Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hilarious Video on the Billable Hour

From our UK colleagues, specifically the lawyers at Riverview Law, which is a new-breed British law firm that does things exclusively on the flat fee model.  Check it out:

Riverview's advantage may be more than its ability to produce funny videos that ricochet into the inboxes of inhouse lawyers. (I was alerted to this video via Twitter from Patrick Lamb, one of the ABA New Normal guys and a principal at Valorem Law, a Chicago-based flat-fee shop.  Pat recieved his link from a client.)

Lawyers from Riverview Law were at the Legal Tech Camp that I have discussed in prior posts (here and here).  To my mind, Riverview's greatest advantage is focus -- they want to do the same work as other corporate law firms at the same quality level or higher, but also at a signficantly lower, fixed fee price.  The firm appears to work backwards from the price to make process-design and sourcing decisions.  The result, plain and simple, is innovation. Long term, that is the only way they can make money. 

Here is how they explain just one of their services, called Legal Advisory Outsourcing -- again, in a well produced video.

If you think Riverview Law is no big deal, this may get your attention.  The flat-fee shop is partially owned by the mega law firm DLA Piper.   Earlier this year, they opend an office in New York City.

[posted by Bill Henderson]

September 22, 2012 in Current events, Data on the profession, Innovations in law, Law Firms, New and Noteworthy, Structural change, Video interviews | Permalink | Comments (8)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Drop in the Big Law Median Salary is only Half the Story

NALP just announced that the median salary for first year associates in Big Law has dropped from $160K to $145K.  I think that is very significant.  We are now back to to the entry level price point of 2007.

But to my mind, there is much bigger story here.  In 2011, firms of 500+ attorneys hired 2,856 entry level lawyers.  In 2007, that figure was 4,745.  So, after five years, Big Law is paying the same wage but hiring 40% fewer lawyers.  Compare 2007 NALP Nat'l Summary with 2011 NALP Nat'l Summary

Here is another important piece of NALP data, generated from the print versions of the July 2012 NALP Bulletin.  It shows the percentage of entry level law jobs that are private practice.


Two takeaways here: (1) there is a longterm trendline showing a declining number of private practice jobs--and that is the economic engine that enables law schools to exist at current tuition levels, and (2) the cliff-like dropoff in 2010 and 2011 is likely Big Law, and that hurts.

[posted by Bill Henderson]

September 20, 2012 in Current events, Data on legal education, Data on the profession, New and Noteworthy, Structural change | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Eds and Meds Sector

There is a fascinating story at newgeography which looks at trends in the education ("Eds") and medical ("Meds") sectors. 

Newgeography focuses on trends in urban affairs and economic geography.  Eds and Meds are of interest to this group because these two sectors have been such a critical part of maintaining or restoring many regions' economic vitality.  Why?  Universities and hospitals generally pay high wages, don't lay people off, and are perceived as long term drivers of growth because more degrees and longer life spans are two trends that will probably continue. 

But the author, Aaron Renn, presents compelling trend data suggesting that America can no longer to afford extra large helpings of Eds and Meds.  As shown in the chart below, these sectors have been growing faster than virtually all other sectors for a long, long time.


Renn points out the healthcare is on its way to consuming 20% of our GDP by the year 2021.  And the growth in the higher education sector has been substantially fueled by student loans.  Unfortunately, even college grads are subject to the pressures of outsourcing and competition with very able professionals from around the globe.  So the ability to repay all that debt can't be taken for granted.  What can't go on forever, won't.

Here is another chart presented by Renn, this one presenting the rates of inflation occuring in Eds and Meds sectors as compared to the overall CPI:

KaplanThere is an opportunity here.  I would be extremely bullish on innovations that produce productivity gains in the Eds and Meds sectors.  I recently listened to this HBR Ideocast discussion with Robert Kaplan, the Harvard Business School professor best know for developing the Balanced Scorecard.  Kaplan is now turning his considerable intellect toward the problem of cost-containment in healthcare. 

What the key insight?  Measuring how much patient treatment actually costs--to date, there has been almost no sophisticated cost accounting in healthcare.  Most of the brainpower has gone to dealing with (and maximizing) third party reimbursements.  Under Kaplan's system, fortunately, we can actually identify the points in the system that cost way too much and thus begin the reengineering process.

ChristiansenThe same thing may soon be happening in higher ed.  Another Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christiansen, who authored the renowed business book, The Innovator's Dilemma, recently co-authored a letter that called for colleges and universities to quit chasing prestige and start focusing on innovations that improve educational quality without increasing price.  Remarkably, the letter was included in a mass mailing by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni -- going to 13,000 trustees!  See Inside Higher Ed, Distruption's Strange Bedfellow, July 12, 2102.  Another Insider Higher Ed story suggests that this may be the true faultline driving the University of Virginia controversy.  See Disruptive Innovation: Rhetoric or Reality?, June 26, 2012.

The world appears to be changing, even in Eds and Meds sector.

[posted by Bill Henderson]

September 20, 2012 in Blog posts worth reading, Cross industry comparisons, Current events, Important research, New and Noteworthy, Structural change | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why Are We Afraid of the Future of Law?

Below is my most recent column in the National Jurist [PDF version].  Although 100% targeted at law students, I think lawyers and law professors might find this topic interesting. [Bill Henderson]

200px-SusskindhighresRichard Susskind is a famous British lawyer and technology consultant who travels the world giving speeches on how the legal industry is on the brink of a fundamental transformation.  Because his topic is change, Susskind’s ideas are quite controversial among lawyers.  But as a futurist, he has a pretty good track record. 

Back in 1996, in his book The Future of Law, Susskind predicted that e-mail would someday become the dominant method for lawyers and clients communicate with each other.  Because the Web was still a novelty limited to universities and computer aficionados, Susskind’s comments were viewed as reckless and unprofessional—lawyers would never rely on such an insecure method to communicate with clients.  Yet, 16 years later, lawyers are daily lives are comprised of an endless stream of emails coming over their desktops, laptops and smart phones. 

Continue reading

September 6, 2012 in Current events, Innovations in legal education, Law Firms, Structural change | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Location, Location, Location – Geography Matters in Law School Employment 2010-2011

NALP notes that for the Class of 2010 -- and the Class of 2011 -- two-thirds of all employed graduates were employed in the state in which their law school was located. This suggests location matters.

Is location important to employment results at a large number of schools? Are some law schools more national than others? Are some states more “local” in hiring than other states? The answers are yes and yes and yes.

ANALYZING SCHOOL SPECIFIC DATA -- This analysis is based on the Class of 2010 and Class of 2011 employment outcome data reported on the ABA Section of Legal Education website, excluding the law schools in Puerto Rico. This means there are 195 law schools in this analysis (if the two Widener campuses are combined).

The law schools were asked to report the three states with the most employed graduates and the number of employed graduates in each of those three states. Taking those totals as a percentage of employed graduates, and paying attention to the states identified, one can get some idea of which schools are “regional” and which schools might actually have a more “national” footprint. The simple result of the analysis is that the vast majority of schools are “regional” rather than “national.”


  1. For both the Download Class of 2010 and the Download Class of 2011, there were 117 law schools for which more than 67 percent of their employed graduates are employed in the state in which the law school is located.
  2. For the Classes of 2010 and 2011, there were 144 and 145 law schools, respectively, for which more than 67 percent of their employed graduates are located in the state in which the law school is located or an adjacent state, and 104 law schools for which more than 80 percent of their employed graduates are located in the state in which the law school is located or an adjacent state.
  3. There were only 46 law schools for which less than 67 percent of their employed graduates were employed in the state in which the law school is located or an adjacent state for both the Classes of 2010 and 2011.

Notably, 28 of these 46 law schools are in the USNews top-50, for which it is easily imaginable that the employment geography is much more national than regional. For many of these 46 law schools, two of the three states with the most employed graduates generally are not adjacent to the state in which the law school is located, suggesting some national reach. The three non-adjacent jurisdictions reflected most frequently should not be surprising – California, the District of Columbia and New York. Of the 18 other law schools, nine law schools are ranked in the alphabetical list of schools -- schools one generally would consider regional – while nine are ranked between 51 and 145 in USNews.


Perhaps most significantly, due to the incomplete nature of some of the data sets, this summary probably understates the number of law schools for which the employment outcome data suggests the law school is more regional than national. Several of these 46 law schools come in with 60% or more of their employed graduates employed in the state of the law school or an adjacent state for both years -- Boston College, Minnesota, NYU, Ohio State and Penn State – and if the data were to include graduates employed in all adjacent states, the total for these schools well might exceed 67 percent.

In sum, then, more than 76% of all law schools and more than 87% of law schools outside the USNews top-50 had more than 67% of their employed graduates in the state in which the law school is located or an adjacent state for either the Class of 2010 or the Class of 2011.

LOOKING AT STATE SPECIFIC DATA -- NALP also notes that for the Class of 2010, there are 30 states in which two-thirds or more of the jobs were taken by graduates from law schools in those states. (Jobs & JDs, Class of 2010, p. 69)  Taking NALP’s state-specific data for the Class of 2010 in conjunction with the ABA’s data for the Class of 2010, there actually are 35 states in which two thirds or more of the jobs were taken by graduates of law schools in those states or an adjacent state and 30 states in which three-quarters or more of the jobs within the state were taken by graduates of the law schools in the state or in an adjacent state.


Again, this data likely understates the results. For example, in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia, roughly 65-75 percent of jobs within the state were taken by graduates from law schools within the state or an adjacent state. But with several schools in adjacent states not counted in the tallies because these states were not one of the top three states for employed graduates from those schools, one could infer that were graduates from all schools from adjacent states included the percentage might exceed 75 percent. (Notably, 13 of the 15 states with less than 67 percent of jobs taken by graduates of the law school in the state or law schools in adjacent states are states with modest populations and only one law school (or no law school) – Alaska, Delaware, Hawai’i, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.  The other two states are Utah and Virginia. The District of Columbia also falls into this category.)

LOCATION MATTERS -- In sum then, location matters. For the vast majority of law students at the vast majority of law schools, the vast majority of reasonable employment prospects associated with going to a given law school are going to be in the state in which the law school is located or an adjacent state. In the absence of a unique or specific aspect of a law school's program that might make a particular law school very appealing, this suggests that location should matter when considering a law school, perhaps more than ranking.

For example, if a prospective student has a choice between going to a higher ranked regional law school in a state in which the student does not anticipate practicing or living (and perhaps paying more in tuition), or a lower ranked regional law school in the location in which he or she hopes to live and work professionally (and perhaps paying less in tuition), the prospective law student should give serious consideration to attending the lower-ranked regional law school in the location in which he or she hopes to live and work professionally. This will make it easier to begin networking while in law school and to facilitate employment opportunities in the region in which the student is interested in practicing law and living. (And it may help the prospective student save money if the lower-ranked regional school happens to cost less (if it is a public school, for example), or if the prospective student has a more competitive LSAT/GPA profile at the lower-ranked regional school such that the student may be eligible for a scholarship.) 

[Posted by Jerry Organ]

September 3, 2012 in Data on legal education, Data on the profession | Permalink | Comments (7)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"There is a Shortage of Skilled Workers"

That is the message delivered by Patricia Milligan, president of Mercer's human capital business.   Who are the workers she is talking out?  Managers, technicians and executives working inside the world's biggest companies.

I realize that many lawyers and law professors are likely to be skeptical of the pronouncements of human capital consultants.

But for a moment, let's take Milligan at face value.  So, what are the skills in short supply?  Milligan does not answer that question in the above video.  But in the video on this webpage she suggests that such skills are  a combination of communication, colloboration, and data analytic skills. 

Note that Milligan thinks the talent shortage problem is too big for employers to solve on their own.  This is leading to collaborations with academic institutions.  Are law schools ready for such a step?

[posted by Bill Henderson]

September 2, 2012 in Blog posts worth reading, Cross industry comparisons, New and Noteworthy, Video interviews | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Call for Papers - Diversity in Legal Education and the Law

DAJeremyTelman06Our friend Jeremy Telman (Valparaiso, right) sends us this call for papers:

Future Role of Diversity in Legal Education and the Law:

Symposium Honoring Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard

Valparaiso University Law School

Valparaiso, Indiana

In creating the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity (“ICLEO”) program, Chief Justice Randall Shepard took a significant step in ensuring that all citizens are truly equal in the eyes of the law.  Indiana became the first state in the nation to have its own CLEO program to assist minority, low-income or educationally disadvantaged college graduates pursuing law degrees.  The ICLEO model has now been adopted by other states.

The Valparaiso University Law Review is currently accepting submissions for the forthcoming Shepard Symposium and Special Issue.  The Shepard Symposium will provide a forum for a comprehensive inquiry into the role of diversity in legal education and the legal profession. The Symposium will explore diversity issues in legal education and the legal profession while also recognizing Chief Justice Shepard’s role in fostering diversity.

To submit a paper for presentation at the Symposium, please provide an abstract of you work by email submission no later than Monday, December 3, 2012

  • Abstract submissions should be made via email to the VULR Symposium Editor at
  • Abstract submissions should include a cover letter and a copy of the author’s curriculum vitae
  • Submissions must be in MS Word format
  • All participants are expected to produce a manuscript suitable for publication in the Valparaiso University Law Review.

    [Jeff Lipshaw]

    September 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

    "Application, Discipline, Focus, Repetition"

    For the Labor Day weekend, I thought I would post this video of Henry Rollins, an American singer and artist who has continually reinvented himself since he left his job as a manager of a Hagen-Daaz ice cream store in 1981 to become the lead singer in Black Flag.

    The point of posting this video is not to glorify Henry Rollins, but to consider, on its own terms, the life narrative of one interesting person. Rollin's formula of "application, discipline, focus, repetition" sounds a lot like deliberate practice.  Based on my own research, I have broken this process into two steps:

    1. Identifying the core elements needed to be become an expert or master in a specific domain -- Jeff Lipshaw was alluding to this in his post on Donald Schon and reflective practice;
    2. Practicing, through thousands of hours of effort, on elements that one lacks in order to move along the continuum to mastery.  Number 2 works best when the person has the benefit of feedback and coaching.  Of course, they also have to be willing to do the work.

    For an individual, it may not be necessary to formally break down the core elements into specific pieces.  Instead, these pieces can be obtained iteratively through trial and error and reflection.  I think this is what Rollins has done. It is a formula that works for one highly determined person.  But can it be scaled?

    As an educator, I am interested in making the components of practice mastery more explicit and transparent--this is step #1 above.  To  accomplish step #1, we still need to do foundational research that  deconstructs the careers of outstanding lawyers into sets of specific skills, abilities, and competencies--i.e., the things to be practiced.   (Notice I said "sets" -- outstanding lawyers often master different domains.)  At present, the Shultz-Zedeck Effective Lawyering study is the only solid published research that is even adjacent to this topic.

    Once these components of effective lawyers are identified--i.e., a law school identifies the skills, abilities and competencies it wants to develop over the course of three years--we move to step #2.  This step raises complex questions of order (which competencies first, which come second, etc.) and pedagogy (best and most cost-effective methods) and measurement (how do we know we have made progress?).   I think the answers would have to come iteratively, through trial and error. 

    Any educational institution pursuing this strategy would have to commit itself to studying and continuously improving the educational process.  For law schools, this would be new.  At the vast majority of law schools, we mostly teach legal knowledge, we don't articulate our intended educational outcomes, we let students pick their courses ala carte with minimal guidance, and we don't engage in serious measurement. But we could.  I think this is the next great frontier--an enormous opportunity for any law school willing to think for itself, to experiment and to change.  The data needed would come from one's own alumni, ideally supplemented with data sharing within a law school consortium.

    [posted by Bill Henderson]

    September 1, 2012 in Blog posts worth reading, Cross industry comparisons, Innovations in legal education, Video interviews | Permalink | Comments (1)