said in an interview that the board 'was concerned about the student outcomes at the law school' — namely how many students were graduating, passing the bar exam and finding employment in the legal profession."  (here)  So, the law school is being shut down because it isn't doing an effective job of educating its students.  I hope other law schools with low bar pass rates or poor placement results are paying attention.

Further update: "Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger told the Wall Street Journal bluntly that students were not being prepared well enough to pass the bar exam and secure legal jobs. Fewer than a quarter of Whittier Law school’s graduates who took the July 2016 bar exam passed the test, the worst performance among accredited law schools in the state, according to the Journal.

Out of 128 graduates in 2016, only 45 went on to find jobs that required a law degree."  (here)

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S. The study showed that a major formative assessment in one class also helped improve grades in other classes taken during that semester.  What do you think would happen if all classes included frequent formative assessment?

April 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

How to Make Time for Research and Writing

Summer’s on its way. It brings free time in which you can work on your writing projects. Still, it’s so easy to fritter that time away. Yet, scholarship remains the coin of the realm in academia, no matter what anyone says.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, twelve professors share their tips for getting the work done. You can access their tips here.


April 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NY Times: Whittier Law School Says It Will Shut Down

"Trustees of the Whittier Law School said on Wednesday that it would close down, making it the first fully accredited law school in the country to shut at a time when many law schools are struggling amid steep declines in enrollment and tuition income."

"The trustees of the school, in Costa Mesa, Calif., said in a statement that they had voted not to enroll new first-year students in the fall but were 'committed to ensuring that students currently enrolled will have an opportunity to complete their degree in a timely fashion.' The trustees did not set a date for when the school would close."

More here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

April 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Goes to Congress to Support Legal Services and Veterans

From the American Bar Association news release:

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 19, 2017 — The American Bar Association will conduct its annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession this week during its ABA Day 2017 from April 25-27.

 This year, lawyers from all 50 states will come to Washington to speak to members of Congress and their staffs and inform them of the importance of funding Legal Services Corporation, which provides civil legal aid to nearly 1.9 million low-income people annually who desperately need help to navigate the legal process so they can get equal access to justice. LSC serves the most vulnerable individuals and families in every congressional district. That includes children, seniors, veterans, victims of domestic violence and victims of disasters. 

 ABA lawyers also will speak to congressional members about issues affecting veterans. The ABA will advocate for legislation (H.R. 1993, the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act) authorizing private-public partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve access to justice for homeless veterans.

You can read more here.


April 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

World’s 10 Worst Spammers

Spamhaus (here) keeps track of spammers worldwide. The top spammers sell their services to companies, states, and individuals who want to spam or hack. These spammers make a lot of money.

Up to 80% of spam targeted at internet users around the world is generated by a hard-core group of around 100 known persistent spam gangs whose names, aliases and operations are documented in Spamhaus' Register Of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) database. 

This TOP 10 chart of ROKSO-listed spammers is based on Spamhaus views of the highest threat, least repentant, most persistent, and generally the worst of the career spammers causing the most damage on the internet currently. 

The 10 Worst Spammers
As of 11 April 2017 the world's worst spammers and spam gangs are:

Canadian Pharmacy - Ukraine
A long time running pharmacy spam operation. They send tens of millions of spams per day using botnet techniques. Probably based in Eastern Europe, Ukraine/Russia. Host spammed web sites on botnets and on bulletproof Chinese web hosting.

Michael Boehm and Associates - United States
Snowshoe spam organization that uses large numbers of inexpensive, automated VPS hosting IPs and domains in whatever TLD is currently cheapest to send high volumes of spam to extremely dirty, scraped lists. Operates under many business and individual names.

Yair Shalev / Kobeni Solutions - United States
High volume snowshoe spammer from Florida, (former?) partner-in-spam of ROKSO spammer Darrin Wohl. Son-in-law of ROKSO-listed spammer Dan Abramovich. Sued for fraud by the US FTC in 2014.

Dante Jimenez / Aiming Invest - United States
Spamwarez, lists, "bulletproof" hosting in the finest South Florida tradition. Working with worst cybercriminal botnet spammers. Now mostly involved in massive botnet spamming with hosting on hacked servers and Eastern European hosters.

Alvin Slocombe / Cyber World Internet Services - United States
Bulletproof spam host operating Cyber World Internet Services / e-Insites, and currently spamming using a variety of aliases such as Brand 4 Marketing, Ad Media Plus, Site Traffic Network, RCM Delivery, and eBox.

Michael Lindsay - United States
Lindsay's iMedia Networks is a full-fledged spam-hosting operation serving bulletproof hosting at high premiums to well known ROKSO-listed spammers. His customers spam via botnet zombies with spam payloads hosted offshore, tunneled back to his servers. He and the gang have been hijacking (stealing) IP address space from companies for years to spam from. Illegal in the USA.

Peter Severa / Peter Levashov - Russian Federation
A spammer who writes and sells virus-spamming spamware and botnet access. Is probably involved in the writing and releasing of viruses & trojans. One of the longest operating criminal spam-lords on the internet. Works with many other Easter Euro and US based botnet spammers. Was a partner of American spammer Alan Ralsky.

RR Media - United States
A high volume spam operation based in or run from Huntington Beach, CA, USA. The operation uses a variety of different names.

Yambo Financials - Ukraine
Huge spamhaus tied into distribution and billing for child, animal, and incest-porn, pirated software, and pharmaceuticals. Run their own merchant services (credit-card "collection" sites) set up as a fake "bank."

Michael Persaud - United States
Long time snowshoe type spammer, raided by FBI then indicted in 2017 on federal wire fraud charges tied to his spamming operations.

Here they are. #7 was recently arrested while vacationing in Spain. (Lesson: If you are participating in questionable activities, don’t go on vacation.)



April 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fear and Loathing in Persuasive Writing: An Empirical Study of the Effects of the Negativity Bias by Kenneth D. Chestek

Because I have been working on a book on cognitive biases for several months, I was delighted to discover a newly-posted article on SSRN by Kenneth D. Chestek concerning the effects of the Negativity Bias on persuasive writing.

Fear and Loathing in Persuasive Writing: An Empirical Study of the Effects of the Negativity Bias.  (Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD, Vol. 14, 2017)


"Cognitive psychologists have identified a phenomenon they call the "negativity bias," in which humans seem to remember and be affected by negative information more strongly than by positive information. What are the implications of this bias for legal writers? Should they focus on negative themes (describing the opposing side as bad) instead of positive ones (describing their clients as good and worthy)? More specifically, to trial judges fall prey to the negativity bias?

This article describes an empirical test in which 163 judges were asked to read different versions of a Preliminary Statement to a trial brief (some using positive themes, others using negative ones) to measure whether (and by how much) the judge's perceptions of the parties were affected. The study concludes that, in many (but not all) cases, negative themes did seem to have more impact on the judicial reader."

Congratulations to Professor Chestek on a rigorous and convincing article.

(Scott Fruehwald)

April 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Free College Tuition for the Middle Class in New York

From USA Today:

New York is making tuition at public colleges and universities free for middle-class residents.

In the state budget approved over the weekend, households with incomes less than $100,000 can get free tuition at State University of New York schools starting this fall.

You can read more here.


April 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best Accounting Firms to Work For


New York, NY (April 18, 2017) In the latest Vault Accounting 50, a ranking of the best accounting firms to work for based on a survey of 8,600 accountants, there were several key developments. While PwC maintained its stranglehold atop the ranking, fellow Big 4 firm Deloitte gained ground, inching closer to the top spot, and KPMG jumped one spot to No. 4, knocking Chicago-based Grant Thornton back to No. 5. In addition, West Coast firm Moss Adams leaped three spots to No. 8, moving back into the top 10.


The Top 10 firms in the Vault Accounting 50 based on Vault’s annual Accounting Survey are:


1. PwC 2. Deloitte 3. EY 4. KPMG 5. Grant Thornton 6. BDO USA 7. Plante Moran 8. Moss Adams 9. Crowe Horwath 10. RSM

Vault’s Accounting Quality of Life Rankings Winners:


Benefits: Moss Adams Business Outlook: Plante Moran Client Interaction: Plante Moran Compensation: Brown Smith Wallace CSR Initiatives: Brown Smith Wallace Culture: Plante Moran Diversity (Overall): Burr Pilger Mayer Diversity (Minorities): Burr Pilger Mayer Diversity (Women): Frank Rimerman + Co. Diversity (LGBT): Burr Pilger Mayer Firm Leadership: Plante Moran Formal Training: Deloitte Hiring Process: Plante Moran Hours: Friedman Informal Training: Plante Moran Internal Mobility: Plante Moran Promotion Policies: Plante Moran Relationships with Supervisors: Friedman Satisfaction: Plante Moran Travel Requirements: Plante Moran Vacation Policies: Plante Moran Work/Life Balance: Friedman



April 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Art of Direct Examination

At the New York State Bar Association Journal (March-April 2017), trial attorney James A. Johnson offer a 5 page guide to effective direct examination. Here is an excerpt that applies to legal writing as well:

A good theme should be brief. It should be interesting, obvious and easy to remember. It is crucial that the theme be stated in just a few words or in short sentences. The essence of a good theme is that it is catchy and quick and can immediately and easily be understood by the jurors. The purpose of the theme is to grab the attention of the jurors. You want to captivate their interest and understanding all the way to the jury deliberation room. Now, you can discern that direct examination, opening statement and closing argument are not separate and distinct, but work in tandem. The best themes are not always catchy phrases. Using a visual aid to convey a theme is just as powerful as a catchy phrase. Better still, use both a catchy phrase in opening statement and a visual aid on direct examination to tell a compelling story.

You can access the article here.


April 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Phone Service Will Warn You When Scammers Call

T-Mobile recently rolled out a feature that warns you when your incoming calls are from telemarketers or likely scammers. 

You can read more here.


April 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

“OK”: Its Origin

Does anyone really know who birthed the phrase? The phase is so well accepted that it appeared as a spelling word in my fourth grade spelling book. Here’s some history from Allan Metcalf at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

That’s right. Our greatest word began life as a joke: All doesn’t begin with o, and correct doesn’t begin with k. Even as OK quickly became included in the 1840 presidential campaign, the stigma of an illiterate origin became all the more evident.

So what did people do? They became birthers. They looked at other languages to find dignity for OK. In the 19th century, W.S. Wyman, a professor of English at the University of Alabama, demonstrated to his satisfaction that OK came from the Choctaw Indian language. (That was never authenticated.) Our word has also been attributed to a Chicago baker, O. Kendall, and to a Boston baker named Otto Kimmel. Expressions like OK have been found in languages as diverse as French, German, Finnish, and Greek.

You can read more here.



April 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Creating Desirable Difficulties: Strategies for Reshaping Teaching and Learning in the Law School Classroom by Elizabeth M. Bloom

Creating Desirable Difficulties: Strategies for Reshaping Teaching and Learning in the Law School Classroom by Elizabeth M. Bloom.  Excellent article.


Students unconsciously experience a conflict between the type of learning they believe is best for them and the type of learning that actually is best for them. As a result, they are choosing ineffective study techniques and making numerous mistakes when it comes to learning. This Article seeks to make law professors aware of students’ learning mistakes and to equip them with strategies to teach students how to be self-regulated learners who make thoughtful decisions about how best to learn. These strategies introduce desirable difficulties into the learning process – namely, complex learning activities that require students to actively engage with the material in ways that promote self-assessment and reflection skills. While this process might initially appear to slow the rate of learning, challenging students in this manner pushes them to develop their own strategies to address the intricate learning tasks that are prevalent in law school. This Article anticipates law school efforts to implement the revised American Bar Association Accreditation standards, which, amongst other changes, require schools to establish and assess learning outcomes. These new standards shift the focus of legal education from what we are teaching to what our students are learning. This shift will require professors to become comfortable evaluating learning outcomes. Accordingly, the Article proposes that professors engage in “backwards course design” – first determining desired learning outcomes, then choosing formative and summative assessment methods to measure those outcomes, and finally incorporating specific teaching strategies to achieve their learning objectives. The Article demonstrates this approach by articulating a specific legal learning outcome for an Evidence class and suggesting formative assessment activities and teaching strategies to help students achieve that outcome. The Article’s intended learning outcome is to provide professors with tools to design and deploy tangible strategies that advance learning in the law school classroom, while ensuring compliance with the ABA standards.

(Scott Fruehwald)

April 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Adding legal technology skills to the curriculum

In this article from the most recent issue of Spectrum published by the American Association of Law Libraries, the authors (and librarians) Camille Broussard (New York Law School), Kathleen Brown, Daniel Cordova (the Colorado Supreme Court) and Sarah Mauldin (Smith, Gambrell and Russell) make the case that despite the popular stereotype that today's matriculating law students are proficient with technology, in fact they are not very knowledgeable at all about tools they will need to use in practice upon graduation. Thus, it is incumbent upon law schools to incorporate technology-based training into the curriculum. The authors argue that teaching students about the technology they will be expected to know and use in practice are skills that should be infused throughout the traditional three year curriculum including doctrinal courses. In particular the authors argue that a school's law librarians can play a vital role in helping to design technology training programs that will impart to students the technical skills they need for practice. Check out the entire article here.


April 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Growing Threat: Cyber Criminals Distributing Academic Passwords,Credentials

From EdScoop:

College and universities are facing a growing threat from cyber-criminals who are sharing credentials from millions of stolen or fake .edu email accounts on the dark web.

In a new study, “Cyber Criminals, College Credentials, and the Dark Web,” the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) found evidence that threat actors of all types — including hacktivists, scam artists and terrorists — increasingly are putting emails and passwords from higher-education accounts up for sale or trade, and in some cases, they are just giving them away.

“We’ve seen a giant spike in [stolen and fake credentials from] .edus,” Brian Dunn, managing partner at ID Agent, a Washington, D.C., cybersecurity company that provided data for the report, told EdScoop. “There isn’t the same correlation with the other domains that we track. We track a lot within the public sector — .us., .gov and .mil — and we see increases there but not anywhere above 100 percent. We’ve had a 540 percent increase in .edus, so there are definitely some tremors going on there.”

You can read more here.


April 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to our readers celebrating the holiday!

Here’s a short video of Rick Steves showcasing traditional European celebrations with an emphasis on Easter foods.

And for the classical music lovers, here’s Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), with Claudio Abbado conducting.


April 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blogs: Photos You Can Use Free of Copyright Rules

From the Beyond ByLines blog, here’s a set of sites that offer photos for free:

  1. Pixabay – Here, you’ll find all sorts of public domain pictures and photos, free to use for your purposes.
  2. Unsplash– All the pictures here are a CC0 license, meaning you can copy and use them for free.
  3. Refe – This is a database of royalty-free stock photos. Just click on the free photo tab, and you’re in business.
  4. My Stock Photos– This site gives you countless beautiful photographs that are all stock images, available for both your personal or commercial endeavors.
  5. New Old Stock – These are vintage pictures from public archives, free from known copyright restrictions.
  6. FoodiesFeed – Are you a food blogger? This will be your heaven! Find a whole archive of food images that you may use without attribution (but, you cannot resell.)
  7. Public Domain Archive – Just click on the tab for free stock photos or go through their beautiful weekly images.
  8. Life of Pix – Another stock photo site, where you can find free high-resolution photos without copyright restrictions.
  9. SplitShire – Looking for even more free, high quality stock photos? The creator of this site lets you download and use all of their personal shots for free. They also have a free video archive!
  10. Photogen – Even more free stock photos, for all of your commercial and personal needs.

*Bonus: One of my other favorite sites for images is Canva. Sign up for free, and quickly discover how to create your own designs, templates, and edit photos. It’s an easy way to craft personal social media graphics with images, filters, shapes and fonts already on the site. While the majority of it is free, a few layouts and images do have a small price ($1!) . I highly recommend it if you’re looking to start designing or editing images yourself.

 You can read more here.


April 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)