Thursday, April 26, 2012
This post from the ResumeBear blog offers some useful tips for building a resume through professional development.
“In an unsettling job market, professional development is critical to boosting your resume and becoming more marketable. Look at it as building your personal brand; give your potential employer a reason to want you around, trust that you have a lot to offer, and see you as a valuable asset to their team. Professional development shows that you’ve taken time to hone your skills and focus in on areas that are critical to your career success.”
The tips, which would certainly be applicable to law students, include:
- Continuing education – law students could attend bar association seminars as well as look for online opportunities;
- Volunteering; and
- Personal learning – it never hurts to keep working on building research skills!
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Faculty salaries comprise the largest component of law school overhead and thus it's where most student tuition goes. Consequently it's always been reasonable to assume that jumps in tuition are directly attributable to the cost of finding and retaining good faculty. But this new study from the American Association of University Professors ("AAUP") found that's not the case when it comes to undergraduate faculty. The rise in college tuition of late has far outstripped faculty salary increases in some cases by a factor of four. So what's the explanation?
According to the AAUP study there are several factors responsible including the need to subsidize students who can't pay full-freight, the recurring costs of improving the technology infrastructure, the growing ranks of non-teaching staff and executive pay. Of course the AAUP has a vested interested in these findings so you have to read the excerpt below with that in mind. And before Elie Mystal and Paul Campos rip me a new one for even suggesting that law school faculty salaries aren't to blame for why our students have debt loads they can never repay, I'm just reporting the story - it doesn't mean I sympathize with the conclusions.
This year’s report begins with a summary of the findings of the annual AAUP survey of full-time faculty compensation. We then go on to consider a hot topic in policy debates about higher education: the rising price of college tuition and the questions about what’s driving it. (Spoiler alert: it’s not faculty salaries!) Following that, we take another look at what college and university presidents are earning—a topic about which we receive questions every year. In the final sections of this year’s report we touch on new topics. We provide a fresh analysis of the impact of unionization on full-time faculty earnings across different institutional sectors. We anticipate the release of new data on part-time faculty pay that will enable a much more complete description of faculty compensation. And in light of the issues raised by the emergence of the “Occupy” movement, our final section goes beyond our usual focus on higher education and looks at the broader US income distribution.
. . . .
Two variables are relevant to the analysis of college tuition: published tuition price and net tuition cost. Published tuition price is the “sticker price” colleges and universities print in their admissions materials. It’s the price paid by students who aren’t receiving any financial aid. Net tuition cost is the published tuition price minus grant aid, tax credits, and tax deductions; it represents the out-of-pocket tuition costs for students and families. Colleges and universities have learned to set tuition in much the same way that airlines set ticket prices, charging different people different rates for the same service. (In economics this would be referred to as “price discrimination.”) Students who pay full price help subsidize the grants that lower the costs for students receiving need- or merit-based aid.
Parents, politicians, and the press tend to focus on increases in published tuition prices. Although that measure overstates the rate of increase, it does contribute to the “sticker shock” that may discourage some students from pursuing higher education. According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2011, for the most recent five-year period between 2006–07 and 2011–12 average published tuition and fees at four-year colleges increased by 5.1 percent more than inflation. But net tuition and fees increased by just 1.4 percent above the inflation rate during the same period, and some two-thirds of all students receive at least some form of financial aid. Tuition prices are rising and are a source of anxiety for many middle-class families, although the net effect may not be as great as many people think.
So, why is the price of college tuition rising? AAUP survey data demonstrate that, contrary to a persistent myth, full-time faculty salaries are not the cause of rising tuition prices over the last three decades, as shown in table B. During the 1980s, increases in inflation-adjusted published tuition and fees at private four-year colleges and universities were more than double the increases in full-time faculty salaries. Tuition prices increased at three times the rate of faculty salaries in public four-year colleges and at more than four times the rate in community colleges. And this was during a decade when full-time faculty salaries were rising to compensate for significant losses against inflation in the previous decade.
During the 1990s, increases in both tuition and fees and full-time faculty salaries slowed somewhat. Nonetheless, the pattern of tuition prices rising several times faster than faculty salaries continued. Tuition and fees in four-year colleges once again rose three or four times as fast as full-time faculty salaries, on average. And the inflation-adjusted published tuition and fees in public two-year colleges increased by 5.4 percent, even while real faculty salaries declined by 2.1 percent.
In the most recent decade the tuition trends at public and private institutions diverged substantially. As figure 1 illustrates with data from the independent Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability, state and local appropriations for public higher education declined between 1999 and 2009 after adjusting for inflation and increasing enrollment. Public colleges and universities had little choice but to raise tuition prices to make up for the decline in government support, and figure 2 indicates that at public colleges and universities net tuition revenues per full-time equivalent (FTE) student increased between 35 and 50 percent between 1999 and 2009. By the end of this period, tuition was nearly as large a source of revenue as state and local appropriations for public research and master’s universities, although it had reached only about half the level of appropriations in community colleges.
AAUP data clearly indicate that full-time faculty salaries have not been driving up the costs of higher education over the last three decades. But figure 3 provides additional compelling evidence that the revenue from increased tuition prices is not being invested in faculty members. As has been discussed repeatedly in this annual report, the proportion of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members has been falling precipitously. During this period the proportion of faculty members working part time has increased substantially, at rates of pay that are only a fraction of what full-time faculty members receive.
The evidence is unequivocal: faculty pay is not the source of rising tuition prices. And we’re not the only ones reaching that conclusion. The Delta Project concluded in its Trends in College Spending, 1998–2008 that “over the 1998 to 2008 period, the share of instruction spending declined against increased spending for academic support (libraries and computing), institutional support (administration), and student services. . . . The common myth that spending on faculty is responsible for continuing cost escalation is not true.”
You can read the full report here.
Hat tip to Brian Leiter's Law School Reports blog.
So who has thought about the ramifications of presenting a case to a jury including millennials? The Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain has:
In November 2008, the Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain,
Sir Igor Judge, sounded a warning about the generational
shift occurring as web-savvy citizens accustomed to getting
their information online entered the jury box. Noting the
consequences of this shift for the system of trial by jury, the
Lord Chief Justice observed, “If a generation is going to arrive
in the jury box that is totally unused to sitting and listening
but is using technology to gain the information it needs to
form a judgment, that changes the whole orality tradition with
which we are familiar.
In an article in the Texas Bar Journal, authors John G. Browning and Professor Wendy A. Humphrey discuss the issue and conclude:
In short, the majority of these Gen Y representatives clearly
favored the use of technology in the courtroom and indicated
that they would be in a much better position to absorb information
that was presented visually as well as verbally. Yet even
among the multitasking members of Generation Y, the picture
was by no means clear when it came to the possibility of too
much technology in the courtroom and the risk of sensory
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School is opening a new branch in Savannah this fall. Their website is here.
Update: More info here. "The Savannah Law School’s first class will be limited to 95 students with plans to increase enrollment to 400 to 450 in following years. The school has received more than 400 applications since Dec. 15, 2011." And here.
(Scott Fruehwald) (hat tip: Lucy Jewell)
As most of you probably know, Washington & Lee emphasizes skills in the third year of law school. James Moliterno has recently posted a portfolio on the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Website, which describes W & L's Litigational and Transactional Immersions. The portfolio is very detailed, so it is worth reading as a whole.
He summarizes the courses as: "There are two immersion courses in our new 3L experiential curriculum, which is required of all students. The fall two-week immersion is litigation oriented while the spring two-week immersion is transactional. The two immersions are offered as one portfolio because both are required of all 3Ls as part of W&L’s third year curriculum and because they share the same overall structure and teaching methodology. While each of the immersions provides the respective foundations upon which the rest of each semester is built, each is separate from the other as well as separate from the rest of the practicums, clinics and externships subsequently offered each semester of the third year."
"The two-week Litigation Immersion occurs in the fall of students’ third year. Each student represents either employer or employee in a simple, wrongful discharge matter. Throughout the Litigation Immersion, students play the role of the “clients”, and also represent a client in a separate but similar case. Students were told in advance that their experiences in the immersion program would be free-flowing, and somewhat more realistic and unpredictable than their prior law school experiences, with new issues arising and changes of course taking place as the litigation developed."
"During the two-week Transactional Immersion in the spring, each student represents either buyer or seller in a friendly, business transaction: the purchase of a small, family-owned manufacturing business (the “deal”). Throughout the Transactional Immersion, instructors play the role of the “clients” (buyer or seller), with pairs of student “lawyers” being assigned to represent their client, working with a pair of students representing the other side. Students were told in advance that their experiences in the Immersion program would be free-flowing, and somewhat more realistic and unpredictable than their prior law school experiences, with new issues arising and changes of course taking place as the transaction developed."
He notes, "When students learn law in this and other experience-based courses at W&L, they learn law as lawyers do rather than as students do. They learn law to solve a client’s problem or provide a needed service. That is how lawyers engage law. Students, by contrast, learn law to take an exam. That, too, has value, but the transition to a lifetime of engaging law as lawyers do is necessary for adoption of the professional role and mind-set. This is what a third year of experiential education accomplishes."
I especially like Professor Moliterno's comment on experential education: "Experential education is not, as some would belittle it, merely skills teaching. Instead, it is the primary vehicle for professional enculturation and a valuable vehicle for teaching law and theory. Learning by doing is more than mere activity-based exercises. Learning by doing is a role transition, in this instance from student to lawyer. Guided activities in role allow students to test and adopt the professional role, with the guidance of an expert mentor and teacher."
Kudos to Washington & Lee for their immersion programs and emphasis on skills.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This week's benchslap comes to us from the New York Appellate division which suspended an attorney for two years (!) for filing briefs of "shockingly poor quality" that, among other things, spelled clients' names wrong and including facts not in the record. As our sister publication the Legal Profession blog reports, the court imposed the sanction as "reciprocal discipline" based on a finding by the Second Circuit regarding the attorney's filings. An excerpt from the state court decision:
The Departmental Disciplinary Committee ("DDC") now seeks an order pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.3, imposing reciprocal discipline on respondent based on an order issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, dated July 8, 2011, publicly reprimanding him and suspending him from the practice of law for a period of two years. The Committee requests that this Court suspend respondent for two years, or impose whatever discipline it deems appropriate. Respondent, appearing pro se, consents to the imposition of reciprocal discipline.
The Second Circuit proceeding concerned charges that respondent: (1) submitted deficient briefs in seven immigration matters; (2) failed to comply with numerous scheduling orders, including failing to submit briefs in support of immigration petitions; and (3) filed with the Second Circuit petitions that involved immigration proceedings completed in other circuits. Respondent, pro se, submitted a response in June 2009, offering a variety of explanations for his lapses: a large influx in immigration petitions arising from family planning laws in China; the onset of glaucoma in 2008; his inability to bear the expense of filing briefs where clients had abandoned their cases; law office disruptions due to his moving his law office and problems with receiving mail; and procedural changes in the Second Circuit's management of its immigration docket.
When respondent informed the Second Circuit's Committee on Admissions and Grievances that he waived his right to appear at a hearing and did not intend to present witnesses on his behalf, but would rely on his July 2009 response, the Committee issued a report without holding a hearing, relying on court records and respondent's submissions. It concluded that respondent had submitted briefs of "shockingly poor quality," replete with defects such as incorrect clients' names, inclusion of irrelevant boilerplate, and reference to evidence that had not been submitted. It observed that respondent's explanation that he had relied on a paralegal for some of his work, and had filed that work without reviewing it, constituted an admission that he had aided the unauthorized practice of law in violation of DR 3-101(A) and failed to supervise non-lawyer staff acting at his direction, in violation of DR 1-104[C] and [D]. It found that respondent had neglected numerous matters in violation of DR 6-101(A)(3), resulting in the dismissal of seven petitions. It also found that most of his filing of petitions in the wrong circuit resulted from a failure to read the records and, in any event, showed a lack of respect for and lack of candor toward the court. The Committee on Admissions and Grievances recommended a two-year suspension, with respondent required to present evidence of attendance at CLE classes in brief-writing and law office management before being permitted to resume practice.
The Second Circuit adopted the Committee's recommendations, publicly reprimanding respondent and suspending him for two years, and imposing the recommended reinstatement requirements.
. . . .
In deciding on the appropriate sanction in reciprocal discipline matters, it is generally accepted that great weight should be accorded to the sanction imposed by the jurisdiction in which the charges were originally brought (see Matter of Jaffe, 78 AD3d 152 ; Matter of Jarblum, 51 AD3d 68 ). The two-year suspension imposed by the Second Circuit does not deviate significantly from our precedent, in which we have suspended attorneys who have neglected client matters and failed to handle caseloads appropriately (see e.g. Matter of Cohen, 40 AD3d 61 ; Matter of Leavitt, 291 AD2d 37 ).Accordingly, the Committee's petition should be granted and respondent suspended from the practice of law in the State of New York for a period of two years, and until further order of the Court.
Thanks to the TaxProf blog for this story about a student competition at Georgetown to develop new apps that provide access to more affordable legal advice on issues like copyright, same sex marriage and immigration law. The competition was held in conjunction with a seminar called Technology, Innovation, and Law Practice: An Experiential Seminar in which students were asked to design a program that would solve a real life legal problem.
Kudos to the students for coming up with some great innovations. But are they putting themselves out of a job by creating software that does the work for them? "No" say the students; software is their ally. It helps clients by lowering the overall transactional cost and helps the attorneys by eliminating some of the grunt work so they can instead focus on creative problem solving.
Check out this video of students talking about their apps and find out which one the judges liked best.
Entrepreneur Dan Pallotta offers a possible pathology of many who work in the nonprofit sector, a sector that includes many of us:
Maybe people get into the compassion business full-time not because they're more compassionate than others but because they're codependent. Maybe the driving force is really inverted narcissism — an unhealthy and unexamined addiction to care-taking or to self-neglect.
Pallotta seems to be thinking of others in the nonprofit world and particularly educators. Still, it’s worth pondering why we do what we do, why we have made the financial choices we have. He writes:
I see people sacrificing their children's quality of life as they burn themselves out doing the jobs of two or three people, for wages that don't support the kind of life they really want. And while they lament it, they have no commitment to doing anything about it. There's a sense of pathological contentment.
If the work becomes more about satisfying a pathology than actually making progress, that's going to affect our progress. Thomas Merton, the Christian Mystic, wrote, "There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by non-violent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. . . . He concludes by saying, "to surrender oneself to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone with everything, is to succumb to violence...The frenzy of the activist neutralises his work for peace."
Here is the posting at the Harvard Business Review blog.
As I recall my years in the law firm, I learned a ton through conversations with the other associates and partners. Talking through issues was an important part of case development and skill building. This article from the ABA Journal discusses how the workplace is changing due to our reliance on electronic communication.
“The change is affecting the workplace, where people don’t talk in person. A senior partner at a Boston law firm told her about a typical scene in his office. Associates lay out their laptops, iPods and multiple phones, and put on their earphones. “Big ones. Like pilots,” the partner said. “They turn their desks into cockpits.” The office is quiet, Turkle writes, “a quiet that does not ask to be broken.””
This would be an interesting discussion with our students.
Monday, April 23, 2012
And speaking of the need for schools to think in non-traditional ways about legal skills training (see the post below), comes this article from the New York Law Journal called What They Didn't Teach You in Law School - Until Now: Building a management curriculum for lawyers by Professor Silvia Hodges. An excerpt:
In today's highly competitive legal market, it is imperative to bring more to the table than just excellent lawyering skills: an understanding of the business world and law firms as businesses. Clients are demanding it: The Association of Corporate Counsel's (ACC) Value Challenge has been urging law firms to reconnect the value and the cost of legal services since its start in 2007. The initiative is based on the concept that "law departments can use management practices that enhance the value of legal service spending; and that law firms can reduce their costs to corporate clients and still maintain strong profitability. The ACC Value Challenge promotes the adoption of management practices that allow all participants to achieve their key objectives."
Management practices? Traditionally, law students have graduated into the real world with little or no exposure to finance, economics, project and knowledge management, marketing and business development, or leading people: how businesses are actually run. And that's a terrible thing to do to them. "Given that AmLaw 200 firms are multi-hundred-million dollar per year enterprises, this naïveté can be dangerous to one's career," says legal industry commentator, Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith Esq., LLC.
After all, the most solid foundation for figuring out what partners really want from you is to understand what you can do for them; they're the owners and they take home the profits. If you don't understand the connection between that and what you do as a lawyer, I wish you luck.
. . . .
No matter how we slice it, law school graduates today face a very complex and challenging market. To have a chance at success, these future lawyers need the tools to enable them, in time, to run law firms as businesses. Law schools have been criticized for not teaching lawyers practical lawyering skills. So let's equip them with the right tools. I started teaching the 2-credit electives "Law Firm as a Business" and "Law Firm Marketing" at Fordham Law School in spring 2010. The reaction I typically get to the concept of management education for lawyers is very positive. I hear variations of "There is a crying need for it." "I wish I could have taken your class." And "I'm surprised that no one has come up with this idea. Makes so much sense."
Yes, it makes so much sense. Some law schools, including Harvard, Fordham, Georgetown, Indiana, Hofstra, Pace, Temple, and George Washington University (GWU) offer courses on law firm/practice management within their JD programs. GWU's College of Professional Studies offers a master's degree in law practice management, and the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law offers an MS in legal administration. More and more law firms train their lawyers in practice management or project management skills. Milbank even sends entire classes of its associates to Harvard. This is very laudable, but I wish the majority of lawyers wouldn't graduate, practice, and become partners without having had any type of formal management education (and understanding).
The challenge is that lawyers have traditionally not thought management is particularly important. And it's not always easy to convince them they should learn something new. But, we don't know what we don't know. A friend of mine said it's "like the 12 step program: You have to admit that you have a problem." And who wants to admit that? What's more, even if one decides to give management training a go, there's the time commitment. If you have to bill, bill, bill, when would you have the "luxury" to take a moment and take an MBA-type class?
It's about showing people what's in it for them. Build "transition" courses that help them do their jobs better (just because someone is good at client work doesn't mean they have the necessary management skills to qualify them to lead a team). For example, senior associates on the verge of becoming (junior) partners need to focus on project and knowledge management, marketing and business development. Partners who are to be promoted to head a practice or regional office benefit from more project management in addition to leadership courses. Second- and third-year associates? Introductory courses on business and finance fundamentals, project management. And so on. At some point in their careers, lawyers should have touched all areas of managerial challenges and approaches necessary for success, including finance and law firm economics, marketing and business development, knowledge management and project management, leading and developing people.
Continue reading here.
Over at Inside the Law School Scam, Professor Campos has started a series of posts to discuss commonly held misconceptions about the current "law school crisis." In Part 1, which he posted today, he takes on one of the biggest complaints we hear these days that law schools don't actually prepare students to practice law. While these kinds of complaints have always circulated in certain segments within the legal academy, David Segal's piece last year in the NYT brought popular attention to the issue.
Professor Campos correctly points out that even if law schools tried to respond to the criticism by graduating more "practice-ready" students, it doesn't change the fact there aren't nearly enough jobs to go around and many people think the situation isn't going to get any better (Indeed, it might even get worse as technology and off-shoring further erode the domestic market for legal services). Campos then notes that most skills training - the hands-on, clinical kind not the "have-students-draft-a-contract-in-class" kind - requires small classes with low student-faculty ratios. Therefore, unless schools can come up with some outside-the-box ways to deliver this kind of training, the net effect will be to increase the cost of law school, push our students into further debt and thus leave our students even less able to financially compete in the legal services marketplace. So, we can offer more skills training to quell the critics but it won't help students one whit; to the contrary, it might make things worse for them.
I can't say I disagree with a portion of this. It's a conundrum we've discussed before on this blog. Adding more hands-on skills training opportunities usually means hiring more faculty which adds significantly to the school's overhead, though skills profs are most often paid a lot less than their doctrinal colleagues. Thus, solving the problem is going to mean breaking from tradition by shifting priorities away from professors who spend most of their time away from the classroom working on scholarship toward those who spend most of their time in small classrooms teaching legal skills. The elite schools will never go this route nor will those that aspire to be among the "elites." But it is a viable option for schools that either don't want to play the USNWR rankings game or can't realistically compete in that realm. For those schools, a cost-effective approach to skills training might be the only way to survive the law school shake-out which some believe is coming.
Paul Caron has posted on his Tax Prof Blog about a legal education reform symposium he participated in over the weekend. He focuses on a presentation by Jim Moliterno, who is writing a book on the law school crisis. Professor Caron writes, "I was particularly struck by Jim's observation that the root cause of the troubles facing legal education today can be traced to a fateful choice made 130 years ago: medical schools decided that their mission would be to turn out doctors, while law schools decided that their mission would be to turn out law professors." Of course, this is another statement of the "Langdellian Bargain," which we have discussed here before here, here, and here. Moliterno also discussed Washington & Lee's innovative third-year skills program, which I have mentioned previously as an excellent model for legal education reform.
If anyone who attend this conference has any more observations, please make a comment below or e-mail me.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
In Comparative Histories of Professional Education: Osler, Langdell, and the Atelier, Richard Neumann traces the origins of the Langdellian Bargain back to the beginning of modern legal education in the nineteenth century at Harvard. Part of Langdell’s revolutionary approach to legal education was "that masses of students could be taught law economically in large classes. . . . The only substantial investment in such an enterprise would be the library. Personnel costs would be low compared with revenue because of the large number of students in each teacher’s classroom. Teaching would be so financially efficient that a profit could be generated each year." While the profits were originally kept by the law school, today they are shared by the university and the law school. This bargain assured the law school’s security within the university structure. Neumann notes that "Among the benefits of the bargain to the faculty are leniency, compared with other parts of a university, in teaching requirements measured by the time needed to teach casebook courses, freeing up a substantial amount of faculty time for scholarship that is supported, for the most part, by tuition money." Similarly, he states, "The Langdellian bargain settled the financial arrangements through which legal education would enter universities. Large numbers of students would be taught, with little capital investment, and in most years law school revenues would exceed teaching expenses. That would provide resources for faculty to do scholarship on whatever subjects interest them."
While a number of law schools are trying to break out of the Langdellian Bargain, it still largely controls legal education today. One of the impediments to overcoming the Langdellian Bargain is the U.S. News Law School Rankings. These rankings reward law schools that are based on the Langdellian Bargain, and they penalize those law schools who want to be innovative. For example, the reputation rankings in U.S. News are based more on faculty scholarship than on teaching quality. Because law students rely heavily on the U.S. News rankings in making their law school choice, it is hard for law schools to ignore U.S. News.
Many throughout the legal academy have criticized U.S. News for the great harm it has done to legal education. Many critics of the U.S. News rankings have advocated eliminating them. While I agree that this would be a good solution, it is unlikely to happen.
I propose that, in the alternative, U.S. News employ dual rankings for law schools: A ranking for research schools and a ranking for practice schools.
This is not a radical proposal. U.S. News already does this for medical schools with two rankings: Best Medical Schools: Research and Best Medical Schools: Primary Care. All 114 medical schools that provided data to U.S. News are ranked in both categories. The factors (measures of quality) for the two rankings are different, with the research ranking using factors that indicate strong research programs and the primary care ranking using factors that emphasize educating primary care physicians. For example, peer evaluators complete two separate assessments--one of research programs and the other of primary care programs. Similarly, there are two separate assessments for residency directors--one sent to a sample of residency program directors in fields outside primary care and the other to residency directors in the fields of family practice, pediatrics, and internal medicine. You can see the other differences between the rankings here.
There is no reason that the same thing can't be done for law schools. All law schools would be ranked separately into two categories: Research Programs and Practice Programs. In fact, it would probably be easier for law schools because U.S. News could keep the same basic ranking factors. Evaluators (peer assessment and assessment by lawyers/judges) would do two assessments for all law schools--one for scholarly programs and the other for practice programs. The rest of the factors could remain the same, but the weight of the factors would change depending on the ranking. For example, the bar passage factor should receive considerably more weight on the practice program ranking than the research program ranking. Also, I would change the employment rates for graduates for the practice program rankings to count only those graduates working in jobs for which J.D.s are required.
I believe that law schools have two missions. The first one is the traditional one to produce scholars who can further our knowledge of the law and beome society's leaders. The second is equally important--to produce practice-ready attorneys who can provide legal services to society. Having dual rankings of law schools would further both these missions.
A recent change to the Associated Press Stylebook now permits the use of "hopefully" to indicate "I hope" in addition to its correct use as an adverb meaning "in a hopeful manner." The change occurred because the word is misused so often, most people treat "hopefully" as a verb anyway rather than as a modifier. This prompted the BBC News Magazine to consult with a number of language experts, including Grammar Girl's Mignon Fogarty and Black Law Dictionary's Bryan Garner, about other commonly misused words that have entered into accepted use and some that never should.
Begs the question This phrase is guaranteed to raise the ire of language purists. It describes a logical fallacy where one tries to prove a point by assuming the point is already valid: "Eating meat is immoral because meat is murder." But "to beg the question" is often used to mean "to raise the question", and that usage increasingly dominates, says Mignon Fogarty, author of the book Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.
Fogarty set out to defend the traditional usage in her upcoming book, 101 Troublesome Words. "After scouring articles and blog posts and being unable to find it used in the traditional way I became convinced it was a lost cause," she says.
Bemused Bemused means puzzled or confused, but is often used to mean slightly amused or entertained. It's one of a class of words that the linguist Bryan Garner calls "skunked". Those who know the word's proper meaning are upset when they see it misused, those who don't know the proper meaning are confused when it's used correctly.
"A lot of editors will avoid it altogether," says Colleen Barry, a copyeditor for IDG Enterprise and creator of the @CopyCurmudgeon Twitter handle. Instead, editors and journalists will often find a way to edit out skunked words, which disappear from traditional publications. However, they can still live on in Tweets, blog posts and other unedited web content, where the meaning is less likely to adhere to traditional rules of style - and as a result, the "inaccurate" definition becomes more accepted.
Disinterested In the same way that interested once meant having a stake - interested parties, for example - disinterested meant having no bias or gain. If she's disinterested in the Olympics, she won't benefit financially from the games, or have a family member participate. "Interested" is rarely used in that form, which puts disinterested at risk.
"When the positive goes, you can't expect to keep the negative around," says Nunberg.
Now, disinterested is often used synonymously with "not interested".
"That's too bad, because there is an uninterested already which means the same thing," says Ben Yagoda, professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware, and author of When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It. "Disinterested is kind of a cool word, there's no other word that means just that."
Nauseous Nauseous is the descriptor given to something that makes you feel sick, eg a nauseous odour. But people who are feeling unwell often say "I feel nauseous". Purists argue that they should say "nauseated". Many dictionaries and usage guides now list both definitions - and do so in response to the way people have continuously misspoke. "Dictionaries are about words as they're used, not as they think they should be used," says Barry.
Who/Whom Whom is on the way to becoming as archaic as "thou" or "thee", says John McIntyre, the night editor at the Baltimore Sun newspaper. It was his letter to the AP that prompted the change to "hopefully". "It's pretty much gone in spoken English and is increasingly abandoned in written English. You can see how precarious it is because when people use it, they often misuse," he says. "Increasingly it makes sense not to bother."
Click here to see how "anxious," "decimate" and "presently" have also changed meaning over time.
At the University of Virginia School of Law, 98 percent of the class of 2010 was employed nine months following graduation. That figure was 92 percent at Vanderbilt University Law School and 90 percent at Washington & Lee University School of Law.
All three schools reported those postgraduate employment rates to American Bar Association during an especially tight job market. Additionally, each reported that a relatively high 11 percent of their 2010 graduates were in jobs financed by the schools themselves.
That is just one nugget of information contained in an expansive database that the ABA has released on its Web site. The database contains far more detailed employment information than the organization has made public previously.
This article from the National Law Journal offers numerous examples of this practice.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Although there's nothing new in this story from Bloomberg Business Week called "Law Firms Paying the Price," it does a nice job summarizing how the economic conditions of the past 40 years have led to a huge increase in the number of lawyers per capita in this country. We're now in the midst of the inevitable market correction that occurs when supply far exceeds demand except this time it's lawyers, not widgets, that no one wants.
In the 1960s and 1970s, increased regulatory complexity and corporate consolidation spurred growth in the size of corporate law firms and the fees they charged. By the early 1980s, law school had become a choice destination for top college graduates. American Lawyer began gathering and publishing revenue and profit statistics for top-grossing firms, ratifying the J.D. as a ticket to the upper class.
The high-tech revolution, globalization and Wall Street’s dubious expansion have generated still more demand for sophisticated legal services. In 1985 the 50 top-grossing firms had a combined revenue of $3.4 billion. If their collective top line had increased at the rate of inflation, it would have been the equivalent of $6.9 billion in 2010, [notes Michael Trotter, a corporate lawyer and author of a forthcoming book called Declining Prospects]. Instead, the figure rose to $48.4 billion.
“Hourly rates just went up and up,” Trotter says. Fancy lawyers charged whatever the market would bear.
. . . .[There is a] fundamental challenge facing the legal profession: At all levels, the industry suffers from excess labor.
The number of people with law licenses grew from 212,600 in 1950 to 1,225,000 in 2011 -- a sharp change from a ratio of one attorney for every 709 Americans to one for every 257. Forty- five thousand newly minted attorneys become available every year in a field with only 25,000 job openings. Law firms of all sizes laid off attorneys during the lean years of 2008 and 2009, and hiring has not fully rebounded.
. . . .
During the past year, unemployed young attorneys across the U.S. have banded together to sue their alma maters -- generally schools of modest repute -- for fraudulently exaggerating graduates’ job prospects. One such suit filed against New York Law School was dismissed in March by a judge who said aspiring attorneys should know the concept of caveat emptor.
Despite the disgruntlement of recent law school graduates, the decline of some white-shoe law firms has an upside. The number of people taking the Law School Admission Test has fallen by almost 25 percent in the past two years.
We have a lot of decrepit bridges in this country, factories that could use modernization, and clean-energy technologies that need inventing. It’s a moment for more engineers and entrepreneurs, not more lawyers.
You can read the article in its entirety here.
Hat tip to the ABA Journal blog.
In today's edition, The New York Times offers advice about how to avoid annoying others (and possibly screwing up your career) with your e-mail. Most of the advice should be obvious and widely known by now, but apparently some people need reminders, like this guy who now says, “I seriously regret my lapse in judgment.”
Alina Tugend, “What to Think About Before You Hit ‘Send,’” N.Y. Times, April 21, 2012, p. B5 (national edition).
Educational consultant Jane Wellman recently gave a Q and A interview to the New York Times. Here is her major Q & A:
Q. What are the big things that need to be done to stop college costs from going up so fast?
We’ve got to change how we think about a lot of things that have been on autopilot, starting with things that people think of as fixed costs. Health care costs are growing faster than any other item. Right now, the math on this is that every dime in new tuition revenue that’s coming in is going out the door to pay for health care benefits, and frequently that’s health care benefits for people students will never see in the classroom. We should be cutting employee benefits, restructuring administrative and support costs, and changing the way we provide academic services. And there’s no reason we should have as many payroll, procurement or I.T. offices as we do.
The rest of the interview is here
Friday, April 20, 2012
At last count, there were more than 80,000 apps available for the iPad. Finding the best apps often can be an overwhelming, confusing, and frustrating process. ,iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers provides the "best of the best" apps that are essential for any law practice. In just one hour, you will learn about the apps most worthy of your time and attention. This book will describe how to buy, install, and update iPad apps, and help you:
- Find apps to get organized and improve your productivity
- Create, manage, and store documents on your iPad
- Choose the best apps for your law office, including litigation and billing apps
- Find the best news, reading, and reference apps
- Take your iPad on the road with apps for travelers
- Maximize your social networking power
- Have some fun with game and entertainment apps during your relaxation time
The proposed Buffett Rule would increase the tax rate for those making over $1 million per year. Proponents and opponents frame the issue differently. Opponents argue that the increased federal revenue would not significantly decrease the national debt and really is designed to promote class warfare. Proponents argue that the issue is fairness: the very wealthy shouldn’t be able to exploit the tax code to pay lower rates than average people.
As an exercise in persuasion, you might ask your students to be objective and decide which framing of the issue is more persuasive to Americans. You also might encourage them to come up with other ways to frame the issue persuasively.