Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ATL's David Lat on the "broken law school" model - "Bring Back Apprenticeships"

Aspiring lawyers will learn more practical skills, stop accruing debt sooner and start making money faster.

Here's Mr. Lat's contribution to the series of NYT's editorials on the broken law school model (we reported Bryan Garner's contribution here and Professor Fruehwald offered his thoughts here).

Before the rise of law schools, lawyers were trained through apprenticeship. “Apprenticeship involved learning the law the way we expect someone today to learn plumbing: in the workplace, as a practical trade,” writes the Yale legal historian John Langbein. “You learn plumbing by working with, observing and imitating an experienced master.”

The modern practice of law, with a proliferation of increasingly technical specialties and subspecialties, is more complicated than plumbing. Formal apprenticeship has fallen by the wayside as a method for training lawyers. Adding apprenticeship back into the system could make legal education shorter, less costly and more practical.

The core of the legal curriculum is covered in the first year of law school. One could easily imagine law school, in terms of formal classroom instruction, lasting two years instead of three and costing two-thirds as much.

After two years, graduates could start working as apprentices for practicing lawyers and being paid, albeit modestly, perhaps like paralegals or medical residents. The bar exam could be administered at the end of an apprenticeship, or in multiple parts at different points in the process, like the medical board exam. Successful completion of an apprenticeship and passage of the bar exam would qualify an individual as a lawyer.

Under this system, aspiring lawyers would stop accruing debt and start earning money at an earlier point. As apprentices, they would learn about the actual practice of law, addressing the common complaint among employers and clients that young lawyers, fresh out of school, lack practical knowledge. Employers who hire apprentices would receive inexpensive labor and could train these workers to their specifications. This model, balancing the theoretical and practical, is similar to what’s used in Canada and Britain, where legal education is less expensive and more practice-oriented than in the United States.

Check out additional thoughts from Mr. Lat about the apprenticeship model of legal ed. here, via ATL.


July 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

So your screwed up that research memo to the partner, now what?

Advice on how summer clerks (and lawyers) should handle mistakes via Above the Law's small firm columnist Valerie Katz.  (The long and short of it; fess up and fix it. The worst thing you can do is to be deceptive by trying to hide a mistake).

1. Do not panic.


Given most attorneys’ Type A personality, there is a tendency to freak out over making a mistake. That will only make the problem worse.

2. Determine exactly what went wrong and why.


Sometimes this will be obvious. For example, you missed a status hearing. Other times it may be less obvious. For example, at oral argument the judge asks about an argument you did not consider. It is important to understand the extent of the problem and the reason for it, because this is key to determine how you are going to fix it and prevent it from happening again in the future.

3. Come up with a plan to fix the problem.


You may be able to do this on your own, but likely you will need to ask for help. Do not try to handle the problem alone because you are afraid of the consequences. In so doing, you are not serving your client’s best interests or your own (because you will make the situation worse for yourself).


4. Fess up.


Once you have a handle on what happened and what you are going to do to fix the problem (subject to suggestions from the partner), it is important to tell the partner. This makes it clear to the partner that you take your job seriously and are proactive. Obviously, the partner may not think highly of you at the moment you tell him or her of the problem but doing so, especially right away, will make the partner more likely to forgive you.


5. Do not make excuses.


When you tell the partner what happened, give the facts and apologize. Do not make excuses. No one cares that you were up all night or had computer problems.


6. Move on.


It is natural to dwell on the fact that you made a mistake. Fight that urge. If you do not move on, then neither will the partner, and you may be distracted — causing you to make additional mistakes. Feel good that you handled the problem in a professional way and strive to do better in the future, but do not obsess over the past. Similarly, do not avoid the partner. If you do, then the last impression he or she will have of you is a negative one.


7. Try to avoid making the same mistake twice.


Because you did the work to determine what went wrong and why, it should be easy for you to come up with a plan to avoid a similar problem in the future. Be overly diligent until you are comfortable with your plan and know that it works. For example, if you missed a hearing, you should tell your assistant to remind you each time you have a hearing or keep a record of all court appearances on a whiteboard where you cannot miss it.


8. Go out of your way for the partner in the future.


Go out of your way to be proactive for the partner on the matter with the mistake. There are some attorneys who are not that forgiving. Do not give them any reason to feel that way about you.


July 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bibliography of recent scholarship on the legal profession - Part 6 on Privilege and the Attorney-Client Relationship

The sixth installment from Bobby Click, Recent Law Review Articles Concerning the Legal Profession, 35 J. Legal Prof. 173 (2010). Part 1 of this biblio can be found here, Part 2 here, Part 3, here, Part 4, here and Part 5, here.

6. Privilege and Attorney Client Relationship

Noah P. Barsky, Anthony H. Catanach, Jr., Ilya A. Lipin & Shelley C. Rhoades-Catanach, Protecting a Client's Confidences: Recent Developments in Privileged Communication Between Attorneys and Accountants, 28 J.L. & COM. 211 (2010). This article examines how recent cases have affected privileged communications in tax and transactional matters between attorneys and accountants who have been retained for the purposes of client representation.

Anthony Francis Bruno, Preserving Attorney-Client Privilege in the Age of Electronic Discovery, 54 N.Y.L. SCH. L. REV. 541 (2010). This article provides an overview of the history of the attorney-client privilege and discusses the unique problems electronic discovery has created in the area of the attorney-client privilege.

Katrice Bridges Copeland, Preserving the Corporate Attorney- Client Privilege, 78 U. CIN. L. REV. 1199 (2010). This article argues for the necessity of legislation such as Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act in order to protect the corporate attorney-client privilege. However, the author contends the Act or any similar legislation must include remedies for violations in order to be effective.

Keith Kendall, The Economics of the Attorney-Client Privilege: A Comprehensive Review and a New Justification, 36 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 481 (2010).

Gregory C. Sisk, Pamela J. Abbate, The Dynamic Attorney-Client Privilege, 23 GEO. J. LEGAL ETHICS 201 (2010).  [*183] 

Elizabeth King, Waving Goodbye to Waiver? Not So Fast: Inadvertent Waiver of the Attorny-Client Privilege, and Federal Rule of Evidence 502, 32 CAMPBELL L. REV. 467 (2010). This article explores Federal Evidence Rule 502, in respect to waiver of the attorney-client privilege through inadvertent disclosures. The article focuses mainly on the application of Rule 502 to inadvertent disclosures made through electronic discovery.

Jean Fleming Powers, Comparing Exceptions to Privilege and Confidentiality Relating to Crime, Fraud, and Harm - Can Hard Cases Make Good Law?, 79 UMKC L. REV. 61 (2010).

David B. Wilkins, Team or Rivals, Toward a New Model of the Corporate Attorney-Client Relationship, 78 FORDHAM L. REV. 2067 (2010).


July 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Google Plus for Lawyers

Is the new Google Plus the “Facebook Killer?” Only time will tell. In the meanwhile, Jay Fleischman at Legal Practice Pro offers lawyers a lot of information about Google Plus and ways to use it.


July 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Course Pack Alternatives

I am a firm believer that more professors/adjuncts should be citing to or linking to library resources in lieu of a course pack.  I would argue that most, if not all, of the content in the course pack that you are asking a student to purchase, could be found in library databases.  Asking our students to retrieve the information from a database would reinforce their research skills and would also save the university copyright permission costs.

Your librarians can help provide durable links to database content to embed into your Blackboard or other course site.  Many free resources also allow durable or permalinks.  For example, Thomas.gov allows durable linking to congressional resources. 

When you are planning your course content, contact your librarian for assistance with embedding library resources.  It will save your students money and get the content to them in their preferred format – online for “free”.



July 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Editorial: A Response to Bryan Garner

My co-blogger Jim Levy has posted here about an article in the New York Times by Bryan Garner, which was part of a series of articles concerning whether a third-year of law school is necessary.  While I think that Mr. Garner makes several good points, his article is incomplete, and, thus, it might be misleading to some readers.

He states: "The biggest failure at most law schools is the dearth of seriously good skills courses, especially training in legal writing."   What he neglects to say is that all law schools have a first-year legal writing program, which is usually staffed by highly-trained, dedicated teachers.

He also writes: "Law schools generally reward scholarship, not teaching excellence, and there is a built-in bias against one-on-one teacher-student time."   I agree that one-on-one teacher-student time is vital for students and that law schools need to provide much more one-on-one time.  However, he neglects to point out that one-on-one time is an important part of first-year legal writing.  Legal writing teachers generally spend much more time with their students than any other teacher in the law school.

He also declares:  "On top of that, lawyers of all kinds -- both academic lawyers and practicing ones -- rationalize their linguistic ineptitude by claiming that legal jargon is necessary (most of it isn’t); that writing instruction is elementary, remedial stuff (it should progress to advanced techniques); and that writing style doesn’t matter anyway."  Academic lawyers have not done this for many years.  The movement in law school legal writing programs is for clear writing, and this also applies to most other professors.  Moreover, my experience working for two large law firms for five years in the early 90s leads me to believe that most lawyers also want clear legal writing.

He concludes: "For starters, the second and third years of law school ought to include much more research, writing and editing, with three to six short papers required in each course. . .  Each paper should be subjected to rigorous editing, then rewritten and resubmitted."  I strongly agree with this comment.  Although most law schools require two advanced writing projects, these projects are generally in scholarly writing, and they often do not receive enough supervision.  If a student does not use his legal writing skills, they will atrophy.  However, I should note that most law schools have advanced skills offerings, including clinics,  and many require one advanced skills course.

In sum, I agree with Mr. Garner that law schools need to offer more writing opportunities and more skills courses to their students.  However, we cannot ignore what law schools are already doing and the many professionals who have brought about those changes and who are working for even more change.


July 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bryan Garner in the NYT about why law schools should include significant writing in all three years

My co-blogger Professor Fruehwald reported here on a series of editorials in last Friday's paper opining on the need for a third year of law school. One of the people asked to weigh-in is Bryan Garner. Here's what he had to say about the importance of writing to a good legal education:

The biggest failure at most law schools is the dearth of seriously good skills courses, especially training in legal writing. Law schools generally reward scholarship, not teaching excellence, and there is a built-in bias against one-on-one teacher-student time. Too often the only feedback a student gets from a professor is a single letter grade after the final exam. Now add this: of all law-school courses, legal writing is both the single most time-intensive subject and the least respected.

Most legal scholarship is poorly written and is mired in nonpractical abstraction that few can understand and fewer still can benefit from. Most law professors don’t know how to write well, so they could hardly teach the subject if they wanted to. On top of that, lawyers of all kinds -- both academic lawyers and practicing ones -- rationalize their linguistic ineptitude by claiming that legal jargon is necessary (most of it isn’t); that writing instruction is elementary, remedial stuff (it should progress to advanced techniques); and that writing style doesn’t matter anyway. But it does matter: clear writing equates with clear thinking, and judges and employers cry out for both. Put all these things together, and you have serious educational pathologies.

So what’s the cure? For starters, the second and third years of law school ought to include much more research, writing and editing, with three to six short papers required in each course (not, as is the standard, one “major” research paper during the whole three years). Each paper should be subjected to rigorous editing, then rewritten and resubmitted. (This is perfectly doable. I've done it for classes of 30 at the University of Texas and at Southern Methodist University.) Law schools should get their priorities straight and better meet the needs of their students’ future employers.

Read the remained of Mr. Garner's comments here.


July 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bibliography of recent scholarship on the legal profession - Part 5 on attorney's fees

Here's the fifth installment from Bobby Click, Recent Law Review Articles Concerning the Legal Profession, 35 J. Legal Prof. 173 (2010). Part 1 of this biblio can be found here, Part 2 here, Part 3, here and Part 4, here.

5. Attorney's Fees

Matthew Albanese, Reasonably Untimely: The Difficulty of Knowing When to File a Claim for Attorney Fees in Social Security Disability Cases, and an Administrative Solution, 78 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 1014 (2010).

Victoria L. Collier & Drew Early, Cracks in the Armor: Due Process, Attorney's Fees, and the Department of Veteran Affairs, 18 ELDER L.J. 1 (2010).

Adam Shajnfeld, A Critical Survey of the Law, Ethics, and Economics of Attorney Contingent Fee Arrangements, 54 N.Y.L. SCH. L. REV. 773 (2010). This article offers a comprehensive overview of contingency fee arrangements. Including a discussion of the historical development of the arrangements, justifications for the arrangements, rules governing arrangements, and various proposals of reform.  [*182] 

Stephen E. Friedman, Giving Unconscionability More Muscle: Attorney's Fees a Remedy for Contractual Overreaching, 44 GA. L. REV. 317 (2010). This article focuses on contractual unconscionability. Specifically, the author contends there are inadequate remedies available for victims of contractual unconscionability. The author also suggests giving the courts the ability to award attorney fees in situations of contractual unconscionability to help prevent it in the future.

Brett E. Heyman, Administrative Law - Government Agency Withholding Information, Reimbursing Attorney Fees - Davy v. Central Intelligence Agency, F.3d 1155 (D.C. Cir. 2008), 43 SUFFOLK U. L. REV. 501 (2010).

Philip Talmadge, Emmelyn Hart-Biberfeld & Peter Lohnes, When Counsel Screws Up: The Imposition and Calculation of Attorney Fees as Sanctions, 33 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 437 (2010).

Eyal Zamir & Ilana Ritov, Revisiting the Debate over Attorney's Contingent Fees: A Behavioral Analysis, 39 J. LEGAL STUD. 245 (2010). This article presents a series of experiments that were designed to reveal people's preferences regarding attorneys' fees.


July 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on the one-space, two-space controversy

A lot of ink, um, I mean electrons have been spilled over whether you should put one space or two at the of end of a sentence before starting the next. First Slate.com weighed in (here and here) now comes 3 Geeks and a Law Blog which describes different approaches depending on the medium (smartphone, website, legal document, etc.).  The consensus seems to be that one space is correct (notwithstanding your default settings to the contrary) though I doubt anyone has ever lost a case because they used two.

After attending a 4-hour grammar class--yes, I know, I am a geek--I was heartened to witness that there are those still out there who are positively impassioned about punctuation.
The class erupted in a thirty-minute discussion on--get this--how many spaces should follow a period.
Good grief.
You would have thought we were talking about which soda as better: Pepsi or Coke. No fewer than thirty-five people weighed in on the matter. These were their thoughts:
  1. If you are typing on a typewriter (and, really, who does this?), it is two spaces.
  2. If you are tweeting, it is one space--if you have even written a complete sentence, that is.
  3. If it is a legal document, it is two spaces.
  4. If it is a mobile device, most phones automatically make it a period followed by one space, if you enter two spaces.
  5. If it is web copy, it is one space.
Finally, after nearly coming to fisticuffs, the consensus was to use one space after a period.
Geez. You woulda thought it was the Grammargeddon.
Here's the link.


July 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Using Secondary Sources to Enable Fact Finding by Appellate Courts

In the Legal Intelligencer, Bruce Merenstein explains how appellate courts can use secondary sources to accept facts that were never in the trial record. Here is an example from Sykes v. United States, holding that an Indiana statute criminalizing vehicular flight from a law enforcement officer as a violent felony:

In his opinion for five of the justices in the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy contended that statistics on the dangers of fleeing from police in a vehicle, as well as on injuries arising from other violent felonies listed in the ACCA, "confirm the commonsense conclusion that Indiana's vehicular flight crime is a violent felony." In support of this contention, Kennedy cited statistics from a number of recent studies by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the U.S. Fire Administration, as well as additional statistics from a concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas.

None of these statistics were in the trial record.


July 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA considers changing accreditation standard requiring schools to increase bar pass rates

The present standard requires that 75% of a school's graduates to pass the bar exam in at least three of the past five years. The standard can also be met if the pass rate for first-time takers is no more than 15% below the average pass rate in that state for three of the past five years. The proposed standard would raise those rates to 80% and 10%, respectively. The Standards Review Committee is considering the change in response to concerns that the present rule doesn't offer enough protection to students and will force schools to do a better job preparing them for the bar. However, there are concerns that the proposal will adversely affect minority students.

From the National Law Journal:

The organization is trying to reconcile the legal profession's need for greater diversity with its desire to push law schools to better prepare students to pass the bar. For the second time in four years, it is considering raising the minimum bar-passage-rate requirement as part of a comprehensive review of law school accreditation standards.

Diversity advocates mobilized against the push in 2007 out of fear that it would discourage schools from accepting students -- often from disadvantaged backgrounds -- with lower credentials but high potential. Once again, they are gearing up for a fight. "I don't think any of the previous arguments have gone away," said Ngai Pindell, a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a board member of the Society of American Law Teachers, which opposes any change. The organization "is still concerned with the possible effects on curriculum and on diversity."

. . . .

The hope is that higher standards would push schools with lower passage rates to invest more in academic support and bar preparation, [Santa Clara Dean Don] Polden said [He is chair of the Standards Review Committee]. They also would serve a consumer-protection function, assuring law students a reasonable expectation of passing the bar.

You can read more reporting here.


July 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another reason to banish jargon from your writing

The best reason is that it makes your writing ponderous (in the worst cases, indecipherable). Now this study conducted by NYU and a Swiss University finds that jargon also makes your audience think you're lying. Not good.

Here's the abstract:

In four experiments, the impact of concreteness of language on judgments of truth was examined. In Experiments 1 and 2, it was found that statements of the very same content were judged as more probably true when they were written in concrete language than when they were written in abstract language. Findings of Experiment 2 also showed that this linguistic concreteness effect on judgments of truth could most likely be attributed to greater perceived vividness of concrete compared to abstract statements. Two further experiments demonstrated an additional fit effect: The truth advantage of concrete statements occurred especially when participants were primed with a concrete (vs. abstract) mind-set (Experiment 3) or when the statements were presented in a spatially proximal (vs. distant) location (Experiment 4). Implications for communication strategies are discussed.Apparently the use of business jargon is more likely to make people think you're lying. According to BNet, "the study is out of New York University and a Swiss university and shows that when you want to seem believable and trustworthy, concrete language is the way to go."

The website Vault.com has applied the study to common business jargon and come up with this handy-dandy conversion table to help boost your credibility:

Business-speak             What people who aren't liars say

"Reach out"                    "Talk to/phone/e-mail/send carrier pigeon to"

"Deep dive"                    "Instead of doing our usual half-assed job, we took the time
                                           to investigate properly"

"Deliverables"                 "Mundane tasks I am responsible for completing"

"Ballpark"                       "I have no idea. But here's a guess"

"Verbiage"                      "Words"

"Let's take this offline"     "Let's talk about this after the meeting, so we don't
                                              embarrass ourselves in front of the boss/waste everyone else's time"

Hat tip to the Careerist at lawjobs.com.


July 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

College and grad students use internet more than general population

That's according to this study by the Pew Internet Center. High usage among college and grad students is driven in part because of laptop ownership (presumably purchased in connection with attending school). From the introduction:

When it comes to general internet access, young adults of all stripes are much more likely than the general population to go online. Fully 92% of 18-24 year olds who do not attend college are internet users, comparable to the rate for community college students and just slightly lower than the rate for undergraduate and graduate students (nearly 100% of whom access the internet).

Undergraduate and graduate students differentiate themselves more clearly when it comes to home broadband access, as more than nine in ten undergraduate (95%) and graduate students (93%) are home broadband users—well well above the national adult average of 66%.

Community college students (78% of whom are home broadband users) and young non-students (82% of non-students in the 18-24 age cohort are home broadband users) adopt broadband in comparable numbers—both have higher adoption rates than older adults but lower adoption rates than students in undergraduate or graduate institutions.

When it comes to accessing the internet on a mobile device such as a laptop or cell phone, young non-students (79% of whom are wireless users) are a bit less likely to go online wirelessly than either undergraduate or graduate students, but notably more likely than the overall adult population to do so. These differences in wireless usage between students and non-students are largely driven by differences in laptop computer ownership.

You can read the remained here.

Hat tip to Chronicle of Higher Ed.


July 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Facebook and Legal Practice: Legal and Ethical Issues

Kathleen Vinson has published an important article on the impact of Facebook and other social media on the practice of law. The Blurred Boundaries of Social Networking in the Legal Field: Just 'Face' It, 41 University of Memphis Law Review 355 (2010). Her major conceptual point is that we use social media in both our personal and professional worlds, and the unclear boundary between these two uses canlead to legal and ethical problems. Here is the abstract:

A lawyer gets a third party to "friend" an adverse witness; a judge "friends" defense counsel during a trial; a juror posts a poll on Facebook regarding the outcome of the case; a litigant boasts on Facebook about how much money he anticipates recovering from his lawsuit; a lawyer vents on Facebook about judges, clients, and opposing counsel; photos of a defendant on Facebook show him taking drugs and holding a weapon; and photos on Facebook show a lawyer partying during the week when he was granted a continuance due to an alleged death in his family. Indeed, Facebook can be a treasure trove of information, not only for those with whom users intend to share, but also to unintended audiences. This article explores how the pervasive use of Facebook plays a role in the legal field, puts a spin on old legal issues, and creates new ones. The article examines how the relationship between social networking and members of the legal community continues to evolve, and blur the boundaries between personal and professional worlds, creating legal and ethical minefields. The article provides guidance regarding how to navigate these minefields, beginning in law school and continuing throughout the legal profession.


July 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Article on Power

I have posted a new article on SSRN entitled Power in Contemporary Legal Thought: Postmodernism versus Behavioral Biology by Scott Fruehwald.


This paper will contrast views of power under postmodernism and behavioral biology and how these views affect law, government, and society. Part II will discuss power and postmodernism. It will examine the postmodern concept of power, then analyze offshoots of postmodernism, such as critical legal studies, feminism, and critical race studies in connection with power and law. Part III will present a theory of power and law based on behavioral biology. It will examine behavioral biology and power, contrast behavioral biology and postmodernism concerning power, and contrast notions of power under behavioral biology and offshoots of postmodernism. This paper will conclude that postmodern notions of power are faulty and unworkable, while behavioral biology offers useful ideas on power.


July 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bibliography of recent scholarship on the legal profession - Part 4

The fourth installment. From Bobby Click, Recent Law Review Articles Concerning the Legal Profession, 35 J. Legal Prof. 173 (2010). Part 1 of this biblio can be found here, Part 2 here and Part 3, here.

4. Malpractice, Misconduct, and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Barbara Fedders, Losing Hold of the Guiding Hand: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Representation, 14 LEWIS & CLARK L. REV. 771 (2010). In this article, the author addresses the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel that occurs in juvenile court and the lack of redress that is available to clients when they receive ineffective assistance.

Aliza B. Kaplan, A New Approach to Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Removal Proceedings, 62 RUTGERS L. REV. 345 (2010). This article discusses ineffective assistance of counsel as it exists in removal proceedings--one of the most common types of immigration hearings. The author analyzes current standards for such proceedings, makes a number of recommendations on how the standards should be changed, and then makes a few recommendations that she thinks will help avoid ineffective assistance of counsel in removal proceedings in the future.

Shana-Tara Regon, Bringing an Unlawful Verdict to Light, CHAMPION, Feb. 2010, 12 (2010).

Paul J. Sampson, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Plea Bargain Negotiations, 2010 B.Y.U. L. REV. 251 (2010). This article addresses ineffective assistance of counsel, as it exists in plea bargain negotiations,  [*180]  through an analysis of the major case law in the area and a defendant's constitutional right to counsel.


July 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Another Typing Trick: Large & Small Caps

The other day, I posted a very helpful article of typing shortcuts. Please see below. Here's another one that comes in very handy for those who write law review articles and have to deal with large and small caps. Just type the relevant part of the citation, shade it with your mouse, and click Control+Shift+K.

To get out, just reclick that formula. Of course, none of  this goes to the real question: Why in heaven's name  do  law reviews  still use large and small caps?

Handy Keyboard Tricks for Word

A good way to increase your typing efficiency is to keep your hand off the  mouse as much as possible. In an article on Attorney at Work, Deborah Savadra shows us how with a number of “Hotkeys.” Here are a few examples:

  • Boldface: CTRL+B
  • Italicize: CTRL+I
  • Underline: CTRL+U
  • Increase font size: CTRL+SHIFT+.
  • Decrease font size: CTRL+SHIFT+,

Here’s one that she especially recommends:

Finally, if you memorize no other key combination, remember this one: CTRL+S to Save Document. Although you can have Word automatically save an AutoRecover version of your document every few minutes, it never hurts to save the document yourself frequently.


July 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Legal Research After Law School – Free & Alternative Resources

After the “free” access to Westlaw and LexisNexis is no longer available, what is a newly graduated law student to do when asked to do legal research?  I’m sure that a librarian at some point during their law school career encouraged them to explore the many free and low-cost alternatives to Wexis, but it never gets more real than when they hit the firms.

Here is a link to our library’s guide to free internet legal resources.  One tip I give students is to look to a law library’s website as a gathering place for information like this.  If they find themselves needing to do research in a different jurisdiction, look to the law school libraries in that jurisdiction for guides.  Our Minnesota guide is here.   Most law school libraries have a wealth of information on their websites that is useful for practitioners. 

New graduates should also be aware of services that may be available through their local bar association.  Many states have included CaseMaker or FastCase as part of their bar membership. 

I would also encourage recent graduates to consult with their law firm/corporate librarian when they need research assistance.  If that is not an option (and even if it is) the librarians at their alma mater are another resource they should keep in mind!


July 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maybe it's actually doubleplus unfunny

Eugene Volokh offers sensible advice about using humor in legal writing. He reiterates a common warning: “We amateur comedians notoriously overestimate how funny our jokes are.”

Eugene Volokh, Humor in Legal Writing ,” The Volokh Conspiracy, July 21, 2011.


July 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Summer reading list for improving your legal skills

Even though the summer is half over, there's still plenty of weekends left to grab a book and bone-up on your legal skills if you're so inclined. Check out the recommendations in each of the following categories courtesy of lawjobs.com.

Building relationships and communications

Memory skills ("Moonwalking with Einstein" is a fun, quick read)

Grammar and writing

General wellness

Stress management

Success and motivation


July 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)