Tuesday, November 8, 2016

E. Barrett Prettyman Passes Away at 91

The first president of the unified D.C. Bar, E. Barrett Prettyman Jr. is a native Washingtonian who fought with the Ninth Army during World War II, received an undergraduate degree from Yale, and worked as a reporter on the Providence Journal before attending the University of Virginia Law School.

After clerking for three Supreme Court justices, Prettyman joined Hogan & Hartson where an appellate work practice was frequently interrupted by stints of public service: as Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General and Special Assistant to the White House during the Kennedy administration, and Special Counsel to the House Ethics Committee during the "ABSCAM" investigation, among other posts.

A former president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and second president of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Prettyman is the author of Death and the Supreme Court, winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar award for best fact crime book of 1961. He has argued 19 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and cases in most of the Circuits.

You can read more about this Legend in the Law here, at the D.C. Bar News.

November 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Law Schools Need to Teach Professional Identity: The Difference Between Rationality and Intelligence

One is raw cognitive horsepower.  The other is the propensity for reflective thought.  @alligerkman

The Difference Between Rationality and Intelligence By David Z. Hambrick & Alexander P. Burgoyne. (NY Times)

"ARE you intelligent — or rational? The question may sound redundant, but in recent years researchers have demonstrated just how distinct those two cognitive attributes actually are."

"It all started in the early 1970s, when the psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky conducted an influential series of experiments showing that all of us, even highly intelligent people, are prone to irrationality."

"In the Linda problem [see article], we fall prey to the conjunction fallacy — the belief that the co-occurrence of two events is more likely than the occurrence of one of the events. In other cases, we ignore information about the prevalence of events when judging their likelihood. We fail to consider alternative explanations. We evaluate evidence in a manner consistent with our prior beliefs. And so on. Humans, it seems, are fundamentally irrational."

"But starting in the late 1990s, researchers began to add a significant wrinkle to that view. As the psychologist Keith Stanovich and others observed, even the Kahneman and Tversky data show that some people are highly rational. In other words, there are individual differences in rationality, even if we all face cognitive challenges in being rational."

"The major finding was that irrationality — or what Professor Stanovich called “dysrationalia” — correlates relatively weakly with I.Q. A person with a high I.Q. is about as likely to suffer from dysrationalia as a person with a low I.Q."

"Based on this evidence, Professor Stanovich and colleagues have introduced the concept of the rationality quotient, or R.Q. If an I.Q. test measures something like raw intellectual horsepower (abstract reasoning and verbal ability), a test of R.Q. would measure the propensity for reflective thought — stepping back from your own thinking and correcting its faulty tendencies."

"There is also now evidence that rationality, unlike intelligence, can be improved through training."

"While there is scant evidence that any sort of 'brain training' has any real-world impact on intelligence, it may well be possible to train people to be more rational in their decision making."

"It is, of course, unrealistic to think that we will ever live in a world where everyone is completely rational. But by developing tests to identify the most rational among us, and by offering training programs to decrease irrationality in the rest of us, scientific researchers can nudge society in that direction."

The above article has enormous implications for law school training.  If teachers can train rationality, then it is vital that law schools include such training in their curriculum.  In other words, this article supports the need for professional identity training in law school.

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Legal sector loses 100 jobs in October

But overall the number of jobs is up by about 1500 from this time last year.  That's according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly job report which can be found here.  According to a summary provided by the American Lawyer blog, here, the legal sector is still lagging about 55,000 jobs behind the pre-recession employment level with experts suggesting that some of those jobs may be lost forever as they've been replaced by automation and other cost savings strategies. 


November 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Mediation Training Reduce Biases in Lawyers?

A recent article answers yes. Douglas Frenkel & James Stark, Improving Lawyers’ Judgment: Is Mediation Training De-Biasing?, 15 Harvard Negotiation Law Review 1 (2015). Bias affects the ability of lawyers to perform well and serve their clients:

When they affect lawyers, egocentric, partisan and role biases can hinder the ability to provide objective advice to clients, lead to overly optimistic forecasts about the probability of future events, and promote “we-they” thinking that can exacerbate and prolong conflicts, imposing substantial costs on both clients and society.

Mediation Training teaches lawyers to understand other points of view and think objectively:

That this is so is supported by social science research on two specific strategies for de-biasing judgment — considering alternative scenarios and taking another’s perspective — both core mediator mindsets. Research also shows that active engagement in such de-biasing activity is more effective in achieving objectivity than is mere instruction about the existence of cognitive biases.

You can access the article here and here.


November 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Above the Law: Hofstra Blames Lazy Graduates With Low GPAs For Abysmal Performance On Bar Exam

Law School Blames Lazy Graduates With Low GPAs For Abysmal Performance On Bar Exam By Staci Zaretsky.  Excerpts:

"One New York law school seems to have pinpointed the exact reason why its overall pass rate was so low. The school revealed in a recent email to all students that graduates with low GPAs and students who refused to work hard on studying dragged down the school’s overall pass rate. Which law school could it be?"

"The school in question is Hofstra Law School, and its bar passage rate has progressively slipped from 84 percent in July 2013 to 64 percent in July 2016."

"Last night, Hofstra’s dean sent an email to current students about the school’s abysmal bar passage rate:

'The July 2016 New York State Bar results were released, and our pass rate for first-time takers was 64 percent, a decline of 3 percent from the previous year. The average pass rate for first-time takers at New York schools was 83 percent. …
Hard work is truly an important factor in Bar success. Studies have found that students who complete at least 75 percent of their commercial Bar prep work have a significantly higher chance of passing the exam. Also, the strongest indicator of success continues to be a student’s final law school GPA. If you are currently ranked in the bottom 50 percent of your class, I strongly encourage you to reach out to our academic success advisors.'"

"It’s no wonder Hofstra graduates with low GPAs have suffered when it comes to passing the bar exam. Take a look at how the law school’s admissions criteria have sunk since 2010, particularly in the 25th percentile range. Students who entered the school with those numbers may well have become graduates with low law school GPAs, which have been shown to correlate strongly with success (or lack thereof) on the bar exam."

(Chart via Law School Transparency)

(Chart via Law School Transparency)

As I have said before, if a law school is going to admit students with low indicators, they have to better educate students beginning in the first year. A third-year bar review course is too late.

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S. One must wonder how well students in Hofstra's 25th percentile range will do on future bar exams, considering that this year's bar class had a 151 LSAT while the next two years' classes had a 147.

November 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Art of the Argument: Experts Give Advice

At the DC Bar News blog, experienced D.C. lawyers offer specific advice on making winning arguments in court. A nice article to share with students.

 Please click here.


November 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

How to Remove Yourself from the Internet: 5 Steps

If you really want to get off the grid (not sure this is wise), mic.com tells you how.

Please click here.


November 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawyer Who Choked on Popeye’s Chicken Withdraws Lawsuit

From the Sun Herald:

“Extreme comments” directed at his family have prompted Gulfport attorney Paul Newton to drop a lawsuit he filed against Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen after he choked on a chicken breast because, he said, the fast-food restaurant failed to provide him a knife in the drive-thru. . . .

Newton said in his lawsuit that he ordered fried chicken for lunch Tuesday at the Popeyes on Pass Road. The restaurant provided only a spork, a combination spoon and fork, to go with the meal. He said he tried to eat the chicken by hand, but a piece became lodged in his throat.

You can read more here. Be sure to read the comments following the article.


November 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Love a lawyer, eat a doughnut.

Today, November 5,  is National Love Your Lawyer Day and at least one website commemorating the holiday offers several ways you can celebrate including merely refraining from telling "lawyer jokes" to contacting some of your favorite lawyers to let them know how much you appreciate them.

And tomorrow is National Doughnut Day (apparently this holiday is celebrated twice a year - once on the first Friday in June and tomorrow, the first Saturday in November - who knew!). I'm guessing I don't have to tell you how to celebrate this one.


November 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out

At the National Jurist, Hillary Mantis suggests four techniques:

  1. Don’t use the same resume for every job listing.You may want to consider crafting different versions of your basic resume to use when applying to certain jobs so that you can show more specialized experience.
  2. Don’t just use one heading for all of your experience. Most law students list all of their jobs and internships under one heading, generally titled “Experience.” But you don’t have to do that. You can break your experience down into different headings to emphasize a particular practice area.
  3. Don’t write up every position the same way. You want your resume to emphasize the most relevant experience, so put the focus on certain positions by writing a more detailed description for those jobs.
  4. Do use professional affiliations sections to build experience.What if you want to go into entertainment law, but don’t have any experience in it? I would suggest you join several bar association student entertainment law committees.

You can read full explanations here.


November 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Noteworthy Absence of Women Advocates at the United States Supreme Court

Jennifer Crystal Mika (Née Mullins) has collected the data. To summarize:

A total of eighty different advocates have appeared more than once in a given term over the last six terms. Only fifteen different women appear on this list; comprising only 19% of the entire list of advocates. Ten of these women were Assistants to the Solicitor General. Only four women (less than 5%) were from private practice.

She concludes:

The noteworthy absence of women advocates before the Supreme Court highlights that the pipeline to success for women in the legal profession is still a work in progress. Women continue to make up a fraction of the advocates that frequently argue before the Supreme Court. The data presented in this article suggests that the disparities seen in other areas of the legal profession may be part of the cause. However, further research and discussion is needed to fully understand why women consistently are far less likely to appear before the highest Court in the land.

You can read more here.


November 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Texas Law Will Change Its Name Again

From the National Law Journal:

Houston College of Law, formerly South Texas College of Law, will get a third — and hopefully final — name this year. The private school agreed to change its name by Nov. 4 to avoid going to trial in a federal trademark suit brought by University of Houston Law Center. The new name will honor a benefactor and include the word "Houston" at the end, an attorney said.

ORIGINAL: The law school formerly called South Texas College of Law is back, at least for a while.

This summer, the Houston-based law school had changed its name to Houston College of Law in an attempt to transform its brand and bring increased awareness to its location.

You can read more here.


November 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

U Oregon Law Prof Wears Blackface to Halloween Party

From: Oregon Live.com

A University of Oregon law professor wore a costume that included "blackface" at an off-campus Halloween party.

President Michael Schill sent out a campus-wide message commenting on the incident Tuesday, condemning the unnamed professor's actions as an "anathema to the University of Oregon's cherished values of racial diversity and inclusion." UO's law school dean, chief academic officer and dean of inclusion all signed onto the message.

The faculty member apparently wore blackface to an off-campus private party where other faculty members and students were in attendance, according to Schill's message. Blackface has long been associated with damaging racial stereotypes, yet Halloween costumes involving the offensive practice are still in use and routinely appear on social media feeds.

The prof has since apologized. You can read more here. Hard to believe.


November 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virtual Counseling for Mental Health Services?

From Inside Higher Ed:

“Do parties or social situations ever make you uncomfortable?”

“How would you categorize your stress level?”

“How often would you say you feel overwhelming anger or irritability?”

These are some of the questions that greet students at Colorado State University when they log in to the university’s new online mental health portal, You@CSU. Created through a partnership with Grit Digital Health and officially launched this semester, You@CSU acts as a virtual counselor, asking students questions about their mental and physical well-being and directing them to the appropriate campus resources.

The platform is one of several digital tools -- from online portals to text messaging services and smartphone apps -- that colleges are using to provide wider access to mental health services as campus health centers struggle to meet the rising counseling demands of students. Use of what’s called telepsychology for mental health services is increasing, according a survey released earlier this year by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. In the 2013-14 academic year, 6.6 percent of counseling centers reporting using telepsychology in some form. The following year, the figure was up to 9.1 percent.

Of course, not everyone is on board with virtual counseling. You can read more here.


November 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Closing the Gap Between Thinking Like a Lawyer and Being One by Alli Gerkman

Closing the Gap Between Thinking Like a Lawyer and Being One by Alli Gerkman.

"Thanks to Foundations for Practice, we now know the foundations of success for new lawyers. As schools charged with educating professionals, law schools must find ways to ensure their graduates have those foundations. In turn, legal employers must commit to hire new lawyers based on the foundations they have identified as necessary."

"Through our survey, 24,000 lawyers identified the foundations entry-level lawyers need. We believe those foundations should inform law school learning outcomes. We also believe law schools should view learning outcomes as much more than ABA requirements or internal metrics. Learning outcomes can and should be signals to employers—signals as clear as the traditional signals, like class rank and prestige of law school.

As we embark on the next five years of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, we will harness the Foundations for Practice to close the gap between school and career, between credentials and capabilities, between thinking like a lawyer and becoming one."

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ABA random audit of law school employment data reveals incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information

The sample is small (only 10 law schools were audited) and the ABA cautions that the findings are much more likely the result of clerical errors than malfeasance. With those caveats in mind, here's the full story as reported by Inside Higher Ed:

Law Schools Flagged for Job Data

A random review finds five of 10 institutions fell short on backing up claims about graduates' job placement success.


The first audits of the employment data that law schools report about their recent graduates have generated concern among watchdogs, with a series of reviews finding several deficiencies that raise questions about the class of 2015’s reported outcomes.


Most notably, a review of 10 randomly selected schools found that half had missed a compliance benchmark for the documentation they are supposed to keep on file when reporting key metrics like whether their students are employed 10 months after graduation and whether they are working in a position that required them to pass the bar. Schools were flagged for not being able to show documentation to support important parts of reported employment data, or if investigators found evidence key pieces of employment data were incomplete, inaccurate or misleading.


Other reviews found issues at a substantially smaller percentage of schools related to handling documentation or posting required information online.


The audits, performed at the behest of the arm of the American Bar Association that accredits law schools, are not final. ABA leaders say they do not have a hard timeline for when the reviews will be completed, but indicated that the issues uncovered tend to be clerical in nature and were not instances of "gross misreporting" or "attempts to manipulate."


That hasn’t stopped critics from wondering whether the audits reflect widespread problems in the employment data law schools use to attract prospective students, however. Such problems would come years after allegations of deceptive job placement data led to a political firestorm and after the ABA made significant changes to the data-reporting requirements to which its schools must adhere. They would also come shortly after the ABA took a tough stance on two law schools' admissions standards in the wake of it coming under fire this summer from the federal panel that oversees higher education accreditors.


Still others cautioned that auditing is a major step for law graduate employment data, and that it will take some time for the ABA to teach schools what it wants from them.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


November 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Cognitive Psychology to Improve Student Performance, Part Five: Putting it All Together by Louis Schulze

Professor Schulze has posted another article in his series on cognitive psychology and learning:

Using Cognitive Psychology to Improve Student Performance, Part Five: Putting it All Together by Louis Schulze.

"This series has addressed four concepts from educational and cognitive psychology: (1) retrieval practice (“the testing effect”); (2) metacognition and self-regulated learning; (3) spaced repetition; and (4) cognitive schema theory. Each of these concepts alone can improve students’ performance in law school and on the bar. Together, they can make an enormous difference. The problem is that it’s hard to convince students to use these methods when so many forces convey the message that they should stick to popular but antiquated and ineffective methods.

In this post, I’ll describe a number of specific methods that differ from traditional ones but improve students’ success in law school. In my final post, I’ll do the same in the context of bar exam study."

"While I try to persuade students to take this approach from day one, some do not.   When students underperform in the first semester, however, switching them to this plan in the second has led to statistically significant grade increases. I’ve seen students go from sub-2.00 first semester GPAs to 3.50 second semester GPAs; from the bottom of the class to Dean’s List; from the brink of dismissal to a top 10% semester GPA and booked 1L courses. Because this approach comports with what we know about how learning really works, especially compared to traditional methods, it produces results."  (emphasis added)

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lunch with Your Faculty Interviewers

At Vitae, consultant Karen Kelsey gives practical advice. Excerpts:

I recommend that job seekers take the time to read some recent issues of the Times — both the national news and the arts section (if you don’t already do that regularly) — and see a much-talked about recent film (if you haven’t already). I also recommend you study up on local politics, particularly any recent Republican assaults on higher education, which might be the overwhelming concern in states like Wisconsin, Illinois, North Carolina, Maine, Arizona, Florida, and so on (this list grows weekly, it seems).

What the faculty want to see, instead, is:

Someone who will be a good colleague.

Someone who will ask about other people’s research and teaching interests and find points of commonality.

Someone who will make connections and engage in meaningful dialogue.

So as you contemplate the campus visit, remember that the goal is always conversation and connection. 

You can read much more here


November 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Getting Published: Surviving Repeated Rejection

If you have written an article and submitted it to numerous law reviews, you have received numerous rejection letters. If you use Expresso and Scholastica, you will determine that many of your correspondents never even read your piece.

Repeated rejection can be depressing. In this article on Lithub, you get unusual advice:

I asked her [a successful writer friend] what her secret was, and she said something that would change my professional life as a writer: “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”

An interesting article. You can access it here.


October 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indiana Tech’s Law School is Closing

From the News-Sentinel:

Indiana Tech's law school, which opened in 2013 with far fewer students than expected, failed in its first attempt at accreditation and graduated its first students this year — only one of whom passed the state bar examination — will close, The News-Sentinel has learned.

The school on Maumee Avenue just east of downtown built its $15 million law building to accommodate up to 350 students and expected 100 in its initial class but attracted 28. At the time, some critics doubted the need for the school, saying first-year law school enrollments had dropped 28 percent since 2010 to their lowest level since 1973.

Indiana Tech Arthur Snyder said the university has lost $20 million on the law school and, given projected enrollments, expected the deficit to continue. “This was an extremely difficult decision for all involved," Snyder said. "Over the course of time it has become apparent that the significant decline in law school applicants nationwide represents a long term shift in the legal education field, not a short-term one. Specific to Indiana Tech, the assessment of the Board and our senior leadership team is that for the foreseeable future the law school will not be able to attract students in sufficient numbers for the school to remain viable.”

You can read more here.


October 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)