Friday, September 26, 2014

Mass. Bar Exam Will Have an “Access to Justice” Component

From Bloomberg BNA Highlights:

Massachusetts hopes to influence law school curricula and better prepare its attorneys for pro bono work by adding an “access to justice” section to its bar exam focusing on typical civil legal aid practice areas, the chief justice of the state's highest court told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 15.

The July 2016 exam will mark the first appearance of the new section, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants said during a Sept. 15 panel discussion in Washington.

The new section will cover subjects like divorce and alimony, foreclosure, landlord-tenant relationships and small claims, Gants told Bloomberg BNA in an interview following the panel.

Between 40 and 50 percent of new law school graduates who pass the bar exam in Massachusetts are unable to find legal employment within the first year out of school, Gants told BNA.

There are seven law schools in Massachusetts, and Gants told Bloomberg BNA he hopes the new bar exam will influence the “non-Harvard” schools to focus classes on developing skills in traditional civil legal aid practice areas.

“We want to resurrect the model of the old country lawyer,” someone who is able to “cobble a living together” in a variety of practice areas, Gants told Bloomberg BNA.

“Ideally, we're creating a cadre of community lawyers,” he said.

You can read more here. Will other jurisdictions follow the Massachusetts example?

(ljs)

 

September 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

California's Fifteen-Hour Experiential Requirement

As I mentioned last fall, California has enacted a fifteen-hour experiential requirement for law school graduates before they can become members of the California Bar.  The Bar is now in the process of developing regulations on the implementation of this requirement.  You can find their main page here, and the latest version of the Task Force memorandum and recommendation is here.  The Task Force held a hearing on September 16th.

From the memorandum: "Pre-admission Competency Training:

There will be two routes for fulfillment of this pre-admission competency training requirement: (a) at any time in law school, a candidate for admission must have taken at least fifteen units of practice-based, experiential course work that is designed to develop law practice competencies, and (b) in lieu of some or all of the fifteen units of practice-based, experiential course work, a candidate for admission may opt to participate in a Bar-approved externship, clerkship or apprenticeship at any time during or following completion of law school."

I believe that California's new requirements will have a great impact on legal education in this country.  While they will affect California law schools the most, every law school will be affected.  All ABA accredited law schools consider themselves national law schools.  They want to attract students from all fifty states, and they want their students to practice in all fifty states.  Since California is the largest state in population, all law schools must be prepared to meet California's requirements.  I also believe that once law schools create experiential classes to meet the California's requirements, students who do not plan to practice in California will also want to take the classes.  The result will be an explosion of experiential classes in American law schools.  Law schools need to prepare now.

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Young lawyers talk about needed law school reforms

An editorial in Philadelphia's Legal Intelligencer (the nation's oldest daily law journal) authored by 16 members of the "Young Lawyer Editorial Board" offers the perspective of lawyers who are just starting their way up the learning curve about what they think law schools could do better to prepare students for practice.  For one, they endorse the "residency" model we've heard about before (here, here and here) that is based on the training interns receive in medical school.  They also say that law schools should offer more hands-on opportunities to draft complex contracts, real estate and M & A documents, draft a variety of litigation documents and take depos.  I thought by now most schools were doing these kinds of things but maybe not based on the experience of these 16 recent grads.  I'll let them explain in their own words what additional curricular changes they'd like to see:

If Unchanged, Legal Education Will Remain a Business in Decline

. . . .

 

Last month, the ABA announced that it has endorsed a package of reforms that included requiring students to take a minimum of six hours of legal clinic or other "experiential" environment. The ABA further announced that, to protect accreditation, law schools would have to shift toward focusing on student outcomes, including passing the bar exam and obtaining employment.

 

We think these reforms are a good start, but they still fall short. One reason graduates have difficulty obtaining employment is that most of them need to be trained in how to practice law, and clients are unwilling to pay for training new lawyers. Law schools need to step up and train students on how to practice law. While a six-hour legal clinic is helpful in providing some practical experience, we think that third-year law students should be given credit for working at government agencies, nonprofits and law firms as unpaid or paid interns. The programs could be similar to the training physicians receive as residents immediately after graduating. This legal residency program would be a radical change in legal education that cannot be implemented overnight, but it is a necessary change that the ABA should move toward.

 

Not only would the legal residency program help recent graduates, but it would also help the profession as a whole. Rather than spending the first year or two training graduates, new lawyers would be better able to handle matters on their own and provide more value to clients. As it stands right now, clients are being forced to pay for training that the graduate should have gained in law school. No one can blame clients for opposing that scam.

 

In addition, law schools should take the radical step of offering courses in practical skills to help prepare law students for the actual practice of law. Many schools are implementing such changes. For example, Temple University's Beasley School of Law offers an excellent trial advocacy program for current and future litigators. Other types of classes that should be more widely offered are the drafting of complex contract, real estate and mergers and acquisition documents, as well as practical skills in litigation, such as taking a deposition, drafting a complaint and answer and drafting discovery requests. These classes will not only help graduates be better prepared to practice law, but also provide them an opportunity to experience different practices before starting their careers.

 

. . . .

Continue reading the full editorial here.

(jbl).

September 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Which Law Grads Have the Most Debt?

According to U.S. News, here are the top five schools where grads carry the most debt:

      

  

School name

  
  

Average indebtedness of 2013 graduates who incurred law    school debt

  
  

Percent of grads with debt

  

Thomas   Jefferson School of Law

San Diego, CA

$180,665

92%

New York Law   School

New York, NY

$164,739

84%

American   University (Washington)

Washington, DC

$158,636

88%

 

California   Western School of Law

San Diego, CA

$157,748

90%

Northwestern   University

Chicago, IL

$155,777

78%

 You can read the full list here.

(ljs)

September 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

National Punctuation Day!

I'm a day late with this (story of my life) but I figured some of readers would still be interested and you can always calendar it for next year.  Here's the link to the official website which has exceeded its bandwidth at the moment (who knew this was such a popular holiday?) so I'll have to go with the National Punctuation Day entry from Wikipedia:

National Punctuation Day is a celebration of punctuation that occurs each year on September 24th in the United States of America. Founded by Jason Stanford in 2004, National Punctuation Day simply promotes the correct usage of punctuation. Rubin encourages appreciators of correct punctuation and spelling to send in pictures of errors spotted in everyday life.

Granted there's not much there to sink your teeth into. So until the official website comes back online (apparently there's a page with suggested activities to celebrate NPD - or try this) how about this article from last year's The New Yorker magazine.

Remember to take a snark mark to lunch (they don't get out much).

(jbl).

September 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clinic to Close at Lewis & Clark

Sad news at Lewis and Clark:

The law school at Lewis & Clark will close its legal clinic in Portland, according to a report from The Oregonian. The clinic provides legal services to the poor in the region.

 The law school has suffered enrollment decline of 13 to 30 percent from their peak years that came two to four years ago. The school has also cut staff members, costs and made other moves to ensure efficiency. 

“What we have to do, like everybody else, is face budget realities,” said Jennifer Johnson, the new dean at Lewis & Clark. The clinic “has largely been a tuition-driven enterprise that we can’t afford. It’s purely financial.”

 The doors to the clinic will close on December 31, which will worsen the present shortage of legal services for those who are low-income.

 You can read more here.

(ljs)

September 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

It's Banned Book Week

To help us observe the occasion, Powell's.com and BuzzFeed offer illustrations and annotations on 33 "must read" books that have been banned by schools and libraries (here). Interesting reading.

(ljs)

September 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Regional English

Regional English

Wordsmiths may be interested in the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). Here are two paragraphs from a 2012 article in the Smithsonian (here):

Those fluffy bits beneath the bed, for instance, are dust kitties (Northeast), dust bunnies (Midwest), house moss (South) or woolies (Pennsylvania). A potluck is a tureen dinner in upstate New York or, in the Midwest, a pitch-in or scramble dinner. Almost a whole page of DARE is dedicated to “wampus,” a Southern term for a variety of real creatures (such as a wild horse) and imagined ones, such as swamp wampuses and whistling wampuses.

Some DARE words hint at long-lost social occasions. At a “waistline party,” mentioned in African-American circles, the price of admission corresponded to a reveler’s girth; at a “toe social,” a mid-20th- century term, women draped in sheets were picked as partners on the basis of their feet. (Presumably they then danced together uninhibitedly, or “fooped.”) We can hear echoes of how men and women spoke to, or about, each other. In the 1950s, a man from the Ozarks might say his pregnant wife was “teemin’” or “with squirrel”—but not if she was around to hear him.

For more examples, be sure to read the comments following the article. Reminds me of the great 1941 movie, “Ball of Fire” with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper (highly recommended).

(ljs)

September 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down

Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down by R. Michael Cassidy.

 Abstract:     

"With growing consensus that legal education is in turmoil if not in crisis, law schools need to take advantage of industry upheaval to catalyze innovation in the way they train their students.  Curriculum reform, long the “third rail” of faculty politics, is now essential if some law schools are going to survive the present tsunami of low enrollments and stagnant hiring.  One cautiously optimistic note within this doomsday symphony is that law school deans are now in extremely strong bargaining positions with their faculties and boards of trustees with respect to curriculum innovation.

In this essay, the author proposes a pivotal reform to the third year curriculum involving team-taught “Advanced Legal Problem Solving” workshops in subject specific areas, and describes the precise structure, content and staffing of such capstone courses.  He argues that such workshops would significantly enhance the preparation of law students for entry into the profession, and would create an efficient and cost-effective route for law schools to satisfy rigorous new ABA accreditation standards regarding experiential learning and outcomes assessment."
 
Excerpt:
 

"The primary benefit of these subject-specific ALPS is that they would begin to model and impart reflective judgment for our students in a problem solving context. Practical skills and judgment are the two competencies seasoned professionals most often find lacking in law school graduates. The law is a skills-based, service-oriented profession. A Ph.D. student in English can learn about Emily Dickinson by studying her poetry, taking classes on the subject from erudite and thoughtful scholars, and talking to other graduate students about her work and her technique. But you cannot develop the rudimentary skills of a gymnast by talking about gymnastics and watching others do it. At some point, you need to mount the balance beam or uneven bars and try it yourself, hopefully with a seasoned coach nearby to dissect your performance and break your fall. The practice of law is more like gymnastics that than it is like poetry, and the sooner we recognize this critical difference the better off our students will be."

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Now you can sync time spent on legal research with client billing software

Fastcase (here, here and here) has announced a partnership with Clio practice management software that will allow lawyers to automatically track and bill clients as they do legal research.  According to Fastcase's website, here's how it works:

With this partnership, legal professionals can track time spent researching without focusing attention away from the task at hand. From inside Fastcase, you can now select from clients and matters in Clio, start a timer for your research session, and record the activity automatically in Clio. You never have to miss or manually record your research time again.

 

. . . .

 

To get started, log into Fastcase and [then connect] to Clio

[Next], log in to Clio with your Clio username and password. Voila! Your Fastcase and Clio accounts are in sync. Whenever you’re in Fastcase, simply select your matter (they’re automagically populated and updated from Clio) and start your timer.

There are screenshots and additional instructions on the Fastcase website to help walk you through syncing the search engine with Clio's practice management cloud service should you want more info. 

Hat tip to the ABA Journal Blog.

(jbl).

September 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Toledo Law Cuts Tuition for In State Students

According to JD Journal:

The university is reducing the current tuition costs of the law school from $20,579 to $17,900 effective for the fall session of 2015. However, such heavy cuts are applicable only for in-state and Michigan students. For out-of-state students the cost cutting would be smaller, though significant as costs will drop nearly 8 percent, from $$33,752 to $31,074.

 The law school has good reason to try to attract more students: 

The drop in applications to the law school has been huge. While even three years ago, the number of applicants was 1,400, this year that number had dropped to 475. 

You can read more here

I hear that other schools adopting this strategy have had disappointing results. But every case, every location, is different. In any case, I wish Toledo well.

(ljs)

September 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Defining Experiential Legal Education

With the many changes occurring recently in legal education, scholars need to define the terms they are using because having a common language is vital.  There is no more important term in legal education reform than "experiential legal education."  This term is the basis of new requirements by the ABA and state bars, as well as the subject of numerous articles.  David I.C. Thomson has just posted a new article on SSRN, Defining Experiential Legal Education.

Abstract:     

"Legal Education in the United States is undergoing a renaissance.  In many ways, that renaissance has been building and growing for the last two decades, but in the last several years it has truly begun to flourish. Much of the focus of the renaissance has been in practical (sometimes called “practice-based”) legal education.  Of course practical training was the only kind available until about 1870, so practical legal education is not new; indeed it has been around for over 100 years.  But what is new is the extraordinary growth and hybridization of experiential learning in law schools across the country in the last few years.
 
As with many such periods of significant growth and change, however, some classification and a deeper understanding of the types and methods of experiential learning in law schools would be helpful.  Definitions and methods for classification are important because they provide a foundation for understanding and clear communication.  This article seeks to provide that definitional understanding, with the goal of speeding up this good work, not putting it in a box. It provides a definition of experiential learning for legal education, as well as a method for application of the definition to courses currently in the law school curriculum as well as those that might be considered for inclusion in the curriculum of the future.

Part I of the article provides a brief history of experiential learning in law, explores the major sources for a possible new definition of experiential learning, and describes the limitations of the definitional elements that we currently have.  Part II argues that the definitions we currently have are not only limited, but their limitations are being exposed by the growth and variety in experiential learning opportunities currently being offered in many law schools.  Part III offers a new definition for experiential learning in law, together with a series of questions that can be used in applying the definition.  Finally, Part IV offers application of the new definition to examples of course work that are currently being offered in law schools around the country, so that the reader can see the definition at work."
 
Professor Thomson defines experiential legal education as

"The term 'Experiential Learning' refers to methods of instruction that regularly or primarily place students in the role of attorneys, whether through simulations, clinics, or externships. Such forms of instruction integrate theory and practice by providing numerous opportunities for students to learn and apply lawyering skills as they are used in legal practice (or similar professional settings). These learning opportunities are also designed to encourage students to begin to form their professional identities as lawyers, through experience or role-playing with guided self-reflection, so that they can become skilled, ethical, and professional life-long learners of the law."

He then goes on to further define the term in order to avoid confusion with other methods of law school teaching.  He next gives several examples of what is and what is not experiential education.  You can find these definitions and examples here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

California law deans talk about practical legal skills training

The Recorder talked to several California law school deans to pick their brains about how they are dealing with the weak job market for students.  All of them described the ways their respective schools are trying to impart more practical legal skills to students before they graduate.  For example, Loyola plans to launch in January a "Justice Entrepreneurship Incubator" to assist new grads who want to start solo practices focused on public interest law.   It's also rolling out a "resident associate program" that will involve participating students working for a year at a small or medium-sized firm at an annual salary of $40,000. After the year is up, firms can choose to offer the recent grad a job.

UC-Davis plans to start a new law school clinic to provide legal advice to undocumented students on campus.  IC-Irvine requires all students to participate in a clinic and last year added an optional "Third Year Intensive" program consisting of a self-directed project emphasizing practical skills.  The school also has plans to fund at least 12 year long fellowships for law grads that will pay $40k.

Santa Clara U. School of Law launched an entrepreneurs clinic last year which is supervised by Laura Lee Norris, the former vice president of legal affairs at Cypress Semiconductor.  SC also offers certificates in intellectual property and privacy law and runs the Northern California Innocence Project which provides additional opportunities for students to gain some practical legal experience.

You can read the full article from The Recorder here.

(jbl).

September 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Proposal for Reforming the 3L Curriculum

One consequence of the downturn in law school admissions and post-law school employment has been the blossoming of innovations in the law school curriculum. Professor R. Michael Cassidy presents his proposal in his article, "Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down" (forthcoming in volume 64 of the Journal of Legal Education).

Professor Cassidy proposes 3L capstone courses in particular fields taught by teams of faculty members and practitioners. The courses would focus on real-life problem solving. Here is the abstract: 

With growing consensus that legal education is in turmoil if not in crisis, law schools need to take advantage of industry upheaval to catalyze innovation in the way they train their students. Curriculum reform, long the “third rail” of faculty politics, is now essential if some law schools are going to survive the present tsunami of low enrollments and stagnant hiring. One cautiously optimistic note within this doomsday symphony is that law school deans are now in extremely strong bargaining positions with their faculties and boards of trustees with respect to curriculum innovation.

In this essay, the author proposes a pivotal reform to the third year curriculum involving team-taught “Advanced Legal Problem Solving” workshops in subject specific areas, and describes the precise structure, content and staffing of such capstone courses. He argues that such workshops would significantly enhance the preparation of law students for entry into the profession, and would create an efficient and cost-effective route for law schools to satisfy rigorous new ABA accreditation standards regarding experiential learning and outcomes assessment.

 You can find the full article on SSRN (here).

 Though I do not teach a capstone course, I do co-teach a Land Use Planning course with a prominent practitioner. The students and I learn a lot that we would never learn from a traditional case book.

(ljs).

September 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Miss America Accepted at Fordham Law School

This is the third year in which a Miss New York has won the title. You can read about Ms. Kira Kazantsev  here.

(ljs)

September 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Constitutional Convention: Drafting to Charter Future History

Shameless plug department:

Louis J. Sirico, Jr. The Constitutional Convention: Drafting to Charter Future History, 12

Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy 157 (2014). Here is the abstract:

Just as counterfactual historians ask how past events shape future history, we ask how successful can historical actors be in trying to chart the course of future history. Specifically, the article examines particular decisions that the deputies to the Constitutional Convention made in drafting provisions of the Constitution. With these drafting decisions, the deputies attempted to permit or prevent certain future histories from occurring.

 For example, in forbidding ex post facto laws, the deputies were forbidding laws that the international community would have deemed illegitimate, Arguably, they attempted to prevent future Congresses from enacting laws that would have marked the new nation as lawless.

 This article offers detailed narratives to illustrate four goals that the Convention’s deputies pursued in making various constitutional drafting decisions: to safeguard against lawlessness, to leave open the door for desirable change, to plan for the growth of an empire, and to conceptualize the nature of the new nation

 Examples include the ban on ex post facto laws, the authority to define international law, the Constitution’s accommodations with slavery, the decision to permit the western territories eventually to become states, and the decision not to include the word “national” in the Constitution. The article provides a detailed narrative of the deliberations on each topic at the Constitutional Convention. 

The article concludes by offering some insight on the central issue: to what extent can the careful drafting of a constitution enable the drafters to charter the future? It suggests five lessons that derive from the discussion.

(ljs)

September 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Teaching for Transfer in Law School Clinics

I believe that the biggest problem with traditional legal education is transfer--the traditional teaching methods do not teach students in a way that they can easily transfer their knowledge and skills to being a lawyer.   As a group of authors have stated, "Students performed better when their knowledge organization matched  the requirements of the task, and they performed worse when it mismatched."  (Susan  Ambrose et.al., How Learning Works 48 (2010)). Legal education mainly teaches students to be appellate lawyers and legal  philosophers. The typical lawyer is not an appellate lawyer or a philosopher.  Thus, law schools do not teach their students in a way that is best for the  knowledge retrieval they will need as practicing attorneys.  (more here)

Five authors have recently written an excellent article on teaching transfer to law students, Reaching Backward and Stretching Forward: Teaching for Transfer in Law School Clinics by Shaun Archer, James Parry Eyster, James J. Kelly, Jr., Tonya Kowalski, and Colleen F. Shanahan.

Abstract:     

"In thinking about education, teachers may spend more time considering what to teach than how to teach.  Unfortunately, traditional teaching techniques have limited effectiveness in their ability to help students retain and apply the knowledge either in later classes or in their professional work.  What, then, is the value of our teaching efforts if students are unable to transfer the ideas and skills they have learned to later situations?
 
Teaching for transfer is important to the authors of this article, four clinical professors and one psychologist.  The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to some of the techniques that can improve the transfer of teaching.  While this article focuses on applications in the law clinic, the procedures can be profitably used in doctrinal classes as well. It is the goal of the authors of this article to help you improve your teaching so that your students will understand, remember, and be able to later use what you teach them.  While this may appear overly ambitious, we are not selling snake oil.  Rather, we are relying on established tenets of psychology and pedagogy that have proved successful in other areas of learning.

In the first section, psychologist Shaun Archer will summarize the latest research results on memory and how to best teach so that students can retain and use information.  Before transferring information or ideas from a class to a new situation, one must first anchor the concept in the mind.  To do this, the student must attach the new information to the existing scaffolding in the student’s memory.  Attached to the wrong structure, the new information cannot easily be used in a later application.  For example, if you are told that both a successful asylum application  and chlorophyll  contain five elements, you might be momentarily chagrined since the word “elements” is used in two very different contexts.  Your mind must travel down various discrete neural pathways to make correct sense of the use of the word in each phrase.  This insight from psychology is the core of teaching for transfer.

Tonya Kowalski will then introduce the principles of teaching for transfer, emphasizing “reaching backward” and “stretching forward” techniques.  She will then suggest applications of these procedures in clinical teaching.  In reaching backward, a student thinks back to past experiences or concepts to find existing mental scaffolding that can be used to ‘bear the weight’ and provide an accessible resting place for the new material that is being taught. In stretching forward, a student consciously envisions potential future applications of the material being learned.  Colleen Shanahan will demonstrate backward-reaching transfer techniques for teaching students skills and knowledge, using the examples of initial client interviews, soliciting facts from witnesses, researching eviction procedures, and developing an effective oral advocacy style. Jim Kelly will provide specific examples of stretching-forward transfer techniques.  These range from “hugging,” identifying very similar future applications, such as the business record litany, to “bridging,” preparing students to be able to use new foundational skills or knowledge in complex and extremely varied situations."
 
Key excerpts:
 
1. "In thinking about education, teachers may spend more time considering what to teach than how to teach. Unfortunately, traditional teaching techniques have limited effectiveness in their ability to help students retain and apply the knowledge either in later classes or in their professional work."
 
"[T]o be valuable, your teaching must be usable by your students outside the classroom."
 
2.  "Transfer of learning is the ultimate goal of education: We aim to teach doctrine, skills, and critical reasoning and expect that students will readily apply them in the workplace."
 
"Despite receiving rigorous training in doctrinal law, formal analysis, writing, and oral presentation in their first three semesters of law school, clinic students often struggle to ‘transfer’ much of that learning to their clinic work."
 
"Even more troubling, these experiences suggest that students may also fail to recall and apply many of their clinical skills in their future work."
 
3.  The authors quote from an article on medical schools, "The experience in numerous medical schools . . . is that information learned in the basic science years is not easily activated in clinical situations. This is a classical problem within medical education, for instance in anatomy teaching, where previously learned knowledge about healthy and normal body structures is supposed to transform into patho-physiological explanations later in medical studies."
 
4.  "Although we still do not fully understand how transfer works, experts have developed a variety of models to explain why adult learners experience transfer problems and how their teachers can intervene.  According to the prevailing literature, the interventions lie in a number of places, including teaching students to be self-regulated learners, providing more opportunities for practical application in doctrinal courses, designing a more integrated curriculum, and designing course materials to form concrete links among the past, present, and future. . . .  This article addresses the linking strategies that clinicians can use to capitalize on past training and better equip students for future law practice."
 
5.  "For busy clinicians, it will be good to hear that implementing these strategies is not always terribly complicated or time-consuming. In fact, they tend to flow naturally from a decision to make the transfer problem a very conscious influence on how we design materials, plan for meetings, and even just converse with students about their assignments. For example, the first backward-reaching strategy is to generalize the problem at hand so that its context becomes larger.  Thus, when assigning a student to write an advice letter to the client, the supervising attorney can remind her student that in addition to other considerations like tone, audience, and recordkeeping, the letter calls for the student generally to adapt the same IRAC structure in the paragraphs presenting legal advice as he would in a memo, or a brief."
 
6. "At its very core, the problem of transfer is one of changing contexts. As discussed in the preceding section on memory and learning, new learning is ‘encoded’ (stored) according to the context in which it was acquired."
 
"According to our developing understanding of how memory is retrieved, ‘cues’ are the catalysts for memory search and retrieval."
 
"Accordingly, without continued challenges to match that learning to increasingly varied contexts, it will tend to be ignored as germane only to its original, limited context."
 
7.  For example, "a clinic seminar simulation on client interviewing might cover a particular skill, such as framing questions to allow the client to tell her own story, rather than the story the lawyer wants to hear. A few weeks later, the student may or may not recall, without prompting, that proper framing is important, particularly if she is now working with a real client, in a different room or building, and with a different set of facts and legal problems. If she had the opportunity to practice the skills in class, and then to review and practice them before the live-client interview, the chances of her success would increase.  For novices like most clinic students, the goal is not to transfer skills at the level of mastery, but to remember to ‘reach back’ for previous learning and to continually enlarge one’s schema for future applications."
 
8. "A number of teaching strategies can help students not only to recognize the need for previous learning in a new context (backward-reaching transfer), but also to build schematic locations for possible future applications for current learning (forward-reaching transfer)."
 
"In order to help students ‘transfer out’ or reach forward to new clinic assignments and to law practice, clinicians can nurture professional identity through meetings that identify future uses for skills. For example, a student in the criminal defense clinic who wants to practice commercial litigation will tend to see those contexts as too ‘far’ to warrant any applicability. Teachers can connect those schemata by showing how context-specific skills nevertheless overlap and strengthen into a broader skill set.  When clinical professors expect particularly accurate and concrete transfer to an assignment, such as simulated deposition training from seminar to a live-witness deposition, the expectation to transfer should be made explicit, not assumed."
 
The article contains many detailed examples on how to teach transfer.
 
This article is one of many excellent articles written in the last few years on how to better teach law students.  If law teachers would adopt theteaching techniques in these articles, there would be a true revolution in law teaching.
 
(Scott Fruehwald)

September 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Discussing Advocacy Skills in Traditional Doctrinal Courses"

Some of our readers may be interested in this new article by Professor Stephen Newman (New York Law School) suggesting some modest but meaningful ways we can incorporate practical legal skills into doctrinal courses.  Professor Newman uses his own family law course as an example.  The article is available on SSRN here.  From the abstract:

Can teaching students in doctrinal courses, using traditional case-oriented materials, convey some of the skills lawyers need to practice law effectively? While the recent interest in and debate over training practice-ready lawyers makes this a timely question, my thinking about this harks back to the mid-1990s, when Harry Wellington, then dean of New York Law School, suggested that faculty members consider teaching law from the lawyer’s perspective rather than from the perspective of either the judge or the legal scholar.

In traditional doctrinal courses in law school, like my own in family law, coverage is broad and time is short. Despite the pressures of time, there is a way to incorporate discussion of various skills of the lawyer into these courses. I here suggest that in a modest but meaningful way, professors teaching doctrinal courses might inject into class discussions matters such as the role of the lawyer in gathering evidence, using narrative techniques in presenting evidence, narrowing legal claims, naming and labeling parties, counseling clients, and dealing with experts.

Regular additions to class discussion of such matters could help students see the connections between doctrinal law and practice, stimulate thinking about how lawyers go about making a persuasive case on behalf of their clients, and reinforce the student’s learning in skills and experiential learning courses. I offer some examples from my own course, with the expectation that instructors of other doctrinal courses will have their own ideas for incorporating into class discussions these ways of thinking about the lawyer’s job.

A modest degree of discussion along the lines outlined in this essay might help show students the vital connections between reading judicial opinions in an academically rigorous manner, and practicing law in a persuasive, imaginative, and artful way.

(jbl). 

September 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Marvelous Metaphor from “The Roosevelts”

I am always on the lookout for good metaphors. Introducing students to good ones helps  them develop their persuasive skills. In Ken Burns’ new PBS series on the Roosevelts, George Will offers a memorable metaphor:

The presidency is like a soft leather glove, and it takes the shape of

the hand that’s put into it,” he says. “And when a very big hand is put

into it and stretches the glove — stretches the office — the glove

never quite shrinks back to what it was. So we are all living today

with an office enlarged permanently by Franklin Roosevelt.

(ljs)

September 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Paul Maharg on ETL Conference

Paul Maharg has a detailed summary of the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers 3rd Annual Conference on his blog.

He concludes,

"My life is a sine curve, said David Thomson at the wrap-up — there are highs (seeing the innovation work) and there are lows (so much still to be done, how to do it, how to do it well).  It was an image for the conference and I would guess spoke for most of us there.  For it described the situation of the innovator: to keep ourselves balanced, open, clear-minded, adventurous, living with risk and hope, student-centred, democratic educators."

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)