Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jury Rejects Suit by Conservative Candidate Against Iowa Law

The former dean of the University of Iowa law school didn't commit illegal political discrimination when she passed over a conservative lawyer for teaching jobs, a jury ruled Monday.

After a six-day trial, a federal jury in Davenport rejected Teresa Manning's assertion that then-Dean Carolyn Jones rejected her for the faculty because of Manning's political beliefs and associations.

The verdict is a victory for the university in a long-running case that has been closely watched in higher education and by social conservatives. It came after about 90 minutes of deliberations in the second trial in the case, after the first in 2012 ended in an unusual mistrial.

Manning had been seeking lost wages and damages for what she called an illegal rejection that sidelined her career.

Manning contended that liberal professors on the faculty derailed her candidacy for jobs teaching legal writing and analysis because they couldn't stand her anti-abortion activism and other views. A Republican, Manning had previously worked for the Family Research Council and the National Right to Life Committee

You can read more here.



July 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2015

LawNext/Fresh Thinking for Legal Education

David Barnhizer, who has been making insightful comments about legal education for twenty years, has a legal education blog: LawNext/Fresh Thinking for Legal Education.

About: "LawNext is a blog that presents fresh thinking for people who care about law schools and legal education. The principal blogger is Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Legal Education Strategist, Professor Emeritus David Barnhizer, who will periodically be joined by others who are working to implement new ideas in the evolution of law schools."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fordham Law School launches new legal skills programs for foreign trained lawyers

Fordham is launching three new programs for foreign trained lawyers that are set to begin in a few weeks. The first is called "Legal English for International Law Practice" and will focus on oral skills in understanding, analyzing, and presenting American legal materials succinctly and confidently. A related program is called "Communication Skills for International Law Practice" and will provide an introduction to the U.S. Legal System including how legal precedent is made and used in a common law system in addition to communication skills. These programs will run concurrently beginning July 27 through August 7.  According to the website, those who sign up for both will eligible to apply for F-1 visa status. You can get more information about both these programs by visiting the Fordham website here.

The third program is called "Transactional Skills for Global Legal Practice" and will offer an introduction to the drafting and transactional skills needed for a transnational legal practice. Topics to be covered include "Drafting Specific Contracts," "Recent Developments in Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital Markets Law," and "Numbers and Financial Provisions," among others. This program will begin on July 20 and run through July 31. Visit the Fordham Law School website here to get more information.


July 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy July 4th!

Happy July 4th!

To celebrate, here are fireworks and music from our nation’s capitol, 2011.


July 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The State of Librarianship, 1945

In 1945, a group of prominent librarians discussed their profession. Here are quotes, first published in the February 1946 ALA Bulletin and later collected in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Brian Mathews (June 22, 1945) (You may need a subscription.):

If the profession seems to lack dynamism some of the responsibility rests with administrators. All too many still hold professional members to routine work and give what seem valid reasons why all must take their turn at essential clerical tasks.

Any dynamic program must seek to make local communities and college faculties aware of the role of librarians as contributors to the sciences, the arts, and all departments of constructive living, and that part of their function takes them outside the library walls.

All the publicity, the radio spots, the window displays, and the most gifted public relations official will fail unless individual librarians (I do not mean administrators) are given opportunity to extend their intellectual horizons continually and to increase their communal knowledge and their scholastic contacts so that clients come to recognize clearly their educational and social function. 

As to coverage, brought into the picture by Mr. Richards, Mr. Ulveling, and Miss Rothrock — deploring the low percentage of use of libraries –I agree that it is deplorable, but I am convinced that the answer is not just a question of obtaining finances for exploiting all the new devices — the film, the record, the phonograph, television — which will insure us a new dynamism, but something more basic, even more fundamental, important as that is, than a reorganization which will free the heads of departments, as Miss Herbert urges, “to do the thinking and planning.”

We need an improved type of professional personnel, a conception of administration which would make use of all the thinking, all the ideas and potential planning of the entire professional body in an institution, not just of departmental heads. 

Another factor, which I think continues to be lost sight of or to be unconsciously pushed into the background, is this: It is not alone the salaries which discourage “the girls” from being drawn into the profession, as well as those already in the profession, but the fact that advancement beyond a certain point is rare. Top positions more and more often go to men, sometimes of lesser caliber and less experience. In professions in which women are in the minority this is understandable, but women are still in the majority in librarianship and yet, when it comes to a chief librarianship, they stand but little chance. 

Personally, I believe in the Campbell soup method. It is very nearly impossible to pick up a magazine without coming face to face with a colorful Campbell soup advertisement or a glamorous liquor ad. The first makes you hungry and the second makes you want to go right out and imbibe. This method must be good. Even religion is catching on. “Go to church next Sunday” is the exhortation I’ve been noticing on billboards and in magazines these last few years.

I should like to know what an advertising campaign on a national scale would do for libraries. I’d be willing to wager that it would up their status as a matter of course. Communities generally get what they want if they want it hard enough, and when the people as a whole get library conscious they will tend to demand better libraries.

…we have been prone to skip or be afraid to touch things that are local, instead we “take up Czechoslovakia”; but in my opinion the most local and immediate necessity is a re-examination of education for the profession not in a limited area or of a few library schools, but of the whole field, especially of faculties and admissions.

And the next most important assignment should be a more clean-cut reclassification of professional responsibilities so that personnel of outstanding qualifications would be available to carry on effectively.



July 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Obamacare Shows How Legislature Procedure Shapes Legislative History

In this case, an irregular legislative history contributed to inartful drafting. From Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in King v. Burwell, No. 14-114, 2015 WL 2473448, at *11 (U.S. June 25, 2015): 

The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. (To cite just one, the Act creates three separate Section 1563s. See 124 Stat. 270, 911, 912.) Several features of the Act's passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through “the traditional legislative process.” Cannan, A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History, 105 L. Lib. J. 131, 163 (2013). And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as “reconciliation,” which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate's normal 60–vote filibuster requirement. Id., at 159–167. As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation. Cf. Frankfurter, Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L.Rev. 527, 545 (1947) (describing a cartoon “in which a senator tells his colleagues ‘I admit this new bill is too complicated to understand. We'll just have to pass it to find out what it means.’ ”).

 Thanks to Peter Egler (Drexel) and Amy Spare (Villanova).



July 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Scientists See Neurons Change as Memories Form

From the New York Times.

"Learning can be traced back to individual neurons in the brain, according to a new study."

"The study appears in the journal Neuron."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Debt: Conscientious Defaulters

A group of students called the Corinthian 100 purposefully defaulted on their student loans. It was a play to protest Corinthian Colleges, a private, for-profit school chain that has been called predatory and has been accused of misleading low-income students into considerable debt for degrees that some have called worthless. The protest worked. On June 8, the government announced that it would forgive the students' loans.

Each year, tuition rises at private and public colleges, as does the amount of debt students carry with them after graduation. So while the Corinthian students had somewhat unique circumstances (for-profit degrees have recently come under attack), their defiance raises the question: What if hundreds of thousands or even millions of students defaulted on their loans as a form of protest—a massive movement to "burn" the promissory note?

Andrew Ross, a professor at New York University, wants people to do just this.

"It's a widespread consensus that this is a huge crisis for future generations," Ross says.

You can read more here. I would not be surprised if students start defaulting on a widespread basis. As Professor Ross points out, the financial burden on students is a “huge crisis for future generations.” True, students signed those promissory notes, but did they really understand the consequences?” Given the premium on getting a good college education, were they compelled to go into debt?


July 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg Law on the 10 most underrated law schools

The Bloomberg story summarizes the results of a law school ranking formula created by Professor Alfred Brophy (N. Carolina) as described in an article he posted on SSRN here (one of my co-bloggers has a summary of the article scheduled to post on July 5). Professor Brophy's ranking formula considers the following factors: 1. the median LSAT of entering students for the most recent class; 2. the most recently available employment stats for each school’s graduates; and 3. the number of citations to each school’s main law reviews over the past eight years. Based on that, Bloomberg has teased out the 10 most underrated schools based on their jump in rank under the Brophy formula compared to their USNWR ranking.

The 10 Most Underrated Law Schools

1. Campbell University (Rank based on median LSAT and employment outcomes:  112)

    U.S. News rank: unranked

2. Drexel University (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 87)

    U.S. News rank: 127

3. University of Montana (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 73)

    U.S. News rank: 113

4. Mercer University (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 81)

    U.S. News rank: 118

5. University of South Dakota (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 111)

    U.S. News rank: 145

6. Albany Law School (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 108)

    U.S. News rank: 138

7. University of Idaho (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 98)

    U.S. News rank: 127

8. Louisiana State University (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 65)

    U.S. News rank: 94

9. Northern Illinois University (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 125)

    U.S. News rank: unranked

10. Villanova University (Rank based on LSAT and employment: 61)

    U.S. News rank: 87

You can continue to read the Bloomberg article here.


July 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Aaron Caplan on the Science of Learning: Interleaving

Aaron Caplan has an interesting post on the science of learning on the PrawfsBlawg.  In particular, he discusses how interleaving (mixing distinct but related topics in a single learning session) helps students learn better than massed practice (learning everything on a subject at one time).

(Scott Fruehwald)

June 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Recent Dean Appointments

From Syllabus, the newsletter of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. In these difficult times, these are courageous people.

University of California-Los Angeles School of Law
Jennifer Mnookin
August 1, 2015

University of Chicago Law School
Interim Dean Geoffrey R. Stone
July 1, 2015

DePaul University College of Law
Jennifer Rosato Perea
July 1, 2015

University of Dayton School of Law
Andrew Strauss
Summer 2015

Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law
Charles I. Nelson
June 1, 2015

Florida Coastal School of Law
Interim Dean Mary Margaret Giannini
Spring 2015

University of Florida, Fredric G. Levin College of Law
Laura Rosenbury
July 1, 2015

George Mason University School of Law
Henry Butler
July 1, 2015

Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law
Acting Dean Matthew Lyon
March 2015

University of Mississippi School of Law
Interim Dean Deborah Bell
Spring 2015

University of North Carolina School of Law
Martin Brinkley
July 1, 2015

Northern Illinois University College of Law
Interim Dean Mark Cordes
July 1, 2015

Regent University School of Law
Michael Hernandez
May 2015

Seton Hall University School of Law
Kathleen Boozang
July 1, 2015

Suffolk University Law School
Andrew Perlman
August 1, 2015

Washington and Lee University School of Law
Brant Hellwig
July 1, 2015

Widener University Delaware Law School
Rodney Smolla
July 1, 2015

Widener University Commonwealth Law School
Christian A. Johnson
July 1, 2015

Wyoming University College of Law
Klint Alexander
July 1, 2015

Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Melanie Leslie
July 1, 2015


June 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Quote of the Week

“It is clear that a successful pedagogy that can serve as a basis for the enhancement of thinking will have to incorporate ideas about the way in which learners organize knowledge and internally represent it and the way these representations change and resist change when new information is encountered.  Despite all of the gains that cognitive psychologists have made in understanding what happens when people learn, most teachers do not apply their knowledge of cognitive psychology.”  Diane F. Halpern, Teaching Critical Thinking for Transfer across Domains: Dispositions, Skills, Structure Training, and Metacognitive Monitoring, 53 Am. Psych. 449, 451 (1998).

(Scott Fruehwald)

June 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Addressing the decline in critical thinking skills among new law school matriculants

This is a new article by Professor Rebecca C. Flanagan (UMass) entitled The Kids Aren't Alright: Rethinking the Law Student Skills Deficit and available at 2015 BYU Educ. & L.J. 135 and here on SSRN. From the abstract:

This article explores the decline of fundamental thinking skills in pre-law students and the challenges facing law schools admitting underprepared students during a time of constrained budgets and declining enrollment. A growing body of empirical research demonstrates a marked decline in the critical thinking and reasoning skills among college graduates. The causes for the decline are interconnected with other problematic changes on undergraduate campuses: 1) a dramatic decrease in student study time since 1960, examining research which suggests that undergraduate students spent 1/3 less time studying in 2003 than they did in 1961; 2) a consumerist orientation among college students, resulting in a diminished focus on learning; 3) grade inflation at undergraduate campuses, resulting in grade compression and an inability to distinguish between exceptional and ordinary students 4) a decline in undergraduate students choosing to major in liberal arts that provide the foundation for early success in law school. Declines in study time, grade inflation, and changing patterns in student class choice have created an undergraduate learning environment that is less rigorous than undergraduate education fifty years ago. 

This article challenges law schools to examine the adequacy of traditional support programs when incoming classes require systemic and sustained academic assistance. Law schools have traditionally helped academically underprepared through academic support programs, however, traditional ASPs are not equipped to provide broad-based and comprehensive assistance to large numbers of law students. Law student underpreparedness is a “wicked problem,” so complex that singular solutions are impossible. Law schools admitting substantial numbers of students with lower-levels of academic preparedness need to ask themselves questions to determine how to best address these challenges. The broader legal community should reflect on these questions because the answers will require all stakeholders to invest in changes to undergraduate education as well as legal training.


June 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Students Taking “J.D. Advantage” Jobs

A significant number of our students are taking these jobs. Here is the ABA definition of “J.D. advantage positions”:

A position in this category is one for which the employer sought an individual with a J.D., and perhaps even required a J.D., or for which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but which does not itself require bar passage or an active law license or involve practicing law. Examples of positions for which a J.D. is an advantage include a corporate contracts administrator, alternative dispute resolution specialist, government regulatory analyst, FBI agent, and accountant.

Among 2014 grads, 14.5% (6,360 grads) took J.D. advantage positions. The question: are we (or should we) do anything different to prepare students for these positions?

You can find the ABA statistics here.


June 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

USNWR story on law schools offering master of law degrees

More law schools are now offering these programs that target professionals who hope for a career boost by learning about the law but who aren't inclined to make the full investment in a JD.  Here's an excerpt from USNWR's report:

Sharpen Law Skills With a Master of Legal Studies

When Chad Beights, a sergeant at the Southern Illinois University—Carbondale police department, wanted to raise his profile at work, as well as broaden his skills, he considered studying criminal justice or public administration. But the school's Master of Legal Studies program offered him something he couldn't refuse: flexibility.


"As an MLS student, you can take whichever classes you want within their guidelines," says Beights, who graduated from the program in May.


Beights is interested in employment law and SIU—Carbondale let him take classes in employment discrimination, labor law and negotiations, as well as courses in criminal law and evidence, which can help him in his current job, he says. He hopes the degree will make him more marketable in the future.


[Ask these four questions to decide if you should go to law school.]


"I wanted something to fall back onto and the ability to have another career," says Beights, who hopes the degree will position him to one day work in an administrative role in law enforcement.


Master of Legal Studies programs are an option for learning about the law without getting a J.D. and can increase job opportunities for those working in law-related careers.


These programs, and Master of Studies in Law programs, often take one year to complete if students attend full-time, and let students sit side-by-side with future attorneys while learning about the law. Many schools approved by ​the American Bar Association offer them.


The curriculum for both is ​similar to the curriculum for J.D. programs, but there's one catch for MSL or MLS graduates: "They cannot practice law," says Gordon Silverstein, assistant dean for graduate programs at Yale Law School, which offers an MSL.


Graduates can't represent someone in court or do anything that requires a law license. They can, however, work in jobs that overlap with law.


Anyone considering these programs should think about the kind of job they'd like to have,​ as well as how much time and money they can put toward a graduate degree, experts say.


Some students who come through the program at SIU—Carbondale have a background in health care​ and plan to use this degree to become hospital administrators​, says Michael Ruiz, assistant dean for career services and special programs at SIU—Carbondale's law school. Others might work in state or local government, or law enforcement, he says.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


June 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Face It, Your Brain Is A Computer

I have often stressed that it is important to understand how the brain works in order to develop the best techniques for teaching and learning.  Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, has an interesting piece in the New York Times comparing the brain to a computer.

Professor Marcus writes, "There is much that we don’t know about brains. But we do know that they aren’t magical. They are just exceptionally complex arrangements of matter. Airplanes may not fly like birds, but they are subject to the same forces of lift and drag. Likewise, there is no reason to think that brains are exempt from the laws of computation. If the heart is a biological pump, and the nose is a biological filter, the brain is a biological computer, a machine for processing information in lawful, systematic ways."

As Professor Marcus notes, the analogy between the brain and a computer is not perfect.  However, thinking of the brain in this way gives us a much better idea of how the brain works than scientists had at the time Langdell developed his approach to legal education.  Considering that cognitive psychology has advanced so much since Langdell's time, why are so many in legal education still rejecting advances in learning theory?  It is a disservice to law students that much of legal education is still in the horse and buggy stage.

(Scott Fruehwald)

June 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Realistic Summer Writing Schedule

Here is some advice from an article byTheresa MacPhail:  

Here is a short excerpt:

You’re better off scheduling your writing in blocks of two to four hours, with regular breaks. For the summer months, I don’t recommend trying to write more than four days a week. We all have families, friends, and lives. You will be more productive during your writing sessions if you’re happy and relaxed instead of stressed out.

Writer, know thyself.

Craft a writing schedule and goals that work for you. That’s tricky because it requires you to really be honest about yourself and what kind of writer you are. Do you tend to be focused for a couple of hours and then do very little at your desk after that? Then schedule writing blocks of one to two hours to accommodate your style. Do you need a deadline in order to work at all? Then set one up with a friend (again, however, be realistic about it).

In figuring out a schedule, your best bet is to be honest about what works for you—for example how many hours are you able to spend each day, how much text can you produce in a day, how will you make up for lost time when you fall behind, do you tend to do too much research in order to avoid writing?


June 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The untimely death of the academic law library has been greatly exaggerated.

Thanks to Professor Kenneth J. Hirsh (Cincinnati) for letting us know about his published response to Professor Milles' article that we blogged about yesterday.  In contrast to that piece, Professor Hirsh argues, to borrow a Twainism, that reports about the death of  the academic law library have been greatly exaggerated. In the interest of presenting a balanced picture, below is the abstract from Professor Hirsh's article which is available at 106 Law Libr. J. 521- (2014) though he recommends you download an updated copy from SSRN here which corrects a small publishing error.

At the 2013 CALI Conference on Law School Computing, Professor James Milles, professor and former library director of the SUNY Buffalo Law School, presented his draft paper positing that academic law libraries are doomed. The author presented his contrasting viewpoints in the same session. This paper is based on his presentation and has been updated to account for adoption of the revised law school accreditation standards approved by the ABA Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in 2014. While the author agrees with the underlying observations set out by Professor Milles, he envisions a scenario where law libraries, and more importantly librarians, remain an essential part of law school life.


June 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Former Student at North Dakota Law Sues Administrators and Employees

From the Forum News Service:

A former University of North Dakota student is suing the school, university president and four law school employees,.

Garet Bradford, 46, claims he wasn't granted due process, was discriminated against because of his age and had his freedom of speech restricted before being dismissed from the law school in May.

The complaint was originally filed by Bradford about a week after his May 13 dismissal from the school via email. It states he was summoned near the beginning of his second semester at the law school because there had been issues with his application that had been accepted about eight months prior.

The complaint states Bradford attempted to resolve issues with law school professors and administrators, including Dean Kathryn Rand, Assistant Dean Bradley Parrish, professor Steven Morrison and UND President Robert Kelley, but was repeatedly misinformed or denied information.

Bradford filed an amended complaint June 9, adding the fifth law school employee to the suit, professor James Grijalva. The complaint states Bradford appealed a quiz grade from Grijalva in February before his application was called into question and was told his tone was negative and he lacked character.

You can read more here.


June 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Will libraries be the first casualty of the law school crisis?

This "new" article by Professor James G. Milles (SUNY-Buffalo) entitled Legal Education in Crisis, and Why Law Libraries Are Doomed argues that as the budget crisis facing most law schools worsens, law libraries will be the first casualty of war given that the ABA has already indicated a willingness to loosen accreditation standards when it comes to the resources allocated to them. Though this article was posted to SSRN back in 2013 (here) it just came through my news feed as newly published - now available at 106 Law Libr. J. 507 (2014) - so I figured I'd post it for those who are interested in the topic but haven't yet seen it. The "Yirka Question" mentioned in the abstract below is a reference to this article. Here's the full abstract from Professor Milles article:

The dual crises facing legal education - the economic crisis affecting both the job market and the pool of law school applicants, and the crisis of confidence in the ability of law schools and the ABA accreditation process to meet the needs of lawyers or society at large - have undermined the case for not only the autonomy, but the very existence, of law school libraries as we have known them. Legal education in the United States is about to undergo a long-term contraction, and law libraries will be among the first to go. A few law schools may abandon the traditional law library completely. Some law schools will see their libraries whittled away bit by bit as they attempt to answer “the Yirka Question” in the face of shrinking resources, reexamined priorities, and university centralization. What choices individual schools make will largely be driven by how they play the status game.


June 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)