Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law - Business Law Professor Position

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law seeks highly-qualified candidates for a tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment to begin in Fall 2020. The principal responsibility of this faculty member will be to teach business law related courses, including Business Associations, U.C.C. Survey, and Contracts. All faculty are also expected to teach our first-year Lawyering course on a rotating basis, and all faculty are expected to teach in both the day and evening programs on a rotating basis.

CUNY SCHOOL OF LAW: "LAW IN THE SERVICE OF HUMAN NEEDS"

CUNY School of Law is a national leader in progressive legal education: we are ranked first in the country for public interest law and third in the county for clinical programs, and we are one of the most diverse law schools in the nation.

Our mission at CUNY School of Law is two-fold: training public interest attorneys to practice law in the service of human needs; and providing access to the profession for members of historically underrepresented communities. The Law School advances that mission though an innovative curriculum that brings together the highest caliber of clinical training with traditional doctrinal legal education to train lawyers prepared to serve the public interest. The basic premise of the law school's program is that theory and abstract knowledge cannot be separated from practice, practical skill, professional experience and the social, cultural, and economic context of law. The curriculum therefore integrates practical experience, professional responsibility, and lawyering skills with doctrinal study at every level.

QUALIFICATIONS

 Successful candidates will have:

a)      J.D., L.LB., or Ph.D in a law-related discipline;

b)      admission to law practice;

c)      social justice lawyering experience;

d)      a demonstrated commitment to the mission of CUNY School of Law;

e)      availability and willingness to teach in the day and evening programs on a rotating basis;

f)       availability and willingness to teach the first-year Lawyering course on a rotating basis (experience teaching legal writing preferred);

g)      commitment to scholarly engagement (established scholarly record preferred);

(a)   a demonstrated commitment to excellent teaching (ability to teach in both a classroom and clinical setting preferred); and

(b)   demonstrated success as a faculty member, including the ability to collaborate with others and share responsibility for committee and department assignments.

COMPENSATION

CUNY offers faculty a competitive compensation and benefits package covering health insurance, pension and retirement benefits, paid parental leave, and savings programs. We also provide mentoring and support for research, scholarship, and publication as part of our commitment to ongoing faculty professional development.

HOW TO APPLY

Interested candidates should apply at www.cuny.edu by accessing the employment page, logging in or creating a new user account, and searching for this vacancy using the Job ID (20886) or Title (Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor of Law) then selecting "Apply Now" and providing the requested information. (Link at : 
https://cuny.jobs/queens-ny/assistant-associate-or-full-professor-of-law/07654EF690374350BED697DD5EBAE1F4/job/)

The application requires a CV/resume and a cover letter, indicating the position to which you are applying.

August 20, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporations, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Is Boycotting a Bust?

     Last week, I led a “legal hack” for some of the first year students during orientation. Each participating professor spoke for ten minutes on a topic of our choice and then answered questions for ten minutes. I picked business and human rights, my passion. I titled my brief lecture, “Are you using a product made by slaves, and if you are, can you do anything about it”?

     In my ten minutes, I introduced the problem of global slavery; touched on the false and deceptive trade practices  litigation levied against companies; described the role of shareholder activists and socially responsible investors in pressuring companies to clean up supply chains; raised doubts about the effectiveness of some of the disclosure regimes in the US, EU, and Australia; questioned the efficacy of conscious consumerism; and mentioned blockchain as a potential tool for provenance of goods. Yes. In ten minutes. 

     During the actual hack later in the afternoon, I had a bit more time to flesh out the problem. I developed a case study around the Rana Plaza disaster in which a building collapse in Bangladesh killed over 1,000 garment workers six years ago. Students brainstormed solutions to the problems I posed with the help of upperclassmen as student facilitators and community stakeholders with subject matter expertise. At the end of the two-hour brainstorming session, the students presented their solutions to me.  

     We delved deeper into my subject matter as I asked my student hackers to play one of four roles: a US CEO of a company with a well-publicized CSR policy deciding whether to stay in Bangladesh or source from a country with a better human rights record; a US Presidential candidate commenting on both a potential binding treaty on business and human rights and a proposed federal mandatory due diligence regime in supply chains; a trade union representative in Bangladesh prioritizing recommendations and demands to EU and US companies; and a social media influencer with over 100 million followers who intended to use his platform to help an NGO raise awareness.

     This exercise was identical to an exercise I did in March in Pakistan with 100 business leaders, students, lawyers, government officials, and members of civil society as part of an ABA Rule of Law Initiative. The only difference was that I asked Pakistanis to represent the Bangladesh government and I asked the US students to represent a political candidate. 

     In both Pakistan and Miami, the participants had to view the labor issues in the supply chain from a multistakeholder perspective. Interestingly, in both Pakistan and Miami, the participants playing the social media influencer rejected the idea of a boycott. Even though multiple groups played this role in both places, each group believed that seeking a boycott of companies that used unsafe Bangladeshi factories would cause more harm than good. 

     Of note, the Miami Law students did their hack during the call for a boycott of Soul Cycle due to Steve Ross’ decision to hold a fundraiser for President Trump. In my unscientific poll, three out of three students who patronized Soul Cycle refused to boycott. When it came to the fictionalized case study, all groups raised concerns that a boycott could hurt garment workers in Bangladesh and retail workers in the US and EU. Some considered a “buycott” to support brands with stronger human rights records. 

     I’ve written before about my skepticism about long term boycotts, especially those led by millennials. Some of these same students echoed my concerns about their own lack of sustained commitment on proposed boycotts in the past. The “winning” hack- #DoBetterBangladesh was a multipronged strategy to educate consumers, adopt best practices of successful campaigns such as the Imokalee

farm workers, and form acoalition with other influencers to encourage consumer donations to reputable NGOs in Bangladesh. After seeing what these student groups could do in just two hours, I can’t wait to see what they can accomplish after three years of law school. 

August 16, 2019 in Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Human Rights, International Business, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, Shareholders, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Business Law Professor Jobs - Posted in 2019-20

This is my fifth year compiling a list of open business law professor positions in law schools and other settings (mostly business schools).

See the 2018-19, 2017-18, 2016-17, 2015-16 (law schools; business schools), and 2014-15 (law schools, business schools) lists to get a sense of what the market for business law professors has looked like over the past few years.

I will likely update this list from time to time; feel free to e-mail me with additions. Updated 9/30/19.

Law School Professor Positions – Business Area Identified

  1. American University (business law program director)
  2. Chicago-Kent
  3. City University of New York (CUNY)
  4. Emory University 
  5. Northeastern University
  6. Ohio State University
  7. Pennsylvania State University
  8. Samford University
  9. Southern Illinois University
  10. Suffolk University (transaction legal clinic)
  11. University of Akron
  12. University of California-Davis (transaction legal clinic)
  13. University of Cincinnati
  14. University of Dayton
  15. University of Kansas
  16. University of Kentucky
  17. University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
  18. University of Memphis
  19. University of Nebraska
  20. University of Richmond
  21. University of Wisconsin
  22. Vanderbilt University
  23. Washington University (St. Louis)
  24. Wayne State University

Legal Studies Professor Positions (Mostly Business Schools)

  1. Boise State University
  2. California State University-Los Angeles (real estate law focus)
  3. California State University-Northridge
  4. Christopher Newport University
  5. Hagerstown Community College
  6. Indiana University (possibly multiple positions)
  7. Ithaca College (full-time, non-tenure track)
  8. Morgan State University
  9. Sam Houston State University (2 positions)
  10. Sierra College (Community College)
  11. St. Bonaventure University (spring 2020 start)
  12. Temple University
  13. Texas State University
  14. Tulane University (visiting lecturer, full-time, non-tenure track)
  15. University of Georgia
  16. University of North-Texas (full-time, non-tenure track)
  17. U.S. Air Force Academy (visiting professor)
  18. Wake Forest University (full-time, non-tenure track)
  19. Wenzhou-Kean University (China)

August 14, 2019 in Business Associations, Business School, Corporations, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of 1L Orientation at Creighton University School of Law, which meant it was really my first day of school as a dean, too. I've been on the job for a month, but summer school has a very different feel.  This morning I also dropped my son off for this first day of high school.  (And my daughter starts 6th grade tomorrow.) It's a lot of firsts in our new city, at our new schools, and it's exciting. And perhaps a little intimidating. I am sure it was for our 1Ls, just like it was back when I started law school.  And I was about to turn 30.

There's lots of good advice for new law students our there (here, for example), so I focused my brief welcome to our new 1Ls on introducing myself and laying out my expectations for all of us.  This is obviously specific to Creighton Law, though I think and hope it is true at a lot of other places, too. I didn't actually write out a speech, but here's the gist: 

First, I let our new students know that we’re in this together. I chose to be here, and so did they. We all had options, and this is where we chose to be. I wanted to mark that so that we can remember why, when things get tough, we're here in the first place. The reason is at least slightly different for all of us, but we made the same choice. 

Next, I wanted them to know this: I have your back.  I have told the same thing to our faculty and staff, too.  That doesn't mean I can always say yes, but it does mean that I will work to see you, hear you, and help you.  

I also made clear that I would not ignore the past, but I will work to make sure we do not relive it, either. Our institution (like many others) has faced many challenges, internally and externally. We have a path forward and a group of people committed to our students.  I also wanted to make sure that they knew that even when, as a faculty, some of us disagree with each other, we all agree that our students come first. 

I then talked about how I plan to help us move forward: by building a foundation based on trust, faith, and hope. Trust in each other. Faith in our institution and values, spiritual and otherwise. And hope that working together, we can build a better, and more just, future for everyone. I noted that a key thing about faith and trust, is that they are personal choices. No one can give them to others. We can be trustworthy, which I will work to do. And we can support others in their faith.  But we each chose whether to trust and have faith.  By choosing to do this job, I am putting a lot of trust and faith into this institution and its people, and I hope others will do the same. 

Finally, I told our students what I need them to know:

You are a remarkable group. Every one of you belongs here, or you wouldn’t be here. We expect you to succeed, and we will help you succeed. I ask you to do everything you can to be all in. Be open and committed to what you are doing. This is a lot of work if you do it right, and it’s a lot of fun, too.

Good wishes to all of you in whatever your new beginnings may be. It's going to be a heck of a year. 

August 14, 2019 in Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Lawyering | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, August 12, 2019

More on Personal Finance

In college, I majored in business administration with a concentration in finance, but I learned next to nothing about personal finance. Thankfully, my father provided some advice, and I did a bit of reading on the subject before I graduated law school. But I am still learning, and have dug deeper this summer.

More universities should instruct their students on matters of personal finance. As I mentioned a few months ago, I spoke on personal finance for a group of students at my university last school year,  and I hope to bring Joey Elsakr to speak at my university this school year. Joey is a graduate student and is the co-founder of the blog Money and Megabytes.

Last week, Joey graciously invited me to guest post on his blog. As I mention in the post, I don’t think I have that much to add to his many useful and detailed posts on personal finance, but I do think personal finance gets a lot more difficult after you have a family (namely because there are so many more non-financial factors to weigh in most financial decisions). I pose some of those difficult questions in the linked post below, and I welcome any thoughts on those questions from our readers.

Here is my guest post.

August 12, 2019 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Law School, Pre-Law, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 2, 2019

How (Not) To Teach an (Online) Transactional Drafting Course

Later today, the students in my nine-week online Transactional Lawyering: Drafting and Negotiating Contracts Course will breathe a sigh of relief. They will submit their final contracts, and their work will be done. They can now start reading for their Fall classes knowing that they have completed the work for their required writing credit. My work, on the other hand, won’t end for quite a while. Although this post will discuss teaching an online course, much of my advice would work for a live, in person class as well.

If you’ve ever taught a transactional drafting course, you know that’s a lot of work. You are in a seemingly never ending cycle of developing engaging content, teaching the material, answering questions, reviewing drafts, and grading the final product. Like any writing course, you’re in constant editing and feedback mode with the students.

If you’ve ever taught an online course, you know how much work it can be. I taught asynchronously, meaning I uploaded materials and the students had a specific time within which to complete assignments, typically one week or more. Fortunately, I had help from the University of Miami’s instructional design team, otherwise, I would likely have been a disaster. They provided me with a template for each module, which forced me to really think through the objectives for each class session, not just the course as a whole. In my traditional courses I have learning objectives, but I have never gone into so much detail either in my head or in writing about what I wanted the student to get out of each individual class.

Teaching a drafting course online was much more work than I expected, but I can’t wait to do it again. If you’re thinking about it, learn from my travails and triumphs. First, here are my suggested “Do’s”:

  1. Find a way to build community: I wanted to ensure that students felt connected to me. I scripted a welcome video and the instructional design team filmed and edited it. This way students saw my face. I wanted the students to see each other as well, so I required them to film a 2-minute introductory video of themselves and upload it so that students could “see” their classmates. Students then commented on their peers’ videos welcoming them to the class. I did short videos for most of the modules, but these did not always show my face. No video was more than 10 minutes long because apparently today’s students can’t pay attention for too much longer than that.
  2. Have students work in groups (at first): I divided the 16 students into 4 law firms based in part on what I saw in their videos. I wanted some diversity of gender, race, and experience in the groups. Students drafted a law firm agreement outlining how they would interact with each other, meet deadlines, and resolve disputes. They also picked a firm name and managing partner. They assessed themselves and each other as group members based on criteria that I provided. The group work minimized the amount of feedback that I had to provide. As a group, they drafted the law firm agreement, a client engagement letter, and worked on a short contract. Some assignments were graded and some were ungraded. The group work counted for 10% of the grade.  This percentage wasn’t enough of the grade to cause panic, and the team assessment ensured that they didn’t slack off and benefit from their peers’ hard work.
  3. Mix it up: For each class, I had students review a presentation on Echo 360. Often, they answered questions that I posed in the presentation or did exercises from Tina Stark’s contract drafting book. On other occasions, they posted responses to prompts on the discussion boards and commented (constructively) on other responses, citing the rule or principle that buttressed their position.
  4. Make them keep track of their time and do a bill: Every lawyer hates tracking time, but it’s a necessity. I tell the students that they’ll thank me later. Each student, even on group assignments had to track their time and turn in a bill. This helped me gauge how the groups and students compared to each other. I also knew which student worked on which parts of the contracts.
  5. Let them negotiate:  After the group work portion of the course ended,the students negotiated the terms of their final contract using a set of secret facts. I required them to develop and turn in a negotiation strategy using materials and videos that I put together. Armed with their BATNAs, WATNAs, and ZOPAs, I told them to spend no more than one hour negotiating. I required them to film their negotiations, upload them, and send them to me. They then worked on individual term sheets (for a grade). After the negotiations ended and I had received all term sheets, I released the secret facts and had the students assess themselves and their opposing counsel on their negotiation skills and tactics. I also provided feedback to each student on their negotiation performance and term sheets.
  6. Require them to communicate with the client:I required a 1-2 page client cover memo or email for almost every assignment focusing on tone, language, use of legalese, etc. In my comments, I explained the importance of this type of legal writing and of tailoring the language to different types of business clients. When they worked on NDAs, I reminded that them that client may never actually read the contract, so they needed to ensure that the cover memo was sufficiently detailed to provide material information without being overwhelming.
  7. Make them teachThey say that when you teach, you learn twice. I required the each student to develop a 5-7 minute video on an assigned topic. Each student “presented” to either a group of lay/business people or a group of junior associates attending a CLE. They then had to write a blog post of  between 750-1000 words. I required students to watch each other’s videos and comment as either a business person or a junior lawyer. This provided a review of the class for the viewers. This assignment counted for 10% of the grade, but as an extra incentive to take the assignment seriously, the student with the “best” video received an extra week to turn in the joint final contract, meaning that the opposing counsel also benefitted. FYI, I was generally blown away by the videos.
  8. Allow them to use precedents and then instruct them on the limitations: Many of the students had never seen an NDA, and I allowed them to use precedents. Most were surprised by how many comments I had on their final products, especially since many of the precedents came from big firms. This was a valuable lesson for them on precision and the dangers of blind cutting and pasting.
  9. Make them redline and draft a contract with opposing counsel:The final assignment required them to draft a contract based on their negotiated terms. They soon realized that they had to do additional negotiation because some of the terms did not make sense once they started to memorialize them.
  10. Have office hours and use video conferencing:I practically had to beg the students to have office hours with me. They had no problem emailing with questions, but generally didn’t utilize my office hours, which were incredibly flexible. I offered online and in person hours, but only two students met with me during the semester outside of the live mandatory office hours. I had a mandatory live grading session by video to discuss their NDAs, their upcoming negotiations, and any questions they had about the course. During that live grading session, I acted as a partner in their law firm and then stepped into professor role.

What didn’t work as well? As you can imagine, to do the job correctly, I had a LOT of work to do. I clearly gave too much work over a nine-week period, because I know much work I had to do to give them feedback. I just wanted them to be armed with the skills they will need in the real world, but I overdid it. And this meant that sometimes I did not meet my own deadlines for getting feedback to them. Truthfully, I imposed some of that burden on myself. I offered students the chance to turn in drafts of almost every assignment for feedback. About 25-30 percent of the students took me up on that offer, but every week, I emailed all of the students with tips to improve based on the trends that I saw. In retrospect, I would give fewer assignments over a longer period of time, and would better utilize the discussion boards to foster that sense of live class discussion.

After all of that, I’m gearing up to do it again for the Fall, this time over a 15-week period. Even though I will have more time, both I and the students will have other classes. I’m also teaching business associations and legal writing, and the students will have their own classes, jobs, law reviews, and extracurricular activities to contend with.

If you have any questions or tips, leave them below or email me at mweldon@law.miami.edu. I plan to learn more about course development at the University of Denver hybrid/online learning conference on September 26th. I’ll update this post after that conference. In the meantime, this weekend, I’ll be retooling my syllabus based on my summer experience and what I’ve learned this week at SEALS. Correction, I’ll retool in between grading the joint contracts.

August 2, 2019 in Contracts, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Negotiation, Teaching, Technology | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Bar Exam: It Doesn't Define You, But Be Relentless

I made a similar post on social media last night, but with the first bar exam of my time as a law school dean beginning this morning, I thought I post those thoughts here.  To this taking this bar exam (and any future bar exam): 

You have worked hard, now is the time for you to show what you know. I wish you success. As you get ready to sit for the exam, your preparation is done. But there are still things you can do to improve your odds. Here’s what I ask you to do when you take the #BarExam:

*Be thorough.* Answer every question, written and multiple choice. Leave nothing blank. Give yourself a chance.

*Be focused.* Pay attention to time. Don’t spend twenty-five minutes on one multiple choice question or fail to get to an essay. Spend no more than your allotted time for each question, give an answer, and move on. Come back if you have time after everything else is answered.

*Be relentless.* If you make a mistake, do your best to work around it. If you don’t know something, give it your best guess and move on. Don’t give up. Don’t walk away. Don’t quit. You can do this.

And last, but not least, try to remember that this exam does not define you. The results don’t make you good or bad. This test is not who you are. It is is simply a result. It’s an important one, and it can impact you. But don’t ever let it define you.

My thoughts and good wishes are with you.

July 30, 2019 in Joshua P. Fershee, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 26, 2019

Sex, Lies, and M&A

I'm at the tail end of teaching my summer transactional lawyering course. Throughout the semester, I've focused my students on the importance of representations, warranties, covenants, conditions, materiality, and knowledge qualifiers. Today I came across an article from Practical Law Company that discussed the use of #MeToo representations in mergers and acquisitions agreements, and I plan to use it as a teaching tool next semester. According to the article, which is behind a firewall so I can't link to it, thirty-nine public merger agreements this year have had such clauses. This doesn't surprise me. Last year I spoke on a webinar regarding #MeToo and touched on the the corporate governance implications and the rise of these so-called "Harvey Weinstein" clauses. 

Generally, according to Practical Law Company, target companies in these agreements represent that: 1) no allegations of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct have been made against a group or class of employees at certain seniority levels; 2) no allegations have been made against  independent contractors; and 3) the company has not entered into any settlement agreements related to these kinds of allegations. The target would list exceptions on a disclosure schedule, presumably redacting the name of the accuser to preserve privacy. These agreements often have a look back,  typically between two and five years with five years being the most common. Interestingly, some agreements include a material adverse effect clause, which favor the target. 

Here's an example of a  representation related to "Labor Matters" from the June 9, 2019 agreement between Salesforce.com, Inc. and Tableau Software, Inc.

b) The Company and each Company Subsidiary are and have been since January 1, 2016 in compliance with all applicable Law respecting labor, employment, immigration, fair employment practices, terms and conditions of employment, workers' compensation, occupational safety, plant closings, mass layoffs, worker classification, sexual harassment, discrimination, exempt and non-exempt status, compensation and benefits, wages and hours and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, as amended, except where such non-compliance has not had, and would not reasonably be expected to have, individually or in the aggregate, a Company Material Adverse Effect.

c) To the Company's Knowledge, in the last five (5) years, (i) no allegations of sexual harassment have been made against any employee at the level of Vice President or above, and (ii) neither the Company nor any of the Company Subsidiaries have entered into any settlement agreements related to allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct by any employee at the level of Vice President or above.

The agreement has the following relevant definitions:

"Knowledge" will be deemed to be, as the case may be, the actual knowledge of (a) the individuals set forth on Section 1.1(a) of the Parent Disclosure Letter with respect to Parent or Purchaser or (b) the individuals set forth on Section 1.1(a) of the Company Disclosure Letter with respect to the Company, in each case after reasonable inquiry of those employees of such Party and its Subsidiaries who would reasonably be expected to have actual knowledge of the matter in question.

Even though I like the idea of these reps. in theory, I have some concerns.  First, I hate to be nitpicky, but after two decades of practicing employment law on the defense side, I have some questions. What's the definition of "sexual misconduct"? What happens of the company handbook or policies do not define "sexual misconduct"? The Salesforce.com agreement did not define it. So how does the target know what to disclose? Next, how should an agreement define "sexual harassment"? What if the allegation would not pass muster under Title VII or even under  a more flexible, more generous definition in an employee handbook? When I was in house and drafting policies, a lot of crude behavior could be "harassment" even if it wouldn't survive the pleading requirements for a motion to dismiss. Does a company have to disclose an allegation of harassment that's not legally cognizable? And what about the definition of "allegation"? The Salesforce.com agreement did not define this either. Is it an allegation that has been reported through proper channels? Does the target have to go back to all of the executives' current and former managers and HR personnel as a part of due diligence to make sure there were no allegations that were not investigated or reported through proper channels? What if there were rumors? What if there was a conclusively false allegation (it's rare, but I've seen it)? What if the allegation could not be proved through a thorough, best in class investigation? How does the target disclose that without impugning the reputation of the accused? 

Second, I'm not sure why independent contractors would even be included in these representations because they're not the employees of the company. If an independent contractor harassed one of the target's employees, that independent contractor shouldn't even be an issue in a representation because s/he should not be on the premises. Moreover,  the contractor, and not the target company, should be paying any settlement. I acknowledge that a company is responsible for protecting its employees from harassment, including from contractors and vendors. But a company that pays the settlement should ensure that the harasser/contractor can't come near the worksite or employees ever again. If that's the case, why the need for a representation about the contractors? Third, companies often settle for nuisance value or to avoid the cost of litigation even when the investigation results are inconclusive or sometimes before an investigation has ended. How does the company explain that in due diligence? How much detail does the target disclose? Finally, what happens if the company legally destroyed documents as part of an established and enforced document retention and destruction process? Does that excuse disclosure even if someone might have a vague memory of some unfounded allegation five years ago?

But maybe I protest too much. Given the definition of "knowledge" above, in-house and outside counsel for target companies will have to ask a lot more and a lot tougher questions. On the other hand, given the lack of clarity around some of the key terms such as "allegations," "harassment," and "misconduct," I expect there to be some litigation around these #MeToo representations in the future. I'll see if my Fall students can do a better job of crafting definitions than the BigLaw counsel did. 

July 26, 2019 in Compliance, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, Current Affairs, Employment Law, Ethics, Law School, Lawyering, Litigation, M&A, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Leading from Where We Are - Women's Leadership in Legal Academia

WomensLeadership2019(IMG_1193)

Last Thursday and Friday, I had the honor and pleasure of joining a large group of women interested in law school leadership at the second annual Women's Leadership in Legal Academia conference.  The two days provided many opportunities for education and inspiration. Four of my UT Law colleagues started off the conference with a workshop focused on microaggressions.  My mini-workshop entitled "Leading from Where We Are" (picture above taken by fellow BLPB blogger Colleen Baker, who attended the session) followed.

The workshop extended my thoughts on leadership as a concept distinct from titles--thoughts I had touched on in an earlier blog post for the Leading as Lawyers blog. It also offered me the chance to describe an optimal organizational structure, with leaders at every key juncture.  In introducing my panelists, I noted leadership attributes that I had observed in each and told a related/relevant story about our relationship.  Then, we offered for discussion two hypothetical situations in which a faculty member is challenged to lead.  In each case, we started with small group work and followed through with a report-out to the "committee of the whole."  One of the hypotheticals involved a (potential) misunderstanding between the dean and the faculty, and the other related to a traumatic incident involving one or more students from one of your classes.  The small group discussions yielded excellent thoughts for consideration in the larger group forum.

Among the observations?  I will highlight just two here.  First, that the way a faculty member handles a potentially divisive situation involving the dean and the faculty may depend on the dean's leadership style (dictatorial or collaborative, e.g.) and the level of mutual trust between the dean and the faculty.  Also, in exploring the various ways in which a faculty member might address traumatic events known to the public (e.g., fires and floods) and those that are more private (e.g., a student death under unusual circumstances), we identified different levels of faculty comfort in addressing trauma in the classroom.  There was especial discomfort in addressing individual, personal trauma.

Colleen or I may have more to say about the conference in future posts.  I was thrilled with the creative energy generated by this panel.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share and learn.  What's more, organizing the session enabled me to reconnect with four fabulous leaders in legal academia and to meet many more.  A total "win" for me.

July 21, 2019 in Colleen Baker, Conferences, Joan Heminway, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

New Dean v. New Professor: Which Is Better?

I have been a dean for two days.  So, obviously, I have it all figured out.  (That's very much a joke). 

My sample size is small, but it seemed like a good time for me to take a shot at comparing what it's like to be a new dean versus what it's like to be a new professor. Admittedly, I am working hard to remember what it was like to be a professor in his first two days. I have the benefit of hindsight with that, while my life as dean is very much real time.  But hey, it's a blog, so I will give it a try. 

  • As a new professor, I was worried (very worried) that I did not know everything about the subject matter and that it would be obvious. As a new dean, I expect that others don't expect me to know everything, and if they do, I know they're wrong.    
  • As a new professor, I wanted everyone to like me.  As a new dean, I'd still appreciate that.  But I don't need it, and I don't expect it, and I know it is impossible. (It's impossible as a professor, too, by the way, if you do your job, but you can get closer to 100%.).  
  • As a new professor, my goals were largely personal. They were aligned with my institution, but they were about my goals. Promotion. Tenure. Publication. Citation.  As a new dean, my goals are far more institutional. Bar passage. Jobs for students. Faculty opportunity. A high-quality and inclusive workplace. 
  • As a new professor, I was hopeful. I wanted to have an impact on students, policy, and our future. As new dean, I am hopeful.  And I want the same things, too. My role is very different, by my goal is the same. 

Short list, I suppose, but those are the comparisons the stick out to me.  

I don't have any expectation that being a new dean is any easier than being a new professor. But one thing I learned as a new professor was that I need to be myself.  As a new dean, I will make mistakes, just as I did as a new professor. I hope not to, but that's not how the world works.  And it's not how learning works. Learning involves testing, trying, failing, and seeking solutions.  

What's next? I will work to be myself. That's one advantage I have.  When I started as a professor, I thought maybe I should be like other professors, and I worked to be "a professor."  Dumb.  I want to make sure any mistakes I make are mine and not me trying to be something I am not. I am not trying to be a dean. I just am one.  If nothing else, I hope that will make it easier for people to forgive mistakes.  

To my new professor and new dean colleagues, good luck.  Let's try to be ourselves and show our students and faculty and staff colleagues that genuineness has value. Because it does. It combines well with hard work, too.  

 

July 16, 2019 in Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Advice for the New Business Law Prof – Part III: Defining Your Role

My colleagues started this series off well with Part I and Part II in the series, and I will try to build on their thoughts. There are so many decisions to make when you get started, including what book to use, what style you will use in the classroom, and what form or forms of assessment you will use.  To start, I will echo Joan Heminway's advice because I think it is so critical: First, be yourself. 

It's easy to to think of teachers you liked and think you need to teach like them to be effective. While we can all learn a lot from our best teachers, if you look closely, I think you'll find that the thing best ones have in common (in addition to being prepared) is that they are true to themselves. That is not to say that every person is the same in classroom as they are outside.  Some people need to be actors -- they take on a persona when they hit the classroom.  Others wear their hearts on their sleeves. Others are clinical, and still others are relaxed and casual. 

You may not know immediately your full style or classroom voice, but in my experience you know pretty quickly what isn't your thing. My advice is to make sure you don't stick with something you know doesn't feel even a little bit right for you.  You can experiment and push yourself to try new things, and you should. Just don't continue down a path that makes you feel like you're going the wrong way. Your students will feel it, too. Every time. 

As for assessment, you'll need to decide: Will you use one big final exam? Will you have a participation grade?  How about writing assignments or exercises? Will your exam be open book or closed book?  There are lots of options, and none are inherently right or wrong, though some may be better than others, especially for you and/or your school.  Here are some guidelines I use in deciding what to do: 

(1) If there is a manageable way to incorporate more writing in to the class, do it.  That might mean graded assignments, but it might mean in-class writing where students exchange their thoughts and compare it against a model or example answer.  It might mean multiple small papers or a series of blog posts.  The more students write, the better they will get at is.  And it doesn't have to mean you will be grading 5 papers from 50 students in a semester. As long as their is some accountability -- that is, someone other than the student will read it -- I have found it valuable. Asking students to write for and assess themselves has value, too, but in my experience the participation rate for those assignments tends to be lower and with less commitment for many students. 

(2) If you're not sure what to choose, or you're agnostic, find out what your colleagues tend to do, and do something different.  For example, many of my colleagues have used open-book exams, so I chose to give a closed-book exam for Business Organizations.  This gives students a different experience, which I think is valuable.  If all my colleagues gave closed-book exams, I'd probably give an open-book one.  I have done both types, by the way, and both are fine, though I prefer the output I get from closed-book exams. Students tend to write what they know instead of searching for the "perfect" answer in the book. If no one gives take-home exams, maybe consider that (though I hated those as a student and I don't like them as a teacher, your mileage may vary).  Different assessment styles provide one way to give students an experience they need as professionals to work with different partners or judges or clients. Not every experience is the same, and the best lawyers are adaptable. 

(3) Whatever you choose for any of these things, be intentional.  Do it for a reason that is more than that's what my professor did or that's what people do here.  You may choose a path for both reasons, but make sure you have considered other options and then made a conscious decision to follow that path. Be honest and open with yourself about why you chose that path. It will give you some comfort in your decision, as well as make it easier to see why you might want to change course in the future if your goals are not being met. 

(4) Be open with your students about what you are doing.  For me, that means explaining my thought process and why my rules are as they are.  My students know why, for example, I am giving a closed-book exam, do or do not use participation points, will or will not be flexible on deadlines, or why they may not want to tell me the reason they are missing class. Note that this works even for professors who are notoriously Socratic and won't answer much of anything directly.  For the good ones, it is at least clear what they will not do.  That said, for me, it's important to be as clear as possible about the what and the why.  Here is an example: in my energy law seminar, I tend to be flexible with deadlines (within reason) on due dates for drafts and papers, especially with advance notice. This is because the dates are somewhat arbitrary and designed as guidelines so I can provide feedback and students have time to internalize and incorporate my feedback. So, my students know that. But when I taught first-year legal writing, deadlines were absolute (or nearly so) with penalties up to including a failing grade for being one minute late.  Why?  One of my teaching goals there was to teach about severe and irrevocable deadlines that can be linked to court filings, statutes of limitation, and the like.  

Anyway, that's a little about how I approach things. Good luck, and don't forget to give yourself a break. As hard as we try, not everything will go perfectly. And sometimes what seemed like the right path was wrong. Or it just went poorly.  Try to figure out why, whether it was the idea, the execution, or an external factor, so you can decide whether to scrap it or just try again.  Even the best teachers are not perfect. But they are careful, committed, and intentional. Start there, and good things will tend to follow. 

June 18, 2019 in Joan Heminway, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Students and Personal Finance

Joey Elsakr, a PHD/MD student at Vanderbilt University, has teamed up with his roommate for a blog called Money & Megabytes. The blog covers personal finance and technology topics, which I think may be of interest to many of our readers and their students.

Last year, convinced that students need more guidance on personal finance, I gave a talk at Belmont University on the topic. Given the very limited advertising of the talk, I was surprised by the strong turnout. The students were quite engaged, and some simple personal finance topics seemed to be news to many of them. I plan on asking Joey to join me in giving a similar talk next year.

One post that I would like to draw our readers' attention to is Joey's recent post on his monthly income/expenses. You can read the entire post here, but here are a few takeaways: 

  • Know Where Your Money Goes. How many students (or professors!) actually have a firm grasp on where they are spending money? While creating a spreadsheet like Joey's could be time consuming, the information gained can be really helpful (and just recording the information -- down to your nail clippers purchase! -- probably makes you more careful). Bank of America users can create something similar, very quickly, using their free My Portfolio tab. 
  • Power of Roommates: Many of my students complain of the high rent prices in Nashville. Some have even said "it is impossible to find a decent place for under $1000/mo." Joey pays $600/mo, in a prime location near Vanderbilt, in a nice building, because he has two roommates. Also, because he has roommates, Joey only pays a third of the typical utilities. Now, if you have the wrong roommates, this could be problematic, but having roommates not only helps save you money but also helps work those dispute resolution skills. 
  • Charitable Giving. I am inspired that Joey, a grad student, devotes a sizable portion of his income to charitable giving. Great example for all of us. 
  • Multiple Forms of Income. Even though Joey is a dual-degree graduate student at Vanderbilt and training to make the Olympic Trials in the Marathon -- he ran collegiately at Duke University -- Joey has at least four different streams of income. Other than his graduate stipend, his other three streams of income appear to be very flexible, which is probably necessary given his schedule. This income may seem pretty minor, but it adds up over the year, and it gives him less time to spend money. 
  • Food Budget. This is an area where I think a lot of students and professors could save a good bit of money. My wife and I have started tracking our expenses more closely and the food category is the one where we have made the most savings -- thank you ALDI's. A lot of the food expenses are mindless purchases---for me, coffee and snacks from the Corner Court near my office---and those expenses add up quickly over the month. 

Follow Joey's blog. Even though I consider myself fairly well-versed on personal finance topics, Joey recently convinced me that a savings account is the wrong place to house my emergency fund. And I agree with Joey's post here -- paying attention to personal finance can actually be a fun challenge. Joey's blog also introduced me to The Frugal Professor, though I am not sure I am ready to take the cell phone plunge quite yet.   

May 29, 2019 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Law School, Pre-Law, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Summer of Change and a Grading Update

I'll start with the exciting news that my Business Organizations students were 48 for 48 in recognizing that LLCs are not corporations.  In fact, a number of my students specifically referred to "LLCs (NOT corporations) ..." in their exams. It's nice to be heard.  I believe that's at least three years in a row without such a mistake, and maybe longer. I have evidence, at least on this issue, repetition is effective.  

As for this summer, it is going to be an interesting one.  I have now finished grading my last classes as a part of West Virginia Univerity College of Law. As some readers may know, I have accepted the opportunity to join Creighton University School of Law as the next dean.  (For those wondering, my wife Kendra will be joining the Creighton Law faculty, as well, where, as was true at WVU, she will teach family law as a full professor.) After Kendra's run for Congress ended, she told me it was "my turn," and that I should pursue my goals.  I don't think either of us expected such a big change so quickly.  

Long before all of this became a reality, and after the campaign, we planned a family vacation to Europe for a month, so we'll be doing that with the kids -- Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, and Greece.  Buying and selling a house, moving across the country, and starting new jobs (and new schools for the kids) will all be part of the mix, too, but hey, what's life without some adventure?  

The fact that we're willing to leave should tell people just how much we believe in this opportunity. We have an absolutely incredible life already, with dear friends, amazing students, and a community of supportive and caring people.  (Not to mention an absolutely gorgeous location.) And yet we're moving.  I have high hopes and high expectations -- both for me and for my new institution.  It's worth stating clearly that we have loved West Virginia and we have had incredible opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. I want people to know that we are not so much leaving West Virginia as we are going to Creighton, a possibility I wouldn't have without my time here at WVU.

I very much appreciate that, and because of all we have learned and experienced, new adventures await.  

May 28, 2019 in Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, LLCs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Managing Compliance Across Borders Conference at the University of Miami- June 26-28

 

 

 

Join me in Miami, June 26-28.

 

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Managing Compliance Across Borders

June 26-28, 2019

Managing Compliance Across Borders is a program for world-wide compliance, risk and audit professionals to discuss current developments and hot topics (e.g. cybersecurity, data protection, privacy, data analytics, regulation, FCPA and more) affecting compliance practice in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. Learn more

See a Snapshot: Who Will Be There?
You will have extensive networking opportunities with high-level compliance professionals and access to panel discussions with major firms, banks, government offices and corporations, including:

  • BRF Brazil
  • Carnival Corporation
  • Central Bank of Brazil
  • Endeavor
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Ingram Micro
  • Jones Day
  • Kaufman Rossin
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Laureate Education, Inc.

 

  • MasterCard Worldwide
  • MDO Partners
  • Olin Corporation
  • PwC
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises
  • Tech Data
  • The SEC
  • TracFone Wireless
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • Univision
  • UPS
  • XO Logistics
  • Zenith Source

 

Location
Donna E. Shalala Student Center
1330 Miller Drive
Miami, FL 33146

 

CLE Credit
Upwards of 10 general CLE credits in ethics and technology applied for with The Florida Bar

 

Program Fee: $2,500 $1,750 until June 1 
Use promo code “MCAB2019” for discount 

Non-profit and Miami Law Alumni discounts are available, please contact:
Hakim A. Lakhdar, Director of Professional Legal Programs, for details

Learn More: Visit the website for updated speaker information, schedule and topic details.

This program is designed and presented in collaboration with our partner in Switzerland

University of St. Gallen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 10, 2019 in Compliance, Conferences, Corporate Governance, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Financial Markets, International Business, Law Firms, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Can Lawyers and Law Students Be (More) Effective Working and Learning Virtually?

I blogged two weeks ago about whether we were teaching law students the wrong things, the wrong way, or both. I’ve been thinking about that as I design my asynchronous summer course on transactional lawyering while grading asset and stock purchase agreements drafted by the students in my spring advanced transactional course. I taught the spring students face to face, had them work in groups, required them to do a a negotiation either in person or online, and am grading them on both individual and group work as well as class participation. When I looked at drafts of their APAs and SPAs last week, I often reminded the students to go back to old PowerPoints or the reading because it seemed as though they missed certain concepts or maybe I went through them too quickly— I’m sure they did all of the reading (ha!).  Now, while designing my online course, I’m trying to marry the best of the in person processes with some of the flipped classroom techniques that worked (and tweaking what didn’t).

Unlike many naysayers, I have no doubt that students and lawyers can learn and work remotely. For the past nine years, I have participated as a mentor in LawWithoutWalls, a mostly virtual experiential learning program started by University of Miami professor Michele DeStefano. Also known as LWOW, the program matches students from around the world with business people and practicing lawyers to develop a project of worth over sixteen weeks. Team members meet in January in person and never see each other in person again until April during a competition that is judged by venture capitalists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and academics. I mentored a team of students from Bucerius in Germany, Wharton in Pennsylvania, and the University of Miami. Banking behemoth HSBC sponsored our project and staffed it with lawyers from Singapore, Canada, and the UK. Other mentors on the team hailed from Spain and the UK. On any given week, 7-10 people joined Skype calls, chatted in WhatsApp, drafted on Google Docs, and accessed Slack. They attended mandatory webinars weekly via Adobe Connect on developing business plans, pitching to VCs, and working with clients. Seventy percent of the people on the seventeen teams spoke languages other than English as the first language. 

How did this virtual experience work? Extremely well, in my view. After some growing pains, students adjusted quickly as did the business partners, who are used to setting up conference calls and working across borders. Some of the winning teams developed projects that provided virtual reality training on implicit bias for police officers; informed consumers about food freshness to combat food waste; and organized health information for foster care children on a blockchain-powered platform. Humble brag- my team won best overall project by developing a solution to use blockchain and smart contracts in syndicated lending that has the potential to save the bank almost 2 million per year. I also mentored last year’s winner, Team Spotify, with students from Miami, Colombia, and Chile and lawyers housed in Sweden, California, and New York. Each year, teams do almost all of this hard work remotely, across time zones, and with language differences. Students collectively interview hundreds of subject matter experts over 16 weeks, and the vast majority of those interviews take place via phone or video and with people in different countries. Other sponsors for LWOW included Accenture, White and Case, Pinsent Mason, Microsoft,  Cozen O'Connor, LegalZoom, Eversheds Sutherland, LatAm Airlines, and Legal Mosaic-- all companies and law firms that see the benefit of these skill sets.  Significantly, every year, a cohort of teams does all of the work virtually, never meeting in person for a kickoff. That virtual team winner competes in person with the traditional teams each April, and often wins the whole competition. Clearly, these students develop special skills by necessity. I plan to learn from those experiences as I design my course.

My experience with LawWithoutWalls and as a former compliance officer (where we often did training online and via video) makes me optimistic about online learning and working. In my summer course, I will have students work in groups, where they will use the latest virtual teaming tools. I will have live office hours via Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime, and I will require that some of the groups do their meetings via video as well to have a connection outside of email. Students will draft and edit on community bulletin boards. They will post their own video presentations and "webinars" geared toward fictitious business clients. Working collaboratively and creatively are key skills in the real world, and they will be key in my class. 

But there is a lot of resistance in both the legal community and academia regarding the online world. Last week, I attended a seminar at a law firm and met a member of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. I asked his opinion on the state of students and young lawyers. I was particularly interested in his thoughts because he’s also a partner at a large law firm in our state. Like some quoted in my prior post, he believes that online coursework is a poor substitute for face to face learning. He further opined that when people don’t work in offices, they miss the camaraderie of being around peers and their work suffers. These are valid concerns. Many lawyers are unhappy in general, and the way people hide behind digital devices (even when in the same room/office) can lead to isolation, depression, and poor networking and social skills. 

But these drawbacks should not doom online learning and remote working. Most of my graduating 3Ls will take their bar prep courses online. They claim that it makes no sense to drive to campus “just to watch a video of a professor speaking.” They also like the idea of being able to rewind videos to take notes. The indicated that they will meet up with friends when they want to study together and may even come on campus to watch their online coursework for a sense of community. But significantly, they don’t see the need to learn in the traditional ways. Personally, I love good online courses but I also love the ability to have face to face interaction with teammates- even if that’s via video. Being in the same physical space also allows for chance interactions that can lead to enriching conversations. On the other hand, sometimes there's no choice. Many readers may remember that years ago, in harder economic times, companies cancelled non essential business travel and people got used to video meetings. Many employers now interview candidates by Skype first before bringing them in. Learning and working virtually is no longer a novelty. Some of our students  will work in co-working spaces for firms or companies where everyone works from home. 

Change is coming and in many places, already here. Law professors must prepare students to practice in this new world while not sacrificing pedagogical gains. This requires training on project management and effective communication with team members— all non-substantive topics and that will give many people pause. We also need to make sure that students know how to communicate with clients and employers face to face in business and social settings. Some professors will say- correctly- that they have enough to contend with making sure students understand the law and can pass the bar. But, for those of us interested in online learning, we need to do more. We have to make sure that we prepare students for both the "hard" and "soft" skills.  Most important, we need to make sure that these online courses have the rigor of traditional classes-- US News is watching.

I’m open to suggestions of what has worked for you and what hasn’t so please feel free to comment below or email me at mweldon@law.miami.edu.

May 3, 2019 in Current Affairs, Jobs, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Negotiation, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, April 19, 2019

Are We Teaching Law Students The Wrong Things, The Wrong Way, or Both?

It's that time of year again. Many states have released February 2019  bar passage rates. Thankfully, the rates have risen in some places, but they are still at suboptimal levels. Indeed, the July 2018 MBE results sunk to a 34- year low. A recent article on law.com lists some well-known statistics and theories, explaining, in part:

Kellye Testy, president of the Law School Admission Council . . .  suspects the falling pass rates are the results of a combination of factors, the most obvious being the lower credentials of incoming students. The declining quality of public education—meaning an erosion of the reading and writing foundations children develop in elementary and high schools—may also be a contributor, she said. Moreover, the evolving way that law is taught may explain why today’s law graduates are struggling more on the bar exam, said Testy, whose organization develops the LSAT. Professors now put less emphasis on memorizing rules, and have backed off on some of the high-pressure tactics—like the Socratic method—that historically dominated the classroom. “The way we used to teach wasn’t as good for caring for the student, but it made sure you could take a closed-book exam,” she said. “You knew the doctrine. It was much more like a bar exam, in some ways. Today, when you go into a classroom, it’s all PowerPoint. The teachers give them an outline, the students are on computers. There’s a different student approach and a different faculty approach.” The fact that so many law graduates now take bar preparation courses online rather than in person is another avenue worth examining for a potential correlation to falling pass rates, said Judith Gundersen, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. “You used to have to go to a lecture and show up every day,” she said. “Now so much of it is online. People are wondering whether that’s changing how people prepare, because there just isn’t that communal aspect where, ‘I have to prepare in case I get called on.’”

I'm not sure how I feel about these assertions. I agree that many students lack some of the key critical thinking and writing skills needed to analyze legal problems. I also see far fewer professors using the strict Socratic method and more allowing computers in class. I allow computers for specific activities but not throughout the class. I also employ more of a modified Socratic method, use powerpoint, and often post it in advance with questions for students to answer prior to class so that we can spend time in class applying what the students have learned. Am I doing a disservice to my students with a flipped classroom? Do we need to go back to rote memorization and cold calling students for the bar passage rates to rise? And if so, will that make our students better lawyers?

I remember how difficult it was to take the Florida bar after three years of law practice in New York. The rote memorization helped me pass the bar exam while working a full time job and caring for an infant as a single mother. But it didn't make me a better lawyer. Having worked for three years, I remember slogging through bar study thinking that what I was learning in bar prep had little to do with what I actually did in practice. When I prepared for the New York and New Jersey bars, I went to classes live but some were in a classroom via video. I'm not even sure that purely online courses were an option back in 1992. When I moved to Florida and studied for that bar, I used tapes in my car (yes, it was 1996). I had tried the live courses for a few days and realized that my time was better spent reciting the rules of evidence to my son in lieu of nursery rhymes. I passed three bars using two different methods but I wonder how well I would have done with an online version, the way most students study for the bar now. 

I no longer teach courses tested on the bar, but when I did, I had the perpetual conflict-- how do I make sure that the students pass the bar while instilling them with the knowledge and skills they will actually need in the real world? I see now how some of my transactional lawyering students dread going to the bar prep classes offered during the semester. But they also consider these classes a necessity to pass the bar even through they will engage in full time bar prep upon graduation. Does the proliferation of these law school bar prep classes mean that the doctrinal professors aren't teaching the students the way we learned? Or does it mean that that the students are no longer learning the way we did? I don't have the answers. 

But these articles do have an effect on how and what I teach. Under ABA Standard 306,  law schools can offer up to one-third of their credits online, including up to ten credits for first-year coursework. As I prepare to teach my contract drafting and negotiation class asynchronously online for the first time this summer, I'm learning about presenting information in short, digestible chunks for the students- no more than 15-20 minutes per video, and preferably even shorter, I'm told. I'm also reviewing the conflicting evidence about whether online courses are a help or a hindrance.

Some of my students have taken many courses online as undergraduates. As a compliance officer, I required employees to take courses online and did live training. Personally, I like taking online courses. But I don't know enough about how well students retain the information and how well they learn to use key skills to serve clients. I'm fortunate, though, to have excellent instructional designers working with me who understand adult learning much better than I do. I'm convinced that more students will seek online courses and more schools will adopt them as a way of earning more revenue through developing programs for working professionals and JD students who need more flexible schedules. This means many more of us may need to prepare for this new way of teaching and learning.

April 19, 2019 in Current Affairs, Law School, Lawyering, Licensing, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Petition to Create AALS Section Community Economic Development

My friend and colleague, Priya Baskaran, asked me to post the following, which I am happy to do: 

Over the past year, a critical mass of law school faculty and staff have expressed interest in establishing an AALS Section on Community Economic Development (CED). The proposed section will provide a dynamic, collaborative environment to enhance the scholarship, activism, and direct legal work of CED-focused faculty and professional staff. Notably, the section will help bridge existing gaps between various actors in the CED universe by increasing opportunities for networking and enabling greater synergy and collaboration between scholars and experts in various substantive subjects and disciplines related to CED. Interested faculty and professional staff are invited to read the full petition.

I think this is a great idea, and I will be signing the petition (here).  I have been working with an interdisciplinary group on my campus, WVU Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization (CIGRU). We are a multidisciplinary group of researchers who are experts in science, engineering, environmental, policy, law, and finance. The CIGRU conducts research and services relevant to gas, oil, and chemicals. Our experimental research includes broad areas covering catalysis, reaction engineering, material science, power generation, and gas turbine. The CIGRU undertakes U.S. government- and industry-funded research projects developing clean and renewable energy technologies. Our services include air emission control, regulatory and policy, law and finance relevant to shale gas.

I have been leading CIGRU's Economic and Community Development Group for the past few years.  About 18 months ago, CIGRU earned a five-year seed grant awarded by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, under its Research Challenge Grant program. The WVU gas utilization team includes eight CIGRU researchers, working in partnership with Marshall University, the WVU Energy Institute, the WVU Bureau for Business and Economic Research, the West Virginia Chemical Alliance Zone, Morgantown’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center. So, this idea resonates with me. I think this is a great idea, and it has my support. If you agree, I hope you'll sign on, too.  

For anyone interested, CIRGUs grant announcement and a description of the program are available after the jump. 

Continue reading

April 16, 2019 in Conferences, Current Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Service | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Why Businesses Should Not Ignore the Operation Varsity Blues Scandal

As a former compliance officer who is now an academic, I've been obsessed with the $25 million Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. Compliance officers are always looking for titillating stories for training and illustration purposes, and this one has it all-- bribery, Hollywood stars, a BigLaw partner, Instagram influencers, and big name schools. Over fifty people face charges or have already pled guilty, and the fallout will continue for some time. We've seen bribery in the university setting before but those cases concerned recruitment of actual athletes. 

Although Operation Varsity Blues concerns elite colleges, it provides a wake up call for all universities and an even better cautionary tale for businesses of all types that think of  bribery as something that happens overseas. As former Justice Department compliance counsel, Hui Chen, wrote, "bribery. . .  is not an act confined by geographies. Like most frauds, it is a product of motive, opportunity, and rationalization. Where there are power and benefits to be traded, there would be bribes." 

My former colleague and a rising star in the compliance world, AP Capaldo, has some great insights on the scandal in this podcast. I recommend that you listen to it, but if you don't have time, here are some questions that she would ask if doing a post mortem at the named universities. With some tweaks, compliance officers, legal counsel, and auditors for all businesses should consider: 

1) What kind of training does our staff receive? How often?

2) Does it address the issues that are likely to occur in our industry?

3) When was the last time we spot checked these areas for compliance ? In the context of the universities, were these scholarships or set asides within the scope of routine audits or any other internal controls or reviews?

4) What factors or aspects of the culture could contribute to a scandal like this? What are our red flags and blind spots? Do we have a cultural permissiveness that could lead to this? In the context of the implicated universities, who knew or had reason to know?

5) How can we do a values-based analysis? Do we need to rethink our values or put some teeth behind them?

6) How are our resources deployed?

7) Do we have fundamental gaps in our compliance program implementation? Are we too focused on one area or another?

8) Are integrity and hallmarks of compliant behavior part of our selection/hiring process?

Capaldo recommends that universities tap into their internal resources of law and ethics professors who can staff  multidisciplinary task forces to craft programs and curate cultures to ensure measurable improvements in compliance and a decrease in misconduct. I agree. I would add that as members of the law and business community and as alums of universities, we should ask our alma maters or employers whether they have considered these and other hard questions. Finally, as law and business professors, we should use this scandal in both the classroom and the faculty lounge to reinforce the importance of ethics, internal controls, compliance with law, and shared values.

 

April 12, 2019 in Business School, Compliance, Corporate Governance, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Sports, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 1, 2019

Loyola University Chicago School of Law is seeking applications for Co-Director of the Business Law Clinic/ Executive Director of the Business Law Center

The Business Law Clinic (Clinic) is part of a comprehensive curriculum in transactional law that is comprised of the Clinic, the Business Law Center (Center) and certificate and degree conferring programs. The Clinic, established in 1999, offers students a unique opportunity to develop essential lawyering skills in a professional, interactive environment. Loyola seeks a dynamic Clinic Co-Director/Center Executive Director to work collaboratively with the Clinic Co-Director and the Director of the Business Law Center to provide strategic leadership, teach the Clinic class, supervise student work with clients, and to assist the Center Director in the development of the business and transactional law curriculum, scholarly conferences and programming.

The Co-Director/Executive Director will serve as the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Clinical Professor of Law that is a presumptively renewable long-term contract position with voting privileges within the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Loyola University Chicago School of Law is a student-focused law center inspired by the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, intellectual openness, and service to others. Our mission is to educate diverse, talented students to be responsible leaders in a rapidly changing, interdependent world, to prepare graduates who will be ethical advocates for justice and the rule of law, and to contribute to a deeper understanding of law and legal institutions through a commitment to research, scholarship and public service.

The Clinic is a focal point of student development of essential lawyering skills in a professional, interactive live-client environment. Students work under the direct supervision of the Co-Directors to represent entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as individuals who are seeking legal assistance with not-for-profit organizations. The not-for-profit clients represented by the Clinic include organizations that encompass animal welfare, sports clubs, museums, community organizations, religious organizations, etc. The for-profit clients are entrepreneurs, inventors, service providers, and web-based business owners who are involved in a variety of industries. The Clinic Co-Directors work collaboratively to provide supervision and professional oversight of the work completed by law student clinicians in addition to teaching the Clinic classroom component. Business Law Center The Center is the hub for School of Law’s curriculum, research and programming related to business and transactional law. The Center is led by a nationally and internationally renowned Director that is a full-time tenured faculty member along with other esteemed scholars in business law. The Center Director works in close collaboration with the Business Law Clinic to ensure that students have access to a full and wide breadth of educational opportunities and programs.

The Center is a part of larger initiatives across the University, the Quinlan School of Business and the Chicago community that seek to implement Loyola’s social justice mission as it relates to providing access to business ventures and initiatives to underserved and minority communities. The Center includes the Institute for Investor Protection, The Rooftops Project, the JD Certificate in Transactional Law, and the Master of Laws (LLM) in Business Law degree.

Position Essential Duties and Responsibilities: The duties and responsibilities of the Co-Director/Executive Director include, but are not limited to the following: Strategic planning for the future direction of the Clinic for continued growth and development; Serve as the external advocate and collaborator for the Clinic in its work with the Center, the Quinlan School of Business and other community partnerships; Assist in the administration of the Clinic and the development of the Center; Supervision of law students, summer interns, and fellows in skill development and client representation including supervising students in client meetings, drafting contracts and other legal documents, conducting legal research, determining client legal issues, and advising and counseling clients; Teach and assist in the development of curriculum as part of the classroom component for the Clinic, the Transactional Law Certificate and the LLM in Business Law; Mentor and act as faculty advisor to student members of the Business Law Society; Assist the Center Director in organizing conferences, workshops and seminars in business and transactional law; and Engaging in scholarly research (preferred but not required).

Qualifications: The candidate must have the ability to engage successfully and work collaboratively with a diverse group of stakeholders including the Clinic Co-Director, the Center Director, students, clients, administrators, and community members. Excellent judgment, including sensitivity to the needs of clients, cultural nuances and confidential information. A commitment to serving not-for-profit clients and underserved and minority communities. Experience as a clinician or former clinical teaching fellow in a business/transactional law clinic or as a lawyer with significant practice experience in business law. Ability to work independently with minimal supervision and as part of an interprofessional team. Demonstrated commitment to detail and a process-oriented approach to supervision of clinic work. Demonstrated ability to organize and manage conferences, workshops and seminars. Flexible work attitude, ability to work effectively in a fast-paced environment with a small staff and frequent student turnover (due to semester long courses and graduation). Bachelor's degree and a JD from an ABA accredited law school degree required. Admission/eligibility for admission to the Illinois Bar. Adept user of internet, case management systems, e-mail and other office automation systems.

Selection Process: Review of applications will begin March 1, 2019 and continue until the position is filled. The position will begin on July 1, 2019. Applicants are to submit (1) a letter of interest describing the candidate’s reasons for applying for the position, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) samples of scholarly or other written work if available, and (4) the names and contact information of three individuals prepared to provide professional references. Applications should be submitted through Loyola’s Careers website at https://www.careers.luc.edu/postings/10391. Inquiries should be directed to Professor Steven A. Ramirez, Director of Business Law Center, Loyola University Chicago, 25 E. Pearson, Chicago, IL, 60611, sramirez3@luc.edu.

Loyola University Chicago is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer with a strong commitment to hiring for our mission and diversifying our faculty. As a Jesuit Catholic institution of higher education, we seek candidates who will contribute to our strategic plan to deliver a Transformative Education in the Jesuit tradition. To learn more about LUC’s mission, candidates should consult our website at www.luc.edu/mission/. Applications from women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are especially encouraged and preference will be given to candidates who can mentor female law students and those from communities that are underrepresented in the legal profession. Candidates are encouraged to consult our website to gain a clearer understanding of Loyola's mission at www.luc.edu/mission/index.shtml and our focus on transformative education at www.luc.edu/transformativeed/.

March 1, 2019 in Clinical Education, Jobs, Law School, Lawyering, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Yoga and Law Schools

Yoga(Me&Jordan)

A bit over three years ago, I publicly noted in this space that I am an active yoga practitioner.  In a post on "Mindfulness and Legal Drafting for Business Lawyers (A Yoga Analogy)," I wrote about common touchpoints in an asana practice (what many folks just call "yoga") and contract drafting, sharing thoughts that had first come to me after a yoga class one weekend.  In my three-part 2017 series of "Traveling Business Law Prof" posts on packing for business travel, I also mentioned my asana practice here and here.

Today, I set out to start posting a bit more on the intersections of yoga and business law teaching and practice.  I will have help from BLPB co-blogger Colleen Baker, a fellow yogi.  In fact, it is Colleen who has spurred this on.  We have shared a bunch of ideas on things to write about.

I begin with the news that I now am a Registered Yoga Teacher with a 200-hour certification.  I set out to achieve that goal about 18 months ago, after a discussion (at the wedding of a former student) with the life partner of a UT Law alum who is about 30 years my junior.  She got me really excited about the prospect by mentioning an upcoming training program that she had investigated.  We became Facebook friends, and the rest is, as they say, history.  That's us in the picture above, on on graduation day.  (Please don't criticize the form!  My arms should be perpendicular to the floor.  We were having fun goofing around after passing our exams, as you can see from my attention to the camera!)

My desire to complete a teacher training program was borne in part from a desire to deepen my practice.  But the core impetus came from wanting to share yoga practice with others--in particular, my faculty and staff colleagues and students at UT Law.  The benefits I get from my yoga practice are substantial.  They include participation in a more active lifestyle, self care, stress management and relief, increased focus, and other things that I know are useful to those who inhabit law schools.  Of course, I understood that I could share my yoga practice with others without the teacher certification.  However, I knew that my credibility--with my Dean and others--would be greater with the 11 months of training capped off by a written and practical exam.

Somewhat less than three weeks ago, with permission from my Dean, I started leading a regular early Friday morning yoga practice at UT Law for faculty, staff, and students.  I lead the sessions free of charge.  We have had three sessions so far.  I move  some furniture around to create space for our regular sessions in a common area of the law school.  I also plan to lead some pop-up sessions from time to time (perhaps in other areas of the law school building or even outside once the weather improves) to reach folks who cannot make the early Friday classes.  My focus so far has been slow, controlled, thoughtful movement through basic poses (asanas) and breath work (pranayama)--two of the eight limbs of yoga.

I am far from the first person to engage folks in yoga practice in a law school setting.  I read with interest this article from several years ago on yoga instruction at my law alma mater (and how yoga practice can help develop professional skills).  A quick Google search reveals yoga recently being offered at Chicago and Columbia and having been offered in the past at Harvard and Marquette.  I sense there is more out there . . . .  I am sure that Colleen and Haskell have information about yoga in the business school setting, too.  I know our campus offers a Yoga Fest in the fall.  And I will be teaching two free classes to campus faculty at the request of the Faculty Senate over the next month.

In future posts, Colleen and I hope to cover other topics near and dear to business law profs and our friends, including potentially posts focusing on yoga and lawyers, lawyering, legal analysis, law firms, business, teaching, mental health, and injury prevention. (What am I missing from our conversation, Colleen?)  Readers should feel free to share their interests and add to the list.

February 11, 2019 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (4)