Saturday, November 3, 2007
The luncheon plenary on Saturday featured Paula Lustbader of Seattle University, who talked about law school orientation and analogized it to Dorothy's adventures in Oz. In a creative and thoughtful discussion of students' needs during orientation and after, she made two especially memorable points: first, we should be more present in our students' experience than Glenda the Good Witch (who flitted in and out and back again, but was not a helpful ongoing presence), and we should anticipate and preclude the surprise of the law school version of flying monkeys for our students whenever possible.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Professor Ariana Levinson, at the University of Louisville, has written an article on how Lawyering Skills Principles and Methods Offer Insight as to Best Practices for Arbitration. It’s forthcoming in the Baylor Law Review, but you can read it now via SSRN by clicking on the title above. As she states in her abstract:
"The expansion in the use of arbitration means that many people, including lawyers, are somehow involved in the process of settling a dispute through arbitration. Persons who establish the procedures governing an arbitration, handle an arbitration, or teach a course about it often have questions about what the best practices for an arbitration hearing are. This article suggests that one important source of best practices for arbitration, which the literature too often ignores, is litigation and trial lawyering skills principles and methods ("litigation principles").
"In Section I, this article will discuss the subject of litigation principles and illustrate how specific principles and methods foster the values of problem-solving, aiding the decision-maker, and presenting an organized and persuasive case. Section II will provide general background on what arbitration is. Section III, will focus on describing how a prototypical arbitration process might look. In Section IV, the article will raise procedural, and related, issues upon which either rule-makers or advocates likely seek guidance. The section discusses specific litigation principles and applies them to recommend best practices as to these arbitration issues. Finally, in Section V, the article will conclude by discussing the utility of this approach to developing best practices for scholars, teachers, and practitioners."
On one of the legal writing listservs, there's been an active exchange of ideas and practices used in grading a set of memos or briefs: getting up early to grade; budgeting a certain number each day (see Sue Liemer's post here about the "grading diet," which I'll credit for inspiring the flurry of exchanges on the listserv); rewarding oneself for achieving goals; controlling irritation induced by badly written papers.
We probably obsess too much, but it's because we care. That's why we enjoy sharing our secrets for making the process go faster, or at least, better. For those seeking more distraction from grading, see Prof. Dan Solove's "scientific" study of the efficacy of one of the rumored grading methods used by the doctrinal profs, posted last December in Concurring Opinions. And for more ideas, scroll down and read the comments.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil."
Truman Capote, from "Conversations with Capote," by Lawrence Grobel, talking about revising a novel to make it "clearer and sharper and shrewder." (page 205)
hat tip: Natalie Tarenko, Texas Tech
Sunday, October 28, 2007
You are invited to nominate candidates for the positions of Secretary and Chair-Elect of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. The Secretary's main responsibility is to publish the section's electronic newsletter. The Chair-elect becomes Chair the following year. Both serve on various committees of the section. Under AALS rules, officers must be faculty members at schools that are member schools. Send nominations and any accompanying commentary by noon, Monday, November 12, 2007, to Lou Sirico, who will forward your e-mails to the other members of the Nominating Committee: Susan Hanley Duncan, Jim Levy, Michael Koby, and Suzanne Rowe.
The City University of New York School of Law seeks applicants for Director of the Legal Writing Center, a Higher Education Officer position reporting to the Director of Legal Writing. This is an administrative position. The Legal Writing Center manages the School of Law's first-year writing program and supports the Director of Legal Writing in development of the upper-division program. The Director of the Legal Writing Center is responsible for designing and implementing 1L Lawyering/Legal Writing seminars; training and supervising role players in Lawyering simulations/scenarios; supporting faculty in understanding course content and teaching methods; working with the Law Library Faculty Coordinator to integrate teaching of legal research strategies with 1L Lawyering/Legal writing assignments. The person hired will also oversee the design and delivery of other courses and workshops sponsored by the Legal Writing Center, manage the CUNY Writing Fellows program, and contribute to the professional development of the Writing Fellows, by mentoring, supervising, and evaluating Fellows, and will teach legal writing courses and programs as needed.
Other responsibilities involve the implementation of ongoing faculty development on incorporating writing-based assignments and responding to student writing, and together with the Director of Legal
Writing, facilitating faculty workshops and sharing information on program successes. As the lead administrator of the Legal Writing Center, the person hired will prepare and oversee the implementation of plans, budgets, surveys, and other reports; manage the content of the Legal Writing Center web site; serve as a liaison with the university-wide Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines programs; and maintain contacts outside the School of Law that foster implementation of best practices and contribute to the field of legal writing pedagogy.
To apply, send cover letter and resume by November 26, 2007, to Maureen McCafferty, Assistant to the Search Committee, CUNY School of Law, 65-21 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11367.
Law students and stress . . . that was the topic of the second concurrent presentation that I attended. Professor Martha Peters and doctoral candidate Andrea Flynn talked about a model for stress intervention and developing an instrument to measure the stressors in law students' lives.
Professor Peters discussed the different stressors in law students' experience based on their year of study (e.g., 3-L's worry about getting jobs) and how there is an optimum range of stress--too little stress doesn't maximize performance, while too much decreases performance. She also described a 3-step sequence: one first perceives a potential stressor; next, one evaluates it. If the evaluation determines that there is no danger, then there's no problem and no stress response. But if the evaluation indicates uncertainty or danger, then there is a stress response. Too high a level of stress response can impede learning, and long-term stress, even if managed successfully in the short term, can cause deterioration of performance over the long term.
Stress intervention includes reframing the initial evaluation, developing psychological coping strategies, identifying resources, and creating a social support network.
Ms. Flynn's research focuses on her development of a valid instrument to develop a measure of law school stressors. The three-phase project, in its first phase, seeks to identify a list of stressors that go to the law school experience (that is, are not general stressors such as a family issue, but that are part of law school, such as exams or grades). She observed that law students start out in a normal range on evaluations of stress and psychological health and rapidly decline (get more stressed and demonstrate more psychological problems) as they go through their first semester of law school.