Monday, September 14, 2015
In the rough and changing landscape of the legal job market, legal employers have called on law schools to prepare more “practice ready” attorneys — newly minted lawyers with better honed practical skills than the first year associates of the past. The increasing emphasis on legal skills sheds light on an interesting paradox within legal education; in legal skills courses, those that best lend themselves to active learning exercises, instructors fill valuable classroom time with passive lectures to convey the related theory and best practices. Recently, several legal skills instructors have adopted a flipped classroom model to remedy this paradox by using commonplace technology to make concise lecture videos available online for students to view on their own time, creating additional classroom time for active skills development under the supervision of an experienced instructor.
This article first presents an assessment of the literature and limited empirical studies on the effectiveness of using a flipped classroom model in higher education courses. After discussing the pedagogical and learning benefits of flipped classroom, it then advocates for the at-least partial implementation of a flipped classroom model in legal skills courses to create more opportunities for active learning with the expectation of similar increases in student performance that have appeared in other areas of higher education.
I have been saying for some time that active learning will help all law students, but that minorities would be helped the most because they generally have a poorer educational background than white students. An article in the New York Times asserts the same thing about college students.
Are College Lectures Unfair? by Annie Murphy Paul.
Murphy asks, "DOES the college lecture discriminate? Is it biased against undergraduates who are not white, male and affluent?" "Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that the lecture is not generic or neutral, but a specific cultural form that favors some people while discriminating against others, including women, minorities and low-income and first-generation college students. This is not a matter of instructor bias; it is the lecture format itself — when used on its own without other instructional supports — that offers unfair advantages to an already privileged population."
"The partiality of the lecture format has been made visible by studies that compare it with a different style of instruction, called active learning. This approach provides increased structure, feedback and interaction, prompting students to become participants in constructing their own knowledge rather than passive recipients."
"Research comparing the two methods has consistently found that students over all perform better in active-learning courses than in traditional lecture courses. However, women, minorities, and low-income and first-generation students benefit more, on average, than white males from more affluent, educated families."
"Active-learning courses deliberately structure in-class and out-of-class assignments to ensure that students repeatedly engage with the material."
"In the structured course, all demographic groups reported completing the readings more frequently and spending more time studying; all groups also achieved higher final grades than did students in the lecture course. At the same time, the active-learning approach worked disproportionately well for black students — halving the black-white achievement gap evident in the lecture course — and for first-generation college students, closing the gap between them and students from families with a history of college attendance."
"The act of putting one’s own thoughts into words and communicating them to others, research has shown, is a powerful contributor to learning. Active-learning courses regularly provide opportunities for students to talk and debate with one another in a collaborative, low-pressure environment."
"In a study to be published later this year, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Yale University compare a course in physical chemistry taught in traditional lecture style to the same course taught in a “flipped” format, in which lectures were moved online and more time was devoted to in-class problem-solving activities. Exam performance over all was nearly 12 percent higher in the flipped class. Female students were among those who benefited the most, allowing them to perform at almost the same level as their male peers."
Paul concludes, "Given that active-learning approaches benefit all students, but especially those who are female, minority, low-income and first-generation, shouldn’t all universities be teaching this way?"
An excellent question that many of us have been asking about law schools. Or, as I have phrased it in an earlier post, the predominant method of legal education used today was developed in the nineteenth century at an elite law school for elite, white, male law students who had graduated from elite colleges. Is there any wonder there is white bias in legal education?
Sunday, September 13, 2015
We at the Legal Skills Prof Blog are saddened to learn of the passing of our colleague and friend Molly Lien. Molly was much beloved throughout the legal writing profession and at the law schools she taught at. Our sympathy goes out to her family.
I have collected a few of the tributes to Molly:
"I am so sad today. My dear friend, Molly Lien, died this morning during surgery. Molly was a colleague of mine at Chicago Kent for many years, succeeded me as director of the Legal Writing program, was a wonderful teacher, and the epitome of a caring, loving individual, concerned about her students and others. She went on to direct the program at John Marshall and taught there, before she retired to Traverse City Michigan a few years ago. . . . She was one of the kindest, most generous, loving persons I have ever known. She will be greatly missed." Ralph Brill
"Molly was a brilliant and generous colleague. She was a lovely and gracious woman. Many of us benefited from her wisdom and kindness." Maureen Collins
"Molly was indeed a tremendous teacher, mentor, and friend. May she rest in peace and may her kindness and friendship live on in our memories." Mark Wojcik
"Your spirit will live on in all of us you touched, Molly. Congratulations on a life well-lived and a career well done." Brad Clary
"When I was a new director with lots of questions I shared with the listserve, Molly was the one who picked up the phone and called with answers. She will truly be missed." Gail Stephenson
"I don't have enough words to describe my sorrow at losing dear Molly, without a doubt one of the most wonderful people ever put on this earth." Ralph Brill
"Molly personified the best parts of our community. Everyone who knew her loved her. I will miss her so much." Terrill Pollman
"Thank you, Ralph, for sharing Mark's post; thank you, Mark, for such a wonderful tribute to Molly; and thanks to all for expressing your comments about how special Molly was and the footprint she left on the legal writing community. I remember Molly with great respect and a smile." Deborah McGregor
"Over the past year, I have had to dig deep inside to find courage I didn't know I had. So many times, I have thought of Molly and her strength and fortitude during one particular terrible year in her career. Molly showed us all that kindness, forgiveness, and the ability to show our dissenters just how wrong they are pave the true path to success, contentment, and respect. I loved Molly dearly and will miss her with all my heart. I join the rest of the academy in mourning her loss and honoring her life." Lisa McElroy
"Molly was a kind and gracious mentor to me when I was a terrified new director. Rest in peace, dear lady." Kirsten Dauphinais
"This is a sad day indeed. Molly was the best of us. Always there to lend a hand, offer wise advice, and give support. We lost one of the nicest people on the planet, but we have been blessed by knowing her. She was a mentor to many of us, and her legacy is her kindness. She is a role model for all of us on how to teach and how to live. Let us always remember this great woman. " Grace Tonner
"Molly was a mentor to me in so many ways, I can't begin to name them. I am grateful for having been the recipient of her advice, her support, and her friendship. I took my son to meet Molly when he was looking at law schools, and she unquestionably influenced his ultimate choice. I don't look forward to sharing this sad news with him and his wife, both graduates of Chicago-Kent. It was a privilege to know Molly. She will never be forgotten by this community or by anyone who knew her." Coleen Barger
"Molly certainly was someone who touched many of us, far and wide, and who stood up for and symbolized the fight for recognition of the legal writing community, in ways that we won't forget." Diane Edelman
Molly was one of the first persons I met in the legal writing profession. She interviewed me at the AALS meat market in 1993. We got along so well that our talk went twenty minutes into the next person's time. Molly was always a pleasure to talk to when I ran into her at meetings. She was always concerned about what was going on in my career and my life. Molly will be missed.
It is heartwarming to read what everybody has said about Molly. She was a wonderful person, and the legal writing profession is a great group of people.
Social scientist Brené Brown identifies the characteristics of resilient people.
The most transformative and resilient leaders that I’ve worked with over the course of my career have three things in common: First, they recognize the central role that relationships and story play in culture and strategy, and they stay curious about their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Second, they understand and stay curious about how emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are connected in the people they lead, and how those factors affect relationships and perception. And, third, they have the ability and willingness to lean in to discomfort and vulnerability.
[Active engagement with the creative impulse] Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration — it is how we fold our experiences into our being…
[Some form of spiritual life] Our expressions of spirituality are as diverse as we are. When our intentions and actions are guided by spirituality — our belief in our interconnectedness and love — our everyday experiences can be spiritual practices. We can transform teaching, leading, and parenting into spiritual practices. Asking for and receiving help can also be spiritual practices. Storytelling and creating can be spiritual practices, because they cultivate awareness.
You can read more here at Brain Pickings.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Communications coach Marsha Hunt notices the difference between how the lawyers speak and how the Justices speak:
With the clock ticking away right in front of them [the lawyers], they feel the powerful effect of adrenaline on their perception of time. They feel that time is passing more quickly than it is. We can hear lawyers racing against time, struggling against the effects of adrenaline. Listen for these instances and learn from their mistakes.
The justices, on the other hand, speak carefully and with deliberate purpose. As they speak clearly in fluent phrases, we can hear how self-assured they are. The music of their voices conveys the exact meaning of their words. By and large, the justices are measured and relaxed and seem to be enjoying the whole thing thoroughly.
She encourages us to learn by listening to arguments on Oyez.org. You can read more here at Attorney at Work.
Boston U. Law School launches new clinic focused on IP issues relating to technology commercialization
From BU's press release announcing this new program:
Starting this fall, Boston University School of Law students will work with budding entrepreneurs seeking to protect and commercialize their technologies in the School's new Entrepreneurship & Intellectual Property Law Clinic. Under the supervision of recently appointed clinic director Eve Brown, students will advise their clients about business strategies and intellectual property issues and participate in a complementary seminar that will support them in their assigned cases and help them develop the necessary skills for transactional and IP work.
“We are thrilled to add the Entrepreneurship & IP Law Clinic to our strong portfolio of existing clinical opportunities,” says Dean Maureen A. O’Rourke. “Our Intellectual Property Program has long been recognized as one of the best in the country, and this addition will give students the kind of practical, hands-on experience working with real clients that will prove invaluable as they begin their careers.”
Brown comes to BU Law from Suffolk University Law School, where she has been practitioner-in-residence and director of the the Intellectual Property & Entrepreneurship Clinic since 2012. She has also taught Intellectual Property Strategy and Law for the Entrepreneur at both Suffolk University and Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. Her teaching and research interests focus on intellectual property and entrepreneurship law.
“Boston is a known hotbed for start-ups and innovation, so our students will be working with some of the brightest minds in the country, developing some of the most exciting technologies of tomorrow,” says Associate Dean for Experiential Education Peggy Maisel. “And we are excited to welcome Eve Brown, who is an exceptional teacher and practitioner.”
From 2007-2012, Brown taught in the Department of Business Law and Ethics at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, in both the undergraduate and MBA programs. While at Indiana University, she was awarded the Trustees Teaching Award and the Innovative Teaching Award, and was named Kappa Alpha Theta Outstanding Professor and Student Choice Award Nominee.
Brown has served as president of the Tri-State Academy of Legal Studies in Business, and is currently a member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association; the Law and Society Association; the International Society for Scholarship on Teaching and Learning; and the Association for Law, Culture & the Humanities.
Prior to teaching, Brown practiced as an attorney for the San Diego office of Ross, Dixon & Bell, where her pro bonowork was honored with a Business Volunteers for the Arts award. She has also worked for the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit of the United States' Attorney's Office and as an extern for the Honorable Frank C. Damrell of the United States District Court in Sacramento, California. She received her JD from the University of California Davis School of Law, where she was senior articles editor for the UC Davis Law Review, and her BA from Skidmore College.
With the addition of the Entrepreneurship & IP Law Clinic, BU Law offers a dozen in-house clinics, as well as numerous externship and Semester-in-Practice opportunities. The School guarantees that any student who wishes to take a clinic will have the opportunity to do so before they graduate.
Friday, September 11, 2015
The major legal publishers are beginning to post legal treatises online, though they sometimes give the treatises different names. Are we moving into an era where we will see treatise treatments of topics that are not tied to the commercial publishers? These treatises may be the products of law firms, wikis and other sources.
Peter Martin envisions this future. Possible Futures for the Legal Treatise in an Environment of Wikis, Blogs, and Myriad Online Primary Law Sources (here). Here are excerpts from his abstract:
Major law publishers have begun producing ebook versions of some of the legal treatises they own. Despite asserted advantages over both print and online versions of the same content, these represent a step back from what treatises have become within the major online services and even further from what they might become now that numerous sources of primary law are directly accessible via the Internet.
The article argues (1) that electronic treatises that have been cut loose from print norms can offer major advantages in format and function over print treatises that have simply been ported to Westlaw, Lexis, or one of their competitors and (2) that strong reasons exist for treatise authors and those with a stake in their work to prefer publication on the open Web to inclusion in one of the large proprietary systems. It concludes with a description of Web-based utilities that might enable such treatises to be competitive with those held in the major online systems and with speculation about the institutional arrangements that might enable treatise-like works delivered in electronic format to survive and even thrive without being confined to a single comprehensive database.
I rarely peek into a traditional treatise. There are too many accessible sources, usually in the internet.
This is a new article posted to SSRN by Professor and law librarian Todd Venie (Georgetown). Here's the abstract:
Legal research is generally regarded as an essential skill for attorneys. Despite this fact, research skills of new attorneys continue to be regarded as poor by law librarians. As law schools attempt to address this deficiency, particularly by adding advanced legal research courses, academic law librarians are increasingly involved in legal research instruction. Given this, it is important to ascertain whether academic law librarians and law librarians in legal offices agree as to the most important skills and materials for new lawyers to be familiar with. This paper reports and analyzes the results of a survey conducted among academic and practitioner law librarians in the Southeastern United States and Washington, DC area regarding legal research skills and materials.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
From Engaget, here’s the assessment:
As with all of the "S" iPhone models, the 6s is more about refinement than massive design leaps. It's not exactly a device meant to entice existing iPhone 6 owners; instead it's meant more for people stuck with older iPhones, or those whose cellphone contracts didn't allow them to upgrade over the past year. And for those who've waited, it looks to be worth it.
For the details, please click here.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Which Law Schools Give the Greatest Tuition Discounts?
Using ABA data, preLaw magazine makes the calculations. According to their estimates, for the 2013-2014 year, the private schools giving the greatest average tuition discounts were Liberty, Ohio Northern, Chapman, Brooklyn, and the University of St. Thomas (Minn.). For a full listing, please click here.
My sense is that this year, schools have reduced the number of discounts.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Civility (Part II) by Douglas E. Abrams.
“‘All advocacy involves conflict and calls for the will to win,’ said New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Arthur T. Vanderbilt, but the will to win is only one ingredient of professionalism. Advocates, he added, also ‘must have character,’ marked by ‘certain general standards of conduct, of manners, and of expression.’ One prime marker of an advocate’s character is civility.”
The Lawyering Skills Institute at Whittier Law School to hold Learning Assessment Conference in November
Here are the details:
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Assessment in law schools is relatively new, and very little information currently exists on how law schools should conduct assessment. What do the terms mean? How do you set up an assessment program? How do you conduct assessment in the classroom? How do you create a culture of assessment at an institution and among the faculty? The purpose of this conference is to provide guidance on all of these questions and to offer a manageable approach to create a sustainable and successful assessment program.
Managing Director, Accreditation and Legal Education
ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
Speakers and Panelists
Andrea A. Curcio
Professor of Law and Co-Director Externship Program
Georgia State University College of Law
Professor of Law
Whittier Law School
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Louisville
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Barbara Glesner Fines
Executive Associate Dean for Faculty and Academics
Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law
University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law
Andrea Susnir Funk
Associate Dean for Lawyering Skills and Institutional Assessment
Professor of Lawyering Skills
Whittier Law School
Cassandra L. Hill
Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development
Associate Professor of Law
Texas Southern University
Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Dean Emerita, Western State College of Law
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law
Western State College of Law
Distinguished Teaching Professor of Law
Whittier Law School
Kelley M. Mauerman
Assistant Director of Lawyering Skills and Institutional Assessment
Professor of Lawyering Skills
Whittier Law School
Michael Hunter Schwartz
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
William H. Bowen School of Law
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Associate Professor of Legal Research and Writing
Gonzaga University School of Law
Professor of Practice and John C. Dwan Chair in Online Learning
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Professor of Lawyering Skills
Coordinator of the Legal Profession Program
University of Dayton School of Law
Burton Craige Professor of Law
University of North Carolina School of Law
A Tennessee lawyer has been suspended from the practice of law for one year because of a pattern of misconduct that included extreme overbilling, in which she charged her clients an hourly rate of $250 for services that included 20 hours watching episodes of the television crime series 48 Hours. The Court noted that the lawyer racked up $140,000 in billings in two and a half months, in spite of the fact that:
She had taken no witness statements, prepared no expert statements, taken no depositions, propounded no discovery requests. She had, however, engaged in a prodigious amount of wheel-spinning, spending countless hours, charged at a lawyer rate, in activities such as watching 48 Hours television episodes, waiting in hospitals for medical records, and doing internet research on strangulation.
The lawyer’s lack of recognition of wrongdoing was an aggravating factor. Among other comments, she wrote in a motion, “Since when is television not a respectable avenue for research anyway. [sic]” Since July 23, 2015, apparently.
Thnks to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Reflecting a major retreat from the modest gain posted in July. The Bloomberg Big Law blog has a summary of the report via the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Monday, September 7, 2015
Here’s an intriguing study. It ranks Supreme Court Justices according to the number of law review articles they have authored. It also ranks them according to the number of citations that these articles have generated. Brian Frye, The Most Scholarly Justices. Here is the abstract:
Supreme Court justices both use and produce legal scholarship. This article identifies the ten most scholarly justices, based on both productivity and impact. The results suggest that scholarly productivity and scholarly impact are only partially correlated. They also suggest that scholarly productivity peaked in the mid-20th Century, but scholarly impact is broadly distributed.
The top three productive Justices, in order, are Chief Justice Burger, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Clark.
The top three “scholarly” Justices (most cites) are Justices Holmes, Brennan, and Frankfurter.
You can find longer listings and discussion here. For what it’s worth.
I have often written that professors can improve their first-year courses by incorporating active learning and professional identity exercises. Hillary Burgess has done this in her property class. (here)
Introduction: "I have a fiduciary duty to my students, school, and profession to provide training for universal skills, while introducing practice-ready skills, and fostering the growth of each student’s professional identity. I must meet students where they are, regardless of their educational background to guide their learning, and guide them to a professional level of competency. Thus, I use multiple assignments and feedback to guide student learning to a professional level of competency."
Course description excerpts:
"In this Property class, students learn the foundational principles of property and universal lawyering skills like synthesis and written analysis that students need to master in order to pass the bar and, more importantly, practice law responsibly. Students also focus on how property law can be a tool to create just results by focusing not just on the doctrine and ethical implications, but also on student’s ability to synthesize rules persuasively and communicate legal arguments clearly.
Property is a core first-year class required of all students. Property is designed to provide students with the core doctrine and fundamental skills that every lawyer needs to practice law competently, ethically, and professionally. Property class is taught following the guidelines the Carnegie Foundation set forth in the book, Educating Lawyers. Specifically, students have an opportunity to engage in professional identity and professional responsibility exercises, active learning, and exercises that teach fundamental skills needed to pass the bar and practice law competently. As recommended by Carnegie and a host of other resources, this course also allows students to have autonomy, which means students will have an opportunity to select certain activities that they believe will benefit them the most and, conversely, skip some activities that they believe will not benefit them. Because there is overwhelming evidence that students learn best when given incremental guided exercises, this course provides many opportunities for these types of activities."
"Students use specific synthesis tools to learn how to synthesize rules objectively and persuasively as well as see the range of possible synthesized rules. Students engage in many lessons on how to study for and write a model law school exam answer which also prepares students for the practice of law. Students receive feedback about how to improve their basic writing and critical thinking skills. Because these skills are universal, the skills students learn in Property will serve them in their other courses."
"Lectures / Collaborative/Cooperative/Team Learning / Group Discussion / Simulation / Peer Teaching / Socratic Inquiry / Legal Writing"
"Students have the opportunity to engage in a range of practice-ready exercises, which vary from semester to semester, and students will often have a choice as to which ones to complete. "
Professor Burgess includes a sample syllabus; sample exams, feedback, and student work; sample fundamental skills exercises; sample practice-ready exercises; and sample professional identity assignments.
Professor Burgess's course portfolio demonstrates that professors can teach first-year courses in a way that promotes better learning and produces better lawyers. If all first-year professors adopted similar methods, law schools would not have to worry as much about bar results.
West Virginia seeks to hire a tenure track director for its Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic
Here are the details:
West Virginia University College of Law is seeking candidates to serve as Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic (EILC) (tenure-track/tenure or teaching faculty). Candidates for the EILC Director position should have expertise in business and commercial law, entrepreneurship, and/or intellectual property (with particular focus on Trademark and Patent Law), and be willing to work with other entrepreneurship centers and experts at WVU. The EILC provides legal services to start-up companies, small businesses, non-profits, and individuals, and it plays a vital role in economic development and job creation in the region. Additional information about the EILC is available online at http://law.wvu.edu/clinics/entrepreneurship.
WVU Law is committed to building a multicultural and inclusive work force that includes diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, military service, disabilities, social background, and experience. Appointment and rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Please address applications to Appointments Committee Chair Robert Bastress, West Virginia University College of Law, P.O. Box 6130, Morgantown, WV 26506-6130, or via email to Robert.Bastress@mail.wvu.edu. Clinicians Valena Beety and Marjorie McDiarmid are also on the Appointments Committee and they are both happy to speak with potential applicants with any questions. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, September 6, 2015
David Barnhizer has two thought-provoking posts on legal education on his blog LawNext.
While I do not always agree with what Professor Barnhizer says, the depth of his insights on legal education are impressive. Contrast his writings with the reactionary writings on legal education by Robert Condlin. (here, here)