Saturday, July 11, 2009

Are there too many law schools turning out too many law grads?

It's a question the Legal Writing Prof blog has been asking for months.  The New York Times picked up on the story back in March and now the most widely read university-level educational journal, The Chronicle of Higher Ed., is running a story entitled Law Schools Mull Whether They Are Churning Out Too Many Lawyers.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

The blogosphere debate on the adequacy of law school training

The discussion begun by Paul Lippe, founder of the attorney networking site Legal OnRamp, criticizing the adequacy of law school training, which we first reported here, has finally gained traction and is now running hotter than a nitro-methane funny car.  Mr. Lippe didn't just direct his comments to curricular shortcomings, but also to the hubris of law professors who are disconnected from the needs of the practicing bar.

Among the first legal academics to respond was Indiana Professor Bill Henderson, a scholar on law firm practice.  He said that Mr. Lippe's post reminded him

of my youth in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1970s and 80s.  Lots of my friends' parents worked for General Motors, which offered high pay, amazing benefits, predictable hours, and long vacations.  No one else seemed to have it so good.   I remember thinking at the time that GM was both complacent and invincible.  It turned out that I was only half right.   So I worry about my own industry.  Do I have the mindset of a GM employee circa 1979?  God, I hope not.

Now comes this volley, lobbed by Florida State University law prof JB Ruhl:

Lippe repeatedly suggests that medical and business schools have got it right and law schools provide "inferior training." Oh really? So, when our nation is in the throes of a debate over the runaway costs of health care and the global economy is in a massive recession due largely to the utter largess and indulgence of our big business and investment industries, law schools should emulate medical and business schools? I think not. Rather, I suggest that medical and business schools are right up there with, if not ahead of, law schools in the need to examine their pedagogical models. In any event, it is not useful to compare medical, business, and law school models--they are three vastly different professions with distinct subject matters and professional pathways.

You can read the rest of Professor Ruhl's response to Lippe's criticism of law school complacency here.

So what do you think, dear reader?  Is Mr. Lippe's assessment that law schools are broken accurate or is he the misinformed outsider that Professor Ruhl suggests?

Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

What some law schools are doing to help grads find jobs

The Minnesota Lawyer is reporting the measures four schools in that state are taking to help current students maintain morale and help recent grads find jobs.

Among the strategies:

1.  School funded, post-JD fellowships for graduates who haven't found jobs yet.

2.   Peer support groups to help students cope with the stress of finding a job.

3.  Purchasing tables at professional functions to help students network for jobs.

4. Encouraging students to think more creatively about what they can do with a law degree.

This is a start.  Please tell us in the comments below what your school is doing to help students find jobs.

Read the full story here.

Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

resources for teaching ESL students

The Legal Writing Institute’s Global Legal Writing Skills/International Outreach Committee has posted helpful resources for professors teaching legal analysis, legal writing, legal research, and related topics to LL.M. students.  At http://lwionline.org/, click on "Member Resources," then click on "Teaching International Students."  There you will find recently updated lists of print and on-line resources helpful in teaching international law students.  To find relevant syllabi, click on "Member Resources," then click on "Syllabus Bank," then click on "LLM Courses."  If you have similar materials to share, contact Elizabeth Inglehart, at e-inglehart@law.northwestern.edu.

(spl)

 

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

Friday, July 10, 2009

advice on contract drafting

Boilerplate Ken Adams has it--advice, that is, and it's good to boot. I liked his response to a law student who opined that contract drafting is neither a creative nor an imaginative process. Her experiences inserting boilerplate into ready-made templates had convinced her that it just wasn't lawyers' work.

Ken does a nice job debunking that particular myth. And if you teach drafting, check out the costly drafting errors he highlights in his blog.

(cmb)

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

The worst and the shortest oral argument?

A few days ago in my summer legal writing class as we were practicing oral arguments, a student asked whether she had to use all of her allotted time.  The answer is "no" and to illustrate the point, I showed the class this YouTube video/sound-file in which a lawyer before the Seventh Circuit delivers possibly one of the worst oral arguments ever while the government's lawyer makes one of the shortest.

This video has made the rounds several times on the legal writing prof listserv but since my summer students had never heard of it before, I'm posting it here on the assumption that it may be unknown to many others too.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

USNWR ranks law firms. What next? Why not rank everyone?

Speaking for myself, the USNWR law school rankings are an eminently reasonable response to consumer demand for information about how to spend their educational dollars.   One may quibble with USNWR's ranking formula and those ranked may argue about the results, but from the consumer's standpoint, the magazine by all appearances is providing a valuable service. 

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, however, USNWR is no longer content to confine its rankings to law schools.  Rather, it now plans on ranking employers - the law firms themselves.  That raises the question of why stop there?  Why not just go whole-hog and rank all people?  That way the USNWR ranking empire would be complete - consumers would need to consult USNWR before making any decision from which job to take to who to date. 

All it takes is enough people to buy into it and USNWR can become mankind's tastemaker.

Remember - it was my idea first.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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

Scholarship alert: "Teaching transactional lawyering"

This article comes from Drexel Professor Karl Okamoto and can be found at 1 Drexel L. Rev. 69 (2009).  From the introduction:

Over the years I have developed a habit. Whenever I meet a “deal lawyer” of some experience and the opportunity presents itself, I ask this question, “what makes a ‘great’ deal lawyer better than a simply ‘average’ one?” While my interlocutor is pondering his or her answer, I clarify my inquiry in two ways. First, I explain that I want to discount for experience. So in answering the question, I ask my interlocutor to have in mind two lawyers of roughly comparable vintage. Second, I ask him or her to keep in mind that my second question will be, whatever they identify as the critical components of this difference, are the components teachable?

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

more kudos!

Continuing to report on progress and prizes in the legal writing field:

At the University of Maine, Angie Arey was appointed Associate Professor of Legal Writing, a nice step up from the "Legal Writing Instructor" title she held for the past two years.  Nancy Wanderer's title has been upgraded now, too, to Professor of Legal Writing, in addition to her title as Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program.

At Rutgers-Camden, legal writing professor Sarah Ricks was named the Lawyering Professor of the Year, an award she shared with clinic professor Sandra Simkins.

(spl)

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

Thursday, July 9, 2009

History Videos on Legal Writing . . . Before the Legal Writing Institute!

LWI 25 The Legal Writing Institute is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary with a series of special events and commemorations.  Upcoming events include special recognition for LWI at a conference on the future of legal education being sponsored by The John Marshall Law School in Chicago (just before the ABA Annual Meeting), and a special tribute at the Scribes Luncheon in Chicago during the ABA Annual Meeting.

But for the many of you who are unable to attend those events, we are happy to share with you some videos taken by Professor Karin Mika of Cleveland State University School of Law.  Here's her description of the first of three videos that we are going to share with you here on the Legal Writing Prof Blog.

Before the creation of the Legal Writing Institute, the only professional organization available for Legal Writing professors to meet and discuss ideas was the Association of American Law Schools. Marjorie Rombauer, of the University of Washington, was the driving force in helping establish a section of the AALS that was dedicated primarily to discussing issues related to Legal Writing. Mary Lawrence became involved in the section when she began teaching at the University of Oregon in 1978, and together with Marjorie, worked toward professionalizing the teaching of Legal Writing

In this video, Marjorie and Mary talk about the field of Legal Writing as it existed in the years prior to the creation of the Legal Writing Institute.

 

 

You can also click here to see the video on You Tube, or use this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIYxAx9TZQE

Hat tip to Karin Mika.

(mew)

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

more promotions and special positions

At Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, Ken Chestek and Jim Dimitri have both been promoted from Associate Clinical Professor of Law to full Clinical Professor of Law.

Also this spring, at the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law, Suzanne Rabe was promoted to the rank of full Clinical Professor of Law.

And at Valparaiso University School of Law. legal writing professor Susan Stuart was voted faculty advisor for the 3L class, a special position related to graduation, including a public address.
 
(spl)

 

 

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A companion piece to the story below - what will the faculty of the future look like?

Here's an excerpt from the Chronicle of Higher Ed story:

The faculty workplace has changed significantly in the last 20 years: More women, minority professors, and adjuncts have joined the professoriate. Information technology has led to new opportunities and expectations. The economic crisis has complicated long-term planning for scholars and institutions alike. We asked seven scholars from several fields and generations how they think the academic workplace — and, in particular, the job satisfaction and expectations of a faculty career — will change over the next 20 years.

Unlike the CHE's special fee-based report on the profile of future university students (see post below), this one is free.  Read the predictions of the magnificent seven here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

July 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What will university students of the future expect from schools?

The Chronicle of Higher Ed is offering a paid report that describes what future college students will expect from their schools in the year 2020.  Here's a portion of the abstract:

More students will attend classes online, study part time, take courses from multiple universities, and jump in and out of colleges. Students will demand more options for taking courses to make it easier for them to do what they want when they want to do it. And they will make those demands for economic reasons, too. The full-time residential model of higher education is getting too expensive for a larger share of the American population. More and more students are looking for lower cost alternatives to attending college. Three-year degree programs, which some colleges are now launching, will almost assuredly proliferate. The trend toward low-cost options also will open doors for more inexpensive online options.

 

You can purchase the full report, which will be available in three sections, here.

 

I am the scholarship dude.

 

(jbl)

 

July 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

European Humanities University

The European Humanities University was previously located in Belarus, until the dictator running that country shut it down.  Instead of closing up shop entirely, the university moved to neighboring Lithuania.  A professor from that university has attended Legal Writing Institute conferences and may be remembered by many readers of this blog.  A new post explains how the European Humanities University is doing while it is in exile.  Click here to read more on the International Law Prof Blog, which has a further link to a post with a video. 

(mew)

July 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 6, 2009

250,000 Visits to the Legal Writing Prof Blog!

We just had our 250,000th visitor to the Legal Writing Prof Blog!  We're not sure WHO you are, but we know that you accessed us from beautiful Fremont, California.  Please contact us to let us know who you are -- you may have also won a special prize.

Nancy, Sue, Coleen, Mark, and Jim

July 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fox Business News story on the University of Miami School of Law 1L deferrals

As you may have heard, Above the Law last week broke the story that U of Miami School of Law had a historically high 1L yield and as a result the Dean was advising students to either defer their decision to go to law school (with some financial incentives thrown in to sweeten the pot) or stay away altogether.

ATL's editor Elie Mystal, who has been an extremely good friend to this blog, appeared on Fox Business News to talk about the U. Miami decision as well as the state of legal education and the job market.  We hope you find this interesting.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Scholarship alert: "A Preliminary Exploration of the Elements of Expert Performance in Legal Writing"

This is a working paper available on SSRN, here, by Shelley M. Kierstead and Erika Abner, both Canadian academics.  From the abstract:

This paper describes results of focus group research conducted with senior advocacy lawyers in relation to the lawyers' characterization of expert legal writing. The results suggest an important interplay between product and process, and are consistent with general theoretical models of expertise that characterize the writing process as exploratory, recursive, reflective and responsive. The results may also be linked with existing studies of school to work transitions. The authors also describe how the research results tie into a longer term research project aimed at developing a description of increasingly sophisticated writing competencies that can be expected of lawyers as they progress through their careers.

Hat tip to Professor Linda Berger.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How our brains assess risk and possible lessons for more effective advocacy

Here's a very interesting NYT's editorial that discusses the work of University of Oregon psychology Professor Paul Slovic, an expert on how humans assess risk in connection with decision-making.  Although the editorial is directed at Congress's tepid efforts to address global warning, the author argues this may have as much to do with our brain's wiring as Beltway politics (and if you haven't read the latest predictions on climate change - be afraid, be very afraid).

As Professor Slovic notes, evolution has conditioned the brain to respond to immediate threats - like poisonous snakes and spiders - but distant, more abstract harm (like global warming), not so much:  

If you come across a garter snake, nearly all of your brain will light up with activity as you process the 'threat.'  Yet if somebody tells you that carbon emissions will eventually destroy Earth as we know it, only the small part of the brain that focuses on the future — a portion of the prefrontal cortex — will glimmer.

'We humans do strange things, perhaps because vestiges of our ancient brain still guide us in the modern world, notes [Professor] Slovic.

Harvard psychology Professor Daniel Gilbert also weighs in on the human ability to assess more abstract, future harm:

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July 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: "Putting it All Together: Law Schools' Role in Improving Appellate Practice"

This one comes to us from Professor Coleen Barger's former student and protege Stella J. Phillips (they grow up so fast, don't they?) and is available at 31 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 135 (2008).  Here's the abstract for Putting it All Together: Law Schools' Role in Improving Appellate Practice:

[T]he pressure of clients' expectations and filing deadlines often leads lawyers to become careless when preparing their briefs careless in their adherence to court rules, in writing style and tone, and in the brief's overall presentation. ... Family law classes also highlight the requests spouses commonly make when seeking a divorce child support, alimony, property division and issues that may arise during the proceedings that could prevent an appealable order. ... Rulings on summary-judgment motions or post-trial motions may lead to orders that seem somewhat different than a judgment on the merits of a civil or criminal case. ... By teaching students about the pitfalls they

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July 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

promotions for legal writing professors

This spring, Danielle Shelton and Lisa Penland, both legal writing professors at Drake University Law School, were promoted to the rank of Professor of Law.

Nancy Oliver, at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, has been promoted to the position of Associate Dean for Curriculum and Student Affairs at her school.  She served as the Interim Associate Dean this past year.

And legal writing program director David Romantz, at the University of Memphis School of Law, will now serve as that law school's Associate Dean.

Congratulations one and all!

(spl)

July 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)