Saturday, June 30, 2012

New Book by Scalia and Garner

I have just received a copy of “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts” (Thomson/West) by Justice Antonin Scalia and professional wordsmith Bryan Garner. As the title hints, the book reflects a conservative textualist approach. Since Bryan Garner has not delved into the world of interpreting substantive law in the past, I assume that the policy ideas come from Justice Scalia.

Some of the book’s statements reflect standard rules on statutory interpretation—for example, “A pronoun, relative pronoun, or demonstrative adjective refers to the nearest reasonable antecedent.” (p, 145). Other pronouncements are vintage Scalia—for example, rejecting the notion that legislative committee reports are worthwhile aids in statutory construction.  (p. 369) The writing style is a bit formal and not as lively as a typical Scalia opinion. 

When some reviews of the book appear, I will post links.


June 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Epstein Versus Brooks on Obamacare: A Confused Opinion Or Modesty and Audacity

Richard Epstein has a piece on the ACA (Affordable Care Act) decision in the New York Times.  He declares, "But his decision is wrong. As a matter of constitutional text, legal history and logic, the power to regulate commerce and the power to tax should not be separated. It is not good for the court or the country that the chief justice’s position in such an important case is confused at its core."  He continues, "Chief Justice Roberts refers to Congress’s power to 'lay and collect Taxes.' But it’s worth recalling the surrounding language, which notes that Congress has the power to 'lay and collect Taxes' only in order 'to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.'"

He concludes, "Chief Justice Roberts has ignored this fundamental principle: If direct regulation is beyond the scope of the Commerce Clause (as he held), then taxation as an indirect route to the same regulation should be off limits as well (as he failed to hold). This is a baby that should not be split. His attempt to do so undermines his ruling, the court and the Constitution."

David Brooks, also in the Times, disagrees:

"In his remarkable health care opinion Thursday, the chief justice of the United States restrained the power of his own institution. He decided not to use judicial power to overrule the democratic process. He decided not to provoke a potential institutional crisis. Granted, he had to imagine a law slightly different than the one that was passed in order to get the result he wanted, but Roberts’s decision still represents a moment of, if I can say so, Burkean minimalism and self-control."

He continues, "And here’s the biggest gift that Roberts gave to the nation: By restraining the power of the court to shape health care policy, he opened up space for the rest of us to shape that policy through the political process. By modestly refraining from rewriting health care laws himself, he has given voters and politicians more room to be audacious."  He concludes, "Roberts has made a period of innovation and change more likely. He did it by taking the court off center stage and by letting the political process play out.  Self-restraint. It’s a good thing. More people should try it."

I will let you decide which analysis is better.  However, I would like to note that judicial restraint is the first principle of conservative judging.

(Scott Fruehwald)

June 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Who is responsible for grade inflation?

Even though most of us deny doing it, this commentary from the Chronicle of Higher Ed posits that we're just deceiving ourselves since there's no other way to explain the pervasiveness of grade inflation.

To Stop Grade Inflation, Stop Inflating Grades

Grade inflation in higher education is a much-talked-about problem. Having been in academe for 13 years as an instructor and now as an administrator, I have heard nearly all my past and present colleagues, as well as many of the instructors who teach at my institution, complain about it. Most (dare I say all?) of those with whom I have had this conversation swear they don't give undeserved grades. Yet the phenomenon persists. Where is the disconnect? Someone is doing it.

. . . .

A 2004 study found that 56 percent of faculty members who were interviewed were convinced that grade inflation existed at their institution. But they were equally convinced that it was not happening in their departments or their courses. In fact, 92 percent of the interviewed professors believed that the grades they handed out were lower, on average, than they actually were. The researchers, Janice McCabe and Brian Powell, suggested that this skewed perception may indicate that "individuals believe they are better than average, and that their situation is distinct from others."

McCabe and Powell may be on to something. Perhaps we instructors genuinely believe that others perpetrate grade inflation while we do not. Or maybe another psychological explanation can account for the disconnect.

For example, research by the law professors Ralph Banks and Richard Ford suggests not that we are more biased than we realize, but that we are more biased than we want to let on. This would imply that most of us know—on some subconscious level—that we inflate grades but do not wish to have this known by our peers.

Another possible explanation comes from the work of the biologist Robert Trivers, who argues that we deceive ourselves because doing so makes it easier to deceive others; believing the lie ourselves relieves us of the cognitive burden of trying to hide the nonverbal cues that we are lying. This suggests that we deceive even ourselves about our engaging in grade inflation.

One final examination of the psychological aspect comes from the psychologists Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini, who hypothesize that "people sometimes infer their own attributes by observing the freely chosen actions of others with whom they feel a sense of merged identity." That suggests that when we hear other instructors talk about not inflating grades, we infer that because they are like us, we aren't guilty of it either.

Of course, there may be a simpler and more practical explanation: As instructors we are expected to apply rigorous academic standards and yet emerge with high marks on student evaluations—which many instructors believe are tied to good grades. This presents a dilemma: How can instructors meet both expectations? One solution becomes clear: We can inflate grades, making students happy, while claiming we do not.

There is a final compelling explanation for why instructors lament grade inflation and yet engage in it themselves, one that bridges the gap between the psychological and the practical. This disconnect could be viewed, simply, as a failure to practice what we preach. The philosophy professor Saul Smilansky says there is one specific hypocritical position, which he calls "I'll do so only if others join." That is, people often espouse certain principles but are willing to abide by them only if others do, too. Could it be that many instructors would stop inflating grades if only someone else would do it first? Probably.

. . . .

To approach the issue of grade inflation with the assumption that "this is simply the nature of academe, so why fight the system?" is to abdicate our responsibility and deny our part in the very hypocrisy that Smilansky points to.

But to commit to ourselves, "I will not inflate grades. My students will receive the grades they earn," would gain students' respect (if, perhaps, with some moaning and groaning) as well as teach them to respect themselves for working to achieve their goals.

If every instructor would accept this measure of personal responsibility to refuse to inflate grades, then the grade-inflation problem would ultimately solve itself.


June 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Who Was the Original Mentor?

At Bloomberg Businessweek, Professor Warren Bennis explains the source of the word and concept of  mentor. The classical story he tells elaborates on the collaborative role that a good mentor plays:

The great Greek warrior Odysseus was going off to battle, pained over the prospect of leaving Telemachus, his 11-year-old son, pretty much on his own. It also worried the supreme goddess, Athena. So, being a goddess with supernatural powers, she converted a stem cell of her own—how else?—into a half-man, half-woman residing in one body. She called it Mentor.

Under Mentor’s tutelage, Telemachus was turning into a formidable young man. When he was 15 or so, Mentor told him Odysseus had been captured and was marooned on an island and close to starving to death. The two of them immediately went to work building a sailboat to rescue Odysseus. They reached him on death’s bed. Odysseus continued to live a vigorous life under the care of Mentor and the grown-up Telemachus.


June 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two New Bibliographies On Legal Education

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"The Cost of Clinical Legal Education"

By Professor Peter A. Joy (Washington U.) and found at 32 B.C. J.L. & Soc. Just. 309 (2012) and available on SSRN here. From the abstract:

Critics of clinical legal education often malign its expense and look to clinical budget cuts as the primary means of reducing costs in legal education. This narrow focus, however, ignores the important function that clinical legal education plays in educating law students to be ready for practice and assumes other legal education expenses are more important. The 1992 McCrate Report, the 2007 Carnegie Report, and other studies demonstrate that clinical legal education is necessary to produce a well-rounded and practice ready law student. Though clinical legal education should not be immune to cost restraints, neither should any other type of law school expenditure. To succeed in economically difficult and demanding times, law schools must put every aspect of legal education through a cost-benefit analysis for cost-saving potential.


June 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

U Mass-Dartmouth Freezes Tuition for the Next 3 Years

From the National Law Journal:

In a dramatic move to address concerns about rising tuition costs, the University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth announced on June 21 that it would freeze tuition and fees for three years. 
That means annual tuition for full-time in-state students will remain at $23,068 through the 2014-15 academic year, while tuition and fees for out-of-state residents will be $30,760. Average tuition for in-state students at public law schools was $22,116 in 2011, according to the American Bar Association. The average was $34,865 for non-resident students.

The law school began with the merger between the Southern New England School of Law and  the University of Massachusetts. It is the only public law school in the state.

No other law school has frozen its tuition for more than a year. Will other law schools now follow the example of UMass?


June 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Obamacare Wins, But So Does Federalism

While Chief Justice Roberts found a way to uphold the ACA (Affordable Care Act) under Congress’s taxing power, he did so without expanding the federal government's powers under the Commerce Clause. He reaffirmed the basic principles of federalism: "In our federal system, the National Government possesses only limited powers; the States and the people retain the remainder." The federal government does not have a general police power: "Because the police power is controlled by 50 different States instead of one national sovereign, the facets of governing that touch on citizens’ daily lives are normally administered by smaller governments closer to the governed. The Framers thus ensured that powers which ‘in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people’ were held by governments more local and more accountable than a distant federal bureaucracy." "By denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power." He continued, "And there can be no question that it is the responsibility of this Court to enforce the limits on federal power by striking down acts of Congress that transgress those limits."

The Chief Justice rejected the government’s argument that the Individual Mandate was constitutional under the Commerce Clause. "The Government contends that the individual mandate is within Congress’s power because the failure to purchase insurance ‘has a substantial and deleterious effect on interstate commerce’ by creating the cost-shifting problem." However, he pointed out, "But Congress has never attempted to rely on that power to compel individuals not engaged in commerce to purchase an unwanted product." "Our precedent also reflects this understanding. As expansive as our cases construing the scope of the commerce power have been, they all have one thing in common: They uniformly describe the power as reaching ‘activity.’" He concludes the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause: "The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority."

He also rejected the Government’s Necessary and Proper Clause argument. "Under this argument, it is not necessary to consider the effect that an individual’s inactivity may have on interstate commerce; it is enough that Congress regulate commercial activity in away that requires regulation of inactivity to be effective." Roberts noted, "But we have also carried out our responsibility to declare unconstitutional those laws that undermine the structure of government established by the Constitution." He concluded, "Applying these principles, the individual mandate cannot be sustained under the Necessary and Proper Clause as an essential component of the insurance reforms. . . . The individual mandate, by contrast, vests Congress with the extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power."

Roberts did hold that the Individual mandate was constitutional under Congress’s taxing powers, noting that "The Federal Government may enact a tax on an activity that it cannot authorize, forbid, or otherwise control." He added: "The question is not whether that is the most natural interpretation of the mandate, but only whether it is a ‘fairly possible’ one."

While the above is based on established principles of federalism, the portion concerning the Medicaid expansion raises a new question of whether Congress can require regulation or spending by the states through the Spending Clause. "The States also contend that the Medicaid expansion exceeds Congress’s authority under the Spending Clause. They claim that Congress is coercing the States to adopt the changes it wants by threatening to withhold all of a State’s Medicaid grants, unless the State accepts the new expanded funding and complies with the conditions that come with it. This, they argue, violates the basic principle that the "Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program."

Justice Roberts agreed with the states with the support of all but two justices. He wrote, "There is no doubt that the Act dramatically increases state obligations under Medicaid." He remarked. "our cases have recognized limits on Congress’s power under the Spending Clause to secure state compliance with federal objectives." "We have repeatedly characterized . . . Spending Clause legislation as‘much in the nature of a contract.’" "The legitimacy of Congress’s exercise of the spending power"thus rests on whether the State voluntarily and knowingly accepts the terms of the ‘contract.’" He added, "Respecting this limitation is critical to ensuring that Spending Clause legislation does not undermine the status of the States as independent sovereigns in our federal system. That system "rests on what might at first seem a counterintuitive insight, that ‘freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one.’" In addition, "But when "pressure turns into compulsion," ibid., the legislation runs contrary to our system of federalism. "[T]he Constitution simply does not give Congress the authority to require the States to regulate." Finally, "Permitting the Federal Government to force the States to implement a federal program would threaten the political accountability key to our federal system."

Roberts held the Medicaid expansion unconstitutional because it "coerced," rather than "encouraged." He declared: "In this case, the financial ‘inducement" Congress has chosen is much more than "relatively mild encouragement’—it is a gun to the head." The effect of this holding is: "Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the Affordable Care Act to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that States accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding."

In sum, while the Court upheld the ACA, it did so without expanding the federal government’s powers or cutting back on federalism. In fact, it expanded states’ rights by ruling that Congress cannot coerce a state to enact a regulatory scheme. While Justice Roberts’s opinion will receive much criticism over the next few weeks, I find it to be a well-reasoned opinion based on principle, even though I am against the Individual Mandate politically. His opinion follows existing jurisprudence on the Commerce Clause and Congress’s power to tax and spend.

(Scott Fruehwald)

June 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New law grad who started blog to document going solo calls it quits

Back in April, we told you about a new blog - Hang Shingles/I Just Want to Practice Law - started by an unnamed recent law grad in the midwest who, after months of fruitlessly searching for a job, decided to hang a shingle - in his apartment bedroom.  His rent was dirt cheap - $250/month - and $3500 in savings helped him buy the basic office essentials. As he documented his efforts to make a go of it, we occasionally checked in to see how he was doing.

By May, he'd picked up a few court appointed cases and with the help of a mentor, was starting to learn how to do title abstracts. Not much income yet but he was hopeful. It takes time to nurture and grow any new business.

At the 90 day mark, this is what "I Just Want to Practice Law" had to show for his efforts:

Total Cases: 24

Currently Open Cases: 16

Completed Cases: 8

Types of Cases: Criminal defense, juvenile delinquency, CINA, termination of parental rights, mental commitment, employment, post-conviction relief.

Total hours billed: 93.8.  At $60/hr, that’s $5,628.

Total other expenses (miles, photocopies, stamps, etc.) billed: $450

Total money ACTUALLY received in payments: $404.10.  (Yup, you read that right.  I’ve got some on the horizon, but I’m just about out of money).

Total car expenses: 2 oil changes, 1 free battery.  Really have been lucky on this one.

Thirteen days later, he called it quits - taking a job at the local DA's office instead. Here's the epitaph he wrote for his solo career:

After 100 days, around 100 billed hours, and a roller coaster of a ride, I’m ending this.

Jeez, that sounded like a suicide note.

But seriously, I am taking a job as a prosecutor.  I found a community and group of people worth being a part of, and there are no regrets.  For all those who found inspiration in this chapter of my life, I’m humbled.  For all those who supported me during it, thank you.

So, can it be done?  Yes, it can be.

What a chapter worth living.  A time that truly will shape who I am in legal practice, and who I am as a person.  I think back to 100 days ago, and remember that moment when I could have just kept doing the same thing, or taken a risk.  I am so happy I took the risk.  No regrets.

On to the next chapter.

Godspeed, anonymous shingle-hanging blogging buddy.


June 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New legal "skills" scholarship: "Practice ready: are we there yet?"

By Professor Margaret Martin Barry (Columbus School of Law) and available at 32 B.C. J.L. & Soc. Just. 247 (2012). Here's the abstract:

Clinical legal education is garnering more attention as a vehicle for providing the training required to graduate “practice ready” lawyers as law schools face economic concerns and increasing expectations from the legal market. To create a school that trains practice ready lawyers, law schools are increasingly recognizing that they need significant curricular reform. Schools must combine the traditional case method of teaching with experiential learning, where the curriculum focuses not just on doctrine but on training professionals. This Article proposes accepting a framework designed to achieve such goals, wherein first year classes relate doctrine to practice more effectively and the experience culminates with students spending their third year in practice. This approach would leave creativity and expression of mission to course development within the accepted framework.


June 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best Law Firms for Women

The Women in Law Empowerment Forum has released its list of law firms winning its  Gold Standard Empowerment Award. The award winners, limited to firms of 100 or more lawyers, meet at least  three of these criteria:

• 20 percent female equity partners (this year, 40 percent of firms met this standard; in 2011, it was 41 percent);

• 10 percent female chairs and office managing partners (this year, 82 percent; last year, 81 percent);

• 20 percent female members on firm's primary governance committee (this year, 80 percent; last year, 72 percent);

• 20 percent female members on the firm's compensation committee (this year, 65 percent; last year, 75 percent);

• 25 percent female heads of practice groups or departments (this year, 42 percent; last year, 37 percent);

• 10 percent female representation in the top half of the most highly compensated partners (this year, 82 percent; last year, 84 percent).

This year, three firms met all six criteria, and 13 met five out of the six criteria.

Here’s the article from The Careerist, which includes a list of the 50 award winners.


June 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawyers Will Use Databases to Predict Case Outcome

This post from the ABA Journal discusses the databases of historical information that are being built to “help lawyers calculate the odds of winning a case and how to craft the arguments.”

“Algorithms could be used to make predictions based on the historical data, Law Technology News reports. “Called quantitative legal prediction, it's basically what happens when the latest technology trend—called ‘big data’—meets the law,” the story says. “And it just might change how corporate general counsel and BigLaw manage legal matters and costs, how they craft legal arguments, and whether, how, and where they file a lawsuit.””

Several efforts are already underway.  Interesting.



June 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Enhancing Traditional Law Teaching to Produce Measurable Gains

On Monday, I discussed a new ETL portfolio that stressed including writing assignments with formative feedback in doctrinal courses to improve student learning.  David J. Herring and Collin Lynch have posted a study on SSRN that agrees.

Abstract: "A line of previous studies indicate that, while the traditional case-dialogue method of law teaching does not diminish students’ skill of legal reasoning, it fails to produce any significant learning gains. The study reported in this paper examines the impact of introducing to a traditional law school course a short writing exercise accompanied by formative feedback from the instructor. The study involved 82 students from a single section of the first-semester Legal Process (Civil Procedure I) course. All students completed a pre-test, mid-test, and post-test. Each test used multiple choice questions designed to assess students’ legal reading and cross-case reasoning skills. Half of the class (Group 1) completed the writing exercise before the mid-test and while they were in the midst of the personal jurisdiction unit which was the subject of the assignment. The other half of the class (Group 2) completed the writing exercise after the mid-test and prior to the post-test, two weeks following the completion of the personal jurisdiction unit.

The study results indicate that both Group 1 and Group 2 achieved some significant learning gains. This finding supplements the findings of previous studies that indicate that no significant learning gains result when the traditional teaching method is used exclusively. It is noteworthy that Group 1 achieved significantly greater learning gains than Group 2, indicating that a writing exercise completed in the midst of a unit of study is more beneficial than an exercise completed following the completion of a unit of study. This finding held true across the entire span of the study. Thus, students in Group 2 failed to catch up to students in Group 1 even after completing the writing exercise. In addition, LSAT scores failed to predict the learning gains for Group 1, while these aptitude scores did predict gains for Group 2. Thus, low LSAT students in Group 1 benefited as much as high LSAT students in Group 1, while this was not true for students in Group 2.

In summary, this study indicates that the introduction of a modest educational intervention (i.e., a short writing assignment accompanied by formative feedback) within the context of a traditional law course produces greater learning gains than those produced by the traditional teaching method alone. This was especially true for students who completed the writing exercise while they were in the midst of struggling with the relevant substantive law material."

Once again, applying substantive knowledge to facts reinforces substantive learning.  Legal education reform is actually very simple.

(Scott Fruehwald

June 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three key tips for succeeding as a new lawyer

From the always informative blog Associate's Mind (add this to one to your news feed if you haven't already):

How to Succeed as a New Lawyer

This past week I attended a rather lengthy CLE geared to new/young lawyers. The presenters were all either judges or lawyers who had been practicing 20+ years.

. . . .

Universally, there were two attributes every presenter mentioned, and a third mentioned roughly by half. The attribute that always took precedence, and was deemed to be the most important thing to be possessed by a lawyer, was credibility. Absolutely above-the-board, more important than anything else, top-shelf credibility was the most important trait listed by every judge and lawyer.

Have an appointment? Keep it. Say you are going to do something? Follow through. Going to be late to an appointment? Call ahead and keep everyone informed. And most importantly, never ever be untruthful with the court, another lawyer, your clients, anyone. Period.

At a close second, the other “must-have” listed was relationships. It is impossible to exist in a vacuum as a lawyer and expect any type of success. Go to the courthouse regularly. Don’t have a reason to be there? Who cares. Go and meet with judges, meet their staff, the bailiffs, DAs, clerks, anyone and everyone in the building. Become a known quantity.

. . . .

The final thing mentioned by roughly half the presenters was passion. Passion is quite popular these days. Lots of wanna-be gurus and business coach types telling people to follow their “passion” and everything will work itself out. I thought it was very fitting that it came in last, if it all, among the judges and seasoned lawyers who spoke.

Passion is quite a nice thing to have and it certainly helps to have a driving determination in relation to your work. But it’s not worth a damn if you’re regarded as unethical and no one likes you. Credibility and relationships have to come first. Passion is important, but it is a secondary motivator. Something that comes after, or perhaps while you prove yourself to others. Treat your credibility as your most valuable asset, treat others better than you expect to be treated, and as your reputation and success grows – the passion past will work itself out.

What about social media?  You'll have to keep reading here.


June 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can You Train your Brain to Improve Working Memory?

Alas, recent studies say no. First, what exactly is working memory?

Working memory is the system the mind uses to hold information during decisionmaking and analysis. As much as half of the variation in individual intelligence can be explained by differences in working-memory capacity, research shows. Working memory has come to be considered by researchers and educators as a key leverage point in boosting brainpower overall—and programs designed to strengthen it are already finding their way into some schools and homes.

Can you train your brain to improve recent memory? Training programs have become big business. But two extensive studies offer disappointing results:

But a systematic review of 23 studies on working-memory training programs, published online last month by the journal Developmental Psychology, found such training produced few long-term benefits to working-memory skills and no improvements to other cognitive skills like verbal ability, attention, word decoding, or arithmetic.

And a randomized, controlled study to be published online next week in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, found that improving on a key task used in working-memory training did not lead to improvements on any of a battery of 17 cognitive-ability measures, including problem-solving intelligence, multitasking, and perception speed.

Here’s the story from Education Week.


June 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 25, 2012

A preview of the ABA report on trends in law school curricula

The full report, A Survey of Law School Curricula: 2002–2010, won't be released by the ABA Curriculum Committee on until next month but the June issue of Bar Examiner Magazine has got a preview from the committee chair, Professor Catherine L. Carpenter (Southwestern). First, a brief description of the survey itself by Professor Carpenter.

A Survey of Law School Curricula: 2002–2010, . . . . offers comprehensive statistical information on significant aspects of current law school curricula as well as comparative curricular information from that time period.  The 2010 Survey is the result of a two-year project conducted by the Curriculum Committee of the American
Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar at the request of Hulett (Bucky) Askew, ABA Consultant on Legal Education. The Survey also serves as a follow-up to its predecessor published in 2004, A Survey of Law School Curricula: 1992–2002, which offered comparative curricular information from that decade.

And here is a summary of some of the key findings related to legal skills training according to the committee chair:

Producing Practice-Ready Professionals

In growing numbers, law schools reported that curricular changes were impelled by the desire to produce practice-ready professionals. This commitment
has taken many forms, including redesigned courses that emphasize legal writing, an increase in professional skills offerings, and retooled courses that boast integrated doctrine and skills. Included within this overarching commitment are two thematic

Rise in Prominence of Legal Research and Writing

One emerging story from the 2010 Survey is the continued rise in prominence of Legal Research and Writing. Under the traditional model described by Donald Jackson and E. Gordon Gee in their 1975 pioneering study on law school curricula, Legal Research and Writing was a first-year course designed with a narrow curricular view and afforded an average of two units. The 2002 Survey observed changes to
that model, with law schools affording on average three or four units and broadening the course’s scope to include persuasive writing.
By 2010, law schools had reported even greater change. Many law schools were now providing first-year Legal Research and Writing five or six units and had expanded the subject matter of the course to include lawyering skills beyond traditional advocacy. Additionally, in response to the criticism that the upper-division curriculum was filled with knowledge-based courses to the exclusion of professional skills offerings, respondents reported adding upper-division Legal Research and Writing courses to augment lawyering skills taught in the curriculum.
Commitment to Professional Skills Education and Professionalism
Law schools reported an abiding commitment to professional skills education, and that commitment can be seen in recently retooled and redesigned professional skills training with increased live-client clinical opportunities and externship placements,
the introduction of professional skills into existing doctrinal courses, and the addition of separate labor-intensive professional skills offerings. Survey
respondents reported offering a variety of professional skills courses, and half noted offering 10 or more courses in 2010.
While certain courses such as Trial Advocacy and Alternative Dispute Resolution were widely offered in both 2002 and 2010, other courses grew in popularity. Between 2002 and 2010, Appellate Advocacy grew from 77% in 2002 to 89% in 2010; Arbitration from 50% in 2002 to 60% in 2010; and Interviewing and Counseling from 59% in 2002 to 73% in 2010.
And in concert is the increased emphasis on professionalism and professional identity. Respondents noted new courses or components to existing courses on professionalism that were offered not only in the upper division but also in the first year, in an effort to expose students earlier to the various roles and obligations of attorneys. Additionally, by 2010, several law schools had created professional development centers and institutes to address the roles and obligations of the legal profession.
Academic Support and Bar Readiness
Many law schools reported that, since 2002, they had instituted new academic support or bar preparation courses and programs. Aware of the external pressures
associated with the cost of legal education and the changing job market, respondents wrote that they had designed and developed bar preparation courses and enhanced academic support offerings to increase their students’ chances of success in law
school and on the bar examination.
As of 2010, nearly all respondents provided academic support, in the form of either a program, a course, or both, and nearly three-fourths of respondents offered academic support services to both firstyear and upper-division students. If the program was offered to one group only, that one group was overwhelmingly likely to be first-year students.
In addition to academic support offerings, nearly half the respondents indicated that by 2010, they offered a bar preparation course for credit. This number of bar preparation courses for credit may be tied quite directly to the repeal in 2008 of ABA Standard 302, Interpretation 302-7, which severely restricted the use of bar preparation courses for credit.
The range of topics in bar preparation courses included multistate essay, multistate multiple-choice, multistate practice/performance, multistate professional
responsibility, and state essay—with the most popular topics being multistate multiple-choice and state essay. For most law schools, the course was voluntary. . . .  [i]n two-thirds of the bar preparation courses, full-time faculty resources were used to teach the courses—either alone or in combination with adjunct faculty resources.

Read the full summary by clicking right here.


June 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Northwestern is looking to hire a clinical teaching fellow

The details:


Northwestern University School of Law

Bluhm Legal Clinic

Children and Family Justice Center

Northwestern University School of Law invites applications for a clinical fellow position beginning in mid-August 2012 in the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center.  The Fellow will represent youth in juvenile prison at their parole revocation hearings and participate in post dispositional policy reform and advocacy.  Applicants should send letters of interest and resumes to Julie Biehl, Director, Children and Family Justice Center (  The deadline for applications is July 16, 2012 and it is anticipated that the fellowship will begin in mid-August 2012 and end December 31, 2013.  Salary and benefits will be competitive.

The Bluhm Legal Clinic currently includes clinical faculty teaching in its Children and Family Justice Center, The Center on Wrongful Convictions, The Center on International Human Rights, the Entrepreneurship Law Center, Roderick MacArthur Justice Center, the Environmental Law Clinic and other clinical programs that include appellate advocacy, criminal defense, civil litigation (predatory lending cases, civil suits arising from wrongful convictions, an landlord tenant cases), externship, negotiations and trial advocacy.

Northwestern University School of Law is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and encourages nominations of and applications from women and minority candidates.


June 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Networking for Introverts.

A lot us can relate to this challenge. Networker Ruth Carter offers these tips at Attorney at Work:

  1. If the event room is loud and crowded, head for the hallway. You will find your fellow introverts there, enjoying their space and speaking at a normal volume for conversation.
  2. If the event has an educational component, go to it. It will give you a smaller group to start with and a basis for starting conversations.
  3. Go to events for business professionals, not just for lawyers. Lawyer groups can lead to referrals, but business groups will put you directly in front of potential clients.
  4. Attend interesting groups and events. When you’re comfortable, you’ll be more effective at networking. When you go to events that interest you, you’ll be more likely to meet people who are like-minded and more likely to hire you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to branch out beyond the traditional networking events. Some networking groups do fun things like go-carts instead of traditional happy hours. You can also network at sci-fi conventions, hiking groups and book clubs.
  6. Go to lunch and breakfast events. You might be more comfortable talking to people over a meal with your hands occupied with silverware. These events tend to be smaller, too.
  7. Give yourself permission to leave early. It’s okay to set a goal for the number of contacts you want to make and leave once you achieve it.


June 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academic and Scholar Search Engines has a new guide that “focuses on the latest and most significant academic and scholar search engines and sources.”  Although not directly law-related, these may be helpful for multi-disciplinary and specialized research.

“With the constant addition of new and pertinent information released online from every sector, it is very easy to experience information overload. A real asset in responding to the challenges of so much data is to apply techniques to identify and locate significant, reliable academic and scholarly information that resides in both the visible and invisible web. The following selected academic and scholar search engines and sources offer a wide range of actionable information retrieval and extraction sources to help you accomplish your research goals.”

There are dozens of specialized search engines listed – take a look.

Hat tip Stephen’s Lighthouse (


June 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

And speaking of illicit Adderall use in law school . . . .

Here's what looks to be a student note posted on bepress discussing the use of Adderall in law school and the professional ethics questions it raises. The author, Jennifer Schiffner, is a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law.

Harder, Better, Faster Stronger: Regulating Illicit Adderall Use Among Law Students and Law Schools

The widespread illicit use of Adderall as a performance enhancer raises significant challenges for law schools and for law students entering the legal profession. Adderall, a stimulant-based performance enhancer prescribed for those with juvenile and adult attention deficit (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), increases a person’s ability to concentrate by stimulating the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Taken without a prescription for ADD or ADHD, Adderall over-stimulates the brain allowing for super-enhanced focus with a simple pill. For law students, the allure of this Controlled Substances Act Schedule II drug is simple: efficiency. However, despite easing the time crunch many law students feel, the allure of Adderall lends itself to illegal buying and selling of the drug and risks the potential long-term physical and psychic effects of unregulated use.

Should law schools and state agencies charged with licensing lawyers take action? This paper explores the ethical dilemmas concerning the regulation of Adderall. First, this paper explores substance abuse and its current regulation in the legal profession, comparing Adderall as a controlled substance to other regulated drugs. Next, this paper surveys the evolution and medical identification of attention-deficit and hyperactivity diagnosis in adults over the course of the twentieth century and, the advent of Adderall as prescription treatment. In the following section, the paper will focus on the physical and ethical risks imposed by Adderall, targeting law students as off-label users. Ultimately, law students’ voluntary and illicit cognitive neuroenhancement undermine the ethics and social norms codified by law schools and the legal profession, thus requiring regulation. The final section posits regulatory options for bar applicants and law schools to deal with the social, political, and ethical issues surrounding cosmetic neurological enhancement through Adderall.


June 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)