Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Job opening for legal skills prof

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed (where you can apply online):

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites applications from entry level and lateral candidates for lawyering skills faculty positions in our nationally recognized CaseArc Integrated Lawyering Skills Program beginning in July 2012. These are non-tenure track long or short term contract positions, for which unlimited renewals are possible. Candidates will be considered for appointment as an Assistant, Associate or Full Professor based upon their practice and teaching experience.

Lawyering skills faculty will primarily teach legal research, analysis, and writing, and will be responsible for preparing and coordinating simulation exercises which teach basic interviewing counseling, negotiating and oral advocacy skills as part of a faculty team in our lawyering skills curriculum. We seek candidates with distinguished academic records and practice experience (in litigation settings) as well as a strong commitment to the teaching of lawyering skills. To be eligible for appointment at the rank of Full Professor, the candidate will ideally have at least five years of prior teaching experience. Candidates at the rank of Associate Professor will ideally have at least two years prior teaching experience. Candidates at the rank of Assistant Professor should have impressive academic credentials and work experience and should demonstrate potential as a strong classroom teacher. Minimum requirements: JD or equivalent from a US or foreign law school and passage of a state bar exam.

In employment, as in education, Case Western Reserve University is committed to Equal Opportunity and Diversity. Women, veterans, members of underrepresented minority groups, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Case Western Reserve University provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process should contact the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at 216-368-8877 to request a reasonable accommodation. Determinations as to granting reasonable accommodations for any applicant will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Contact: Catherine Adkins, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. Further information about the law school and the CaseArc Program is available at http://law.case.edu


July 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Majority of ABA Standards Review Committee favors job security for skills profs

From the National Law Journal:

An ABA committee is leaning toward extending job protections for law school clinicians, writing instructors and other nontraditional faculty in a way that would stop short of traditional tenure.

The Standards Review Committee on July 10 voiced initial support for a proposal to require that schools at least provide full-time faculty members with a "program of presumptively renewable long-term contracts that are at least five years in duration after a probationary period reasonably similar to that for tenure-track faculty members."

The contracts would not provide the same job security as tenure, but would offer more protection than exists at present for many nontenured faculty, who often work under short-term contracts.

The idea is to eliminate inequality between different types of law professors, said vice chairwoman Margaret Barry, a professor at Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. The committee has yet to decide whether faculty members on long-term contracts should have the same voting rights regarding faculty promotions that tenured faculty enjoy.

The matter came up during a two-day meeting in Minneapolis of the committee, which among other reforms has been debating whether the ABA should require law schools to grant faculty tenure. Many academics have long read the existing standards as protecting tenure rights, but the review committee has questioned that interpretation and has taken the position that the ABA should not regulate the terms and conditions of employment.

The proposal was drafted by committee member Allen Easley, dean of the University of La Verne College of Law. It would result in two tiers of law professors: those who hold tenure or are on the tenure track, and those holding long-term contracts. Proponents argued that the two-tier system at least would eliminate some of the disparities that now exist. At many law schools, clinicians and legal writing instructors lack job security and faculty voting rights.

"There definitely has been progress towards protecting security of position and acknowledging that it's not enough to simply say, 'We protect academic freedom,' " said Carol Chomsky, a member of the Society of American Law Teachers, which opposes removing references to tenure from the accreditation standards. "I think having a floor of a five-year renewable contract is an important thing. There's still a question about what that means, however. Is it like tenure?"

The proposed standard would allow law schools to hire full-time faculty on short-term contracts during a probationary period. It also would allow a "limited number of fixed-term appointments" under short-term contracts, "so long as they are not restricted to a single class of faculty." That language was added after committee members worried that some schools would lay off faculty members who now work under short-term contracts instead of committing to hiring them on five-year contacts. The standards would not preclude law schools from offering fellowships or visiting professor positions. "You could have a number of limited fixed-term appointments, but they can't all be legal writing faculty," Easley said.

Not everyone agrees that the committee's new direction is the right one. Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen said that the committee has done well to eliminate ambiguities in the existing standards pertaining to tenure. But he maintained that the ABA should not dictate how law schools employ faculty members.

Committee chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, warned that adding job protections for faculty members might not sit well with the public, given the job climate.

"Students can't get jobs, but the Standards Review Committee has a proposal that guarantees jobs for all law professors," he said. "It looks bad and the [ABA's Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar] might not like that. We have to be aware of the political context."

The committee has yet to reach a final recommendation, but a majority of its members appeared to support the proposal. There was little support for simply leaving the existing standards as they are or making only minor tweaks. "We signed on to make the standards better," Easley said. "If we think something is really broken, it's our responsibility to try to make it better."


July 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wall Street Journal: "Law Schools Get Practical: With the Tight Job Market, Course Emphasis Shifts From Textbooks to Skill Sets"

From Monday's WSJ:

Looking to attract employers' attention, some law schools are throwing out decades of tradition by replacing textbook courses with classes that teach more practical skills.

Harvard Law offers a problem-solving class for first-year students.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law started teaching project management this year and also offers a course on so-called emotional intelligence. The class has no textbook and instead uses personality assessments and peer reviews to develop students' interpersonal skills.

New York Law School hired 15 new faculty members over the past two years, many directly from the ranks of working lawyers, to teach skills in negotiation, counseling and fact investigation. The school says it normally hires one or two new faculty a year, and usually those focused on legal research.

And Washington and Lee University School of Law completely rebuilt its third-year curriculum in 2009, swapping out lectures and Socratic-style seminars for case-based simulations run by practicing lawyers.

A few elite players also are making adjustments. Harvard Law School last year launched a problem-solving class for first-year students, and Stanford Law School is considering making a full-time clinical course—which entails several 40-hour plus weeks of actual case work—a graduation requirement.

"Law firms are saying, 'You're sending us people who are not in a position to do anything useful for clients.' This is a first effort to try and fix that," says Larry Kramer, the law dean at Stanford.LAWSCHOOLS

The moves come amid a prolonged downturn in the legal job market. Only about one-quarter of last year's graduating law-school classes—down from 33% in 2009—snagged positions with big law firms, according to the National Association for Law Placement, an organization that collects employment data.

In past years, a law firm could bill clients for a new lawyer's work, even if that time were spent getting the novice up to speed. During the recession, corporate clients started limiting the number of hours a firm could charge and made it a policy not to pay for first-year associates, explains Don Liu, general counsel for Xerox Corp.

"This is a push from clients saying, 'Why are we going to pay this kind of money? We don't want to train the new lawyers,'" says Jennifer Queen, head of recruiting for McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.

There are also fewer jobs to go around at a time when lawyers are in excess. In 2010, there were more than twice as many people—about 54,000—who passed the bar exam than there were legal job openings in the U.S., according to an analysis by consultants at Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

Most law schools' offerings cover a wide range of topics, but clinical placements—often students' first chance for a taste of real law work—are usually optional and far fewer in number than theory-based courses.

"Medical students learn from real doctors in a real hospital during their education. In law, we're learning from a bunch of academics who have deliberately elected not to pursue law as a profession...there's such a disconnect," says BeiBei Que, a 2007 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law. Ms. Que, who runs a boutique law firm that helps tech start-ups navigate legal issues, says she had to pick up practical skills—networking, soliciting clients, forming a business plan—on her own.

Law schools have generally lagged behind other, more real-world oriented institutions like business schools in piloting practical improvements, as law professors tend to focus on scholarly work, says Bill Henderson, a professor at Maurer. And curriculum change tends to "move like a glacier," he adds.

But many remain skeptical that new approaches to education will have a meaningful impact on the ability of lawyers to land jobs. "It could enhance the reputation of the law school...as places that will produce new lawyers who have practical skills," says Timothy Lloyd, a partner at Hogan Lovells and chair of its recruiting committee. "As to the particular student when I'm interviewing them? It doesn't make much of a difference."

Other recruiters say schools that have overhauled programs need to do a better job of promoting the changes to employers in order to see an impact. Until then, law school prestige will remain a big factor, says Bruce MacEwen, a law firm consultant and blogger who tracks the legal industry.

"Firms are very obsessed with prestige," he says. "That's just a fact of life."


July 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Legal skills-related job opening: Law clinic office manager

Here are the details via the U. Arkansas Human Resources Office (or click here):

Job Number: Y11218  
Job Title: Clinic Office Manager  
Department: Law  
Posted Date: 07/08/2011  
Description: The Clinic Office Manger directs and manages the administration and operations of the overall program including all in-house clinics with approximately four faculty, two staff, and 60-75 student attorneys each semester. Functions include performing administrative tasks and management of finance and human resources IT, facilities and student services. General management includes long and short range strategic planning and directing activities of the Law School Legal Clinic with law school staff and subordinates.  
Minimum Requirements: Bachelor's degree is required, JD or other advanced degree preferred. Salary is commensurate with experience.  
Job Duties: Administrative functions include selection, training, supervising, and evaluating clinical staff; maintain legal paperwork including malpractice insurance, Rule XV certification of student attorneys, and connections with local courts; maintain accounting for client trust account (IOLTA); create and maintain internal policies, operating procedures, and forms; prepare reports for relevant individuals including the Law School administration; create and manage ethical instruction for staff working in a legal environment. In addition, the Clinic Office Manager is charged with heading up publicity both within the law school and the outside community.

This position will include duties related to the Law School Pro Bono Program, which would require direct contact with students and non-profit organizations in the area.  
Where To Apply?

Please send cover letter and resume to: Attention Legal Clinic; UA School of Law, Fayetteville, AR 72701

July 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2011

What's wrong with legal writing and how to fix it: II

One of my co-bloggers has a post below with thoughts by Wayne Schiess on what's wrong with legal writing and how to fix it.  It's a very good list, but I have some additional suggestions.

1.  I agree that students should take drafting, but I don't think that legal writing and drafting should be in the same course.  First, there is already too much to do in first-year legal writing.   Second, few lawyers do both litigation and transactional work.  You want experts to teach these courses, so they usually should be taught by different professors.  Finally, there is already too much to do in the first year.  Drafting should be in the second year.

2. Students should have a legal writing and research experience in every semester of law school.  Otherwise, the skills will atrophy.

3.  First-year legal writing should include more detailed skills exercises, such as synthesize exercises, rule-based reasoning exercises (deductive reasoning), and analogical exercises (case comparisons).   I have seen some very good examples of these exercises at legal writing conferences in recent years.

4. All courses should teach foundational legal skills.


July 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Focus in cinema and writing

In The New York Times over the weekend, film critic Manohla Dargis wrote about “inattentional blindness” — the perceptual phenomenon of not seeing obvious things in plain sight — and how “[f]ilmmakers employ an arsenal of narrative strategies to hook and keep your attention” in order to “focus your gaze” on the things the director wants you to see rather than let your attention wander, perhaps into pondering holes in the narrative that a director’s skill has, to that point, managed to disguise.

Although Dargis develops the theme to explain why movie critics (i.e., experts) often find satisfaction in films that frustrate or annoy casual moviegoers (i.e., nonexperts), a different point, relevant to legal writing, emerged for me, best summarized in these paragraphs in which Dargis reports on an e-mail exchange with film theorist David Bordwell, emeritus professor of film studies in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

      I e-mailed Mr. Bordwell to ask what he thought about the idea that at least part of the difficulty some viewers have with some films may be a matter of habits of cognition and visual perception. “Narrative is our ultimate top-down strategy in watching a movie,” he wrote back, “specifically, I think, classical narrative principles.”
      The narrative keeps us watching, in other words. But, “when nothing is happening, or when the shot is distant or prolonged — we can’t so easily apply our narrative schemas,” he continued. “If you don’t have other schemas in your mental kit, your perception is just lost. As you suggest, the viewer has to retune her perception.[”]
Although Professor Bordwell goes on to make a point about the utility of upending narrative conventions in film (at least in the hands of a skilled director), his comment about “retun[ing] . . . perception” highlights an important reason for maintaining focus in legal writing, especially in advocacy writing. Advocacy writing implies the existence of at least one competing narrative. Cf.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” (Tom Stoppard’s retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from the perspective of two of the play’s minor characters). The advocate wants to focus the audience’s attention on one of those multiple narratives and lead the audience to accept that narrative as the only legitimate one (or at least the best or better one). A well-focused, well-written advocacy document (usually a brief or legal memorandum) attunes the reader’s perception and keeps the reader from spontaneously “retun[ing] . . . perception” to ponder possible alternatives to the advocate’s story, hence to the advocate’s overall advocacy. An advocacy document that lacks or loses focus facilitates that retuning, and rarely (if ever) will retuning help the advocate.

Like most filmgoers, most readers (and in the legal arena, especially judges and law clerks) look askance at a narrative to which they “can’t so easily apply [their] narrative schemas.” This principle doesn’t preclude creativity, but does imply (again, especially in the legal arena) that a writer needs to recognize the bounds (established by the reader’s expectations) within which to exercise that creativity, and for the advocate, to exercise that creativity in a focused way that takes advantage of “inattentional blindness.”

But what happens if a legal writer concludes that an advocacy document isn’t doing its job? Maybe “abandon, regroup, and restart” becomes the best strategy. It happens to even the best writers.

Manohla Dargis, What You See Is What You Get,” N.Y. Times, July 10, 2011, p. AR13 (New York ed.).
Dan Kois, Why Do Writers Abandon Novels?,” N.Y. Times, March 6, 2011, p. 27 (Sunday Book Review).


July 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What publishers are doing to stoke interest in e-textbooks

They've been a surprisingly hard sell as publishers learn even digital natives prefer print when it comes to serious reading.  From Inside Higher Ed:

Can academic presses harness the recent popularity of textbook rentals to steer customers toward e-books?

A number of presses are hoping so. At a time when many customers are making decisions with one hand on their wallets, academic presses are looking to stoke interest in their electronic versions by offering digital rentals for a reduced price.

For example, instead of buying a paperback or e-book for $20 at the Stanford University Press website, students and scholars can pay $5 to access an e-book for 14 days, or $10 for 60 days.

“The humanities and social science communities … have been relatively slow to adopt e-books,” wrote Alan Harvey, deputy editor of the Stanford press, in an e-mail. “This program is our way of aiding the transition; offering very cost-effective and efficient ways for scholars and students to access our content.”

Stanford is not alone. Academic presses at several other universities are running similar rental programs, including the presses at the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and Ohio University.

. . . .

While the writing on the wall says digital texts and e-readers are the future, the numbers on the balance sheet say most students and scholars are not choosing digital over print — at least not when it comes to serious reading. E-book sales have risen for a number of university presses in the last six months, but as a percentage of total business they remain in the low- to mid- single digits at most presses.

“Though some presses might reasonably think that this undercuts sales of print or full-priced e-books, we're really trying to incentivize sales in an area where we've lacked success,” says James A. McCoy, director of the University of Iowa Press.

You can read the rest here.


July 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New scholarship: "Is Legal Scholarship Out of Touch? An Empirical Analysis of the Use of Scholarship in Business Law Cases"

This one is by Professor Michelle M. Harner (Maryland) and Jason A. Cantone (Ph.D. candidate in law and philosophy, U. Nebraska) and can be found at 19 U. Miami Bus. L. Rev. 1 (2011). From the abstract:

Commentators have observed two apparent trends in the use of legal scholarship by the judiciary. First, judges now cite law review articles in their opinions with less frequency. Second, despite this general decline in the invocation of legal scholarship, judges now cite articles in specialty journals with more frequency.

Some commentators attribute the apparent decline in the courts' use of legal scholarship to the increasingly theoretical and impractical nature of that scholarship. A few studies even suggest that the increasing use of specialty journals by the courts reflects the gap between the content of legal scholarship in general law reviews and the practical needs of the judiciary. Others defend the academy, taking the position that academics continue to write meaningful doctrinal articles and that theoretical and interdisciplinary pieces encourage broader intellectual discourse regarding legal issues.

The study underlying this article analyzes and counters the claim of the diminishing role of legal scholarship in the context of business law cases. Specifically, the study focuses on the use of legal scholarship by Delaware state courts from 1997 to 2007, as well as on an interval basis dating back to 1965. The study detects no general downward trend in the use of legal scholarship in business law cases. Moreover, the study undertakes a detailed analysis of factors predicting a court's likelihood to cite legal scholarship. Overall, the study provides a unique insight into when, why, and how courts invoke legal scholarship in business law cases and, consequently, may help inform future scholarship intended to influence court decisions in this discipline.


July 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What's wrong with legal writing and how to fix it

This is an older post (worth reading again) reprinted by the blog An Associate's Mind.

“Lawyers have two common failings. One is that they do not write well, and the other is that they think they do.”

This line is from Wayne Schiess’s (of Legalwriting.net) “Legal Writing Is Not What It Should Be.” It focuses on producing better legal writers at the law student and new lawyer level. The 9 Failings are:

  1. The writing high school and college students do is usually self-expression or knowledge-telling, not analysis.
  2. Legal writing courses must cover legal research, the conventions of legal English, objective written legal analysis, and persuasive written legal analysis; this leaves little time to focus on fine points and writing style.
  3. Law schools do not adequately train students in legal drafting.
  4. Lawyers imbibe lots of poor writing from judicial opinions and other required reading.
  5. Lawyers rely on form documents that are poorly written.
  6. In writing legal analysis, many digest the authorities superficially; in drafting agreements, many understand the transactions superficially.
  7. The time pressure of law practice doesn‟t allow enough revising and editing to produce a quality product.
  8. Some lawyers have a misguided sense of professionalism, leading to a formal writing style that ignores audience needs.
  9. Many lawyers are complacent, believing their writing is above average or better.

Professor Schiess’ s recommendations are as follows:

  1. Law school’s first-year legal-writing programs should continue to focus on written legal analysis – intensely and thoroughly – and should also include mandatory instruction in legal drafting. (Fine points of style, rhetoric, and plain language should be left to upper-division writing courses.) Those who teach these crucial skills should be treated like serious professionals.
  2. Organizations that hire new lawyers, like courts, firms, agencies, and companies, should re-quire that all new lawyers receive training in edit-ing and the conventions of legal English. They could also hire editing specialists.
  3. State bar associations should require legal-writing training as part of the mandatory continuing legal education. Many states require ethics credit as part of continuing legal education so why not the crucial skill of legal writing?
  4. Individual lawyers must take more responsibility for their own legal-writing skills and must constantly seek to improve. Lawyers should read a book on writing or legal writing once a year, open themselves up to honest critique, acquire and con-sult the best sources on writing, and attend a continuing legal-education course on legal writing.

You can read the rest here.


July 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A free job-search resource for law students - JD Match

Below is a description of JD Match that we ran back in April (courtesy of the Wall Street Journal). The good news is that the service just announced it is waiving the $99.00 sign-up fee.  In addition to the free introductory rate, new members can also elect  a "premium" upgrade option for $49.00 a year.

[The premise of JD Match] is to link law students looking for jobs with hiring law firms without a lot of the wasted time, effort, expense and overall agony brought on by the current law-school hiring process, with its interviews and fly-backs and courtship and disappointment.

JD Match, which is largely the brainchild of law-firm consultant and writer Bruce MacEwen, who will serve as the company’s president, will “match” law students with firms, much in the way matching services pair up medical students and residency programs.

It’ll work like this: law students will pay $99 per recruiting season to sign up. From there, they’ll upload their information, including a resume, etc., and will then rank the law firms they’d like to work for. On the other end, the firms will rank students who’ve signed up.

Then comes “match day.” Using a “proprietary algorithm,” the service will match the firms and students based on their own preferences. Matches will be run three times during the recruiting period: in August, September and again in October.

Hat tip to Above the Law.


July 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)