Saturday, April 11, 2009

In honor of Easter - ABA Journal runs "Peeps in Law" contest

On the lighter side, the ABA Journal blog has been holding a contest that invites readers to create law related dioramas using Peeps.  What are "Peeps" you ask?  You remember, you really do - they're those brightly colored marshmallow treats you got in your Easter basket as a kid that if you ate today would send you into a diabetic coma quicker than you can say "triglycerides."

All the entries can be seen in this photo gallery. I've included a random selection below for your viewing pleasure.  Some of them are amazingly clever and fun.  It's Easter - enjoy!



                    "1L Peep study group."                                                                 "12 Angry Peeps."





                        "The Grass Ceiling"

I am the scholarship dude.


April 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Harvard researchers find academics "game" SSRN downloads - envy, not money, is the motive

This is a really interesting "working paper" called Demographics, Career Concerns or Social Comparison:  Who Games SSRN Download Counts? in which two Harvard B-school profs, Benjamin Edelman and Ira Larkin, seek to determine whether academics "game" their download counts on SSRN and the motives for doing so.

As the authors note, there has been much interdisciplinary interest in understanding why people engage in deceptive acts.  Until recently, most of that work focused on the economic incentives for engaging in fraud.  However, researchers working in the social sciences have begun to explore the extent to which social standing, envy, cultural norms and similar factors motivate people to engage in dishonest conduct.  In sum, these social factors may play a larger role than money in causing academics to "cook the books."  

With respect to professors downloading their own papers on SSRN in order to inflate the numbers, professors Edelman and Larkin found the following: 

First, we find strong evidence that gaming increases when it will increase a paper’s visibility on SSRN by putting the paper (or keeping it) on a 'Top 10 list.' Second, we find some evidence of gaming due to career concerns and demographic factors, but the results are limited. In the two years prior to a change in employment, an author is somewhat more likely to engage in download gaming, but assistant professors who are approaching a tenure decision are less likely to engage in gaming. Females and non-U.S. citizens are somewhat less likely to engage in gaming, as are researchers at low ranked institutions. 


In contrast to the relatively limited results on economic and demographic determinants, we find strong evidence that envy and social comparisons play a strong role in predicting deceptive downloads. Higher levels of reported downloads for three separate peer groups – an author’s institution, other authors within an SSRN e-journal, and authors within an e-journal publishing papers on SSRN at about the same time as the author in question – are associated with 12% to 30% more invalid downloads. Our results therefore suggest that psychological determinants of gaming are important and understudied.

Ironically, I haven't been able to get into SSRN for the past few days or I'd provide a link to let you jack-up the download count on this article.  Instead, I'm providing you with a link to the pdf version of the working paper available on one author's faculty page.


It's disheartening to think that this kind of gaming really goes on in academia.  On the other hand, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised since the study merely confirms what we should already know;  that even self-described intellectuals are, underneath it all, human beings with all the shortcomings and personal foibles that the rest of us struggle with.  


Hat tip to the TaxLaw blog.


I am the scholarship dude.



April 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Global Legal Skills IV Conference at Georgetown University Law Center

Click here to see the program and speakers at the fourth Global Legal Skills Conference, which will be held June 4-6, 2009 at Georgetown University Law Center.  You'll also find links with information on registration, hotels, and photos from the third GLS conference held last year in Mexico.


April 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 10, 2009

How about putting together unemployed lawyers with broke clients who need legal help?

This story from today's New York Times called "In a Downturn, More Act as Their Own Lawyer" is a telling sign of how messed up the legal marketplace, and the economy in general, is right now.  Because of home foreclosures and other financial problems related to the lousy economy, many people need legal representation but simply can't afford it.  As we all know, there are thousands of highly educated, experienced lawyers walking the streets who can't find work.  Why doesn't someone put the two groups together?  The unemployed lawyers could keep their skills up, or at least it would occupy some of their unwanted spare time, while they continue to look for work and those who need legal help can get it.

I am the scholarship dude.


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Pointers to help students overcome their fear of public speaking

This might make a good hand-out around oral argument season which, if I'm not mistaken, is in full swing right now.  The advice comes from Joey Asher, a self-described "communication and selling skills coach," who maintains a website called "Speechworks."  I can't vouch for Mr. Asher or his advice but if it helps some of your students reduce their fear about oral argument, it's worth it.

Hat tip to the Daily Report.

I am the scholarship dude.


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Author of "Best Practices for Legal Education" endorses innovative 3L practicum

This item by Roy Stuckey posted on the Best Practices for Legal Education blog describes how Washington and Lee is attracting lots of cash, students and top practicum faculty as the result of an innovative curriculum change that turns the third year of law school into an experiential education for students rather than just another year of reading cases. 

We had reported on this innovative program last month  (including providing a link to a more detailed NLJ story) and it's great to see Professor Stuckey, a respected authority on skills training and author of Best Practices for Legal Education, endorse the W & L initiative.

I am the scholarship dude.


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professionalism alert: Louisiana attorney disbarred for one year for yelling at law clerk

The Fifth Circuit in an unpublished decision just affirmed a federal district court's decision to disbar an attorney for one year because he spoke harshly to a law clerk during a telephone call.  Other contributing factors were the attorney's "misrepresentations during a contempt hearing and for impugning the integrity of two federal judges in a prior brief."  In the opinion, available here, the Fifth Circuit suggested that the harsh manner in which the attorney treated the magistrate's law clerk over the phone, by itself, would have been enough to justify the sanction without the other factors.

[The defendant] further argues that disbarment was an inappropriately severe

punishment for his “curt conversation,” as he calls it. The conversation reported

by the magistrate judge’s law clerk displayed severe disrespect to the court by

the anger and harsh tone shown to a representative of the magistrate judge.

This was followed by additional evidence of a lack of candor in sworn testimony

when the very serious matter of a contempt hearing was held. We are less

certain that the language in a brief to this court, which might be unduly critical

of Western District judges, is something which the district court should sanction.

Whether it is or not, we also find the language in the brief to be the least

important of the three findings of contempt. We find no abuse of discretion in

settling upon a one-year disbarment from one court for these offenses.

Hat tip to the Legal Profession Blog and Legal Blog Watch.


I am the scholarship dude.




April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

For those who like crossword puzzles


I bet these are tough - but a good exercise if you need to bone up on arcane Latin phrases and such.  It's a weekly Legal Crossword Puzzle hosted by the Daily Report blog.  A new one appears each Friday evening and remains up for a week.

The direct link is here

I am the scholarship dude.


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: "Moving from first to final draft: offering autonomy- supportive choices to motivate students to internalize the writing process"

The above article, authored by Professor Carol Wallinger of Rutger-Camden, appears in 54 Loy. L. Rev. 820 (2008).

From the introduction:

This [a]rticle discusses a year-long project I conducted during the 2006-2007 school year of nineteen first-year law students. New empirical research shows that law students who perceived more 'autonomy support'from their faculty fared better psychologically while in law school and scored better on the Multistate Bar Exam after law school.The purpose of this project was to observe and document students' responses to two autonomy-supportive curricular choices, provided as part of their Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research (LAWR) class.

Autonomy support theory is one of many tools available when applying the self-determination theory of human motivation. Self-determination theory proposes that all humans have universal needs for feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness with other humans. When any of these needs are unmet, motivation suffers. Law students have been shown to suffer extreme declines in their motivation during their first year, even though they start law school highly motivated. My personal experience showed that first-year law students often submitted LAWR final drafts reflecting their failure to complete the writing process, despite appearing highly motivated to do so at the beginning of each semester.

I wondered what caused students to hand in incomplete, unpolished drafts, especially after repeatedly emphasizing in class that their grades would be determined by how well they moved their drafts through the writing process. Was it simply that some students procrastinated or underestimated the amount of work involved in the project, then fell behind, and failed to catch up? Or had law school in general, or possibly some teaching method or LAWR course-design issue in particular, affected their motivation?

I am the scholarship dude.


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Check this video Holmes! - scientists raise the bar again on innovative teaching

A few days ago, we blogged about a really interesting teaching idea pioneered by science professors seeking to help their students learn a difficult concept by having them draw it.  The technique is called "Picturing to Learn."  The post resulted in a very lively discussion on the AALS Teaching Methods listserv.

Well, scientists have just raised the bar yet again on innovative teaching and this time the record may stand for a long time.  A group of researchers working on the Hadron Super-collider (you know, the one that people feared might destroy the earth by sucking it into a black hole) have created the "particle physics rap."  The thing is - it's pretty darn effective at explaining the subject.  Not only that, but you can dance to it!

It's pretty def, don't you agree?   (or do I mean dope?)

Will legal writing profs up the ante by composing the Blue Book rap?

Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen.

I am the scholarship dude.


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Fulbright for Tracy Bach

Bach_Full Longtime legal writing professor Tracy Bach, at Vermont Law School, has been chosen as a Fulbright Scholar for the 2009-10 academic year.  She will teach at the law and political science faculty of the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal and do research at its Research Center for the Study and Documentation of African Legislation and Institutions (Centre de Recherche, d’Etude, et de Documentation sur les Institutions et les Législations Africaines - CREDILA).  She will collaborate with Professor Ibrahim Ly, CREDILA’s director, on exploring the intersections of Senegal ’s environmental and health laws, to understand their responsiveness to documented and predicted climate change impacts on sub-Saharan Africa. 

hat tip:  Prof. Sarah Ricks



April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

briefs from Wisconsin case

Here are the briefs from the Wisconsin case blogged below.  Thanks to Chris Wren, I am attaching the following two documents:

appellant's brief  Download BLOG 2008AP1396 Wis Ct App 2008-11-12 Johnson v Roma II appellant's brief

appellant's reply brief  Download BLOG 2008AP1396 Wis Ct App 2009-01-29 Johnson v Roma II appellant's reply brief.


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

good news from Texas Tech

Texas Tech Legal Practice Professors Rosemary Dillon and Kim Phillips were approved by the law faculty for long-term retention and promotion last fall; now it's official!  Their paperwork has made its way through the main-campus approval process, and the provost has signed off on it.

Three of the Program's five full-time LP faculty have now been approved for long-term retention.  (The other long-termer--and long-timer!--is LP Prof Dale Jones.)

Congratulations to them!


April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

lawyers: follow the rules and proofread!

To pique your interest, an excerpt from a recent opinion from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals--the bold is the court's language:

¶13 Hudec’s problems in this court do not stop with his ignoring the rules of appellate practice. In the table of contents of his principal brief, he states the first issue is:

Did the trial court err in granting a default Judgment where

a timely answer was filed but mistakenly in an early draft

form that did Respond to all causes of action?

Skipping to the statement on oral argument and publication, Hudec writes:

In this case, the attorney dictate final changes over the

should of a secretary who then printed off an earlier draft

and that mistake was not caught prior to signing the


We will not detail other errors. We are left shaking our heads! Frankly, we are at a loss to understand what is clearly Hudec’s intentional disregard of the rules and the details, including his failure to proofread.

Let's just say that the opinion goes on in a similar vein, including a helpful reference to an online writing center.


hat tip: Christopher G. Wren




April 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's tough writing for student newspapers these days - dead deer left at editor's door


Two days ago we told you about the unfortunate editor of the BYU student newspaper who made a typo that he described as "the worst mistake" of his life resulting in the recall of almost 20,000 papers.

Today comes an AP story of an editor at another student newspaper who found "the bodies of one-and-a-half deer, several large rodents and a black goat had been left on the porch" of his home in retaliation for an unfavorable editorial he wrote about the school's baseball team.

The most troubling aspect of this story is - where's the other half of that deer?

And you thought legal writing students take criticism badly.

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.

I am the scholarship dude.


April 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Amy Langenfeld receives tenure!

This is the season of news of professors' promotions.  Clearing perhaps the biggest hurdle in academia, Professor Amy Langenfeld has received tenure at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.  Amy received a unanimous faculty vote for tenure and promotion last fall; the ensuing takes time, as a decision has move up through the university hierarchy.  Now her university president has made it official.  Congratulations Amy! 

hat tip:  Professor Judy Stinson


April 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

more kudos for Rutgers LRW profs!

ImagesYesterday, by unanimous faculty vote, Rutgers-Camden awarded Carol Wallinger a 5-year presumptively renewable contract, awarded Jason Cohen a promotion to Associate Clinical Professor and renewal of his contract, and awarded Sheila Rodriguez a promotion to Associate Clinical Professor and renewal of her contract.  Congratulations to Carol, Jason, and Sheila!

hat tip:  Prof. Sarah Ricks


April 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

engaging laptop users

 CALI has posted a webinair chock full of good advice on engaging law students who are using laptops in the classroom.

Imageshat tip:  Prof. Candle Wester-Mittan


April 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

kudos, Sarah Ricks!

 Ricks Professor Sarah Ricks just learned she has been selected as a recipient of the Rutgers-Camden Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence, a campus-wide teaching prize.  In addition, she was elected to the American Law Institute in March 2009. Are any other legal writing professors currently active in ALI?  Which projects have you joined?



April 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

what will innovative curricular changes mean for legal writing faculty?

An interesting recent post (March 25, 2009) in Prawfsblawg considers the data from the 2008 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) reporting student dissatisfaction with legal writing instruction and asks, "What are law schools doing to reconceive the traditional legal writing programs?  Are schools moving away from the appellate brief and argument to structure classes around more practical problems that lawyers are more likely to see in their eary years of practice?"

Vice-Dean Austen Parrish offers his school (Southwestern School of Law) and its legal writing program as one that "really take to heart the calls from Carnegie, Best Practice[s], and LSSSE," announcing a new twist to Southwestern's graded 6-credit first-year course. In the spring semester, students will be able to choose one of three tracks: (1) negotiation; (2) trial/pretrial practice; or (3) appellate advocacy.  Each track will offer instruction on persuasive writing, but the writing will reportedly be focused on the skills appropriate to the selected track.

I'm interested, but also curious about a couple of things.

Is it safe to assume that students will sort themselves into one of the three tracks in roughly equal numbers?

I am also curious about how the workload is going to be distributed among the legal writing faculty (and I admit I am assuming that the practical aspects of this innovation will be borne by the legal writing faculty and not shared by the faculty at large).

For example, I would be quite happy to teach in the appellate advocacy track, but not so happy if my sections were oversubscribed and the teaching load was consequently much higher than my peers' load. Or if I was told I would have to teach in the negotiation skills track because a majority of students elected it and the school didn't have enough teachers experienced in that area to cover it.

Innovation is exciting, but it must also take into account the realities of scheduling and staffing. How should this and other new approaches to the writing curriculum be implemented?  Many schools are looking at these issues in light of the calls for curricular reform in legal education, and we can benefit from a wider discussion within our community. Post your comments; share your ideas.


April 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)