Dr James Hardy, one of the researchers, said: “It is possible that using a non-first person pronoun perspective helps performance because it allows the runner to adapt a thinking process that is more helpful for her/himself.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Lighting the Fires of Learning in Law School: Implementing ABA Standard 314 by Incorporating Effective Formative Assessment Techniques Across the Curriculum
The American Bar Association now requires law schools to incorporate formative assessment into the law school curriculum by providing feedback to students relating to course-specific learning goals before the end-of-semester exam. Peer reviews and self-evaluations are two powerful formative assessment techniques that faculty can use to meet the new ABA standards to assess the students’ learning outcomes while courses are ongoing, creating more effective learning environments within the classroom.
This article argues that peer reviews and self-evaluations can be successfully used across the law school curriculum to deepen student understanding, encourage student cooperation, and develop students’ abilities to be self-regulated learners in law school. We provide background on the power of formative assessment in general as a teaching and learning tool, and then move on to focus specifically on peer reviews and self-evaluations. The nature and essential components of these formative assessment tools in teaching and learning contexts are explained, with a discussion of research supporting their usefulness in enhancing learning across multiple educational contexts and disciplines. We provide examples of how both peer review and self-evaluation exercises have already been used in some courses and make specific suggestions regarding how these tools can be used across the law school curriculum as effective formative assessment tools, serving the goals of ABA Standard 314 without creating an undue burden on faculty even in large classes that rely primarily on a lecture or Socratic dialogue format. Finally, we conclude that incorporating formative assessment across the law school curriculum will benefit teachers and learners alike and suggest ways for law schools to create express incentives for faculty to develop and implement peer review and self-evaluation exercises across the curriculum.
Monday, July 15, 2019
Last year, I wrote a book that showed law professors how they could help their students succeed. This book turns that book around to show law students how they can use these techniques to succeed in law school
How to Succeed in Law School (2019).
My book differs from other similarly-titled books in that it draws on the latest in education research. In other words, it doesn't give students superficial advice, rather, it gives them the proven tools they need to succeed in law school.
"This book shows you what works, and, equally importantly, what doesn't work for succeeding in law school. It was written by an expert in legal education, who has taught at law schools for 15 years and who has written six books on legal education. The book begins by helping you develop a growth mindset and self-motivation. Then, it gives you study techniques that will help you learn efficiently and effectively, such as self-testing, interleaving, and spaced studying, as well as study techniques that are a waste of time. It explains how to read a legal text effectively and how to brief cases. It introduces you to the nuts and bolts of law school and gives you context for law school. It also explains wellness, which will help you survive the rigors of law school. Finally, it helps you become a self-regulated learner, which is important for doing well in law school and as a lawyer."
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Here's a new article by one of our favorite legal education scholars:
Fostering and Assessing Law Student Teamwork and Team Leadership Skills by Neil W. Hamilton.
Skills of teamwork and team leadership are foundational for many types of law practice, but how much instruction, supervised experience, assessment, and guided reflection on these two skills did each reader as a law student receive? Law schools’ formal curricula, in the author’s experience, historically have not given much attention to the development of these skills. There also has been little legal scholarship on how most effectively to foster law students’ growth toward later stages of teamwork and team leadership. Legal education must do better.
What is the next step for the 58 law schools that have adopted a learning outcome on teamwork or team leadership (plus those that will later adopt this type of outcome)? In Part II, this article outlines the next steps that competency-based education requires for a law school to implement a teamwork and team leadership learning outcome. In Part III, the article presents a stage development model for law student teamwork and team leadership skills. Part IV explains how to use the stage development model in the curriculum so that students can understand the entire range of stages of development of teamwork and team leadership. The students can then self-assess their own current stage of development, and faculty and staff and a student’s team members can use the model to observe and assess a student’s current stage of development and give feedback to help the student grow to the next stage. Reflecting on self-assessment, teamwork experiences, and others’ feedback, a student can create a written professional development plan to grow to the next stage of teamwork and team leadership and get coaching on the plan. The student can also assess the evidence the student has to demonstrate his or her level of development to potential employers.
Saturday, July 13, 2019
UConn School of Law develops new course to teach students how to use technology to solve legal problems
The course, called Technology and Law Practice (and taught as a seminar), was introduced this past spring to teach students how to use technology in a hands-on, practical way to solve real-life legal problems. During its inaugural offering, students developed technological solutions to help low income clients of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project as well as the school's own Animal Law Clinic. The online newspaper UConn Today has more details:
Professor Jessica de Perio Wittman, who taught the class this past spring, designed it to be a hands-on, practical experience. Over the course of the semester, one team of four students built an automated interview process for creating advanced health care directives on behalf of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, which will offer the service to its low-income clients. Another team of three students digitized the files of the Animal Law Clinic and adapted a computerized case management system to track the clinic’s animal abuse cases.
The students working on the health care directives faced the challenge of converting a 27-page paper questionnaire into an engaging interactive experience. The group, none of whom had programming experience, used cloud-based software called A2J to devise a one-hour process that generates a print-ready directive on end-of-life medical care.
In addition to mastering the software, they also had to ensure that the questions were understandable to people without legal training. “One of our biggest challenges with this was making sure all the questions were at a fifth-grade reading level,” said Ramy Esmail ’20 JD. “Stuff like that you don’t necessarily think of.”
Kathy Flaherty, the director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, said what the students were able to do was remarkable. “This will serve a need of our clients that we just hadn’t been able to adequately meet, with the size of our staff,” she said.
Along with the technology, the students gained valuable practice working as a team. Jonathan Donovan ’20 JD said law school classes are usually very individually focused, and collaboration among students is not generally emphasized.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Educators have frequently advocated positive self-talk to help build motivation. Examples: "I can do well on this test." "I can succeed in law school." Now, a study of athletes has concluded that second person self-talk works better than first person self-talk. "You can succeed in law school."
“That is, it promotes a more distanced perspective enabling the performer to stand back and “observe” what is going on; akin to being in the balcony looking down on the dance floor rather on the dance floor itself.
This in turn promotes clearer thinking, better choices, and enhanced performance.”
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Distinguished legal commentator Mark Cohen has addressed his latest column over at Forbes to the skills law schools should be teaching to better prepare grads for the current legal marketplace. Yes, critical thinking and problem solving continue to be vital skills demanded by all legal employers but new grads must also be versed in the following according to Mr. Cohen: Emotional intelligence, creativity, cognitive flexibility, and the ability to work collaboratively with others. Further, law students should be trained in in project management skills, data analytics, business basics, digital basics, risk management, and talent management. As Mr. Cohen argues, the foregoing are the new foundational skills law students will need for many contemporary legal jobs as well as those yet-to-be-created positions.
Law schools have ceded an opportunity to shore up their balance sheets and to do right by grads, the legal industry, and the broader society. How? They have failed to transition from three-year degree stopovers to learning centers for life that upskill grads and other professionals throughout their careers. This would have created “stickiness” with alumni/ae throughout their professional lives and transformed law schools into lifetime learning hubs. In the digital age where competency, micro-credentialing, collaboration, upskilling, people-skills, and agile learning are critical, law schools are relics of the legal guild. Why?
There are a legion of explanations: complacency, detachment from the University—notably the business, engineering, computer science, and mathematics schools-- as well as the broader legal ecosystem and business community, faculty composition/hiring criteria, the American Bar Association’s ineffective law school accreditation oversight, and absence of accountability and performance metrics—especially student outcomes, and self-regulation. Law schools are an island that has become increasingly detached from the broader legal mainland.
The inertia of law schools, like law firms, went unchallenged for decades. Their applicant pool was plentiful, the job market was robust, the curricula were unchanged and unchallenged, and they were cash positive. That rosy picture fueled the growth and proliferation of law schools from the 1980’s until the global financial crisis of 2008. The confluence of that economic maelstrom and its aftermath coincided with rapid advances in technology, the ever- escalating cost of law school and its three-year hitch, a downturn in the legal job market, and disaggregation of a growing number of “legal” tasks. This resulted in the migration of young talent away from law and into other professional service and business careers.
Law School Stasis In An Age of Disruption
Law schools have largely failed to engage in material reform during the post-financial crisis decade, especially the top-tier ones. Their inertia has contributed to an ever-widening skills gap in the legal industry, a challenge and opportunity law schools have failed to respond to meaningfully. Law schools—like firms for whom they have long served as supply sources-- have failed to align with and adapt to a changing marketplace. The ramifications affect the entire legal ecosystem and beyond.
Law schools continue to prepare grads to “think like a lawyer” even as the function, role, skillsets, workplace, and career paths of lawyers are changing dramatically. Law schools still rely on firms to provide practice experience even as clients decline to subsidize on-the-job training of young lawyers. They are preparing grads for practice careers in a market where the practice of law is shrinking and the business of delivering legal services is expanding. Their pedagogy remains rooted in legal doctrine when law is now a three-legged stool supported by legal, business, and technology. They teach the rudiments of legal expertise when that alone will no longer cut it for most lawyers. They perpetuate a mindset and culture of “lawyers and ‘non-lawyers’” when law is now about legal professionals, only some of whom are licensed attorneys.
The New Tools for Success
Competency, not diplomas, dictates marketplace success in the digital age. Diplomas still matter, of course, and so does the granting institution’s brand. But exposure to a new suite of augmented skill sets is what really matters, especially after one’s first gig. The core skills required of legal professionals—apart from baseline legal knowledge—are common among other industries in the digital age, a time when traditional boundaries separating professions/industries are increasingly blurred.
The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report examines the skills required in the digital age. Critical thinking and problem solving, key elements of traditional legal pedagogy, remain. Other critical workplace skills--notably emotional intelligence (EQ), creativity, cognitive flexibility and collaboration-- are now equally important workplace competencies. These contemporary skills—and others including project/process management, data analytics, design, business basics, digital basics, risk prediction/management, and talent management—are largely ignored by the legal Academy and most executive education programs. They are also undervalued by legal industry talent managers even as they have become essential to satisfy rapidly changing legal buyer expectations. These skills are foundational elements of new legal positions to be filled now and many more as-yet to be created.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Saturday, July 6, 2019
The Best Practices for Legal Education website has some of the best short articles on legal education. Its latest piece sets up a debate between Malcom Gladwell and Dean Gerken.
Dean Gerken’s Vision Versus Malcolm Gladwell’s Experience by Andi Curcio.
“When we decide who is smart enough to be a lawyer, we use a stopwatch.” Malcolm Gladwell
“Law school should be a time to luxuriate in ideas, to test their principles, and to think critically about the law and the profession.” Dean Heather Gerken
"On the same day I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating podcast about the LSAT and test-taking speed, I also read Yale Dean Heather Gerken’s insightful Commentary, “Resisting the Theory/Practice Divide: Why the “Theory School” Is Ambitious About Practice.” Both are wonderful. Together, they shine light on a dialectic tension within legal education."
You can read the article for yourself, but I think Dean Gerkin has the best position:
"Dean Gerken’s article inspires us to think about legal education in its biggest and broadest sense. She posits that, “At its best, a J.D. is a thinking degree, a problem-solving degree, a leadership degree” and she notes that for students, “law school should be a time to luxuriate in ideas, to test their principles, and to think critically about the law and the profession.”
She envisions law school as a place where students engage in deep critical thinking about the law and the profession – both in the classroom and in clinics, and she discusses the interdependent relationship between the deep learning that should occur in both."
[SF] This reminds me of something I said in a book I am working on: "I did not hear the word reflect once when I was in law school, and I doubt it is much better today." Gerkin is right that students need time to sit back and think about the law. It will make them much better lawyers and deeper thinkers.
Friday, July 5, 2019
Innovation: A New Key Discipline for Lawyers and Legal Education by Michele Beardslee DeStefano.
Over the past two years, I have interviewed hundreds of in-house and law firm lawyers from around the globe to explore the changing legal marketplace, expectations of clients, and innovation in law. One of my main conclusions is that we are experiencing an Innovation Tournament in Law and almost everyone is playing in it. As I explain in more detail in my book, Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law, driven by a combination of technology, socio-economics, and globality, we are witnessing innovation on almost every legal dimension, including how legal services are priced, packaged, sourced, and delivered. Importantly, this innovation is not only coming from legal tech startups and new law companies. Law firms, the Big Four, and corporate legal departments are creating innovations of their own including new services, products, tools, and, importantly, new processes. Even those that aren't creating innovations are playing in the Innovation Tournament by utilizing the innovations (or exapting them) to become more efficient and deliver better service. Although we are not yet seeing disruption in the law marketplace in the Clayton Christensen sense, all lawyers should care about the Innovation Tournament regardless and here's why:
Lawyers of all types, from big law to small and mid-size firms, from government to in-house, and even solo lawyers, are being challenged to change the way they work. Clients are asking their lawyers to innovate (and often with others outside their organization or departments). However, lawyers don't know what their clients are asking for when they ask for innovation or how to do it—or both. The good news is, however, that my interviews and my experience working with over 210 teams of lawyers and their clients on innovation journeys, indicate that what clients are really asking for with "the call to innovate" is a new type and level of collaboration and client service. The evidence suggests that our clients' call for us to innovate is actually a call for service transformation in disguise. Whether they want an innovation in and of itself or not, our clients want lawyers to hone the mindset, skillset, and behavior of innovators. The problem with this is that many lawyers are ill-equipped to meet these new demands. Some combination of our temperament, training, and professional identity seems to work against us when we try to espouse the DNA of innovators.This is why the new discipline for practicing and aspiring lawyers needs to be innovation.
This chapter was first published by Stämpfli Verlag in the book: New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World, co-curated by me and Dr. Guenther Dobrauz. It begins by demonstrating that clients' call for innovation is really a call for transformation in service from their lawyers. It then explores why answering this call can be problematic for lawyers. It seeks to show that lawyers' professional identity, training, and temperament (along with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation) make it difficult for lawyers to adopt the collaborative, creative mindset and skillset of innovators. This chapter recommends that innovation be incorporated as a new key discipline at both the law school and executive education (continuing education) level because in the process of learning how to innovate, lawyers hone the mindset, skillset, and behaviors that clients desire. In support of this contention, it reveals that, as an added benefit, by honing the innovator's DNA, lawyers also grow into inclusive leaders our society needs us to be. The chapter concludes with some suggestions for lawyers to help them better collaborate towards innovation along with a pie-in-the-sky call to the legal universe to make innovation the new key discipline for practicing and aspiring lawyers.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
This is a new article on law student professional identity training by Professor Michalyn Steele (BYU) and available at 2018 BYU L. Rev. 1429. The full title of the article is Cultivating Professional Identity and Resilience Through the Study of Federal Indian Law and can also be found at SSRN here. From the abstract:
For purposes of this Essay, I consider how the doctrinal courses might contribute to the various professional formation learning outcomes. Specifically, I examine how one doctrinal course, Federal Indian Law, might serve as a representative model for ways of incorporating purposeful learning outcomes to foster the professional identity formation of law students. In Part II of this Essay, I argue that the study of Federal Indian Law presents an important opportunity to teach the principles of personal and professional resilience to law students.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
I have been arguing for several years that jurisprudence scholars should draw on recent findings in evolutionary biology and the cognitive sciences. (here, here) The discoveries in these fields have helped us better understand how the brain works and how morality developed. Any jurisprudence scholar who ignores these fields does so at the risk of making fundamental errors.
Alan Calnan has written an article that draws on these fields to go Beyond Jurisprudence.
"The answer, it turns out, is everywhere. To comprehend the nature of law, we must grasp the complex natural systems that inform and transform it. For this to occur, jurisprudents first must abandon dualism, embrace holism, and expand their methods of investigation. Instead of choosing between philosophy or science, they must practice consilience."
"Consilience is the integration of knowledge across all academic disciplines. . . . Just as a leaf cannot be understood apart from the chemical processes of the tree, law cannot be understood apart from the complex systems that brought it into being."
"With consilience's insights, these systemic forces quickly snap into sharp focus. We finally see that law is the culmination of three natural phenomena: complexity, complementarity, and coordination dynamics. . . law is both permanently grounded in human nature, and constantly adapting to social and cultural progress."
"In fact, law is really just the mirror image of its human creator--a complementary collection of problem-solving systems dynamically coordinating and reconciling their antagonistic tendencies in pursuit of survival and flourishing."
"This article takes a new approach to legal theory. Because it views law as part of a complex natural system, it uses complex systems theory as its central investigative framework. Unlike traditional jurisprudence, which separates human artifacts from nature, complexity theory shows that human and natural systems are interdependent. Such systems cannot be studied in isolation, but require consilience. Consilience unites knowledge from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. By merging consilience with complexity theory, the article moves beyond jurisprudence toward “jurisilience.”
Jurisilience shows that law is a complex cultural system caused by complex social systems of cooperation. Yet law is not just a social construction. Law’s tree of causality has biological roots. Human social practices derive from complex psychological systems that stimulate empathy and trust. These systems, in turn, emerge from complex neural and genetic systems that propagate man’s selfish and social instincts. According to complexity theory, system pressures operate both within and between man’s developmental tiers, triggering attitudinal and behavioral changes that run not only from individuals up to societies and cultures, but also back down into the human genome. In this way, law is both permanently grounded in human nature and constantly adapting to social and cultural progress.
Like all natural systems, man’s systemic cycles are governed by coordination dynamics. Though human beings seek self-preservation, they possess complementary but conflicting properties that jeopardize their survival. Coordination dynamics reconcile such conflicts. Our biological systems coordinate our bodily functions and psychological drives, while our social and cultural systems coordinate our relationships with other people. As a cultural institution, our legal system stands above society, stabilizing the persistent discord below. But law never loses its human footing. In fact, law is really just the mirror image of its human creator – a complementary collection of problem-solving systems dynamically coordinating and reconciling their antagonistic tendencies in pursuit of survival and flourishing."
I could go on and on quoting gems from the article, but it is time to stop. You should read the article yourself because it is an important advance in combing science with the law.
Monday, July 1, 2019
The online ABA Journal has an interesting article on the growing trend in law school mergers over the past few years. Some have been born out of a desire to avoid possible closure in light of falling applications while other mergers are motivated by a more proactive effort on the part of law school administrators to strengthen their brand in a tightening market.
Law school enrollment has decreased significantly since the Great Recession, as have many law schools’ reputations. Fewer graduates are passing the bar, and for the past two years, less than 70% of new lawyers were hired for full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage after graduation—jobs that, at one point, had been the minimum expectation for newly minted JDs.
In the past three years, seven law schools announced plans to partner, gift or sell themselves to universities—all but begging the question: Why would anyone want them?
The answer comes down to net tuition revenue, which matters more than academic reputation, says Ken Redd, the senior director of research and policy analysis at the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
According to him, a private institution with net tuition that grows 3% or more annually is generally seen as desirable.
“It’s about trying to make as much money as possible for healthy institutions. If there was some scandal that made the news, you might see some hesitation. But if it’s just something garden variety, like ABA probation, [universities] do not care about that,” Redd says.
Also, while there are approximately 235 law schools, there are only 203 accredited by the ABA.
“It remains a quality brand,” says Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education. “Law schools used to be a so-called cash cow for universities. I’m not sure that was really true, but at least they broke even or slightly better. Now law schools are having to be subsidized by their universities, and that makes them less attractive than they might have been.”
In some cases, these proposed mergers were actually bailouts designed to rescue failing schools. Not all, however, are failing schools.
Approximately two years ago, Florida Coastal School of Law, one of three for-profit law schools operated by the InfiLaw System, announced that it was looking for a nonprofit partner. Around the same time, the law school was given a “zone” rating by the U.S. Department of Education, which means that it was close to not meeting gainful employment standards, and must pass the gainful employment standard in one of the next four years to stay in good standing.
In February 2019, the law school filed an application to switch to nonprofit status with the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Scott DeVito, the law school’s dean, says that if the plan is executed, the next step would be to become affiliated with a nonprofit university.
Only two proposed mergers have been approved so far. A deal between Michigan State University College of Law (an independent entity) and Michigan State University remains pending, while the University of Illinois at Chicago’s acquisition of John Marshall Law School, a stand-alone school, is nearing completion.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
The South Carolina state legislature earmarked $1.9 million of taxpayer money to the University of South Carolina School of Law for the purpose of lowering in-state tuition for each student by $5,100. It means the cost of tuition will drop from $29,608 - what it cost last year - to $24,508 for the 2019-20 academic year. The purpose of the tuition discount is to make the school more competitive with neighboring state law schools and in so doing, help recruit and retain the kind of students who will help improve the school's USNWR ranking. WSOCTV.com has more details:
South Carolina residents will pay less to go to the state's only public law school next year, with the full price of in-state tuition falling $5,100 next year at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
The State newspaper of Columbia reports that as the General Assembly injected money into public colleges and universities, they made a special effort to cut law school tuition.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Murrell Smith, a Sumter Republican, said lawmakers boosted spending at USC by $8 million this year, with the understanding that $1.9 million would specifically go to lower law school tuition. Smith said that when he was attending the law school leading up to his 1993 graduation, tuition was less than $4,000 a year.
"I literally could (work as a law) clerk during the school year and summer and pay my law school tuition," Smith said. "I know those days are gone, but ... we're not doing our young people any favors by leaving them with enormous debt."
The full tuition price for law students last year was $29,608. Now it will by $24,508. Some students pay less because of scholarships and financial aid.
While other South Carolina colleges and universities are raising tuition only modestly, the law school is only one so far to lower tuition for in-state students.
Law School Dean Robert Wilcox said South Carolina has been losing students to out-of-state law schools because of cost.
"When you go to school out of state, the odds increase dramatically that you will stay out of state for your career," Wilcox said. "This will keep more good students in South Carolina."
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
Larry Krieger is once again offering his law student assistance booklets at a very low cost. Here is the announcement:
Hello friends, It is time for the summer announcement of the student assistance booklets (now updated) that I’ve been doing for several years. Some of you may want to provide them to incoming or present classes at your school. Please note: We will be away from July 15-30, so if you need these little books for early August, please let me know in the next 7-10 days ideally. There are informational notes for the revisions and links at the bottom here – for views, contents, costs, etc. If you have questions, just email me directly, firstname.lastname@example.org . If you wish to order, have any questions, or wish to view the entire contents before ordering, just email me directly (before ordering, see links below for the information needed).
This is the second printing of the revision I accomplished last fall, updating and expanding on the material in both previous booklets. This edition applies new research to guide students both to minimizing law school stress and making wise, science-based job/career choices. For colleagues who used the first printing last year, the current edition has two small improvements. First, the ink impression last year was a bit lighter; this second printing is bolder. Second, the chart that shows the small to nil “happiness values” of success factors (i.e. class rank, law review, income, lack of debt, partnership in a firm), compared to the exceptional value of human factors like integrity and purpose, is also redone to be clearer.
I wish you all a wonderful summer and appreciate your great efforts for the health, happiness, and success of our students. Thanks again, Larry
Notes: (1) The new book is in two primary parts; students can read it for one or both purposes -- stress prevention during law school and finding career satisfaction. (2) Happily, the printer was very efficient so the end cost of this larger publication has remained around $1.40 each for typical sized orders.
The links below provide more information. The covers are printer’s files, so it shows as one sheet for front and back; just picture it folded around the contents. If you want to view the entire contents, I am happy to arrange; please email me. To view cover and intro. pages:
View ordering info. and costs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UO74yk-4IhQJWK1g0mBpGUTPr-052fXR/view?usp=sharing
Timing for use of the material, especially for entering 1L’s. Orientation is convenient but also presents some potential problems. If interested, see:
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
A Blueprint for Using Assessments to Achieve Learning Outcomes and Improve Students’ Learning by Rogelio Lasso
Here is an excellent article on formative assessments:
"For over a decade, there has been agreement among legal educators that assessments are a critical tool to improve students’ learning. We are beginning to understand that the types of assessments we use have the greatest influence on how and what students learn. As a result of recent ABA accreditation requirements, there is now a scramble in law schools to adopt assessments that improve students’ learning and bar passage rates so as to satisfy these new requirements. Nevertheless, there has been no clear methodology to assist doctrinal faculty in creating an effective assessment program. After twenty-seven years of developing assessment programs that have improved students’ learning and bar passage rates, this article is an attempt to provide faculty and administrators a blueprint for incorporating an effective assessment program.
The article is divided into four parts. Part one recounts how the assessments the author has used over the years have evolved to become an assessment program to help students improve their learning skills, perform better in law school, and pass the bar exam. Part two describes how to design assessments that relate to course learning objectives and help students in developing critical analytical and self-learning skills. Part three describes the difference between general and individual feedback, explains why individual feedback is the most important feature of an effective assessment program, and enumerates the characteristics of effective individual feedback. Part four includes specific steps that faculty, administrations, and academic achievement professionals should take in order to create an assessment program to improve students’ self-learning and analytical skills."
Monday, June 24, 2019
Morals and Mentors: What the First American Law Schools Can Teach Us About Developing Law Students' Professional Identity by Benjamin V. Madison & Larry O. Natt Gantt, II
Morals and Mentors: What the First American Law Schools Can Teach Us About Developing Law Students' Professional Identity by Benjamin V. Madison & Larry O. Natt Gantt, II
This article examines what the first American law schools can teach current legal educators about how best to develop law students’ professional identity. Drawing upon the seminal reports of Educating Lawyers and Best Practices for Legal Education, the article underscores legal educators’ responsibility to cultivate our students’ professional identity and instill in them the key normative values of the profession. Turning to the lessons we can learn from early American law schools, the article then discusses how legal educators in America, from colonial times through the late nineteenth century, sought to teach aspiring lawyers both legal analysis and the study of — and reflection on — ethical and moral principles underlying the law. The article next considers how a variety of influences led to a de-emphasis on ethical formation in the instruction of law students and to the development of teaching legal analysis as the primary mission of law schools. This part also discusses related changes in the legal profession which accompanied these changes in legal education. The final part explores the elements of early law school education related to values formation, including the role of mentoring, and provides recommendations on how these elements can be integrated into modern law school teaching. The article concludes that law schools today can best marry present and past by employing modern pedagogical practices to re-emphasize the importance of developing “lawyer-statespersons” who exhibit practical wisdom and share a passion for pursuing the common good.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
We have received the sad news that Ralph Brill has passed away. Ralph had been a member of the Chicago-Kent faculty since 1961. For 14 years, he was director of the Chicago-Kent's unique three-year legal research and writing program, for which he is widely known. He is past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research, and a former director of the Legal Writing Institute and of the Association of Legal Writing Directors. He is co-author (with S. Brody, C. Kunz, R. Newmann and M. Walter) of the American Bar Association publication, A Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs.
Ralph was greatly loved in the legal writing community. Numerous tributes to Ralph have appeared on the legal writing listserve over the last 24 hours. I met him many times at conferences, and he was always a friendly face and a joy to talk with. He was a mentor to many of the younger professors in legal writing.
“Ralph Brill has left an indelible mark on all of the students, faculty and alumni who have been part of the Chicago-Kent community for the past 58 years,” said Dean Harold J. Krent. “He leaves behind an enduring legacy of excellence in teaching and innovation in establishing a top flight legal writing program that has been emulated far and wide.”
Ralph will be missed, and he will be remembered for his many contributions to his law school, the legal writing profession, and his students.
Please feel free to leave comments below.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
The phrase "public interest drift" refers to the phenomenon that many students come to law school wanting to do "good" by engaging in public service but then get diverted from their goals for various reasons over the next three years of law school. Professors Alexi Freeman and Katherine Steefel (both of DU) have recently published an article discussing strategies for combating "public interest drift" in the context of clinical education. Their article is entitled Uniting the Head, Hands, and Heart: How Specialty Externships can Combat Public Interest Drift and is available at 25 Clinical L. Rev. 325 (2019) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:
Many students come to law school because they want to use their law degrees “for good,” to help people, have an impact on society, or create social change. As has been extensively documented, these plans often dissipate at some point during their three years. Public interest drift, as this phenomenon is commonly referred, is a crisis caused by numerous factors. It requires a full-fledged, multi-faceted effort to push back against it. In this article, we propose the development of public interest specialty externship programs as one tool to combat drift. These programs offer students the ability to extern at a specific group of placements, unified not necessarily by practice type but by a central public interest theme, and to enroll in a corresponding seminar that explores such a theme in more depth in a classroom setting. Using two case studies from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law as examples, this article explores how specialty programs can work intentionally to maintain students’ commitment to using their law degrees to promote the public good, helping them rediscover their passions, and in turn, uniting their heads, hands, and hearts.
Friday, June 21, 2019
Here's an interesting new book by David Epstein, that posits in apparent contrast to Malcolm Gladwell's groundbreaking book Outliers, the key to developing expertise in one's chosen career is not 10,000 hours of mindful practice and specialization but one should instead strive for breadth and its companion serendipity. Mr. Epstein's book is called Range Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World and here's an excerpt from the New York Times review:
Are you a generalist or a specialist? Do you strive for breadth or depth in your career, in your life? After all, you can’t have both. Your time on earth is finite, as are your energy and attention. If you concentrate on doing one thing, you might have a chance of doing it really well. If you seek to do many things, you’ll taste a wider variety of human goods, but you may end up a well-rounded mediocrity — a dilettante.
Folk wisdom holds the trade-off between breadth and depth to be a cruel one: “jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” and so forth. And a lot of thinking in current pop-psychology agrees. To attain genuine excellence in any area — sports, music, science, whatever — you have to specialize, and specialize early: That’s the message. If you don’t, others will have a head start on you in the 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” supposedly necessary for breakout achievement.
But this message is perversely wrong — so David Epstein seeks to persuade us in “Range.” Becoming a champion, a virtuoso or a Nobel laureate does not require early and narrow specialization. Quite the contrary in many cases. Breadth is the ally of depth, not its enemy. In the most rewarding domains of life, generalists are better positioned than specialists to excel.
If true, this is good news. It means that excellence and well-roundedness naturally go together; that each of us — in principle, at least — can realize the “comprehensiveness and multiplicity,” the “wholeness in manifoldness” that Nietzsche celebrated as the essence of human greatness. (Nietzsche, by the way, was himself quite the generalist, achieving distinction as a philosopher, a classicist and a composer before he came to a sticky end.)
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Continue reading the review here.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
UNH's Franklin Pierce's School of Law Library Director and Professor Susan Zago has a new article in the Legal Reference Services Quarterly that addresses just that - leveraging student passion for several legal practice areas to design a better legal research course for 1Ls. Her article, Playing to Their Passion: A Legal Research Course That Resonates With Law Students, can be found at 37 Legal Ref. Serv. Q. 75 (2018) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:
The first year of law school is often chocked full of new experiences. Students can become overwhelmed in the face of so much change that they forget why they chose law school as a career path. They often lose sight of their end goal and need a touchstone to ground them back to their initial interests. Legal Research is the ideal first year class to connect needed legal skills with interesting topics to encourage students’ engagement in their present and future learning. Legal Research naturally utilizes the “learning by doing” mentality but I suggest expanding this approach by providing a subject context to the class and incorporating contextualized learning and active learning techniques to improve student engagement and student learning. This article discusses the transformation of a generic, required, first year legal research course to one that divides into four small (18-20 student) classes, each with one of four topics; patent, trademark and copyright, traditional practice and social justice. In addition, it envisions future innovations to improve student engagement and student learning.
Excellent summary on how learning theory informs teaching and learning.
Steven Friedland, The Forgetting Curve
"Unlike a brain file, though, that information may well be forgotten, thanks to the Forgetting Curve. The initial discovery of the Forgetting Curve occurred in 1885 when Ebbinghous postulated that humans forget much of the information they have learned. We now know that after only twenty minutes, we lose approximately 50% of what we have learned. After nine hours or so, we forget around 70%."