Monday, February 20, 2012

Fish on Tamanaha

Stanley Fish has a summary in the New York Times of Brian Tamanaha's book Failing Law Schools, which is to published later this year.  Fish concludes, “Failing Law Schools does not say entirely, or even mainly, new things, but it does present a comprehensive case for the negative side of this debate and I am sure that many legal academics and every law school dean will be talking about it."

(Scott Fruehwald) 

February 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rainmaking advice for new lawyers.

From the Lawyerist blog, 'natch.  Advice is categorized based on whether you're a first year associate, second year or three-to-five years out. Let's start with the advice for freshly minted grads and then you can click on the link at the bottom of this post to get the remaining checklists.

First-Year Associates

Your job is to excel at delivering legal services. Don’t worry about originating new files right now. Your short-term goal is to start building your network. Your long-term goal is to avoid being a 40-year old lawyer with no clients.

  • Volunteer for assignments and ask the firm’s “rainmakers” for assignments. Your eagerness will build a reputation among the partners as a dedicated lawyer. Become known as the “go-to” associate of the first-year associates. Make sure that your work is delivered on time, accurate and error-free.
  • Start a habit of visiting the people you work with at clients. It doesn’t matter that they’re junior people. In five years they will become executives or company owners, and now is your chance to start a relationship with them. For example, drop off work product in person.
  • Take your contacts at clients out for breakfast or lunch. Start the habit of scheduling at least one face-to-face meeting a week. If the firm will reimburse you, go someplace really nice to create a memorable meeting. Ask questions and get to know the other person. Get the person’s business card.
  • Whenever you get a business card, write three things on the back: the date, where you are and what you talked about.
  • When you return to the office, immediately create a contact record for the person in your e-mail or firm CRM system. Record key points about the conversation and the business card information. Remember, you can search a computer record, but you can’t search a wad of cards in a rubber band.
  • Over time, collect more information about the other person – key events in their lives like births, deaths, graduations and promotions; get the names of their spouses/significant others, children; find out their hobbies and what they like to do for fun. Once you have the names of all their pets, you’ve gone deep enough.
  • Create a mailing list and keep it updated. Include your law school classmates (who will become referral sources, judges and in-house lawyers), your fraternity/sorority contacts, college friends, etc. In the future, these are people to whom you’ll send your e-newsletter. Ask your firm’s marketing professional for help.
  • Join a bar association and learn the law. Make friends with people in your generation. Get their business cards.
  • Scrub your Facebook page so there’s nothing you don’t want a client or the managing partner to find. Use the privacy settings to control what’s visible.
  • Go to LinkedIn and create a complete profile with a good picture. One million lawyers have profiles on LinkedIn and it’s the de facto online directory for professionals. The idea is to make yourself easy to find. Invite contacts on other online social networks to connect with you on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t waste time on Twitter. Only 4% of in-house lawyers use it, so there are few potential clients there.
  • Send out holiday cards to your mailing list. Hand-write the signature; do not delegate the signature writing. When you get a holiday card, make a record of the sender’s job or address changes.
  • Sign up to have the firm’s annual report or other firm wide messages sent to your mailing list.
  • Participate in firm functions where clients are present. Encourage senior attorneys to introduce you to clients you don’t know, or go ahead and introduce yourself and thank them for being your firm’s guest. Ask them questions about their work. Get their business card.
  • Look like a lawyer, not like someone who works in the mail room. Take your dress cues from the senior partners and rainmakers. Your office should also look organized and tidy. Do not use the floor for filing space

Click here to read advice for second year associates and beyond.


February 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Good Are Electronic Translations?

How Good Are Electronic Translations?

Here’s the text, followed by the translation, according to Bing.


Efforts to find sniff, arrogance of morning light slowly, this macro text summing up the time of playback Han Han, no outrage, only that "whole body itch but couldn't find where it itches" sense of humor ". Not all the music! It is too absurd! Laughing tears I – the only difference! (Translated by Bing)

(I'm not sure if the Chinese characters will translate onto this posting.)

(Thnx to Joe Dellapenna)

February 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Course Portfolio: State Civil Procedure

Benjamin Madison has just uploaded his State Civil Procedure Course Portfolio to the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Website.  He describes his course as:

"State Procedure is the process of resolving civil cases in state courts. Students are able to see stages of a civil action as separate units and as a whole, while also mastering rules and doctrines necessary to handling civil suits. By the end of the course, students have a better appreciation for the rules and how they are practically applied every day in practice.

As a bridge between law school and practice, the casebook, Civil Procedure for All States, addresses students as actual lawyers. To transition from law student to lawyer, students must engage in the thinking, strategy, and judgment effective litigators embrace as part of practice. Students are challenged to think like lawyers not just by analyzing the Master Problem (used in each chapter of the casebook), but also in resolving numerous factual hypotheticals called “Practice Problems.”

The course does not limit itself to procedures of one state. Each chapter describes the majority approach to a procedural doctrine, the significant minority approach, and those states unique in their approach. Thus, the student identifies the decision-making steps a lawyer must take in handling any case, in any state. Students must then ask the strategic questions that a lawyer should be asking at each stage of litigation as it progresses.

The Master Problem allows students to have a case to which they can return as they progress through each stage. Students are placed in the role of a new associate. In progressing through the lawsuit, the course includes representative case law, but relies more heavily on a problem-based method of teaching. Practice Problems offering true-to-life fact patterns give students chances to apply the law to fact patterns and reach conclusions. Students are asked, in answering a problem, to research the law of their state in determining an answer. Thus, students also reinforce the research skills necessary to law practice."

One note: I like the idea of having students in doctrinal classes do some research.  First, it helps reinforce the differences between different state laws.  More importantly, it helps them hone their research skills.  While students learn research in the first year, those skills atrophy if they are not used.  Clinic teachers often find that their third-year students have forgotten a lot of what they learned in first-year research.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best law schools for bar exam prep.

From National Jurist Magazine.

Best Schools for Bar Exam Preparation:


To identify the schools that are outperforming what their LSAT scores predict, The National Jurist did a statistical analysis using incoming LSAT scores and bar pass rate ratios. We created a polynomial model using each school's LSAT at the 25th percentile for 2010 (to account for the students most likely to fail the bar exam), and the ratio of graduates who passed the bar exam compared to the state average for 2009 and 2010.  The result is a clear curve. We then computed the difference between the average pass rate ratio and what the curve would predict for each school and computed a probability distribution to determine the most extreme deviations.


  1. LSU
  2. Campbell
  3. Stanford
  4. Wake Forest
  5. UC-Berkeley
  6. USC
  7. North Carolina Central
  8. Widener
  9. U. Washington
  10. Nova
  11. Wyoming
  12. Willamette
  13. Wayne State
  14. Marquette
  15. Arizona
  16. Faulkner
  17. George Washington
  18. UCLA
  19. Florida Coastal
  20. California Western
  21. North Carolina
  22. Duquesne
  23. Loyola-L.A.
  24. Virginia
  25. South Carolina
  26. Yale
  27. Indiana-Bloomington
  28. Florida International
  29. Liberty
  30. Capital
  31. South Dakota
  32. George Mason
  33. San Francisco
  34. Arkansas
  35. William & Mary
  36. UC-Davis
  37. Pepperdine
  38. Alabama
  39. Mississippi
  40. Memphis
  41. Vanderbilt
  42. Texas Tech
  43. Seton Hall
  44. Inter-American
  45. Wisconsin
  46. Miami
  47. UNLV
  48. Georgia
  49. Mississippi College
  50. SMU

Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.


February 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fourth Circuit warns attorneys not to use disrespectful language in briefs

The case is U.S. v. Venable, No. 11–4216, 2012 WL 130710 (4th Cir.  Jan. 18, 2012) and the benchslap can be found in n.4.

Finally, we feel compelled to note that advocates, including government lawyers, do themselves a disservice when their briefs contain disrespectful or uncivil language directed against the district court, the reviewing court, opposing counsel, parties, or witnesses.... Unfortunately, the government’s brief is replete with such language: it disdains the district court’s “abrupt handling” of Appellant’s first case ...; sarcastically refers to Appellant’s previous counsel’s “new-found appreciation for defendant’s mental abilities,” ...; criticizes the district court’s “oblique language” on an issue unrelated to this appeal ...; states that the district court opinion in Jones “revealed a crabby and complaining reaction to Project Exile,” ...; insinuates that the district court’s concerns “require[ ] a belief in the absurd that is similar in kind to embracing paranormal conspiracy theories,” ...; and accuses Appellant of being a “charlatan” and “exploit[ing] his identity as an African-American,” .... The government is reminded that such disrespectful and uncivil language will not be tolerated by this court.

On a related note, see this decision from a California federal district court which warned attorneys to nix the overwrought criticism of opposing counsel's alleged failure to comply with discover requests.

Hat tip to the (new) legal writer blog.


February 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Scheduling the Bar Exam

I have received several responses to my recent posting on the Arizona proposal to have 3Ls take the bar in February of their third year. Here’s one: Bar educator Mary Campbell Gallagher is concerned that students who need to retake the bar may find themselves in a “downward spiral.”

Between November and February, most retakers must find or keep a job, earn money, take time off for intensive study, and pay for bar-preparation courses. They cannot get new student loans, but they must repay the loans they already have.

Dr. Gallagher, president of BarWrite® and BarWrite Press, which prepares candidates for the NY bar exam, and a longtime bar-exam educator, says this downward spiral of bar exam failure may especially affect minority candidates. But solutions are straightforward.

WRITE FOR WHITE PAPER. Dr. Gallagher's new white paper, "Eliminating the Downward Bar Exam Spiral," shows how the legal profession can eliminate this downward spiral of failing bar exam results. For a copy, write to:

More to come.


February 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lawyer fined $35k and suspended for frivolous court filings

From the ABA Journal blog:

Ordered by a bankruptcy judge to pay a $14,000 penalty for frivolous filings, in a sanction later upheld (PDF) by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a Florida attorney has now been suspended from practice for three months for the same conduct.

The Florida Supreme Court order imposing the suspension also requires Mary Alice Gwynn to pay $21,000 to cover the cost of the disciplinary proceedings, reports the Palm Beach Post.

The newspaper article doesn't include any comment from Gwynn or her counsel.

Although a referee recommended a 90-day suspension, the supreme court in an opinion (PDF) yesterday suspended Gwynn for 91 days. The one extra day will require her to apply for readmission and prove her fitness to practice, the newspaper points out.

In addition to filing frivolous motions in federal bankruptcy court, in contravention of the best interest of her clients in routine cases, Gwynn continued to do so even after she no longer represented parties in bankruptcy cases, the Florida Supreme Court says in its opinion.

Noting that the referee had found Gwynn's misconduct in a bankruptcy case to be "intentional, serious and repeated, despite and in defiance of warnings issued to her, and sanctions imposed against her, by a sitting federal judge," and that he had found her guilty of 15 rule violations, including not only making frivolous claims but making false statements, the court held that the "obvious seriousness" of the misconduct warranted a 91-day suspension.

The court also found that the referee in the disciplinary case against Gwynn did not abuse his discretion by quashing her effort to subpoena a federal bankruptcy judge for a deposition in the ethics matter.


February 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Darwinian Economic Theory

Economic theory is often a basis of legal theory.  Adam Smith's "theory of the invisible hand" has been the foundation of much law and economics theory.  Now, economist Robert Frank challenges Smith's theory, advocating that Charles Darwin is the true intellectual father of economics.

Robert H. Frank, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good (2011). 

Abstract: "Who was the greater economist--Adam Smith or Charles Darwin? The question seems absurd. Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist. But Robert Frank, New York Times economics columnist and best-selling author of The Economic Naturalist, predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics. The reason, Frank argues, is that Darwin's understanding of competition describes economic reality far more accurately than Smith's. And the consequences of this fact are profound. Indeed, the failure to recognize that we live in Darwin's world rather than Smith's is putting us all at risk by preventing us from seeing that competition alone will not solve our problems.

Smith's theory of the invisible hand, which says that competition channels self-interest for the common good, is probably the most widely cited argument today in favor of unbridled competition--and against regulation, taxation, and even government itself. But what if Smith's idea was almost an exception to the general rule of competition? That's what Frank argues, resting his case on Darwin's insight that individual and group interests often diverge sharply. Far from creating a perfect world, economic competition often leads to "arms races," encouraging behaviors that not only cause enormous harm to the group but also provide no lasting advantages for individuals, since any gains tend to be relative and mutually offsetting.

The good news is that we have the ability to tame the Darwin economy. The best solution is not to prohibit harmful behaviors but to tax them. By doing so, we could make the economic pie larger, eliminate government debt, and provide better public services, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. That's a bold claim, Frank concedes, but it follows directly from logic and evidence that most people already accept."

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S.  Book TV  is currently broadcasting an interview with Professor Frank.  The next showing is Monday at 9:45 a.m. (EST). 

February 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Lost in Professor’s Office

A student went missing in my office--somewhere back in the mazes of shelves, stacked books, papers and files--for nearly three weeks. 

Rescue crews were sent in, but found that they, too, became disoriented and made it back out with much difficulty.  (This was before the advent of GPS.) Guide lines were tied off at the office door, and rescuers were warned to keep the lines in hand as they navigated the often confusing terrain.  Calls echoed through the canyons, only to return unanswered. 

The search was called off after ten days, and the college community tried to come to terms with the loss of one of its own.  A memorial service was held. 

Miraculously, the student found his way out and emerged in relatively good health.  He had survived on half-eaten donuts and the liquids found in abandoned water bottles and coffee cups scattered about the shelves and other flat surfaces.

 From the Chronicle of Higher Education (a comment on an article).  Sounds like my office before I engaged in a major clean-up.


February 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Who owns the copyright in students' class notes?

You'd think it would belong to the students, right?  Well, a couple of universities are claiming otherwise in an effort to thwart those pesky websites selling course prep materials. From MindShift:

California State University and University of California campuses are taking new steps to limit what students can do with their class notes: At least one CSU Chico student recently was reported to judicial affairs for selling notes to a website, while a newly updated UC Berkeley policy restricts how students share their notes with others.

The policies raise questions about whether instructors or students have copyrights to the notes students take in class. While the California Education Code prohibits students and others from selling class notes – and many campuses have policies that also ban unauthorized note-selling – critics say students, not instructors, own the copyright to their own notes.

Some university officials say faculty members have the right to protect their professional reputation – they don’t want inaccurate or low-quality notes to be attributed to them. But others say the university policies are restricting students’ free speech.

“Given the amount of money students are paying to go to school right now, to … confront them with these policies and say, ‘You don’t even have the right to use your own notes any way you want,’ seems to be the wrong message to be sending,” said Jason M. Schultz, assistant clinical professor of law at UC Berkeley and director of the university’s Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic.

The CSU and UC systems have made efforts to shut down private note-selling websites for some time. As early as 1999, the note-selling website sparked officials’ furorat UC Berkeley. In fall 2010, CSU sent a cease-and-desist order to NoteUtopia, which allows students to upload course notes, study guides and outlines to a website, then set a price and earn cash for their work.

More recently, both UC and CSU have sent cease-and-desist letters to Notehall, a note-selling website owned by Santa Clara-based Chegg.

CSU sent its letterto Chegg in January after at least one student was reported to student judicial affairs for selling notes through the service. CSU Chico’s student newspaper, The Orion, reported that two students were referred to judicial affairs, but Lisa Root, the university’s director of student judicial affairs, said there has been only one case involving the note-selling policy in the past three years. She could not comment on the specific case. The one student named in the Orion story declined to talk to a reporter Wednesday.

It’s unclear whether the student was sanctioned or whether other universities in California have sought disciplinary action against students who have sold their notes to third parties.

The letter from CSU to Chegg cited CSU’s own student policies and the California Education Code, both of which prohibit selling, distributing or publishing class notes for a commercial purpose.

Notehall’s website indicates the company is no longer accepting notes from CSU or UC students. Users who try to upload notes for CSU or UC campuses see an error message.

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to Above the Law.


February 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Students Think We’re More Out of Touch Than We Really Are

In class the other day, I used the expression (BFF). Then I said, “You didn’t think I knew that, did you?” And they all laughed. (If you don’t know what it means, just ask your students—and no, it’s not vulgar) The next day, I used the expression “Whatever,” the way the student generation uses it. Again, they laughed.

 The age gap that the students perceive between themselves and us is wider that we might think. Whatever.


February 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Could Law School Applications Hit a 20-Year Low?

Jeff Sovern see this possibility based on applications so far.  He states, "But if the current trend holds, we may see law schools competing more fiercely than usual to fill their classes.  Because there are more law schools than there were back in 1999, with more seats to fill, law schools may admit more applicants with weak credentials.  Alternatively, law schools may shrink their classes. Probably we will see both reductions in class sizes and law schools going more deeply into the applicant pool."

It will be really interesting to see how law schools handle this if the trend continues.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Constitutionality of Health Care Reform Law

Bloomberg Law and SCOTUSblog presented a Supreme Court briefing yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The panel discussion was a preview of upcoming arguments in the health care cases.  The program is available online at Bloomberg Law here.

The panelists included:
• Paul Clement, counsel to the plaintiff states;
• Michael Carvin, counsel to plaintiff National Federation of Independent Business;
• Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General;
• Akhil Reed Amar, professor, Yale Law School.

More information is also posted on the SCOTUSblog.


February 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spring conference on clinical legal education in L.A.

The conference, sponsored by AALS, will be held in Los Angeles from April 30 to May 3, 2012. The following is a description from the AALS web site. Click here and scroll down for the schedule and registration information.

AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education

Takeaways for Clinical Teaching and Assessment in a Changing Environment
Los Angeles, California
April 30 – May 3, 2012

Why Attend?
The conference’s overarching goal is to provide clinical educators with concrete lessons, examples, and ideas for improving teaching, student assessment, and clinical program self-evaluation in the face of a changing legal profession and world. Plenary sessions, mini-plenary sessions, concurrent sessions, and working groups will be structured to emphasize and produce takeaways for improving the teaching of lawyering skills and professional values, incorporating reflection components into externships/field placements and in-house clinical courses, successfully meeting the teaching challenges of today, designing effective student assessment instruments, and engaging in meaningful self-evaluation of clinical programs.

The legal profession and needs of law school graduates have been rapidly changing. The last five years have brought profound changes in the legal profession, including law firm downsizing, a weak legal employment market, and an increasing call for practice-ready law graduates. At the same time, the needs of our client communities continue to evolve, as do our students’ goals and expectations for their clinical experience. These changes have placed, and will continue to place, more demands on clinical legal education within law schools. This conference will explore what these changes mean for clinical faculty while providing attendees with concrete tools they can use at their home institutions.

The conference this year will take place over three and one-half days and will address the changing environment by examining three major themes: (1) setting goals and structuring in-house and externship/field placement clinical courses in an environment in which student goals, client needs, and the profession itself are changing; (2) developing effective techniques for teaching skills, given how the practice of law has evolved and expanded in the 21st century; and (3) measuring the effectiveness of our teaching by learning from different clinical models (simulations, externships/field placements, and in-house clinics).

Continue reading

February 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Note-taking apps for lawyers

The blog Attorney@Work test drives several apps for Apple's iPad and iPhone. Whether you prefer to type, write or record your notes, there's an app for that.  Here are some recommendations:

Note-taking and Audio Recording

I’d been searching a long while to find an app that can take notes and also record audio. Not too long ago, I discovered a very nice one for the iPad called Audiotorium, which allows you to type notes and record the audio from a meeting or lecture simultaneously. (See my mini-review here.) While it is a very good app, however, it does not have handwriting or drawing functionality.

Triple Threat: Note-taking, Audio Recording and Handwriting

In the app world, of course, things change very quickly. Recently I discovered Notability ($0.99) and Soundnote ($4.99), two great iPad apps that offer the three functions I want in a note-taker: typing, audio recording and handwriting. You can’t go wrong with either app—both are inexpensive and both work well. Personally, however, I find Notability to be more feature-rich. With the ability to change the thickness of the writing point, width of lines and paper color and add lines—important to simulate an experience similar to writing on a piece of paper—for me, it offers a better writing experience.

I love having the ability to record meetings and lectures in certain situations and, quite frankly, I do not want to have a separate typing program, or a separate handwriting app, and a separate audio recorder. I want an all-in-one, and Notability provides me with all three functions.

Plus, when choosing a note-taking app, one of my favorite features is the ability to tap the share icon and simply email a note or recording back to the office or to yourself (or save it to Dropbox) for filing into the appropriate matter or project folder. This saves the step of having to scan paper. All three apps mentioned  have this feature. Also, while you could use your finger to write notes on the iPad, I strongly recommend investing in a stylus so that your writing experience is more similar to writing on paper with a pen.

A Find for Handwritten Notes

For the best handwriting experience, my good friend and colleague Brett Burney (MacsinLaw) told me about Noteshelf for iPad ($4.99). Based on my experience and in talking with many other folks, Noteshelf is probably among the highest-ranking and most popular. Penultimate ($0.99) also receives high marks. What sets Noteshelf apart from many other handwriting apps is the ability to magnify the writing area to maximize the sharpness and resolution of your handwriting.

A Dictation App Star

The sound recorder built into the iPhone is too basic for lawyers who need the more traditional features of dictation equipment. A few months ago, an attorney at one of my seminars told me about a great dictation app called Dictamus Dictate & Send ($14.99), which he uses every day. (It’s also iPad-compatible.) I checked it out and now I use it almost daily. Much like a traditional digital recorder, with Dictamus you can rewind, overwrite and insert anywhere within the audio recording. Once you are finished recording, you can download your recordings, send them as e-mails, or upload them to Dropbox, MobileMe, FTP or WebDAV. Many lawyers use Dictamus to email dictation to a virtual assistant. I use it to record my timesheets when I am on the go so that I capture more billable time.

Click here to get some helpful screen shots and additional information from A@W.


February 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Global Report on Impact of Social Media on Legal Profession

The International Bar Association recently published “The Impact of Online Social Networking on the Legal Profession and Practice.”  This post from summarizes the report.

“Among the highlights:
• Almost 70 per cent of respondents felt that it is acceptable for lawyers and judges to have each other as contacts on online social networks.
• Over 90 per cent of respondents considered it unacceptable for lawyers and judges to post comments or opinions about fellow lawyers, judges, parties, or cases in progress on online social networks.
• The vast majority of respondents from jurisdictions comprising a jury system found it unacceptable for jurors to post comments or opinions about the judges, lawyers, parties, and/or cases which they are observing on online social networking sites….
• Over 90 per cent of respondents stated that there is a need for bar associations, societies, and councils, or, alternatively, for the IBA to construe guidelines regarding the use of online social networking sites within the legal profession and practice.”

The report is available here.


February 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Letting 3Ls Take the Bar Exam in February?

Arizona's three law schools [University of Arizona, Arizona State, and  Phoenix] are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to change its admissions rules to allow law students to take the bar exam in February of their third year.

According to their petition, under their proposal, students wishing to take the February bar during their third year would have to obtain a certification from the law school from which they expect to graduate that the student is currently enrolled in a course of study which, if satisfactorily completed, will result in graduation within 120 days following administration of the bar examination, and that the student otherwise satisfies the law school's certification requirements.

Here’s the story. I would wonder how many 3Ls would find the time to study for the bar during the school year and be ready in time for a February exam.


February 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

David Thomson On David Segal And Legal Education

As most of you know, David Segal has published a series of articles on legal education in the New York Times (and elsewhere). The problem that I’ve had with Segal’s articles is that he has an incomplete notion of legal education. He is correct that there are problems in legal education, but he doesn’t see the details of these problems and he misses other problems.

David Thomson has an insightful post on Segal’s articles on Law School 2.0. Thomson writes:

"From my point of view, in his articles in the Times and in this video, Mr. Segal has put a spotlight on problems in legal education at the top (schools that mostly disfavor teaching lawyering skills) and at the bottom (schools that charge a lot and may be playing fast and loose with employment data). But he misses the good middle almost entirely.

There are many law schools today that are working hard (and harder every day) to train their graduates better for a wider range of law practice. One way of looking at the concern about a lack of "small matter" lawyers is that too many law schools are not producing graduates who are ready to practice when they leave, some of whom might "hang out a shingle" competently, and develop a small matter practice and make a decent living doing so (and be able to pay off their educational debt). 

I suppose the sexier, headline grabbing, front page "above the fold" articles are the ones Mr. Segal wants to write. But there is another very encouraging story that he is missing, and by not paying attention to it, he is not providing the full picture of legal education today. There are many encouraging signs. For a start, he might want to look at the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers initiative of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. A consortium of law schools - across the spectrum - are working hard to improve legal education. My own course portfolio - for the Discovery Practicum course - was one of the first ones posted, but I am hardly alone; more and more law professors are changing how they teach law, in part by making it more practice focused.

These efforts are about producing better value for the cost of legal education. We may not be able to reduce the cost, but we can teach better, and prepare our students for a variety of practice settings. As I argue in the Law School 2.0 book, leveraging technology will play an increasingly important role in providing better value for the cost."

Professor Thomson concludes: "The complete picture is much better, and more encouraging, than Mr. Segal acknowledges, and the full story would benefit from his spotlight. Now there's a story to write about."

Exactly.  If those law schools that are making significant changes in legal education receive more publicity, then prospective law students will seek out those institutions.  This will force those institutions that are not making changes to make changes.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Undergrads continue to resist e-textbooks

From the College and University Libraries ("CULS") journal, comes this article entitled The Customer Is Always Right? Resistance from College Students to E-Books as Textbooks, 2 Journal CULS 35 (2012).  To date textbook publishers have met unexpected resistance to a format that everyone assumed digital natives would immediately embrace. It's a story we've been following for a while (here, here and here). This most recent article summarizes some of the student opinion surveys on e-textbooks versus the traditional kind and offers suggestions for how publishers might better address students' concerns.  From the abstract:

As the reign of the e-book continues to expand, more emphasis is being placed on e-books within the academic community, particularly with the idea of e-textbooks. Conventional wisdom suggests that in the same way the e-books now hold a major share of the book market, e-textbooks will continue to expand until they are also the dominant mode of textbook publishing. It also would be expected that current students in colleges and universities, who are usually described as digital natives, would embrace this technology wholeheartedly, but indications from currently-available research suggest the situation may not be as clear-cut. Recent studies have focused on the perceived impediments to e-textbook use from the student‟s point of view. Collectively, they provide some guidance for appropriate modification of the technology, and suggest ways in which libraries and instructors might market e-textbooks more effectively.


February 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)