Monday, December 27, 2010

Job posting for Assistant Professor of Practice

Here are the details:

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE

The University of Cincinnati College of Law invites applications from entry-level and lateral candidates for the position of Assistant Professor of Practice. The College wishes to achieve two major goals with this new position. First, we would like this professor to develop courses focused on skills that would complement our current skills curriculum that now focuses primarily on a litigation context. Therefore, the professor should have a background primarily in an area other than litigation. The second goal is for the new professor to design skills courses that would be attractive to and could be taken by a large number of students. 

We would welcome applications from candidates with strong skills in a nonlitigation legal context. For example, we would welcome applicants with a business practice background who could teach skills relevant to such topics as contracts, accounting and financial concepts, drafting legal documents, and moving a deal from negotiations and due diligence to drafting and closing. We would also welcome applications from candidates with a strong background in small firm practice who could teach skills relevant to such topics as wills, probate, small contracts, real estate transactions, family law, and simple criminal matters. 

The successful candidate will teach one or more sections of our Client Counseling Class, required in the second year, and depending on his or her skills and interests, may teach other skills classes, supervise cocurricular activities, and assist with our CLE offerings. Candidates must have strong academic records; possess solid legal practice skills; and have significant practice experience in a legal context other than litigation. JD is required. Teaching experience is desired but not required. The position offers a competitive salary, flexible hours, and an excellent benefits package. Appointment will be made to the College's non-tenure track faculty with the possibility of long-term contracts. We will begin reviewing resumes immediately, and the search will remain open until the position is filled.  To apply, go to www.jobsatuc.com and apply to position number 210UC1980.  Minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply.

Hat tip to Professor Mark Godsey, University of Cincinnati College of Law.

(jbl).

December 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Internet Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Job Search

It's becoming easier and easier to undo all the good work you've done to find a good job after law school through a lack of good judgment in using the Internet, especially social media.

George Lenard has a great post on George's Employment Blawg called "Ten Internet Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Job Search." It would be good for all of us to commit these potential mistakes to memory.

Highlights include wise advice about pictures, Facebook, Twitter, comments on other sites, and creating your own Google Profile.

On the other hand, you can also point to at least ten great ways  (many of them found in George's post) effective use of the Internet can help your job search, so it's important to keep a balanced perspective. Just because you can make mistakes on the Internet doesn't mean you want to stay away from the Internet.

The bottom line: moderation and good judgment will always serve you well.

(dk)

December 27, 2010 in Legal Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brush up on your (Online) Meeting Management Skills

Over the past few years, the economy has often dictated whether a lawyer travels to meet with a client or expert, or whether that meeting occurs in different ways - over the phone, online, or in other ways.  Online meetings are an incredibly effective way to conduct business, but like in-person meetings, it's a skill that must be learned.  That's why this article on How to Host an Effective Virtual Meeting is a good resource for lawyers.  It provides useful tips on what to do before, during, and after your next online meeting.

December 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dershowitz on "The Justice Game"

In his 1982 book, “The Best  Defense," law professor and litigator Alan Dershowitz  writes about the criminal justice system and sets out 13 rules of “The Justice Game.” Some may find them a bit cynical. In fact, many may find them a bit cynical. In any case, students ought to be aware that some lawyers harbor these views, and in some locations, these views may be justified. In any case, they are worthy of class discussion. Here they are:

 I. ALMOST ALL CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS ARE , IN FACT, GUILTY.

II. ALL CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS, PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES UNDERSTAND AND BELIEVE RULE I.

III. IT IS EASIER TO CONVICT GUILTY DEFENDANTS BY VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION THAN BY COMPLYING WITH IT, AND IN SOME CASES IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CONVICT GUILTY DEFENDANTS WITHOUT VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION.

IV. ALMOST ALL POLICE LIE ABOUT WHETHER THEY VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION IN ORDER TO CONVICT GUILTY DFEENDANTS.

V. ALL PROSECUTORS, JUDGES AND DEFENSE ATTORNEYS ARE AWARE OF RULE IV.

VI. MANY PROSECUTORS IMPLICITLY ENCOURAGE POLICE TO LIE ABOUT WHETHER THEY VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION IN ORDER TO CONVICT GUILTY DEFENDANTS.

VII. ALL JUDGES ARE AWARE OF RULE VI.

VIII. MOST TRIAL JUDGES PRETEND TO BELIEVE POLICE OFFICERS WHO THEY KNOW ARE LYING

IX. ALL APPELLATE JUDGES ARE AWARE OF RULE VIII, YET MANY PRETEND TO BELIEVE THE TRIAL JUDGES WHO PRETEND TO BELIEVE THE POLICE OFFICERS.

X. MOST JUDGES DISBELIEVE DEFENDANTS ABOUT WHETHER THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED, EVEN IF THEY ARE TELLING THE TRUTH.

XI. MOST JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS WOULD NOT KNOWINGLY CONVICT A DEFENDANT WHO THEY BELIEVE TO BE INNOCENT OF THE CRIME CHARGED (OR A CLOSELY RELATED CRIME).

XII. RULE XI DOES NOT APPLY TO MEMBERS OF ORGANIZED CRIME, DRUG DEALERS, CAREER CRIMINALS, OR POTENTIAL INFORMANTS.

XIII. NOBODY REALLY WANTS JUSTICE.

(ljs)

December 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Facebook notwithstanding, the human condition limits the number of friends we can have

Here's another interesting example of how we humans can invent e-things that outstrip our flesh and blood capabilities ("multitasking" being another).  It's a New York Times Op-Ed by Oxford evolutionary anthropology Professor Robin Dunford, author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks.

[Social networking site] have allowed us to amass thousands of 'friends,' but they have not yet devised a way to cut through the clunky, old-fashioned nature of relationships themselves. Our circle of actual friends remains stubbornly small, limited not by technology but by human nature. . . . .

The critical component in social networking is the removal of time as a constraint. In the real world, according to research by myself and others, we devote 40 percent of our limited social time each week to the five most important people we know, who represent just 3 percent of our social world and a trivially small proportion of all the people alive today. Since the time invested in a relationship determines its quality, having more than five best friends is impossible when we interact face to face, one person at a time.

. . . .

[D]espite Facebook’s promise, that is the fundamental flaw in the logic of the social-networking revolution. The developers at Facebook overlooked one of the crucial components in the complicated business of how we create relationships: our minds.

Put simply, our minds are not designed to allow us to have more than a very limited number of people in our social world. The emotional and psychological investments that a close relationship requires are considerable, and the emotional capital we have available is limited.

You can read more here

(jbl).

BTW, don't I provide you, dear reader, with some interesting posts?

December 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Institutional strategies for dealing with grade inflation

Grade inflation has been a hot topic for a while.  According to the extensive data collected by this guy, Stuart Rojstaczer, average undergrad GPA's have been creeping upward at most schools for the past several decades (check out Mr. Rojstaczer's site here to see several graphs illustrating the phenomenon). 

What's the faculty to do?  Hold the line? (but risk having students at a competitive disadvantage when they apply for jobs with students from schools with grade inflation?).  Raise average GPA's across the board so students can compete with those other schools?  (but risk diluting academic rigor?).  This article from Sunday's New York Times offers several examples of what undergrad institutions are doing (having a mandatory curve, as most, I assume, law schools do, doesn't solve the problem if those schools periodically raise the curve as Loyola did this year - read here and here).

With college grades creeping ever higher, a few universities have taken direct action against grade inflation. Most notably, Princeton adopted guidelines in 2004 providing that no more than 35 percent of undergraduate grades should be A’s, a policy that remains controversial on campus.

Others have taken a less direct approach, leaving instructors free to award whatever grades they like but expanding their transcripts to include information giving graduate schools and employers a fuller picture of what the grades mean.

Dartmouth transcripts include median grades, along with the number of courses in which the student exceeded, equaled or came in lower than those medians. Columbia transcripts show the percentage of students in the course who earned an A.

At Reed College, transcripts are accompanied by an explanatory card. Last year’s graduating class had an average G.P.A. of 3.20, it says, and only 10 percent of the class graduated with a G.P.A. of 3.67 or higher.

'We also tell them that in 26 years, only 10 students have graduated with a perfect 4.0 average — and three of them were transfers who didn’t get all those grades at Reed,' said Nora McLaughlin, the registrar at Reed. 'We wanted to put the grades at Reed in context to be sure that graduate schools, particularly professional schools where G.P.A. is very much an important factor, understand how capable our students are.'

UNC, which the Times focused on to illustrate how undergrad faculty are dealing with grade inflation, is responding in this way:

As part of the university’s long effort to clarify what grades really mean, Mr. Perrin now leads a committee that is working with the registrar on plans to add extra information — probably median grades, and perhaps more — to transcripts. In addition, they expect to post further statistics providing context online and give instructors data on how their grading compares with their colleagues’.

'It’s going to be modest and nowhere near enough to correct the problems,' Mr. Perrin said. 'But it’s our judgment that it’s the best we can do now.'

You can read the rest of the NYT's article here.

(jbl).

December 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Please support the new AALS provisional section on "Transactional Law and Skills"

If you're going to be attending this week's AALS conference in San Francisco, please consider supporting a new provisional section on "Transactional Law and Skills."  If you won't be in S.F., read to the end of this post to find out how you can still sign the petition.

From Professors Tina Stark and Joan Hemingway:

If you are attending the AALS Meeting, please come to the organizational meeting of the provisional AALS Section on Transactional Law and Skills and sign the petition in favor of creating the new Section. The meeting is being held on Wednesday, January 5th from 2:00 p.m. to 3: 45 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel, Yosemite A, Ballroom Level. We need signatures from at least 50 professors from at least 25 law schools. Please stop by. Signing will just take minute.

As the Section will not yet be formed, no official business will be conducted, but we will discuss the purpose of the Section and the process for gaining provisional and then permanent status.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, please consider emailing Professor Tina Stark at tina.stark@emory.edu and I'm sure she'd be happy to send you an electronic copy of the petition (unfortunately,  this blog platform doesn't let me attach it here) which you should sign and return to her via snail mail by January 15, 2011 at the following address:

Tina L. Stark
Professor in the Practice of Law
Executive Director of the Center for Transactional Law and Practice
Emory University School of Law
1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA  30322

Please show your support for the legal skills movement by signing the petition. 

(jbl).

December 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boxing Day: Saying Thank-you

December 26 is the beginning of Kwanzaa and the feast of St. Stephen. And warm wishes to all who mark these observances. It is also Boxing Day. According to our friends at Wikipedia, the possible origins of that holiday are numerous.  Here are the British origins:

In the United Kingdom, it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth-century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor.

For us, Boxing Day may be a reminder to say thank-you to our support staff whenever possible. It is also a reminder to educate our students in the practice of saying thank-you to those who assist them.

Here is an example, when a  student asks me for multiple reference letters—for example letters to every judge in creation who might give the student a clerkship—I tell the student that  my secretary will be doing the heavy  lifting. I strongly encourage the student to say thank-you to  her with a small present, a box of candy,  flowers, etc. I think my secretary deserves a gift. I also hope that I am instilling in the student the concept of saying thank-you to future secretaries and paralegals.

(ljs)

December 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

So, what are you doing reading blogs on December 25? This shoud  be a day  off. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, most of the country is shut down, and you should be going to a movie or doing something fun.

Happy holiday!

(ljs)

December 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seasons greetings from The Drifters

Here's another fun, musical Christmas video, this time from The Drifters, courtesy of our good friend, Tav Falco.  Enjoy!

(jbl).

December 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's a "go-go Christmas" from the Legal Skills Prof blog

Here's a fun, vintage video clip to get you in the holiday mood.  Season's Greetings from your friends at the Legal Skills Prof blog.  Enjoy!

A big hat tip to Tav Falco - a true gentleman, scholar and friend.

(jbl).

December 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ten Gifts That Will Cause Your Children Lasting Psychological Damage

From PsychologyToday.com I hope at least some of this is humorous or I have given my children lots  to tell their future therapists about. :)

(ljs)

December 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dickens, Bleak House, and Transactional Costs

At this festive  time of year, our literary thoughts turn to Charles Dickens. Though lawyers may appreciate “A Christmas Carol,” they may also reflect on his voluminous novel, “Bleak House,” in which Dickens takes to task the legal system of his day. The book offers a lesson in the transactional costs of litigation. The story centers around the lengthy will contest of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. After many year of litigation, the case seems to be reaching a conclusion. However, the costs of litigation have eaten up all the assets of the once-ample estate.

 From the viewpoint of literary style, I recommend the first few pages of Chapter One where Dickens masterfully combines a discussion of London’s November fog with the ambience of the High Court of Chancery.

(ljs)

December 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Emily Dickinson on Poets--and Teachers

Here is one of Emily Dickinson’s well known poems. If we substitute “teachers” for “poets,” we can appreciate her imagery even more. 

The Poets light but Lamps—
Themselves—go out—
The Wicks they stimulate—
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns—
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference—

 (ljs)

December 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers activates redesigned website

Just in time for the holidays and new year, Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers is pleased to announce it has activated a redesigned website. (For a comparison with the previous site, see an archived version here.) We invite you to visit and discover (or rediscover) Scribes. For more information about Scribes, please contact Professor Norm Plate, Scribes executive director, at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

From Scribes’s officers and board of directors, best wishes for a happy (and safe) holiday season and new year. And we hope you enjoy our new website.

(cgw)

December 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A new approach to law firm hiring - will it catch on?

From the better late than never file (this was reported by Above the Law back in September but wasn't brought to my attention until now).  A Tennessee law firm wants to change the way new grads are recruited by waiting until their third year to take them for a test drive.  Here's the firm's press release: 

Waller Lansden launches Schola2Juris recruitment initiative at UT

Waller Lansden will be on campus at the College of Law on Monday, Sept. 13, to unveil its new recruitment program to 2L students. After months at the drawing board, the Nashville-based firm of 190 attorneys will send representatives to discuss the intensive, practice-specific apprenticeship program, Schola2Juris, that will become its new pathway for hiring entry-level associates. Kathleen Pearson, director of professional recruiting, explained, “Rather than anticipating our hiring needs almost two years in advance, this program will enable the firm to assess its actual needs by practice area and focus its energies and resources on students whose skills and interests align with those needs.”

Waller Lansden attorneys and Pearson will outline the program model, which is based on a six week fall apprenticeship with work assignments and feedback delivered remotely between students in Knoxville and firm attorneys in Nashville. Current 2L students will apply in July before their 3L year begins. The program will be held in early fall, and participants will visit Nashville for a fall weekend retreat and have regular interaction with partners and associates during the six-week program. Offers for associate positions will be in keeping with established timetables for legal recruitments, so students can compare their experience with traditional summer associate programs before accepting an offer of an associate position.

And here's ATL's Elie Mystal's take on this new approach to law student hiring:

1) Moving recruiting to right before 3L year (as opposed to before 2L year) is an idea some firms have been begging for.
2) You are applying for positions the firm knows it needs to fill, not jobs the firm hopes will be available.
3) Did they just say feedback could be delivered remotely? Good God, you mean there is some machine that has been invented that allows people to work on assignments and receive feedback without physically being in the same office?
4) What the hell else are you doing as a 3L anyway?

Will this approach catch on?  Perhaps among regional firms looking to hire from regional law schools (which is where most legal hiring occurs anyway) but I think it's unlikely to gain much traction in the "national" market.

You can read more about this story from ATL here.

Hat tip to Dean Athornia Steele.

(jbl).

December 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lawyers and social media - here comes the inevitable backlash

Here's a story about the backlash from lawyers about the use of social media as a business enhancement tool.  New technology follows a familiar arc - people rush to embrace it without fully understanding it (how could they?  Only time and experience can fully shake it down) and then a backlash follows when it inevitably fails to live up to the hype (which is often driven by consultants and other "experts" with a vested interest in selling you their "expertise").   Social media isn't a panacea for a moribund book of business (anymore than PowerPoint is a cure for a teacher's lack of ideas in the classroom).  Whether an attorney is able to take advantage of social media to grow her client base depends on networking of the old fashion sort.

Is the social media phenomenon overhyped? A growing chorus of voices says yes. Critics argue there are no credible ways to measure return on investment in social media. They also contend there’s no definitive data showing that social media create business, or that the number of followers you have on Twitter or friends on Face book translates into dollars earned.

. . . .

'Too often social media is a bunch of one-way conversations,' [a D.C. lawyer and president of a PR firm] says. 'Facebook pages have effectively become Wikipedia entries. Law firms post and walk away, and it becomes a dust- and spam-collecting feed, which creates the impression of being lazy with your online presence. Twitter profiles offer little more than glorified news feeds.'

. . . .

'A lot of people focus on the technology, thinking that it has some-thing to do with Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook,' O’Keefe says. 'Those are just tools. People haven’t stepped back and asked, ‘How do I grow as a lawyer?’'

'You learn, network, meet mentors and join associations. You go where there are people you could learn from. Social media are very effective for becoming a better lawyer, and it’s a very, very effective way of nurturing relationships with existing clients, which will bring in more work.'

Still, if you’re stuck on analytics, O’Keefe suggests asking yourself these four questions:

• Are you extending your reach—for instance, by having social media content indexed on Google, which pushes your website higher in search rankings?

• Are you engaging people by building personal relationships with them?

• Is your influence increasing in your practice area, perhaps because your content is shared and shared again on LinkedIn and Twitter?

• Are you activating your audience in the form of calls from clients or to speak at events?

'We get way overblown on social media because it’s new,' [Kevin O’Keefe, CEO and publish er of Seattle-based Lexblog] says. 'But it’s not that complicated. Take a deep breath and realize this thing called social media was going on 100 years ago. It’s just building relationships.'

You can read the rest here courtesy of the fab online ABA Journal blog.

(jbl).

December 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A couple of books of interest for new lawyers.

The first one is called "Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks:  The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer" by - get this - Grover Cleveland.  Here's a summary courtesy of Amazon:

This book contains hundreds of tips from attorneys throughout the country with the critical advice new lawyers need to ensure their success. The book provides useful, practical advice that law schools never teach. It starts with important steps graduates can take even before they begin work. With an easily readable style, Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks continues to teach new lawyers the ropes from their first day on the job. Humorous, real-life examples illustrate the lessons along with bulleted tips that provide comprehensive advice quickly.

And here's an interview with the author (where, among other points, he explains the story behind his name) courtesy of Above the Law.

Next up is "The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law" by occasional ATL columnist Mark Herrmann.  Here's a summary courtesy, again, of Amazon:

This collection of essays written by The Curmudgeon, offers practical, honest and you need to know this advice for surviving and thriving in a law firm. The book covers the basics of law practice and law firm etiquette, from doing effective research and writing to dressing for success, dealing with staff and clients and building a law practice. Concise, humorous and full of valuable (albeit curmudgeonly) insight, this is a must-read for every newly minted law school graduate or new lawyer.

A big hat tip to ATL.

(jbl).

December 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Words with No Place in Plain English

At plainlanguage.com you can find a “Bathetic Word  List,” consisting of words that have  no place in clear, effective communication. This list of about 500 words may humble those of us who champion plain English, but still use a great many of these words. This list is a bit more inclusive than my list would be, but still worth pondering.

(ljs)

December 22, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hey kid - wanna buy some Adderall?

It's been widely reported for a few years that Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat ADHD, is abused by college students (and some of their professors) who believe it's a "smart" drug that can increase performance during exams and other "crunch" times.  But you probably didn't know just how easy it is to score the drug until this report from the University of Wisconsin, Madison where two journalism students were able to get some illicit Adderall within 56 seconds of asking a stranger.

Last school year, two UW-Madison journalism students walked into a campus library with a mission: See how fast they could score some Adderall, a popular prescription 'smart drug' that users say improves their ability to study.

They were good to go in 56 seconds.

All it took was a tap on the shoulder of one woman, a stranger at a table of students studying in silence. Asked if she knew where someone could buy some Adderall, the woman offered to call her friend downstairs, who was selling it.

. . . .

'When I first started taking Adderall, I was like Superwoman,' said Alyssa, a recent UW-Madison graduate now studying at a law school in New York. She asked that her real name not be used out of fear it might harm her career. 'You get a little jolt, and you’re just so much more motivated.'

But Alyssa also experienced the downside of the stimulant, which is commonly available for $5 a pill. A few years ago, she began overusing Adderall, overdosed  and landed in the hospital.

You can read the rest courtesy of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.

(jbl).

December 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)