Tuesday, November 4, 2014
In a new article by Professor Michael Mushlin (Pace) and Federal Magistrate Lisa Margaret Smith (S.D.N.Y.), the authors describe an innovative, practice-oriented approach to teaching the traditional 1L civil procedure course. The article, The Professor and the Judge: Introducing First Year Students to the Law in Context, 63 J. Legal Educ. 460 (2014) (and available on SSRN here) describes the course jointly taught by Professor Mushlin and Magistrate Smith in which students are assigned several practical exercises such as drafting litigation documents, observing a court proceeding and then meeting with the attorneys involved, all of which are intended to bring the textbook material to life. As the authors point out, while practical skills training is all the rage these days, most of the attention is being paid to upper level courses. You don't hear much about efforts to make traditional 1L doctrinal courses more practice oriented. But going by student reaction - especially the court visit, other first year profs may want to consider incorporating practical skill exercises into their courses. Check out the article as the authors provide some good advice and suggestions for doing just that. Here's the abstract from SSRN:
For the past five years the authors, one a law professor, and the other a federal judge, have joined forces to teach introductory civil procedure to first semester first year students. Our approach is contrary to the traditional theory of legal instruction which holds that students learn first by a rigid diet of Socratic teaching of the fundamentals of legal analysis without any exposure to the real world or even a simulation of it. The central idea behind our experiment is that at the beginning of law school it is essential to provide a contextual introduction to the work of the profession. This article describes our approach in four parts. In Part I we describe our experiment by relaying the alterations we have made to a typical first year civil procedure course in order to make the course more relevant and to use it to introduce students more realistically to the profession. In Part II we discuss the students’ evaluation of the course. These evaluations provide rich data on the students’ perceptions of the experiment immediately after they have taken the course, but prior to final examinations. In Part III we describe how this experiment aligns with the movement to reform legal education by addressing change to the introductory months which are critical in professional training programs, and we describe how our experiment compares to similar changes that are currently being implemented to professional education in other settings, particularly in medical, dentistry, and engineering programs. We conclude the article in Part IV with our analysis of the benefits and potential costs of implementing such change. Based on our experience and study we conclude that this (or a similar variation) should be made a part of the normal first semester law school experience. Our experience demonstrates that change to the first year curriculum to inculcate at the outset a more rounded understanding of the context in which lawyers engage is meaningful, is duplicable and is necessary.
Mindfulness and emotional intelligence are working their way into law school pedagogy. Let me recommend Professor Nathalie Martin’s article, Think Like a (Mindful) Lawyer: Incorporating Mindfulness, Professional Identity, and Emotional Intelligence into the First Year Law Curriculum (here). It offers an accessible introduction to mindfulness and emotional intelligence and describes how one law school course has incorporated them into a course.
Here is the abstract:
In this article, I add to the existing mindfulness literature by discussing other ways that law teachers might consider incorporating mindfulness and emotional intelligence into one or more of their classes. I also discuss the related idea of helping students develop a professional identity. Next, I focus on providing these tools in a first-year mandatory class and then attempt to provide a rationale, and a roadmap, for doing this.
After explaining briefly what mindfulness and emotional intelligence are, I review literature from other disciplines on the benefits of mindfulness practice and emotional intelligence training. Next I discuss how this training might enhance the education of lawyers by improving their likelihood of success in the profession and, in turn, improving the quality of their lives both inside and outside their legal practices. Finally, I describe a few examples of materials that could be used in class, as well as some of the classes in which this material might be incorporated. As an example, I use our first-year mandatory professionalism class at the University of New Mexico School of Law called Practicum, in which we incorporated mindfulness and emotional intelligence in the fall of 2013. In concluding the article, I discuss whether now is the time to make the curricular changes I suggest here or whether it would be best to wait until these principles become more accepted in the profession.
A couple of days ago, one of my co-bloggers mentioned the new website LegalEd (Michele Pistone, founder). This is a wonderful website that has lots of useful materials for law professors. The main part of the site has videos on a wide-variety of subject-matter areas, which professors can use to "flip the classroom." They declare "When teachers do not have to spend limited class time on lecturing about substantive law and procedure, they can now incorporate more active, problem-based learning that incorporates the competencies proven key to successful lawyering into each course."
Also on the website are videos from a conference LegalEd held last spring, “Igniting Law Teaching.” (here) Topics covered by the videos include flipping the law school classroom, active learning, applying legal theory to legal education, the craft of law teaching, simulations, feedback, and assessment, beyond traditional law school subjects, and teaching for the twenty-first century.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Everyone says the best way to find a job is to network your butt off (here and here) yet most people both dread it (here) and claim to not be very good at it (here and here). Now comes some empirical research to help explain why networking makes us so uncomfortable. A group of researchers have surveyed lawyers at large firms and found that networking in pursuit of professional goals (as opposed to purely social networking unrelated to work) actually makes people feel dirty and impure - like "I need to take a shower" kind of dirty. Seriously (see the link to the podcast below and hear for yourself). I'm not surprised the data shows that most people find networking uncomfortable but I had no idea that for many it's a look into the abyss of moral depravity. The resulting article called The Contaminating Effects of Building Instrumental Ties: How Networking Can Make Us Feel Dirty (published in the Administrative Science Quaterly and also available on SSRN - the abstract is below) provides not only the survey results but some great, concrete advice for making networking a lot more palatable. Among the suggestions are strategies for changing one's mindset from "what can I get out of this person" to approaching the process in a more social, conversational way rather than focusing on how you can benefit from the contact. There's also a great podcast posted on the ABA Journal Blog in which one of the researchers discusses the poll results and strategies for becoming a better, less impure networker. Check it out here.
And here's the abstract from the study:
To create social ties to support their professional or personal goals, people actively engage in instrumental networking. Drawing from moral psychology research, we posit that this intentional behavior has unintended consequences for an individual’s morality. Unlike personal networking in pursuit of emotional support or friendship, and unlike social ties that emerge spontaneously, instrumental networking in pursuit of professional goals can impinge on an individual’s moral purity — a psychological state that results from viewing the self as clean from a moral standpoint — and make an individual feel dirty. We theorize that such feelings of dirtiness decrease the frequency of instrumental networking and, as a result, work performance. We also examine sources of variability in networking-induced feelings of dirtiness by proposing that the amount of power people have when they engage in instrumental networking influences how dirty this networking makes them feel. Three laboratory experiments and a survey study of lawyers in a large North American law firm provide support for our predictions. We call for a new direction in network research that investigates how network-related behaviors associated with building social capital influence individuals’ psychological experiences and work outcomes.
From USA Today, starting with Number 10:
9. English Language and Literature
8. Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities
6. Criminal Justice and Corrections
5. Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods
4. General Biology
2. General Psychology
1. Business Administration & Management
For more information, including what careers the students pursue and what typical salaries are, please click here.
Cross Facebook and see what happens. Here is the report from SFGATE:
Facebook is suing several law firms that represented a man who claimed he owned half of the social network and was entitled to billions of dollars from the company and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The case was dismissed in April and the man, Paul Ceglia, is facing related criminal charges. Facebook Inc. and Zuckerberg filed a lawsuit Monday against DLA Piper and other firms and lawyers, saying they conspired to file and prosecute a fraudulent lawsuit. DLA Piper is one of the world’s largest business law firms.
Ceglia claimed in a 2010 lawsuit that he and Zuckerberg signed a 2003 software development contract that included a provision entitling him to half-ownership of Facebook in exchange for $1,000 in startup money for the budding company. Facebook’s lawyers had claimed that while the two did have a contract, references to the company were slipped in for the lawsuit.
In its lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court, Facebook claims that the lawyers representing Ceglia “knew or should have known” that his lawsuit was fraudulent and “based on an implausible story and obviously forged documents.”
Sunday, November 2, 2014
That's one of the the provocative predictions in a recent post by Professor David Barnhizer (Cleveland-Marshall) at the blog LawNext ("fresh thinking for legal education") (hat tip to TaxProf Blog) that discusses more generally the difficult choices many law schools may face as the declining revenue chickens come home to roost in the next couple of years. Of course several schools have already reduced faculties through buy-outs and layoffs (both public and stealthy) but Professor Barnhizer expects more pain to follow as other schools face the prospect of faculty cuts due to declining applicant numbers. Though he doesn't mention it, the ease with which rising 2Ls can now trade-up to better ranked schools represents another significant drain on tuition revenue - a multiplying effect if you will - that's going to be a double-whammy for some schools.
Thus Professor Barnhizer raises questions about how administrators will deal with it all. One scenario he posits is a "civil war" between traditional faculty who have the protection of tenure and legal skills faculty (i.e. legal writing profs and clinicians) who, for the most part, do not. Professor Barnhizer observes that laying-off skills faculty at a time when many schools are declaring their commitment to practice-ready training could be a "public relations disaster" that drives away even more applicants (call me a cynic but I don't expect that will give many deans pause). Here's an excerpt:
. . . .
Although it is more difficult to eliminate traditional tenure track faculty relative to the “administrative” faculty represented by many Legal Writing and Clinical professor slots and nearly impossible to cut tenured faculty, quite a few faculty positions of all kinds can be expected to disappear through a variety of stratagems. We are also at an intriguing moment when there is an aggressive push to create “skills-based” educational systems [actually we already have this to a greater extent than is apparently understood] and this means that faculty who offer courses in these areas have been increasingly empowered as a matter of political leverage and in many instances feel that “their day” has finally come. Whatever the legalities of downsizing faculty this means that a law school that seeks to reduce Legal Writing, Clinical and technical skills faculty risks a public relations disaster that can further drive away potential applicants.
We can expect that many law schools will be entering a period of “civil war” between traditional tenure track and tenured faculty and Legal Writing and Clinical faculty as well as people hired for an expanded set of administrative tasks that have consumed increasing amounts of law school budgets previously allocated to those hired on the tenure track.
. . . .
I am taking no position on who should be terminated or where priorities ought to lie. But as resources shrink and demands on faculty increase, including the expansion of teaching loads for tenure track faculty and the marginalization of scholarship, there will be nasty battles between the “classes” of law faculty of a kind rarely seen before. One of the most difficult and unpalatable tasks of a law dean will be to mediate the struggles and endure the challenges involved in making choices that decide someone’s future in a system offering considerably fewer opportunities.
. . . .
You can continue reading Professor Barnhizer's full blog post here.
Scholastica, a competitor with Expresso, has launched an e-newsletter, “Abstract.”. Fortunately, it does more than plug its product. It offers news and suggestions of interest to law professors.
The October 30th issue features my Villanova colleague Michele Pistone, who is making a name for herself in promoting experiential learning. Recently, she founded LegalED, a growing collection of online video lectures from expert professors around the world.
You can access the newsletter by clicking here.
Recently, Yale Law alumns were treated to an informal discussion among SCOTUS Justices Sotomayor, Alito, and Thomas. Topics ranged from their law school years to their coffee preferences. One of my colleagues attended and realized that off the bench, they really do get along with one another. You can read more here.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Just a friendly reminder that Daylight Saving Time ends tonight. So for most of the USA, with the exception of Arizona (though the Navajo Nation does follow DST) and Hawaii, set your clocks back 1 hour beginning at 2:00 a.m., Sunday November 2, in your local time zone. It means an extra hour of sleep - yeehaw!
Professor Kathleen Elliott Vinson has written “What’s Your Problem?” Here is the abstract:
Monday morning a corporate client asks you to draft a press release announcing a recall of one of its toys that contained lead paint, alerting its customers, but cautiously avoiding any admissions of liability. The following day, a different client, who professes his innocence, asks whether he should accept a guilty plea with a reduced sentence or risk going to trial. The next day, a client asks you to review an offer to settle an allegation of copyright infringement for downloading a movie. Then, in another case, a supervisor asks you to argue a motion to dismiss a complaint, but there appears to be no legal or factual basis to support the motion. Finally, on Friday, a landlord seeks your help when one of his tenants accuses another tenant of sexual harassment. These are just some of the types of problems lawyers could face in just one week. Would law students know how to solve them? No matter what the legal issue or setting, understanding and applying a problem-solving methodology and focusing on the client in each case can help prepare students for practice. Students engaged in problem solving in law school benefit from experiencing the primary role of a lawyer: a problem-solver, enabling students to see the connection between legal knowledge, theory, and skills to help achieve a client’s goals.
How does problem solving methodology differ from the sort of problem based learning that some professors currently employ?:
Also, even though some law schools may already implicitly employ problem-based learning, incorporating explicit instruction in problem-solving methodology is distinguishable. Both problem-based learning and problem solving involve gathering information, hypothesizing, and self-directed and active learning. Understanding the problem, however, is not the same as solving it. Problem-based learning is focused on formulating issues, questions, and possible explanations to gain knowledge about a subject; while problem solving focuses on applying knowledge, skills, theory and insights to solve a real or simulated client’s problem, focusing on the client’s goals and pragmatic concerns, such as such as cost and efficiency.
You can read more here.
Friday, October 31, 2014
This is a new article from Professors Stephen Colbran (School of Business & Law at CQUniversity, Australia) and Anthony Gilding (Business Economics and Law, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia) and available at 63 J. Legal Educ. 405 (2014). From the introduction:
Whereas the capacity to grow and distribute food defined the agrarian economy, and the capacity to manufacture and distribute goods defined the industrial economy, the capacity to create and apply knowledge defines the post-industrial digital economy. In this context, sustainable prosperity depends on a society's capacity to create and apply knowledge to solve problems.
Universities continually look at quality assurance processes and the use of new technologies to increase participation and improve student outcomes. The combination of traditional practice associated with aging legal academics, the demands of digital natives and the ability of new technologies to disrupt accepted practices suggests that new teaching modes are needed. The situation is no starker than that presented by the advent of MOOCs--Massive Open Online Courses.
While it is not suggested that legal education in general will be provided through open online courses with participants numbering in the hundreds of thousands, these courses provide an opportunity to explore how universities, law schools and academic staff may change the way they teach and relate to students. Similarly the learning relationships between students also may change as a consequence of the new paradigm.
The adoption of broad teaching standards as part of quality assurance processes will result in aspects of teaching practice, curriculum development and the student learning environment becoming increasingly more public and transparent. It is likely new teaching models will need to both inform and conform to any framework of teaching standards adopted across the sector.
Initially, beyond political and social reasons, MOOCs may not seem an attractive option, especially to members of law teaching staffs who face ever increasing demands on their time, not least of which is research. However, there are many reasons why those engaged in legal education may want to develop these online courses across the higher education sector including:
• Marketing to potential future students. MOOCs increase exposure to potential students because the resources of the courses are open to all who may want to register. There is no requirement to complete assessment tasks unless the student is enrolled in an accredited program associated with the online course.
• Community engagement and outreach programs. Such programs often are designed to increase participation in higher education, especially for designated equity groups. MOOCs may provide potential students with greater exposure to legal education. Rather than just being a simple marketing strategy, the support provided through these online classes may include strategies targeting groups of students with different motivations for participation.
• Reputation building. Successful MOOCs may build individual, school and university reputations for providing quality legal advice and criticism within supportive and effective learning environments that foster the development of ongoing professional networks.
• Alumni development. For alumni, MOOCs provide a way of mentoring students and maintaining professional connections with their university and its teaching staff. It can be an avenue for giving back.
• Interaction with professional continuing legal education. The online concept suits continuing education since learning resources may be provided in a setting in which participants assemble professional networks to provide a forum for discussion of contemporary issues in the law. There is potential for a credentialed online course to provide mandatory continuing legal education points and cross-credit for higher legal qualifications.
• Networking and profile building. A MOOC provides participants with an opportunity to build extensive professional networks and specialties. Through the quality of their contributions to the professional network, participants can build a profile of their own work and that of their organization.
• Developing foundational skills. The open resources available through the online course, built on Web 3.0 tools, provide an opportunity for participants to develop literacies and skills fundamental to success in accredited legal programs. Web 3.0, or the semantic web as it is also known, moves from current unstructured or partially structured content to automated location, sharing and combination of vast quantities of otherwise inaccessible data. Participants can use the learning resources repeatedly until they demonstrate the competencies underlying success in the conventional legal curriculum.
• Try before you buy. MOOCs provide potential students with an opportunity to experience a course about the law before paying for and attending an accredited course. Reputations will be on the line as the quality of teaching materials and staff expertise are plain for all to see.
• Internationalization. MOOCs have the potential to establish links between law schools nationally and internationally. Imagine online courses featuring international experts from diverse cultures.
• Promoting access to justice. Online courses on certain topics may encourage access to justice by providing skills and knowledge that otherwise could only be obtained from a lawyer for a fee.
• Demystifying the law. MOOCs' ability to reach a wide audience combined with topics in plain English will help expose laymen to the law, potentially peeling back millennia of legal jargon and practice. The potential for enhancing access to justice should not be ignored.
There is little doubt that modern learning models are challenging for both student and teacher. But this question remains: How will law schools adapt to these changes?
From Daily Worth:
Recent research from the University of British Columbia found that narcissists are more successful in job interviews than their more modest counterparts. In the study, 72 participants responded to a questionnaire measuring their levels of narcissism and then were videotaped as they simulated being interviewed for a job. The videos were later evaluated by 222 raters, who appraised the self-promoters as the most attractive applicants.
This posting (here) offers tips on making eye contact, using good body language, being upbeat, interviewing the interviewer, highlighting accomplishments, and deflecting weakspots.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
How to Be the World's Best Law Professor by Warren Binford.
Abstract: This essay is based on a TedX-style presentation at the 2014 Ignite Law Teaching Conference organized by LegalED and hosted at American University Washington College of Law. The presentation summarized some of the latest and most consistent findings in educational research about which teaching and learning methods increase retention and comprehension and which ones do not, and then compared them to the dominant methods used in legal education. The results challenge legal educators who are committed to their students' success to reconsider their own teaching practices, their advice to students regarding effective study methods, as well as the current structure of legal education overall.
At Vitae, David Gooblar offers his choices in annotated form.
As law professors, we can find ourselves limited to resources designed for the law school community. This list, aimed at the undergraduate level, permits us to expand our horizons and perhaps come across new ideas. You can access the list here
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
California Bar soliciting public comment on new competency skills training requirements for law students/grads
You can find the Report of the Task Force of the California Bar on Admissions Regulation Reforms here (setting forth the proposal which includes enhanced skills training during law school, a 50 hour mandatory pro bono requirement, and post-bar admission competency training). Comments on the proposed requirements are due November 3, 2014 via the State Bar of California website. The California Bar Journal provides more details:
The Board of Trustees is seeking public comment on a draft plan to implement new competency skills training requirements aimed at better preparing lawyers for the profession.
The proposal calls for:
- 15 units of practice-based experiential training during law school/apprenticeship option
- 50 hours of pro bono/reduced fee legal services
- 10 hours of additional competency training MCLE (minimum continuing legal education) in the first year of admission
The plan was developed by the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform Phase II, a 30-member panel chaired by former State Bar President Jon B. Streeter and comprised of attorneys, judges, academics and pro bono directors. Since December, the group has held eight public hearings and sought input from interested parties.
“This is a major milestone for this task force,” State Bar President Craig Holden said after the board’s executive committee authorized the public comment Sept. 29. “I look forward to getting the public’s input on this.”
Comments are due Nov. 3 and may be submitted via email firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Teri Greenman, Executive Offices, The State Bar of California, 845 S. Figueroa St., 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017.
The board is expected to take up the issue at its next meeting, Nov. 6-7 in San Francisco.
The bar first began moving toward requiring more practical skills training for admission to the bar in February 2012, when the board created the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform Phase I, also chaired by Streeter.
The ranking is out (for what it’s worth). Here are the top ten:
United States Cambridge, MA
United States Cambridge, MA
United States Berkeley, CA
United States Stanford, CA
United Kingdom Oxford
United Kingdom Cambridge
United States Pasadena, CA
United States Los Angeles, CA
United States Chicago, IL
United States New York, NY
You can find more here.
The switch would also make it easier for lawyers to move in and out of New York without having to take tests anywhere else. The proposal is known as the Uniform Bar Examination and it is used by 14 states right now. The New York Court of Appeals will weigh the pros and cons of switching to this test. A lawyer who passes the uniform test in one state is permitted to transfer the score they earn to another jurisdiction that participates in the test, but there are some exceptions.
Should New York accept the proposal, it would triple the number of people taking the uniform test in the country. The New York Court of Appeals will vote on the plan following a public comment period that comes to a conclusion in November.
“New York would be a national leader as the first large state in terms of bar applicants to administer this test,” states the proposal by the New York State Board of Law Examiners.
You can read more here.