Wednesday, August 5, 2015
From Education Week:
In an Aug. 2 interview with Christie, CNN's Jake Tapper referred to the governor's previous remarks that he liked to deal with bullies with a "punch in the face" rather than by accommodating them. Tapper asked which group at the national level deserved to be socked in the kisser. Without hesitation, Christie responded, "Oh, the national teachers' union."
The Governor certainly is entitled to hate teachers unions or any other group, but his use of violent imagery does not speak well of him. In the current era, violent language is not desirable for lawyers, governors, or presidential candidates.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Orientation began yesterday, Monday, at Elon Law School in Greensboro, N.C. for the Class of 2018 with Dean Luke Bierman declaring that "students are excited about law school again" based on an 18% increase in the size of the entering class compared to last year. The school also reports that the number of applicants was up 14% from Fall 2014. Dean Bierman said the numbers reflect student recognition of Elon's "pioneering model of legal education" by way of a "transformative curriculum” that weaves theory with experience-based learning. The incoming class heard that Elon incorporates hands-on legal training opportunities from the very first day of classes right up until graduation which, among other innovations, includes pairing each student with a practicing attorney. Dean Bierman told students that he believes this commitment to hands-on, experiential learning is what accounts for the significant increase in class size because "students clearly recognize the value.” You can read Dean Bierman's entire comments here and below is a short YouTube video of his remarks to the new 1Ls.
Rutgers Law, Newark & Camden, ABA Approves Merger.
On Friday, the Council of the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar approved the merger of Rutgers’ law schools. Now, one unified Rutgers Law School will be formed, with two locations in Camden and Newark, according to Rutgers Today. In June, the Accreditation Committee voted to recommend approval of the merger. The Rutgers Board of Governors voted in favor of the merger in April.
You can read more here. All the official public statements are positive.
Law schools need to offer more courses like this one.
Common Law I
COURSE DESCRIPTION: In this course we explore the kinds of arguments made by lawyers in contested cases. In each class session, a fact pattern and relevant precedents are distributed to the class and there is a discussion of what arguments lawyers for each side of the controversy ought to make. There is no search for the “right answer,” but rather for arguments that will increase the settlement value of the case to each side.
The fact patterns usually raise issues from Contracts, Property, and Restitution.
The course is offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Neither semester’s course is a prerequisite for the other semester’s.
Douglas L. Leslie
Monday, August 3, 2015
ABA accreditation committee also rejects paid law school externships for credit and repeals rule permitting admission of non-LSAT applicants
Following up on yesterday's post about the ABA's rule change on how law schools report subsidized student jobs, the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar also rejected a pending proposal to allow paid student externships for credit (here, here and here) and repealed the rule that permitted law schools to admit up to 10% of matriculants without having taken the LSAT. The ABA Journal blog has more details:
Law students won’t be allowed to receive both pay and academic credit for externships this year after all.
The American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Friday declined to eliminate its ban on such arrangements, citing vociferous opposition from clinical law professors.
Convening in Chicago during the ABA’s annual meeting, the council also voted to revoke a year-old rule allowing law schools to admit up to 10 percent of their first-year classes from applicants who have not taken the Law School Admission Test.
The council approved changes to the way schools report graduates employed in jobs funded by the school itself.
The rejection of the externship proposal followed a nearly two-year debate. In early June, the council seemed inclined to remove the long-standing ban when it submitted the proposal for public notice and comment. Members had prepared to seek final approval of the rule change before the ABA’s House of Delegates, meeting Monday and Tuesday.
Had both the council and the delegates signed off, the change would have taken effect in the fall, subject to agreement by individual law schools.
The proposal may yet return, however. The council voted to send the rules governing field placements back to the committee that examines accreditation standards, said Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director for accreditation and legal education.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
According to a Kaplan survey, of preLaws, it’s not fitting in socially. Grades and Work/Life Balance are at the top of their lists. Here is a summary of the study:
- Achieving High Grades: Understanding how academically intense the 1L experience can be, nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) pre-law students surveyed said they are concerned about achieving high grades.
- Maintaining a Healthy Work/Life Balance: Students’ first year is considered to be the most rigorous of the three-years long law school experience because of the many exams and reading. With that in mind, 82% of surveyed students said maintaining a healthy work/life balance was a concern.
- Debt: With tuition at many law schools topping $40,000 a year and the job market for lawyers still struggling to return to healthy levels, more than three-quarters (76%) of pre-law students surveyed said that taking on large debt is a concern.
- Securing a Summer Internship: Securing a summer internship, which can lead to post-graduation jobs, is an extremely competitive process, which may explain why 73% are concerned about this aspect of being a 1L. The critical piece to secure a summer internship: high grades.
- Fitting In: Whether due to confidence in their social skills or indifference to being socially accepted, just 38% of pre-law students said that fitting in socially was a first year concern.
You can read more here.
The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System and the related group, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers, have a new website.
From the IAALS announcement:
"Denver, Colo. Starting today, IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, in partnership with NEWMEDIA, a Denver-based full-service website design and development agency, has a new online home to showcase its expanding portfolio of impactful work."
"The work we do is vast and complex, but our new website keeps it simple. Months of thoughtful research and design with our partners at NEWMEDIA went into creating IAALS, new online home, where users, whether they are judges, lawyers, law students, or members of the public hoping to see meaningful change in the legal system, can quickly learn more about what we have done, what we are doing, and the impact we are having nationwide."
"New Website Features:
- Issue-oriented material quickly places you within the subject matter you want, with visually-driven content to encourage deeper exploration.
- Project-focused content packages our work in an accessible way for every audience.
- Our many partners, both individuals and organizations, take a central role, as we acknowledge that our work is made possible by the support of countless dedicated stakeholders.
- Educating Tomorrows Lawyers old website is brought into the IAALS fold, allowing for an expansion of content to match the initiatives impressive growth.
- The IAALS Online blog is also brought under the same banner with the same timely content you've come to expect over the years.
- A mobile-friendly platform allows users to access our content and resources whether in the office or on the go."
From the ETL Announcement:
"As ETL has grown, so too has our need to make our work and the work of our partners even easier to access and share said Alli Gerkman, Director of ETL. The new website allows us to better serve our growing audience of law students, legal educators, and legal professionals, and also allows us to connect them with the meaningful work that is taking place throughout IAALS."
New ETL specific website here.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
ABA accreditation committee adopts new rule to prohibit schools from including subsidized student jobs in full time employment stats
The new rule adopted Friday prohibits law schools from including in their post-graduate employment stats those students who are working in school subsidized jobs such as incubator programs. Instead, schools must report these students are working "part-time." While this won't have much affect on the post-graduate employment figures all law schools are now required to make public, as the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports, for schools worried about their USNWR rankings, every little bit counts since this is one of the factors used. From the WSJLB:
Law school graduate employment rates are about to look a little worse at some schools in the wake of a new proposal adopted Friday by accreditors.
During a meeting in Chicago, the American Bar Association’s accrediting arm voted to limit the amount of credit schools get for paying to find graduates jobs. Through what are often called bridge-to-practice programs, schools pay students a stipend to work at an organization that otherwise wouldn’t have a job available, typically in the public-interest sector.
Such positions have accounted for between 4% and 5% of all entry-level jobs landed by law-school graduates since 2011, according to the National Association for Law Placement. In the past two years, the proportion of those jobs that schools say are full-time, long-term positions requiring a law license has spiked, according to NALP, from 7.6% in 2011 to 55.4% in 2014.
As The Wall Street Journal examined this week, the numbers matter because employment figures play a role in how schools are ranked in the influential U.S. News & World Report list of top law schools. The list is carefully scrutinized by would-be law students, who want to make sure that the often $100,000 or more needed to get a law degree is worth it.
Now, schools have to report school-funded jobs as part-time work unless a position is expected to last at least one year and pays an annual salary of $40,000 or more.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Most of us probably haven’t completed—or started—all the projects we expected to take on this summer. In the waning weeks before school starts, it’s time to winnow down the list and plan our working days.
Think about the advice we give students in the weeks before exams—get out your calendar and plan and plot out your life for the remaining weeks.
Maybe we should adapt that advice to our lives. For example, that plan to clean off my desk with its mountains of paper—maybe it should become a top priority. Maybe I should finish writing that book review.
Here is an article by Anastasia Salter that may be of help.
Next week, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates will meet to discuss a resolution that encourages attorney licensing bodies to remove questions about mental health history during the character-and-fitness review procedures.
The resolution is co-sponsored by the ABA’s Commission on Disability Rights and Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. It suggests that questions should only target conduct that would impair one’s ability to practice law, instead of asking about any diagnoses or treatment the candidate has received. In an article from 2014, Slate noted that students who choose to keep their mental health matters private—by refusing to answer mental health questions on the bar application—likely just threw away the $150,000 or more they just spent on law school.
You can read more here.
In his recent inauguration speech as the new president of the Florida bar, Ramon Abadin suggested several reforms to improve the delivery of legal services including support for more skills training in law school (here) and dropping the bar's notorious prohibition against granting reciprocity for lawyers from other states. As you might expect, members of the Florida bar are freaking out over the prospect of every out-of-state lawyer with a vacation condo in "the Sunshine State" waiving-in and then taking business away from the locals. Some Florida lawyers are already calling for Mr. Abadin's removal while others want a state-wide referendum on the issue. At present Florida has more than 80,000 licensed attorneys in good standing or about 34 per 10,000 residents. The Miami Daily Business Journal has more on the reaction of Florida lawyers to the bar president's proposal to ease reciprocity requirements.
When Florida Bar President Ramon Abadin mentioned the possibility of reciprocity for attorneys in his inaugural speech, he had no idea the firestorm he would create among the state's lawyers.
Abadin and members of the Bar's board of governors are getting hundreds of emails about the issue—many of them irate. A few are even calling for Abadin's removal, while others are requesting a referendum of all 101,000 Bar members on the issue.
"This is the most important issue facing the judiciary, bar and the citizens of Florida since Article V," said an email from Tampa lawyer F. Dennis Alvarez of Genders-Alvarez-Diecidue, referring to a 1998 change in the state Constitution switching trial court funding from counties to the state. "Please don't underestimate the level of discontent among the members of the Bar. No matter what position you favor on this issue, in my 40-plus years as a member of the Bar I have not seen an issue as divisive as this particular one."
. . . .
Many Florida lawyers are concerned that allowing reciprocity or admission by motion would draw thousands of new lawyers to the state.
Since Florida is a state where many out-of-staters retire, reciprocity or admission by motion would invite part-time residents and retirees with homes here to hang a shingle, opponents argue.
The Florida Bar, some board members and Abadin responded to the criticism quickly by sending out emails to all Bar members and tweets reminding them that the rule is far from changing. It would have to be approved by the board of governors, board of bar examiners and the Florida Supreme Court, a prolonged process that could easily take a year once formally proposed.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Friday, July 31, 2015
This is a new article by Professor Robert Kuehn called Pricing Clinical Legal Education challenging the assumption that expanding clinical training opportunities for law students costs too much. It is available at 92 Denv. U. L. Rev. 1 (2014) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:
Some blame the cost of clinical legal education for high law school tuition. They argue that, regardless of the educational and employment benefits to students, clinical legal education, and law clinics in particular, are too expensive to expand or require for all students in a time of decreasing law school enrollments and revenues. This Article is an empirical examination of these claims.
Reviewing tuition, curricular and enrollment data from all law schools, this Article demonstrates that 84% of law schools already have the capacity to provide a clinical experience to every student without adding courses or faculty, although only 18% presently require or guarantee that training. It finds there is no effect on the tuition and fees students pay from requiring or guaranteeing every student a clinical experience and no difference in tuition between schools that already have sufficient capacity to provide a clinical experience to each student and those that do not. In addition, there is no tuition growth associated with the increased availability of experiential or law clinic courses for students or the increased participation of students in law clinics, in spite of the higher costs many associate with clinics. These findings demonstrate that clinical courses have not cost, and need not cost, students more in tuition. The Article concludes that providing a clinical experience to every student is more a question of a school’s will to provide that educational experience than of cost.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
This finding is the result of the NALP's survey of 2014 law school grads which notes that this is the first time employment rates have increased from the previous year since pre-recessionary 2007. However, the good news comes with two caveats. First, employment data for the class of 2014 was collected ten months after graduation rather than 9 months due to an ABA rule change making it more difficult to compare 2014 law grad employment rates with those of the previous years. In addition, last year's graduating class was smaller than 2013's which means that even though the overall number of jobs available was less, the employment rate went up because last years's graduating class was smaller. Here are more details from NALP's press release:
. . . .
Analyses of the NALP employment data for the Class of 2014 reveal an employment rate that increased for the first time since reaching a 25-year high of 91.9% in 2007.
. . . .
According to NALP's Executive Director, James Leipold, "These data present a picture of a complex employment market, and it is virtually impossible to tease apart the twin forces of a shrinking class and an overall job market that continues to improve (albeit modestly), but it is clear that the shrinking class size did indeed have a positive impact on the overall employment rate, and that is a dynamic that will likely continue to be in play for the next three graduating classes, each of which is projected to continue to come down in size in fairly dramatic steps."
Despite the small contraction in the overall number of jobs, there continue to be signs of improvement in the entry-level job market. For instance, of those graduates for whom employment status was known, 66.3% obtained a job for which bar passage is required, the highest percent since 2010. An additional 14.8% of graduates obtained jobs for which a JD provides an advantage in obtaining the job, but for which bar passage is not required. (These are often described as law-related jobs.) This compares with 13.8% for the Class of 2013, and is a figure that has grown steadily since 2007, when it stood at just 7.7%. In addition, the number of graduates who report that they are working in jobs that are short-term and/or part-time also continues to decline, and the overall percentage of graduates who reported jobs that were full-time, long-term, and bar passage required jumped three full percentage points, to 62%, up from an historic low of just 57% for the Class of 2011. Also, the number of graduates who hold jobs but say they are already looking for another job continues to come down, as does the number of graduates who report that they are working as solo practitioners immediately after graduation.
The distribution of jobs among different kinds of employers has remained relatively constant over the last three years, with graduates predictably finding jobs with law firms, government entities, the judiciary, businesses, nonprofit and public interest organizations, and educational institutions. The big loss of private practice jobs that took place between 2009 and 2010 continues to be the one change that really distinguishes the post-recession entry-level legal employment market from the pre-recession entry-level legal employment market. Jobs in private practice accounted for just over half of the jobs obtained for the Class of 2014, while jobs in the public sector and public interest, including government jobs and jobs as judicial clerks, accounted for just under 30% of all jobs, and jobs in business for just under 20% of all jobs. The actual number of jobs, however, fell in every category except government, and within private practice the number of jobs fell in every law firm size category except for firms of 101 to 500 lawyers, where the number rose modestly.
Additionally, starting salaries for the Class of 2014 remained essentially flat in every category, and law firm starting salaries remained absolutely flat, with a median of $95,000 and a mean of $102,600, both of which matched exactly the median and mean measured for the Class of 2013. While aggregate salaries have come up somewhat from the lowest post-recession figures measured in 2011, the earning power of the class as a whole is nowhere near what it was in 2009 when the law firm median starting salary stood at $130,000, the highest figure ever measured.
. . . .
What Does This All Mean?
On balance NALP's Leipold is sanguine about the entry-level job market for new law school graduates. "A fair bottom-line reading is that the entry-level job market is basically flat to improving slightly. In parsing this year's numbers it probably doesn't make sense to read too much into the small contraction in the overall number of jobs obtained, as it reflects in part simply a smaller group of job seekers. The good news in terms of the overall employment rate is that graduating class sizes will likely continue to come down at a much faster rate than any continued diminution in the actual number of jobs available to new law school graduates. In fact, some analysts look at the projected size of the graduating Class of 2017, one that will be some 30% or more smaller than the Class of 2013, and suggest that there will not be nearly enough new law school graduates to meet the needs of the entry-level lawyer job market at that time. Tempering those predictions is the understanding that growing efficiencies created by technology and business systems, and increased competition from non-traditional legal services providers, will both likely continue to put downward pressure on overall law firm lawyer headcount in the coming years and even decades."
So what is the bottom line? According to Leipold, "It is clear that the overall jobs profile for the Class of 2014 has improved considerably from that for the Class of 2011, the class that will come to be seen as having faced the worst overall post-recession job market, and we fully expect that the overall employment rate for the Classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017 will continue to improve. Nonetheless the changes facing the industry are enormous, and it is all but certain that the job market will continue to change for new law school graduates in the years ahead."
. . . .
Read the entire press release here.
Ongoing Innovation in Legal Education by Bill Mooz and Andy Evans.
In the wake of the Great Recession, corporate legal departments saw intensified pressure not only to do more with less, but also to experiment with new approaches for acquiring and delivering legal services. This dynamic, in turn, affected large law firms dramatically, with clients now sending less work to them and placing greater constraints on how that work gets done and billed for. In turn, law firms have undergone significant consolidation and have tightened their hiring practices dramatically.
Law schools, who train the lawyers of the future, likewise felt the impact. With reduced law firm hiring, law school graduates saw reduced demand for their services, all while tuitions and debt levels continued to rise. Law school applications, not surprisingly, plummeted.
In the face of (and because of) these changes, certain segments of the legal services industry continue to grow. Alternative legal service providers, such as eDiscovery vendors and Legal Process Outsourcers (“LPOs”), have prospered during this period, as have Legal Operations groups within corporate legal departments.
Now, we either use rhetorical figures effectively, or we
do not use them at all. If we use them it is because we pre-
sume our reader is capable of catching them, and because we
believe that we will appear more incisive and convincing. In
this case, we should not be ashamed of them, and we should
not explain them. If we think that our reader is an idiot, we
should not use rhetorical figures, but if we use them and
feel the need to explain them, we are essentially calling the
reader an idiot. In turn, he will take revenge by calling
the author an idiot.
From “How to Write a Thesis (here, 5.1)
Law school doesn't look like a great deal for many students. Tuition keeps going up, which means bigger loans to pay off.
But the job market for lawyers remains weak. At lower-tier schools, less than half of students end up with jobs as attorneys, according to a recent report from an American Bar Association task force.
Steven Harper, author of "The Lawyer Bubble," argues that those schools should be held accountable. The ABA task force proposes less-dramatic measures, like giving students more information about their prospective debt load.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
In a recent Vitae article, David Gooblar writes:
In 1961, a Stanford University psychologist named Albert Bandura conducted a soon-to-be famous experiment. He had young children watch adults interact with an inflatable “Bobo” doll in a toy-strewn room. Half of the children observed an adult acting aggressively toward the doll: pummeling, hitting, attacking the defenseless toy with mallets. The other half watched an adult playing nicely with Bobo, as the children’s parents might want them to play with other kids. All of the children were then left alone in the room with the doll. The resulting behavior will surprise no one today: Children who watched the aggressive adult were themselves much more likely to be aggressive; the other children played nice.
The results were part of a new idea that Bandura helped pioneer called “social-learning theory. It revolutionized our way of understanding cognition by showing that learning does not entirely depend on the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. Instead, social-learning theory posits that we learn to behave in large part by watching others.
You can read more here. Most of the suggestions amount to making yourself more open and thus more vulnerable. In my professional life, I try to be rather open and very reasonable, probably in the "warm, fuzzy" category; however, my students also have to deal with my insistence on rigor in my courses. I have no idea whether my style affects how students will shape their future professional personalities. Here’s hoping.