Monday, August 11, 2014
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Grover Cleveland, author of Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer and a favorite of this blog (here and here), has posted some timely tips over at The Careerist Blog for those second and third year law students looking for advice on how to shine brightest in job interviews during this fall's OCI season.
- Own the room.
- Ask strategic questions.
- Don't ask about quality of life.
- Develop key messages.
- Listen closely to each question.
- Be memorable.
- Manage anxiety.
The ABA continues to say yes. However, the reliance on standardized tests is decreasing at the undergraduate level. Recently, both Temple University and Monclair State (N.J.) have made the SAT and ACT tests optional.
Montclair’s president, Dr. Susan Cole notes that university has found that a student’s high school GPA is three times as powerful as the SAT for demonstrating a student’s likely performance at Montclair State, She also argues that that standardized tests can have the undesirable effect of disadvantaging capable, striving students from middle and lower socio-economic backgrounds, many of whom do not have the benefit of costly preparation courses.
You can read more here At Temple:
Students who opt not to submit test scores will have to answer written questions designed to assess attributes such as leadership, self-awareness, goal-setting, determination, and "grit," Temple officials said.
This year, a study released by the National Association of College Admission Counseling found almost no difference in college GPAs and graduation rates between students who submitted SAT scores and those who did not at colleges where scores are optional.
You can read more here.
In the Philadelphia region, Bryn Mawr and St. Joseph’s University have already adopted similar policies, as has DePaul in Chicago.
I do not know of any relevant longitudinal studies looking at college GPAs, LSAT scores, College GPAs, and law school success, but I suspect they would find college GPAs to be the best predictors of law school success.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Bonnie Blair (Creighton) has written an article on identifying and addressing the mental health needs of online students. It is easy to see the difficulties of reaching out to an online student as well as the ways that a trouble student can ruin an online discussion. Here is an abbreviated summary of the steps she recommends for addressing the issue:
- Pre-enrollment services: On the web-pages describing online programs and courses, self-assessment tools can be posted for students to evaluate their readiness for online programs. This "front-end" focus on the personality characteristics and work habits necessary for online academic success can possibly assist in preventing problems after admission and enrollment
- Mental Health Education: Provide links to articles on issues common to college students (e.g. stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse)
- Crisis Services: Prominently display phone numbers for crisis and/or suicide hotlines (See Appendix).
- Self-help Services: Provide access to tools for self-evaluation, with accompanying articles on strategies for coping with common mental health issues.
- Referral to disability services: Provide links to the institution's office for students with disabilities.
- Counseling services: Provide links to the campus counseling center and clearly state what services are/are not available to distance students.
You can read the full article here.
Friday, August 8, 2014
“The Economist” Compares Higher Education with Newspapers
In a recent issue of “The Economist,” the writer sees a bleak future for most of higher education and makes a comparison with the newspaper industry:
Were the market for higher education to perform in future as that for newspapers has done over the past decade or two, universities’ revenues would fall by more than half, employment in the industry would drop by nearly 30% and more than 700 institutions would shut their doors. The rest would need to reinvent themselves to survive.
You can read the full article here.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
The ABA House of Delegates is presently considering "sweeping reforms" to law school accreditation standards including a new focus on student learning outcomes and assessments. In this manuscript recently posted on SSRN entitled Achieving the American Bar Association's Pedagogy Mandate: Empowerment in the Midst of a Perfect Storm, Professor Cara Cunningham Warren (Detroit) discusses ways law professors schools can achieve this new "pedagogical mandate" based on a teaching effectiveness framework established by the National Research Council of the National Academies. From the abstract:
Ironically, successful implementation remains an open question, in part because of the traditional nature of the academy and its resistance to change, and in part because law schools may be ill-equipped to respond as a result of the crisis.
This article seeks to change the dynamic. It begins by putting the 2014 Standards into historical context and explaining their impact on legal education. The author then moves to discuss full achievement of the mandate. First, law schools are encouraged to overcome their resistance to pedagogical innovation and to embrace the mandate and its benefits.
At the same time, this article seeks to empower law professors to be a driving force for change. More specifically, under the ABA’s new “outcomes” approach, professors are expected to create meaningful learning opportunities for students and to assess and improve the effectiveness of those experiences. To assist law professors in this regard, the author introduces a teaching effectiveness framework that was created by experts in education from the National Research Council of the National Academies and adapts it for use in legal education.
The legal community has relied on the NRC’s expertise for decades, in a wide range of fields, but the author believes this is the first time NRC expertise has been brought to bear in this context. The NRC is credited for its ability to bring the legal and scientific communities together and to make scientific theories accessible. In this way, the framework is a useful tool for law professors, especially those who are trained attorneys rather than certified educators, and improves the current state of our pedagogy scholarship by placing existing assessment and learning outcomes work in the broader context of modern learning theory and instructional design.
Shared Visions of Design and Law in Professional Education by Cody Thornton.
The academy has long considered adapting other professions’ programs, such as medicine and business, but these changes would require a fundamental restructuring of legal academia, and perhaps part of the legal profession itself. The design professions, however, offer a more evolutionary option.
This article reintroduces the legal academy to the learning environment of professional designers: the contemporary studio. Studio courses could provide the balance of theory and practice that the academy and the profession now seek.
Law and design share creative problem-solving methods. Urban planners, landscape architects, engineers, architects, industrial designers, and lawyers all have the power to liberate people and to intervene in systemic problems by removing barriers and shifting resources. Yet the professions teach their crafts in vastly different ways.
The intensive and powerful studio environment teaches students to create and communicate solutions to complex problems. The primary value of a legal studio would be to release students’ creativity within both the practical and the theoretical realms. The studio inherently fosters almost all of the core lawyering skills and should appeal to social justice activists as much as transactional gurus; a studio could, in fact, ask students to engage in both conversations.
For law schools that want to engage students in self-exploration and creativity in a safe zone before they step into a world of obstacles, the studio is an excellent option. Conceptually, the “legal studio” approach would fall between a clinic and a seminar, with elements of simulations, skills courses, and other teaching variations. The method would allow students to explore, without harm to clients or the students’ own careers. In this setting, professors and students could work together to expand scholarship, to reconnect practicing lawyers to law schools, to practice on an academic schedule (not that of the courts), and to help fund the education received.
The media has widely reported that Senator Walsh plagiarized much of his Master’s thesis at the prestigious Army War College. It has not focused on one curious fact—the thesis was all of 14 pages long. This shockingly short length suggests that Senator Walsh and his fellow students viewed the assignment as inconsequential and did not take it seriously—hence the temptation to plagiarize. It also may have decreased their respect for the course of study and the institution.
The episode supports one of my explanations for much of academic dishonesty, at least at the graduate and professional school level: The temptation to plagiarize grows strong when the student lacks respect for the assignment or for the professor. Giving makeweight assignments and acquiescing to disrespect encourages students to disregard their ethical sensibilities.
For an interesting take on this this incident, see Professor David Perry’s blog, “How Did We Get Into This Mess?” (here).
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Back in 2008, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began a law student clinical program that provided students from six participating law schools with valuable externship experience. This summer, the USPTO expanded the program to include nineteen more schools bringing the total participating institutions to forty-five. Apparently there's a boom in patent work going on at the moment that's opened up some great opportunities for law students to get valuable practical experience with the patent office. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has more details:
. . . .
This summer the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office expanded its legal clinic programs—where supervised students practice intellectual property law before the USPTO—to include another 19 law schools, or 45 in all.
“Some of the schools just get flooded with requests for clients,” Will Covey, a USPTO deputy counsel, told Law Blog this week. “It gets the independent inventors the assistance they need… and students get to deal with real clients.”
Most students end up drafting and filing trademark and patent applications on behalf of inventors and small business owners who could not otherwise afford legal help. Law schools can participate in the patent or the trademark program; some do both (two of the “new” schools joining this year already participate in one or the other).
The program was set up in 2008, when six law schools participated, and accelerated after the 2011 passage of the America Invents Act, which encourage the development of pro bono programs.
Mr. Covey said it’s popular among students looking to improve their post-graduate employment prospects.
“Students contact me and say, ‘Hey, how come my school’s not in it?’” he said. “I’m hearing from the law schools that they will have three or four applications for every seat they have in the clinic.”
To make the cut for the program, a law school must have a strong IP curriculum and the ability to serve pro bono clients, as well as some sort of case management system to ensure no deadlines are missed.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Hamlet: Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it as many of your players
do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the
air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently; for in the
very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion,
you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it
smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split
the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of
nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. I would have such
a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant — it out-Herods Herod.
Pray you avoid it.
First Player: I warrant your honour.
Hamlet: Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your
tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this
special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature. For
anything so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end both
at the first and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere, the mirror up
to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image,
and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now
this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the
which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of
others. Oh, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others
praise and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that neither having
the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man,
have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's
journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated
humanity so abominably.
First Player: I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.
Hamlet: Oh reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns
speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that
will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators
to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary question of
the play be then to be considered. That's villainous, and shows
a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go make you ready.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
The legal sector shed 200 jobs in July, offsetting gains from the previous month, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The revised data for June’s legal sector jobs in the latest BLS report shows the industry adding 900 jobs that month, which is 300 less than what was previously reported.
So far, the legal sector has witnessed a loss of 800 jobs since the beginning of 2014, hitting the second-lowest point of the year. Still, compared with the same time last year, the legal sector has gained 3,900 jobs, currently employing almost 1.136 million people.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Rumor has it that Apple will be releasing its iWatch in October. From MacRumors:
Though we don't know exactly what the iWatch will look like, at least one model is expected to include a durable sapphire crystal display, produced in collaboration with Apple partner GT Advanced. Apple and GT Advanced recently signed a deal that will see the latter producing large quantities of sapphire crystal for use in various Apple products.
While the iWatch will perform some tasks independently, it will be dependent on a compatible iOS device for functions like receiving messages, voice calls, and notifications. It is also expected to feature wireless charging capabilities, advanced mapping abilities, and possibly NFC integration.
Along with serving as a companion device to the iPhone and iPad, the iWatch will be able to measure multiple different health-related metrics like steps taken, calories burned, sleep quality, heart rate, and more. The iWatch is said to include 10 different sensors to track health and fitness, providing an overall picture of health and making the health-tracking experience more accessible to the general public.
You can read more here.
From Education Dive:
- Kentucky State University Interim President Raymond Burse asked for his pay to be cut about $90,000 so 24 employees could be paid more.
- The employees in question were among the lowest paid at KSU, with some making as little as $7.25 an hour.
- Burse's salary will now stand at $259,744, compared to the $349,869 that the Board of Regents initially intended to pay him "in recognition of his skills, talents and ability," according to Chairwoman Karen Bearden.
You can read more here. We need more executives like him.
How Wrap and Mindfulness Can Improve Legal Ethics and Professionalism by Peter H. Huang.
Monday, August 4, 2014
This week the ABA House of Delegates will vote on major changes to law school accreditation standards that include, among other provisions, a requirement that every graduate complete a minimum of six credit hours of "experiential learning." Should it be approved, that requirement can be satisfied through clinical coursework, externships or other practice simulation courses. At present, the ABA only requires law schools to provide a single credit hour of "experiential" coursework for a student to graduate. The National Law Journal has more details:
ABA's House of Delegates prepares to vote on a sweeping revision of its accreditation standards.
To protect their accreditation, law schools will be under pressure to more closely assess student achievement and provide students with more practical skills training under a slate of legal education reforms headed for final consideration by the American Bar Association House of Delegates.
Faculty tenure would remain sacrosanct, and students still would be barred from earning both money and course credit for externships under draft standards headed for a vote by the delegates on Aug. 11.
"If there was a theme to what the comprehensive review accomplished, it moved legal education into a 21st century model in two ways," said Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen, who spent four years on the committee reviewing the standards. "One is by requiring schools to assess their achievement in student learning. The second is requiring more practical skills training."
. . . .
One of the most substantive proposed changes involves "student leaning outcomes." Each law school would define its mission — what it is attempting to teach — and would measure how well it succeeds. Administrators would have plenty of leeway in defining their learning goals, but would now be judged less on the nuts-and-bolts of running a law school and more on results of those efforts.
"I think the change to outcomes measures presents law schools with a real opportunity to define and present themselves differently and set goals and benchmarks for themselves," said Kate Kruse, director of clinics at Hamline University School of Law and past president of the Clinical Legal Education Association. "The door is really open to do things in a different way."
Second, every law graduate would have to complete a minimum of six credits of "experiential learning" — clinics, externships or simulation courses. Kruse's association unsuccessfully lobbied for 15 credits but has accepted the compromise. Right now, the requirement is a single hour's credit.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
From JD Journal:
A glitch in a popular system to upload bar exam answers and essays failed temporarily this week, according to Fox News and the Associated Press. This means that the students’ answers were not uploaded or sent to state websites.
The popular software platform is ExamSoft and it takes care of digital bar exam submissions for multiple states. The technical issues occurred on Tuesday of this week and caused many graduates to have issues completing their exams, which are required to practice law.
Bar associations from 20 states had to extend their submission deadlines due to the glitch.
The testing session on Tuesday was held for the essay portion of the two-day exam and it takes six hours to finish. There were some test takers who said it took the same amount of time to submit their completed tests.
You can read more here.
At the Teachers College Record, Eleanor Drago-Severson reports on her study of how school principals renew themselves and avoid burnout. Her study applies to us as well.
The following list details their renewal strategies (in order of most common and most emphasized in interviews to least). Interestingly, and importantly, most of the supports were strategies they employed to support themselves and not supports provided by others.
Spending time with family and friends
Reading independently and/or participating in book groups
Dialoguing with school board members, trustees, and/or school site council members
Carving out time for reflection and retreats
Attending conferences, delivering talks, and speaking with other principals at conferences
Learning through formal programs and fellowships
Using some portion of the summer to get away from school
Talking with mentors and mentoring aspiring or current principals
Connecting with universities and principal centers
Participating as a board member in professional organizations
Talking with and observing students
Appreciating art and music
Participating in reflective practice groups with principals
Professor Drago-Severson emphasizes the need to give school leaders more opportunities for reflective practices. Her article led me to realize that professional conferences are important reflective times for me. They give me the opportunity to talk with many friends and acquaintances who have the same interests and professional passions as I do. You can read the full article here.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
There's an interesting editorial in today's New York Times about the steps some schools are taking to reinvent the traditional law school curriculum after the first year. Among the examples is a program at Michigan State (here, here and here) that teaches students to think more like a businessman to better service that kind of client as well as helping students develop entrepreneurial skills to compete against more traditional legal service providers like law firms. Other programs profiled include one at U. Colorado called Tech Law Accelerator, a summer bootcamp designed to teach students
'[A]ll of the things they don’t teach you in law school and they don’t teach in law firms but which you need to be effective in today’s world.' Students are brought up to speed on tech tools designed to make legal services more efficient. They hear lectures from companies like Adobe and NetApp. After the four weeks, they spend the rest of the summer, or even the following semester, working directly for a company.
Northwestern Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez mentions the curricular reforms at his school designed to prepare students for a more competitive legal marketplace including the expansion of practical training through clinical offerings and leveraging business and technology expertise among the faculty to teach students about “the law/business/technology interface.”
You can check out the full editorial here - it's definitely worth a read.
For a different view about these types law school reforms, check out this post by Professor Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns & Money who is skeptical that law schools can achieve better employment outcomes for students by re-making the curriculum to look more like an MBA program.
Scott Scarborough, the new president of the University of Akron, is requiring senior administrators to follow his set of principles. Among other things, he includes a list of “Mistakes/Problems":
• Failing to work hard.
• Failing to serve others with an attitude of humility.
• Failing to pick up trash.
• Having a personal agenda incongruent with the organization’s agenda.
• A breach of confidentiality.
• A breach of honesty or trust.
• Losing one’s cool.
• Having a persistently negative attitude.
• Taking issues personally.
• Being territorial.
• Putting the needs of a unit ahead of the needs of the institution.
• Failing to support or help a team member.
• Failing to acknowledge one’s own weaknesses and the compensating strengths of
diverse team members.
• Failing to maintain an orderly and clean work environment.
• Acceptance of mediocrity within one’s area of responsibility.
• Wasting money or other resources.
• Being late to meetings.
• Missing agreed-upon deadlines.
• Failing to hire people who are smarter than you.
• The inability to keep things simple.
• Overspending one’s budget.
• An unwillingness to try new things.
• The inability to answer a question directly and succinctly.
• Not doing what you say you will do.
• Using external stakeholders or students to leverage positions of self-interest.
• Lacking courage to tell people what they need to hear—not what they want to
• Using personal relationship(s) with board member(s) to pursue a personal agenda.
• Failing to put students first.
You cn read the rest of President Scarborough’s principles here.