Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Networking: How to Work a Room

For us introverts, working a room can be uncomfortable, even painful. At Attorney at Work, we find an exhaustive list of pointers on how to prepare for an event, what to do at the  event, and how to follow up. Here is the most interesting piece of advice, at least for me:

  • Act like a host.I read a study once that said the difference between people who are good at networking events and those who are not is the good ones act like hosts and the bad ones act like guests. How would your behavior be different if you were the host?

You can read more here.


January 9, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 8, 2018

When SCOTUS Justices Interrupt One Another

The SCOTUS blog summarizes several studies indicating that judicial interruptions help predict how the Justices will vote:

 In a recent paper, Tonja Jacobi and Kyle Rozema studied oral arguments from 1960  In a recent paper, Tonja Jacobi and Kyle Rozema studied oral arguments from 1960 through 2015 and found that when justices interrupt each other during oral argument, they are seven percent less likely to vote together in that case.

These findings add to existing data analyzing the relationship between oral arguments and the outcome of cases. A 2009 study by Timothy R. Johnson, Ryan C. Black, Jerry Goldman and Sarah Truel found that the advocate who is asked more questions is more likely to lose the case, and Bryce J. Dietrich, Ryan D. Enos and Maya Sen were able to accurately predict many of the justices’ eventual votes in a case solely through measurement of their vocal pitch at oral argument. Taken together, these studies suggest that if we crunch all the right data, we can guess how the justices will rule months before they tell through 2015 and found that when justices interrupt each other during oral argument, they are seven percent less likely to vote together in that case.

 These findings add to existing data analyzing the relationship between oral arguments and the outcome of cases. A 2009 study by Timothy R. Johnson, Ryan C. Black, Jerry Goldman and Sarah Truel found that the advocate who is asked more questions is more likely to lose the case, and Bryce J. Dietrich, Ryan D. Enos and Maya Sen were able to accurately predict many of the justices’ eventual votes in a case solely through measurement of their vocal pitch at oral argument. Taken together, these studies suggest that if we crunch all the right data, we can guess how the justices will rule months before they tell us.

You can read more here.


January 8, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Theory Without Practice Is Empty; Practice Without Theory Is Blind: The Inherent Inseparability of Doctrine and Skills

Theory Without Practice Is Empty; Practice Without Theory Is Blind: The Inherent Inseparability of Doctrine and Skills by Harold Anthony Lloyd Contained in Linda H. Edwards, The Doctrine Skills Divide: Legal Education’s Self-Inflicted Wound 77-90 (2017).


This article maintains that the so-called theory-practice divide in legal education is not only factually false but semantically impossible.

As to the divide's falsity, practitioners have of course performed excellent scholarship and academics have excelled in practice. As to the divide's semantic impossibility, this article examines, among other things:

(1) the essential role of experience in meaning,

(2) the resulting inseparability of theory and practice in the world of experience,

(3) problems the divide shares in common with debunked Cartesian dualism, and

(4) modern cognitive psychology’s notions of embodied meaning which further underscore the semantic impossibility of separating theory from practice in the world of experience.

Using insights from such examinations, this article also explores implications of a debunked theory-practice divide for, among other things, law school curriculums and law school faculty hiring standards.

(Scott Fruehwald)

January 8, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

We love Lou

And we're sending positive thoughts your way all week long.

- The staff of the Legal Skills Prof Blog.


January 8, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A free webinar for law students interesting in developing better networking skills

Grover "yes-that's-his-real-name" Cleveland, author of the bestselling book "Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer," would like our readers to know that he'll be offering, along with Betsy Munnell (a 25-year Biglaw partner who helps lawyers build profitable), a free ABA sponsored webinar directed at law students on how to develop and build a professional network. The program is called "Networking and Relationship Building Strategies for Junior Associates and Law Students" and will be held this Friday, January 12, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST.  Here's a full description of the program:

From navigating a cocktail reception to staying in touch online, the program will help you learn to tailor an approach to suit your skills, resources and personal style. The goal is to make networking more comfortable, more effective — and more frequent, so that you can go beyond trading business cards and build authentic, meaningful and enduring business relationships. If you have ever cringed at the notion of attending a networking event – or wondered how to maintain contact without being awkward or intrusive, this program is for you.

Again, you can register for free by clicking here



January 8, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Fragile Generation: Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed

Interesting article on how children are raised today:

The Fragile Generation: Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed. by Lenore Skenazy & Jonathan Haidt.


"We've had the best of intentions, of course. But efforts to protect our children may be backfiring. When we raise kids unaccustomed to facing anything on their own, including risk, failure, and hurt feelings, our society and even our economy are threatened. Yet modern child-rearing practices and laws seem all but designed to cultivate this lack of preparedness. There's the fear that everything children see, do, eat, hear, and lick could hurt them. And there's a newer belief that has been spreading through higher education that words and ideas themselves can be traumatizing."

"This magnification of danger and hurt is prevalent on campus today. It no longer matters what a person intended to say, or how a reasonable listener would interpret a statement—what matters is whether any individual feels offended by it. If so, the speaker has committed a "microaggression," and the offended party's purely subjective reaction is a sufficient basis for emailing a dean or filing a complaint with the university's "bias response team." The net effect is that both professors and students today report that they are walking on eggshells. This interferes with the process of free inquiry and open debate—the active ingredients in a college education."

"By trying to keep children safe from all risks, obstacles, hurt feelings, and fears, our culture has taken away the opportunities they need to become successful adults. In treating them as fragile—emotionally, socially, and physically—society actually makes them so."

(Scott Fruehwald)

January 7, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Those who Passed away in 2017

From Newser, an extensive list of those who passed away this past year, including many who were not very well known. Examples:

  1. Sister Frances Carr, 89. One of the last remaining members of a nearly extinct religious society called the Shakers. Jan. 2. (Obit here.)
  2. Parker Beam, 75. He carried on his family's historic bourbon-making tradition as longtime master distiller for Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Distilleries. Jan. 9.
  3. Clare Hollingworth, 105. A British war correspondent who was the first to report the Nazi invasion of Poland that marked the beginning of World War II. Jan. 10. (Obit here.)
  4. Michael Chamberlain, 72. He waged a decades-long battle to prove his baby daughter was killed by a dingo in Australia's most notorious case of injustice. Jan. 9. (Obit here.)
  5. Steven McDonald, 59. A New York police detective who was paralyzed by a teenage gunman's bullet in 1986 but publicly forgave the shooter and became an international voice for peace. Jan. 10. (Obit here.)

You can read more here.


January 7, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Historian Barbara Tuchman on the Art of Writing

In deciding how to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy relied heavily on lessons he learned from reading historian Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, her history of World War I and her explanation of how a relatively minor event led to a bloody four year war. From her book, the President learned the importance of exercising restraint in crisis situations.

In an article on the subject, Professor Douglas Abrams argues that if Tuchman had not written so readable a book, President Kennedy might not have read it and might have opted for a more violent reaction to the Russian missiles in Cuba. He also presents five lessons from Tuchman on writing well.

  1. “The most important thing about research is to know when to stop. . . . One must stop before one has finished; otherwise, one will never stop and never finish. . . . I . . . feel compelled to follow every lead and learn everything about a subject, but fortunately I have even more overwhelming compulsion to see my work in print.”
  2. “The writer . . . must do the preliminary work for the reader, assemble the information, make sense of it, select the essential, discard the irrelevant. . . . What it requires is simply the courage and self-confidence to make choices and, above all, to leave things out.”
  3. Words are seductive and dangerous material, to be used with caution. . . . “[C]areless use of words can leave a false impression one had not intended.”
  4. “[S]hort words are always preferable to long ones; the fewer syllables the better, and monosyllables, beautiful and pure . . ., are the best of all.”
  5. “[I]t is a pleasure to achieve, if one can, a clear running prose . . . . This does not just happen. It requires skill, hard work. . . .It is laborious, slow, often painful, sometimes agony. It means rearrangement, revision, adding, cutting, rewriting.”

You can access the article here. The Cuban Missile Crisis, Historian Barbara W. Tuchman, and the 'Art of Writing' (September 1, 2017). 73 Journal of the Missouri Bar 268 (Sept. - Oct. 2017)


January 7, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

For my co-blogger Lou

Just a quick note from the Legal Skills Prof Blog to say that we're all thinking about you, buddy. 

Hang in there.


January 6, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Legal sector adds 600 jobs in December 2017

Ending on a moderate high note, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its provisional jobs report for December 2017 showing that the legal sector added 600 new jobs last month.  That figure outperforms the BLS's revised job data for the previous month (in which the agency had previously reported that the legal sector added 600 jobs; that's now been revised down to 400). The BLS frequently makes adjustments to a previous month's job stats as it acquires more accurate data.  

Interestingly, this post from The American Lawyer (sub. may be required) notes that the overall number of jobs in the legal sector has remained relatively steady since 2013 hovering somewhere between 1.12 million and 1.13 million which is an overall net loss of approximately 50,000 jobs from the high-water mark established in 2007. And though the economy and job market are both strong at the moment, others warn it won't last. It never does.



January 6, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turning Around a Struggling Organization

You take a new position and discover that your organization is not in as great shape as you thought. How do you clean up the mess?

At Chronicle Vitae, Allison Vaillancourt offers advice. Here are the highlights:

  • Speak as "us," rather than "you." Embrace your new organization and suggest that you are fully committed to turning things around.
  • Be clear about your values. Be explicit about your expectations and what it will take to be successful when working with you.
  • Acknowledge what’s working.
  • Share the numbers. Give your people the facts: "Our applications are down 12 percent." Or, "15 percent of our graduates failed their board exams." Or, "We have a $2-million structural deficit."
  • Describe the future you imagine.
  • Don’t go it alone. As quickly as possible, determine who on your team is hungry and who might be helpful because you will need both phenotypes to master your mess.
  • Embrace your mess as an opportunity
  • You can read more here.
  • (ljs)

January 6, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Gender Diverse Legal Teams Outperform Single Gender Teams

This is the result of a study by Acritas Research:

Global legal market research firm Acritas has examined the statistics behind gender differences in law, including the pay gap, service performance and behavior, to reveal how law firms and clients can make diversity pay for both sides of the relationship.

 Mixed gender teams significantly outperform single gender teams. Analysis of 12 KPIs has revealed an uplift in performance across the full suite of industry-recognized metrics according to 996 clients interviewed by Acritas, with the biggest gain in performance for strength of relationships.

You can read more here.


January 5, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Applications for ABA Center for Innovation Fellowships for recent grads due January 28

The ABA Center for Innovation has opened applications for two types of fellowships, one of them directed specifically at recent law grads interested in improving access to justice or solving other problems related to the efficient delivery of legal services. The NextGen fellowship for lawyers who graduated law school within the past five years carries a $45k, 12 month stipend along with benefits. There is another fellowship opportunity called "Innovative Fellows" which does not include a stipend though the ABA will assist the successful applicant in finding financial sponsorship for the 12 week program. Here are the full details of both programs including this link where you can apply.

The ABA Center for Innovation encourages and accelerates innovations that improve the affordability, effectiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of legal services.


Have you ever thought that with enough time and resources you could develop answers to the many challenges affecting the legal profession and our justice system?


Now’s your chance. Come work with us at the  ABA Center for Innovation. Be one of our fellows.


If you want to:


Improve Access to Justice

Use technology to address an urgent legal need

Design a better legal service delivery method

Help the public access legal information more easily

Give lawyers tools to work better, faster, and cheaper

Reduce the backlog in the courts

Address an urgent need in the community

Design solutions for self-represented litigants


The ABA Center for Innovation will provide you a space to dream big, build fast and make a difference in the legal community.


What is the ABA Center for Innovation Fellows Program?


The Center for Innovation is seeking creative thinkers to develop and launch new projects to address critical needs in the legal sector.


NextGen Fellows Recent – within the last 5 years – law school graduates will spend one year in-residence at the ABA headquarters in Chicago, IL or offsite working with a legal or judicial organization. NextGen Fellows will receive a salary of $45,000, along with benefits, during their time in the program. The cohort of fellows will begin late August 2018 and complete their work by August 31, 2019. Bar admission is not necessary.


Innovation Fellows Interested individuals are invited to take a 9-12 week sabbatical from their workplace and spend that time at the ABA headquarters in Chicago working on projects that will improve the legal sector and practice of law. There is no stipend for this fellowship, but the ABA will work with other legal and judicial organizations (e.g. courts, corporations, law schools and bar associations) to develop sponsorships to assist you. There are few limitations on areas of focus for these fellows; if it touches our justice system, it is ripe for intervention and innovation. Innovation Fellows attend on a rolling basis, determined by the length of their participation.


Who are we looking for? Our Fellows:


Are open to learning and working in a collaborative atmosphere

Can take an idea from conception to implementation

Have an ability to jump into the unknown

Arrive with an idea of what they hope to achieve


What are the benefits of the ABA Center for Innovation Fellows Program?


You will have access to the top innovators, educators, technologists and designers in the nation.


You will receive a comprehensive “boot camp” training to help kickstart your project.


You will be able to take advantage of ongoing learning opportunities in and around Chicago from institutions like Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Chicago Kent Law School, IIT Institute of Design, 1871 Chicago Technology and Entrepreneur Incubator, courts, legal aid organizations and more.


You will be able to participate in many learning opportunities at the ABA and affiliated groups.

How do I apply?


The application has two required parts:


Provide a 500-750 word project statement that outlines the problem you propose to address, what work you’ve done on this problem, what resources you think you would need to develop your project and what outcomes you hope to achieve.  Be sure to indicate which type of fellowship you are applying for.


For NextGen Fellow applicants, preference will be given to applicants who indicate that an organization is willing to host the applicant during the fellowship. For example, if an applicant wants to automate various parts of a particular legal service, the applicant could reach out to a legal aid office that regularly handles that kind of service and ask if the office is willing to host the applicant if the applicant becomes a fellow. Applicants should make clear to potential hosts that the ABA Center for Innovation or a sponsor will cover the costs of the fellowship and that the applicant is simply seeking a host organization that sees a potential benefit from the applicant’s fellowship project.


Send a resume and include, if available, a link to your website or professional social media profile.


Optional: Send us a short, 2-3 minute video or multi-media presentation, highlighting what you think we need to know about you and the uniqueness you will bring to the Fellows Program. Be creative!


Please send applications to: innovationcenter@americanbar.org


 Applications are due by Midnight Central Time on January 28, 2018.


hat is the selection process?


Applications will be reviewed by the Center’s staff and volunteer leadership. Finalists for the fellowships will interview with the Selection Committee by phone or Skype. Recipients will be notified in March 2018.


January 4, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Canned Briefs: They are harmful to law students!

Otto Stockmeyer is correct to question the quality of commercial canned briefs.  However, the accuracy of canned briefs is not the biggest problem with them.  The biggest problem is that they do for students what students need to do for themselves to become competent lawyers.  Analyzing cases (I prefer this to briefing cases) is part of learning how to think like a lawyer.  The importance of studying cases is not in memorizing the issue, the facts, and the holding; it is understanding how the judge came to her decision.  In other words, understanding the reasoning of the case.

To become a competent lawyer, a law student needs to do this again and again and again.  There are no shortcuts.  Bobby Fischer did not become a chess grand master by memorizing a few moves.  He did it through hours and hours of concentrated work.

As I have written in my book, Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Legal Professionals (2013), I would go even further.   Students also need to understand what kind of reasoning the judge used--rule-based reasoning (deductive reasoning), reasoning by analogy, distinguishing, synthesis, or policy-based reasoning.  Moreover, students should put the case into context, criticize the case, reflect on what the case means, come up with alternatives to the judge's reasoning, and consider the implications of the case.  In other words, law students should engage with the case.

In sum, canned briefs are the worst things law students can buy.  They steal from students thinking processes they will need to learn and understand the law. 

(Scott Fruehwald) 



January 4, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

How Inaccurate are Canned Briefs?

Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer questions the quality of commercial canned briefs. He offers this example:

One term I was preparing to teach Contracts II for a colleague, including the case of Bright v Ganas. I knew that another professor had recently written a law review article on the case, so I Googled the case name to see if I could locate her article. I did not find it - but what I found instead was a brand-name publisher’s canned brief on the case.

Curious, I Googled the other cases on the syllabus for that day and read canned briefs of them as well. My reaction? The briefs were woefully inadequate in several respects, and were dead-bang wrong on a couple of important points. They have the potential to embarrass any student who relies on them when reciting in class.

You can read more here.


January 4, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The demographics of legal skills faculty

Professor and past CLEA President Robert Kuehn (Washington U. St. Louis) has just posted an interesting article over at the Best Practices For Legal Ed. blog that compiles demographic information about the composition of clinical and legal writing faculty nationwide.  Among his other findings, of the 1000 or so law faculty that identify as clinicians nationwide, 62% are women while 75% of externship teachers are women. With respect to legal writing faculty, 72% identify as female. Compare that with doctrinal faculty who are comprised in total of only 44% women.  Head over to the BPFLE blog to see Professor Kuehn's full post which contains additional interesting observations about the ethnic composition of skills faculty, the percentage of total skills faculty who are tenured or on tenure track and the extent to which these overall trends have changed over time.

h/t to Professor Kuehn.


January 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Law Clerks Still Mostly White Males

The headline is an understatement. From the ABA Journal blog:

U.S. Supreme Court law clerks in the last dozen years are mostly white men, a number that highlights “near-glacial progress” since the first demographic study of clerks in 1998, according to research by a legal publication.

Since 2005, when Chief Justice John G. Roberts joined the court, 85 percent of all the justices’ law clerks were white, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. A third were female, 4 percent were African-American, about 1.5 percent were Hispanic and nearly 9 percent were Asian-American.

Among 36 law clerks hired by the justices this term, one is African-American, one is Hispanic and three are Asian-American.

You can read more here.


January 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

North of the border, multiple reports recommend expanding law student clinics

From the Canadian law blog Slaw comes this report that two independent studies, one commissioned by the Ontario Attorney General (i.e. the Justice Bonkalo report) and the other by the Canadian House of Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee, both endorse the great value of law school clinics and recommend their roles be expanded when it comes to providing citizens access to justice. Perhaps some stateside clinicians may find these reports helpful insofar as they are seeking to argue for the expansion of clinics within their own schools. 

An excerpt from Slaw: 

Justice Bonkalo’s report (discussed in an earlier column) had this to say about family law programs at Ontario’s student legal clinics:


I was very impressed by the extensive and important work undertaken by law students, supported by lawyers, who are obviously committed to excellence in the family justice system. The role that student programs play in access to justice cannot be underestimated, but I am gravely concerned about the apparent lack of stable funding to support their continued existence and ability to provide family law services to the public…


Justice Bonkalo recommended that “The Ministry of the Attorney General and LAO should ensure continued funding to enable student programs like Pro Bono Students Canada’s Family Law Project and the student legal aid services societies to continue to operate and possibly even expand.”


Meanwhile, at the national level, the House of Commons Justice Committee has been examining access to the justice system. Part II of its report, released in early November, focused on legal aid in Canada.


The Justice Committee considered how to maximize the impact of federal legal aid funding. It noted that “… the federal role in implementing innovations in the provision of legal aid is limited as legal aid programs are within provincial and territorial jurisdiction. However, the federal government can play an important role in promoting innovation and sharing best practices.”


Recommendation 5 of the Justice Committee Report states:


The Committee recommends that the Department of Justice Canada facilitate greater information sharing between provinces and territories regarding best practices for the administration and delivery of legal aid services, with particular attention to expanding the role of law school and specialized clinics to increase access to justice.

 . . . . 

Read the full Slaw post here.



January 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New AALS Section: Empirical Study of Legal Education & the Legal Profession: 3:30 Wed., Jan. 3

From the Law School Cafe:

"If you’re at the AALS meeting, don’t miss the inaugural session of the new Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education & the Legal Profession. Spearheaded by Judith Wegner, this Section welcomes colleagues who are interested in conducting or using empirical research relating to legal education and the legal profession. You don’t need to be a numbers person to benefit from this Section–just someone who is interested in studying what we do in law schools and the legal profession."

More info here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

January 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Issue of “Scribes”

The recent issue of Scribes, Volume 17, offers a number of interesting and valuable articles: 

Mark Cooney. From the Editor. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing v-vi (2016-2017).

Hon. Joan L. Larsen. Lessons from Justice Scalia. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 1-4 (2016-2017). [H]|[L]|[W]

George D. Gopen. Understanding your prewriting process and freeing yourself from guilt. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 5-8 (2016-2017).

Mark Sableman. Typographic legibility: delivering your message effectively. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 9-32 (2016-2017).

Jill Barton. Supreme Court splits...on grammar and writing style. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 33-45 (2016-2017).]

Adam L. Rosman. Happy warriors against herein: ten rules for creating better legal documents. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 47-67 (2016-2017).

Kathleen Elliott Vinson. Writing lockdowns: a path to mindful writing. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 69-78 (2016-2017).

Mark Cohen. How to draft a bad contract. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 79-97 (2016-2017).

Brian C. Potts. Empty Shalls. [Poem.] 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 99 (2016-2017).

 Raymond P. Ward. Book notice. Legal Writing, All Business by J. Scott Colesanti. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 103-104 (2016-2017).

Notes on contributors. 17 Scribes J. Legal Writing 105-107 (2016-2017).


January 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)