Saturday, July 18, 2009

live blogging from ALWD Conference: Experiential Learning

At the ALWD Conference taking place this weekend at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Crist Maria Crist (Dayton) is presenting on experiential learning. The components of experiential learning are that learner are willing to be actively involved, able to reflect on the experience, possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize their experience, and possess decision-making and problem-solving skills to use the new ideas they've gained (David Kolb, 2001). Maria reminded the group of the three big influences in legal education: the MacCrate Report (1992) (skills and values); Best Practices (2007) (context-based); Carnegie (2007) (apprenticeships: analytical, practical, and ethical). Carnegie concepts are what’s being picked up by the practicing bar.

Carnegie recommendations to law schools include the following:

  • Offer an “integrated curriculum”: curriculum should look at doctrine; introduce facets of practice; explore professional identity
  • Join “lawyering,” professionalism, and legal analysis “from the start” (usually interpreted as during the first year)
  • Make better use of the 2d and 3d years of law school: more externships, developing areas of specialization
  • Support faculty to work across the curriculum (“doctrinal faculty should go slumming in the skills area”)
  • Design program so that students and faculty “weave together disparate kinds of knowledge and skill”
  • Recognize a common purpose and work together, within and across institutions

 Responses to a recent AmLaw Daily post by Paul Lippe reveal the views of the practicing bar about curricular reform. Practitioners suggest things such as:

  • Accelerated curriculum: one year of case method; one year clinic; a year of externship
  • More practice orientation in teaching (including greater use of adjunct faculty)
  • Better use of technology to connects, practitioners, clients
  • A more empirical approach to practice, deeper inquiry
  • Moving back to mission-centered management
  • Lifetime of orientation for skills development for students and alums

Professor Crist and participants explored several ideas, some for the first-year curriculum, others for upper-level courses. First-years will benefit from seeing a context for the new skill sets they are learning. For example, in the first year, have students investigate, gather facts; set up a live-client interview; following the open memo, bring in a mediator to lead students in mediation of parties’ positions; create more realistic simulations and role play: using “case files” and actors; provide opportunities for students to analyze and reflect on their performance; develop more collaborations with the practicing bar (e.g., TWEN guest); coordinate with legal-aid groups to provide legal research (e.g., gathering info for manuals, pamphlets; updating existing manuals); explore ways to work with in-house clinics; take field trips to  the courthouse (with preparatory and/or follow-up activities, so that students will not just be passive observers).

Ideas for expanding experiential learning in the upper-level curriculum include encouragement of participation in externships and clinics; monitoring practitioners' subject-area blogs for current hot-button issues and practitioners to partner with; incorporating focused research and writing tasks: e.g., the e-mail request (a quick assignment; “the partner wants an e-mail bulletin for the client, something we can put on our website, new developments in the law of X”).

(cmb)

July 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Continuing the Silver Anniversary Celebration of the Legal Writing Institute: Another LWI History Video

Here is another video from Karin Mika in the series of videos that is documenting the history of the Legal Writing Institute.  Click here to read more about that project (and to see another video in this series).  In the video link we are sharing today, Ralph Brill, Mary Lawrence, and Marjorie Rombauer share memories about the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research, and about the early days of teaching Legal Writing. Click on the video below or go directly to You Tube by clicking on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0DAtYC8GoE

:Enjoy the video!


Hat tip to Karin Mika

(mew)

July 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 17, 2009

the ALWD conference plenary

SuniThe ALWD conference started in earnest this morning with a warm greeting from UMKC School of Law dean, Ellen Suni, who once upon a time was a legal writing program director.  Her comments were right on the mark, and she definitely had cred with this group. 

In the plenary session that followed, four legal writing program directors, with different amounts of years of experience, gave Tales of Development in LRW Told by Pioneers and Newcomers Kirsten Davis spoke about creating criteria for tenure that honors what LRW professors actually do.  Lisa Eichhorn explained her school's felicitous transition from an adjunct taught program to one taught by full-time legal writing faculty.  Suzanne Rowe, a model of patience, described the great progress her program has made over a decade, by moving "poco a poco."  And Marilyn Water spoke about the importance of having an English Ph.D. writing specialist participate in her program as it progressed.  They definitely primed the pump for the break out sessions that followed!

(spl)

July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

One more time, with feeling: "Teaching with Technology: Is the pedagogical Fulcrum Shifting?"

The New York Law School faculty is on fire this week.  This article is by Professor Camille Broussard and can be found at 53 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 903 (2008/09).  From the introduction:


Technology continues to change the way we teach law, practice law, perform legal research, and provide library services to the legal community. Technological innovation in the twenty-first century is incredibly fast-paced, and each new generation of tools is often heralded as the one that will have great and lasting pedagogical impact on law schools. Will the new generation of applications and social media tools, popularly referred to as Web 2.0, finally provide the first real impetus in many generations for law schools to change the way the J.D. curriculum is designed and delivered? It is quite possible that these applications will not only be incorporated into the existing curriculum, but, more significantly, they may indeed become the foundation of a new teaching and learning environment.

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July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert part II: "The Decline and Fall of the Dominant Paradigm: Trustworthiness of Case Reports in the Digital Age"

This one also comes to us from a New York Law School professor - this time Professor William Mills - and can be found at 53 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 917 (2008/09).  From the introduction:

It is axiomatic that our American common law, based in the principle of precedent and the rule of stare decisis, relies on accurate case reports published in authentic sources. But when citing American court opinions as legal authority, authors, for the past century or more, have given little thought to the accuracy of the case reports or the authenticity of the sources wherein the reports were found. This remains true in the digital age, when authors doing research are increasingly likely to have relied on the Internet as their primary or sole source of case law.

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July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scholarship alert: "Podcasts, PowerPoint, and Pedagogy: Using Technology to Teach the Part-Time Student"

By Professor Joyce Saltalamachia of New York Law School and published at 53 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 893 (2008/09).  From the abstract:

This essay will explore the use of various types of technology in order to assist part-time first-year law students in a required core course. The technologies employed included audio, visual, and web-based products, and each item was designed to be used both in-class and for out-of-class review purposes. In the two classes involved in the study, nearly all the students were employed full-time and attended law school in the evenings after work, and all had limited time for class preparation and exam study. The survey results at the end of this essay demonstrate that these students overwhelmingly utilized the additional technological tools and considered them valuable resources for their legal education.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl) 

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July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

supervising upper-division student writing

 AndreaMcArdle Andrea McArdle (CUNY) is leading a discussion about the ABA upper-level writing standard, 302(a)(3), requiring "at least one . . . rigorous writing experience after the first year." Andrea referred to extensive data from the 2007 ALWD/LWI Survey of Legal Writing, which contained a "hot topic" section querying about schools' upper-level writing offerings, structure, staffing, and administration (see survey pages 72-79).

What are law schools doing now?

  • What kinds of upper-level offerings meet or count toward the requirement?

Scholarly writing seems to be the most prevalent or popular. In some schools, litigation or transactional drafting courses meet, or partially meet, the requirement.

  • Who is teaching the courses that provide these writing experiences?

There's quite a mix in terms of who is teaching--doctrinal faculty, legal writing faculty, adjuncts. Non-legal-writing faculty predominates. Surprisingly, a couple of schools actually bar legal writing faculty from teaching such courses, requiring that they be taught only by tenured and tenure-track faculty (clearly at schools that do not offer the tenure track to the legal writing professors).

What should the law schools be doing?

  • Prescribe more specific form and content?
  • Develop more process criteria?
  • Should LRW faculty assume a greater role?
  • What are the implications for LRW faculty's workload? job status?
  • Can we expect more or greater collaboration among LRW, clinical, and doctrinal faculty?

Participants' discussion raised a number of issues: e.g., doctrinal faculty's erroneous assumption that scholarly papers are taught in the first-year legal writing curriculum; many schools' automatic interpretation of the ABA standard that a seminar paper would satisfy the requirement, rather than writing "in a legal context," which would include a much broader range of assignments; using the language of Interpretation 302-1 to develop enforceable curricular standards that mandate quality levels, as well as multiple drafts and face-to-face conferences, in order for seminar papers to satisfy the standard.

(cmb)

July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

liveblogging from ALWD conference

In a breakout session led by Anthony Niedwiecki (Nova), Anthony-bioparticipants are discussing ways to build relationships with faculty and administration. Session attendees are discussing ways they are improving their visibility and educating faculty colleagues about the legal writing programs.

Committee membership is a key strategy, including in particular, serving on the faculty appointments committee when the school plans to hire a new leg al writing professor, using data from the annual ALWD/LWI survey to share information with other faculty members about national trends and developments.

Some schools are asking candidates for legal writing positions to do legal-writing topical job talks to the faculty as a whole, whether in addition to doing a more traditional presentation or instead of it. Many doctrinal faculty are unaware of the existence of legal writing scholarship as a discipline, and this can be a good way to raise their awareness.

Another asks candidates to teach a legal-writing "class" to the faculty. Others point out,however, that faculty members do not make particularly good "students" and are resistant to being engaged by the presenter. (Of course, some actual students are not particularly good students, either! If a candidate can connect with the faculty, he or she may show real promise for the classroom.)

Another key strategy is  to find -- and use -- your allies in the doctrinal faculty, those professors who prize good writing, who are the products of strong legal writing programs, who empathize with your challenges, who will champion your program (particularly valuable if you cannot do so, for political reasons).

(cmb)

July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

ALWD conference under way!

Alwd%20copy The bi-iennial conference of the Association of Legal Writing Directors started this afternoon, at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law.  The ALWD Board of Directors and officers met for over two hours to take care of organization business.  And then a lively reception followed for all conference attendees.  (One not-to-be-named colleague enjoyed an inadvertent detour to Kansas City, Kansas, instead of Kansas City, Missouri, but he did find the reception on time.)  After an initial greeting by Professor Wanda Temm (who has done an excellent job overseeing all the conference preparations), ALWD President Judy Stinson remarked on the 25th anniversary of our sister organization, the Legal Writing Institute, and the 10th anniversary of the ALWD Citation Manual.  LWI's Vice President, Ken Chestek, took note of the tip of the hat to LWI.  Then Judy introduced ALWD's founder and first president, Jan Levine.  In turn, Jan provided some historical context for the citation manual and introduced Dean Darby Dickerson, the manual's primary author.  Darby used the occasion to note how far out on many limbs many people ventured to create the citation manual, encouragaing all of us to take risks when opportunities present themselves.

We'll post more news from the conference tomorrow, as time allows.

(spl)

July 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More advice to pass along to your students about how to find a law job

The job market for lawyers is terrible so our students need every bit of advice we can give them.  A place to start is the The Legal Blog Watch which has compiled advice from several sources here.

Harvard Law School is advising students to consider casting a wider net by exploring jobs in second cities such as Baltimore or Richmond, Va., if they're interested in Washington D.C., or Milwaukee or St. Louis if they want to work in Chicago.

Other schools are taking a different approach to helping students. The Long Island Business Newsreports that Hofstra Law School is teaming up with Nassau County Bar Association to sponsor a series of speakers who can help students find jobs. One recent speaker was Ari Kaplan, author of "The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career through Creative Networking and Business Development." Kaplan encourages students to be aggressive in building relationships and creative in finding common connections.

One way to do that is to set up Google alerts. Searching on a contact’s name will bring up media announcements, blog posts, Tweets and press releases, revealing what is going on in their personal and professional lives.For instance, Kaplan said he is running a 5-kilometer race in Hudson, N.Y., next week and someone he met would know that if they set up an alert in his name. That person could then potentially send him an e-mail wishing him luck. That e-mail is something Kaplan said he would remember.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One BigLaw firm announces no OCI this fall and no summer program next year

National firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius just announced that it will not be conducting any on-campus interviews this fall and thus has cancelled next year's summer associate program due to lack of work.  

You can read the rest of the story here.

Hat tip to the Blog of the Legal Times.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kindle law books go for a higher price

KindleDX The amazing reading hardware from Amazon, Kindle, has begun to make some legal publications available to subscribers. But not for the same kind of discount that its other e-books deliver to readers. According to a July 10, 2009, story from the Wall Street Journal, while Kindle ordinarily significantly discounts an e-book from its hardcover price (e.g., discounting a popular work of fictions some 63%), its knock-down from the notoriously high prices of law books will be more in the neighborhood of 20%. WSJ quotes a source who sees "practical reasons to believe that the digital market may well be more profitable for publishers of legal, medical and educational texts." Why? Because they are already marked up so much? Because consumers of such texts (especially students) have little choice in the matter, having to purchase texts required for a course?

(cmb)

July 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS call for scholarly papers

Top_logo Just a reminder, the deadline is August 15, 2009, to submit a paper to the AALS call for scholarly papers.  Legal writing professors don't generally submit papers, but as the saying goes, "you have to be in it to win it."  There's certainly nothing prohibiting LRW faculty from submitting papers, and it would be excellent if a writing prof did win.  Note that the submission requirements are not exactly painless; 8 hard copies are required, in addition to an e-mailed copy, so you can't wait until midnight on August 15th.  More details are at http://www.aals.org/events_am2010.php.

(spl)

July 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Georgia Supreme Court to decide if lawn mower is motor vehicle

Attention all LRW profs - this case has got "good hypo material" written all over it.  After all, a lawn mower, like a car, has an engine, four wheels, brakes and a throttle. 

The question is being raised in the context of an appeal by a criminal defendant who was convicted of felony motor vehicle theft for stealing a riding mower from Home Depot. 

'The term 'motor vehicle' is not crystal,' [the defendant's attorney] told the judges. 'There is no universal or definitive meaning for motor vehicle.'

Instead, he said state law defines a vehicle as a device which can transport people or property on a highway. Since the riding lawnmower was never driven on a road during the theft, it shouldn't be considered a vehicle, he argued.

Prosecutors counter that the vague vehicle definition cuts both ways.

Georgia law also defines a motor vehicle as a 'self-propelled' device -- and there's no doubt that the riding lawn mower is self-propelled, said Scott Helton, an assistant district attorney.

He said defense attorneys are pushing an unrealistic definition of what a vehicle is.

After all, a NASCAR race car isn't designed to roam city streets or transport people and property from one place to another. But if the car was stolen, Helton said, there's little doubt the suspect would be charged with stealing a motor vehicle.

I just knew a NASCAR reference would somehow wind up in this case.

Hat tip to Law.com

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl) 

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July 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Salary gap widens between law grads headed for BigLaw and everyone else

So reported the online ABA Journal recently.  Here are the details:

A survey of the class of 2008 shows 23 percent of the graduates made $160,000, the amount the big law firms paid to newly minted associates, according to a press release by the National Association for Law Placement. But 42 percent earned between $40,000 and $65,000.

When the figures are placed on a graph, there are two peaks, one for those in the lower range and one for the higher range.

'Prior to 2000, starting salaries for new law school graduates were distributed along a more recognizable bell-shaped curve,' NALP says in the press release. 'Since that time, the peak on the right has marched steadily to the right while the peak on the left has remained more or less stationary.'

What's the solution?  Probably not more law schools.  Especially given this news

You can read the rest of the ABA Journal article here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professor Sarah Ricks interviewed by Politifact.com re: Sotomayor's role in Ricci decision

Rutgers professor Sarah Ricks gave an online interview last Friday to the website Politifact.com offering balance to political pundit Anne Coulter's criticism of Sotomayor's role in the Second Circuit's handling of the Ricci case, recently overturned by SCOTUS.

Ms.Coulter claims that the Second Circuit's unsigned opinion in Ricci was a "sneaky" way for Sotomayor to toss the political hot potato out of court.  "Not so" said Professor Ricks.

'Generally, an 'unsigned' opinion means the opinion was issued per curiam, meaning no one judge took credit for authoring the opinion, but it represents the opinion of the court,' Sarah Ricks, a law professor at Rutgers University who has analyzed types of judicial opinions, wrote us in an e-mail interview.

Ricks added that 'it is not unusual for a federal appellate court to issue a per curiam opinion; even the Supreme Court very occasionally issues a per curiam opinion. ... A per curiam opinion does not preclude separate opinions by members of the court but it does represent the reasoning for the judgment of the court.'

Read the whole story, including former UNLV law prof Carl Tobias' commentary, right here.

I am the scholarship dude (chillin' in Las Vegas for the summer).

(jbl)

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July 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Justice Ginsburg discusses the importance of a woman's perspective on the Supreme Court

In a Q & A in today's magazine section of the NYT's, Justice Ginsburg talks about the importance of having women on the SCOTUS both in terms of public perception and influence on decision-making.  Her remarks were made in the context of a discussion about the pending Sotomayer nomination.

As an example, Justice Ginsburg opined that certain discrimination cases might be decided differently if the gender composition of the Court were to change.  With respect to the public's perception of the Court, the Justice had this to say:

My basic concern about being [the only woman on the Court] was the public got the wrong perception of the court. It just doesn’t look right in the year 2009.

You can read the whole interview - in which Justice Ginsburg also talks about the recent New Haven firefighters' case - here

For those who've been keeping score at home, the NYT's spelled the Justice's name correctly this time.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ward Churchill gets "zip" - Judge throws out jury verdict

In the event you haven't already heard, in a case we've been following for months that arguably tested the limits of academic freedom (at least according to the plaintiff), the Colorado trial judge that presided over the Ward Churchill case has thrown out the $1.00 jury verdict in Churchill's favor on the grounds that the defendants were immune from suit.  It follows that the judge also rejected Churchill's request to be reinstated as a tenured professor in CU's ethnic studies department.

'I conclude that reinstating Professor Churchill would entangle the judiciary excessively in matters that are more appropriate for academic professionals,' Judge Naves wrote.

In briefs and hearings leading up to his decision, Judge Naves said, he received credible evidence that Mr. Churchill's reinstatement would 'create the perception in the broader academic community that the Department of Ethnic Studies tolerates research misconduct.' Such a perception, the judge said, will very likely make it harder for the department to attract and retain new faculty members. 'In addition,' he wrote, 'this negative perception has great potential to hinder students graduating from the Department of Ethnic Studies in their efforts to obtain placement in graduate programs.'

Churchill's attorney said he will appeal.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

And you thought you knew Haiku . . . .

By way of explanation for our loyal blog readers who are not legal writing profs, a couple of times each year - usually around grading season - a few LRW profs post haikus on the Legal Writing Institute listserv.  Others complain that it's "OT," the posts stop and then a few months later the cycle repeats like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  As for myself, I like Kaiju.  Haiku?  Not so much.

But for those aficionados of said Japanese poetry, here's an excerpt from the May 7th volume of the Harvard Gazette that sets the record straight on what is, and what is not, haiku:

'Today it is widely and incorrectly believed that all 17-syllable poems are haiku, and by extension must include natural or seasonal imagery,' says [Adam Kern, Harvard Professor of Japanese Literature]. 'In fact, haiku is just one of numerous modes that makeup a broader tradition of 17-syllable poetry. This tradition, known as haikai, encompasses a range of subjects, such as the erotic bareka.'  There are 30 poetic modes within the haikai genre, all based on the 17-syllable structure. Their form and subject matter, however, can vary significantly.

You can read the rest of the Professor Kern's discourse on Haiku by clicking here and scrolling to page 8.

A big 'ol tip of the hat to legal research authority extraordinaire Chris Wren.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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July 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)