Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Do Successful People Do Differently?

This post from Cordell Parvin’s blog (law firm rainmaking) discusses Heidi Grant Halvorson’s book, “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.”

The “9 Things” include the following:

- Be specific – define what success means to you.
- Seize the moment – take actions needed to achieve your goals.
- Know exactly how far you have left to go – what still needs to be done?
- Be a realistic optimist.
- Focus on getting better.
- Have grit – success is a marathon not a sprint.
- Build your willpower.
- Don’t tempt fate – work on one goal at a time.
- Focus on what you WILL do, not what you WON’T do.

You can also read “Success: How We Can Reach Our Goals” by the same author.  Your library might even own a copy you can borrow!

Hat tip MyCase, Inc. (@MyCaseInc)


July 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Need a law job? Learn a second language

That's probably not what most students had in mind when they matriculated - three years of classes and then clearing the bar exam are difficult enough as it is. But now that the job market has become so wretched, job applicants may also need to know a second language to get a leg up on the competition, according to this Wall Street Journal article.  Attorneys who know a second language are in great demand right now, especially in Asian countries. The catch is that most of these jobs are temp positions.

Wanted: Temp Attorneys With Foreign-Language Skills

Unemployed lawyers looking for work in a lousy job market might want to brush up on their Korean or Chinese.

As international business disputes proliferate, law firms are bringing in flocks of attorneys with a flair for languages, although the jobs are almost always temporary.

This spring Apple Inc.'s lawyers brought on dozens of Korean-speaking contract attorneys and document reviewers to help grind through a last-minute document dump from Samsung Electronics Co., the Korean manufacturer with which it is locked in an epic patent battle over smartphones.

In fact, law firms and corporations that used to hire translators fluent in languages such as Japanese, Hebrew or Spanish now figure they can get legal skills in the bargain.

"For legal matters, translators and attorneys with foreign-language skills are probably in the same price range—you get more bang for your buck," said Michael Reichwald, president of Yorkson Legal, a New York agency that supplies law firms and corporations with foreign-language-proficient lawyers and paralegals.

. . . .

"It is a blessing to be able to work and to be able to use my Mandarin Chinese and keep my language skills up," said Paul Dirkmaat, a bilingual document reviewer in Washington, D.C., who graduated from George Washington University Law School in 2010 and has yet to find a permanent job as a lawyer.

Mr. Dirkmaat lived in China for two years, majored in Chinese and worked as a summer associate at the Chinese firm Tiantong & Partners while in law school. Unable to find a legal job after graduation, he delivered pizzas before starting work as a contract lawyer.

He says he has been quoted anything from $45 to $70 an hour for the pay. Bilingual temp attorneys with additional qualifications, such as patent expertise, could get as much $85 to $100 an hour, while regular contract attorneys might pull in anywhere from $20 to $40 an hour.

The rise of the global economy—and the tilt toward Asia—has increased demand for lawyers who are fluent in Asian languages or who can help translate on deals or disputes in emerging economies, such as Brazil or India, said Belina Anderson, a commercial litigator whose practice includes French comparative law and legal translations.

But even the biggest law firms typically can't afford to retain an army of bilingual lawyers just in case litigation pops up in one country or another.

So they often turn to staffing agencies. Fluent temp attorneys and document reviewers can help winnow down mounds of foreign-language material during trial preparation, flagging the relevant files for the firm's senior litigators.

Staffing agencies might bill law firms anywhere from $75 an hour to as much as $150 an hour, depending on the contract lawyer's expertise and other skills, such as knowledge of engineering. While such projects may be extended for some time, few contract attorneys jump from temp work for a law firm into full-time work.

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal blog.


July 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mind Sciences and the Harvard Law School Curriculum

A few months ago, I wrote that the Mind Sciences should be included in the law school curriculum.  (here) Tito Rendas has posted an article on this subject on SSRN entitled Mind Sciences in the Harvard Law School Curriculum: Tracing the History, Proposing the Proliferation.

Abstract: "This paper explores the contours of the relationship between the mind sciences and the Harvard Law School curriculum, in particular, and the law curriculum more generally. Rather than using a conceptual definition of “mind sciences”, the paper will be based on an illustrative and fairly loose definition thereof. Any discipline that delves into the mechanisms that explain the functioning of the human mind and the reasons behind human behavior is considered a mind science for purposes of this study. Psychology, psychiatry, cognitive science, and neuroscience are examples of the disciplines that fit under the scope of this definition. The paper is divided into three parts.

Part I discusses the ideological sources of the relatively recent law and mind sciences movement at Harvard. Particular consideration will be given to the role played by the legal realists in questioning assumptions that would otherwise prevent the mind sciences from permeating law and policy-making.

Part II conducts an extensive historical review of the law and mind sciences courses in the HLS curriculum from 1957 to 2013. Six trends, and a predicted future trend, were identified.

Part III is normative in its essence, making the case for the expansion of the law and mind sciences curriculum. This argument is predicated on the answers to two other questions: Who should decide whether this expansion should be carried out? And, assuming its desirability, how should we go about it?"

I especially like this quote by Adam Benforado: 

"[T]he mind sciences are important to incorporate into the law school curriculum for several reasons. Most notably, I think recent insights from psychology and neuroscience offer a much more accurate picture of how humans behave than the models provided by law and economics and other legal theoretical approaches. This is vitally important because current law students are the ones who will have an opportunity to change laws in the future. They need to understand how jurors make decisions, how eyewitness’s memories work, and why people commit crimes, among many other things, in order to decide whether the laws on the books are likely to accomplish their goals or whether they might instead breed unfairness. In addition, and more generally, I think  teaching mind sciences encourages students to be more critical consumers of conventional wisdom–which is incredibly useful as a lawyer."

Scott Fruehwald)

July 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The most innovative law schools according to National Jurist Magazine

The publisher of National Jurist Magazine invited every law school in the land to nominate itself as a leader in innovative legal education. Forty schools responded and NJM has now published the list of finalists, which we've reprinted below.  According to the NJM's website, it's going to wait until next month to publish detailed descriptions explaining why each school made the list though today's post hints at some of the innovations that impressed the NJM editors such as boot camps, mentoring programs, and efforts to mirror what medical schools do. Until the August issue is posted online, you'll have to slake your curiosity with names only (in alphabetical order).

Most innovative law schools announced

Elon University School of Law
Hamline University School of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Loyola Law School Los Angeles
New York Law School
Ohio Northern University
Pennsylvania State University The Dickinson School of Law
Phoenix School of Law
Stanford Law School
Southwestern Law School
Syracuse University College of Law
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Tulane University Law School
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
University of District of Columbia
University of Hawai’i
University of Illinois College of Law
University of North Carolina
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law


July 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Debt Hits the Middle Aged

From the Wall Street Journal (excerpts):

Student debt is rising sharply among all age groups, but middle-aged Americans appear to be struggling the most with payments, according to new data released Tuesday [July 17] by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The delinquency rate—or the percentage of debt on which no payment has been made for 90 days—was 11.9% for debt held by borrowers aged 40 to 49 as of March. That compares with a rate of 8.7% for borrowers of all ages.

Two-thirds of the nation's $900 billion in student debt is held by Americans under 40, the Fed estimates. But borrowers over 40 are having a particularly tough time with student debt for several reasons, consumer and higher-education experts say.

Many debtors over 40 are still paying balances from college years ago, while their home values and savings have declined sharply in recent years. Some have stopped payments after losing jobs. Many parents—no longer able to tap home equity to pay for their children's education—are taking out new student loans to do so. An Education Department program that provides loans to parents to fund their kids' education is among the fastest-growing of the government's education loan programs.


July 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Improved version of "Lexis Advance" has launched

Apparently this is part of an ongoing plan that began last year to roll out improved versions of Lexis Advance as they are developed. According to Lexis' press release, this most recent version released on July 19, offers "dramatically" expanded content and functionality. From the Lexis press release:

[Lexis] today announced its next generation legal research solution Lexis Advance™ has dramatically expanded its content and functionality, giving legal professionals superior tools and insights to optimize their research strategy and achieve the most relevant results faster. The new release provides more intuitive and customizable browse-functionality and enhanced mobile access, and also integrates with LexisNexis® Verdict & Settlement Analyzer and LexisNexis® e-Books, helping legal professionals research and analyze results all in one place.

“The legal profession has entered an era of constant change propelled by technology advancements, increasing mobility and a generational shift in the legal workforce,” said Bob Romeo, CEO of Research and Litigation Solutions at LexisNexis. “Lexis Advance is a dynamic research solution fueled by our unique ability to quickly translate customer needs and work styles into innovative capabilities – better and faster than anyone else.”

With even more options to personalize, analyze and manage legal research, the Lexis Advance solution has reached another milestone on its path to transform legal research for its customers.

. . . .

Lexis Advance now includes:

Increased Control – Search, Browse and Filter

Better search, browse and filtering provide users with more control and easier navigation:

  • Source Selection – A new pre-search option to browse, search for and view details of a source, offering more control and the option to identify sources related to a legal matter.
  • Browse & Search Table of Contents – Convenient browse and search of the Table of Contents lets users drill deeper into the content of pre-selected sources.
  • Expanded Topics & Browse Capability – Expanded to more than 4,000 topic summaries, allows users to research a legal matter within its context or get a refresher on a legal topic.
  • Snapshot – Displayed in a single, expandable overview, the new ‘Snapshot’ feature offers an efficient way to quickly review the top search results from each content type.
  • Customized settings & document delivery – Save individual settings and options based on user preferences, facilitating easy set-up and results management.

Exclusive Visualization Solutions

Unique visualization solutions in Lexis Advance give users a quick, easy-to-use opportunity to review and analyze their results and complete their research with more confidence:

  • Integration of Verdict & Settlement Analyzer – Search and analyze the largest available collection of verdict and settlement content to establish patterns from past cases, analyze and compare outcomes, and conduct early case assessment.

This new capability joins the two existing exclusive visualization capabilities in Lexis Advance:

  • Research Map – Depicts prior research history to validate that results are complete.
  • Shepard’s® Graphical – Visualizes citing decisions to ensure users cite good law.

You can more about the features of Lexis Advance by clicking on the press release here.


July 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How To Become an Expert Law Teacher by Understanding the Neurobiology of Learning

I have posted an article on SSRN entitled How to Become an Expert Law Teacher by Understanding the Neurobiology of Learning.  You can find it here

Abstract:  Legal education is changing.  Law schools are incorporating skills classes into their curriculums, and law teachers are integrating new techniques into their teaching.  Subjects that were never taught before are now appearing in law school curriculums.  Now for the last step–turning law professors into expert teachers.
This article applies cognitive psychology and learning theory to explain how to become an expert teacher.  As Best Practices has asserted, “Members of a law school faculty should base their teaching decisions on research about effective teaching, or at least hypotheses grounded in research.”  More specifically, as Diane Halpern has stated, “It is clear that a successful pedagogy that can serve as a basis for the enhancement of thinking will have to incorporate ideas about the way in which learners organize knowledge and internally represent it and the way these representations change and resist change when new information is encountered.  Despite all of the gains that cognitive psychologists have made in understanding what happens when people learn, most teachers do not apply their knowledge of cognitive psychology.”
This article begins by discussing the neurobiology of learning, then it uses this understanding to move onto educational theory and finally to the details on how to be an expert law teacher.  Part II of this article addresses how humans learn (the neurobiology of learning) in order to provide the foundation for the rest of the article.  Parts III and IV apply this learning theory to specific methods of improving teaching and learning.  Part III examines the idea of “engaged teachers” and “engaged learners.”  Part IV discusses how to become a “self-regulated” and “reflective” learner/teacher.  Finally, Part V presents the attitudes and habits of expert law teachers, while Part VI covers what expert law teachers teach.

July 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Memoriam: Steven Covey

Last week, at age 79, Steven Covey passed away.

Here are his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Here is a collection of insights from his book, selected by Brain Pickings (July 18):

Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.*

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them.

Until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’

To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.

It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.

Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.

Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.

The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.

How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.

There’s no better way to inform and expand you mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.




July 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Plaintiffs Lose in Case Concerning Cooley’s Job Statistics

Plaintiffs Lose in Case Concerning Cooley’s Job Statistics

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A federal judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit against Thomas M. Cooley Law School, the second such suit filed by jobless law-school graduates to be thrown out in recent months.

The judge, Gordon J. Quist of the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Mich., ruled on Friday that although Cooley's job-placement statistics were "inconsistent, confusing, and inherently untrustworthy," the plaintiffs—12 former students—should not have relied on them in making such an important decision as enrolling at Cooley, given the depressed nature of the legal job market.

"With red flags waving and cautionary bells ringing, an ordinary prudent person would not have relied on the statistics to decide to spend $100,000 or more," the judge wrote.


July 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

3Ls – Be Proactive

This post from Law Student Ally serves as a great reminder to students about being proactive in the legal community. 

“Your third year is the time to get noticed and get hired. Network, build a portfolio, and publish your writings.”

Network – join the student bar association (ABA and local chapters).  In addition to networking opportunities, there are MANY resources available to you as a bar association member.  The student fees are usually around $20 (take advantage of this bargain).

Build a portfolio – in addition to resumes, letters of recommendation, and writing samples, update/create your LinkedIn profile.

Get published – Visit your librarians and they will help you figure out how to submit your article for publication. 

Have a great 3L year!



July 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"A prospective student primarily concerned with entering the legal practice after graduation is worse off for having been exposed to the U.S. News rankings."

So say Kyle P. McEntee and Derek Michael Tokaz in Take This Job and Count It.

Abstract: "The U.S. News “Best Law Schools” rankings are the most prolific tool for making application and enrollment decisions. Such decisions are often made under the belief that the U.S. News rankings serve as a proxy for employment opportunities. Such beliefs are mistaken. U.S. News rankings bear almost no relationship to placement in the legal profession, and compare schools on a national scale that does not reflect the significantly more important regional hierarchies. A prospective student primarily concerned with entering the legal practice after graduation is worse off for having been exposed to the U.S. News rankings.

In this article, we explain the methodology and form of Law School Transparency's Law School Score Reports -- a tool designed to improve prospective student decision making. Employment outcomes are (and should be) one of the most important considerations for a prospective student. Because students typically have a narrow range of locations they’d like to practice in, and schools are generally limited to regional placement, we dispense with the irrelevant national ranking in favor of regional sorting based on geographic placement.

A state or regional report can be used to compare schools based on our three scores, a legal employment metric, an underemployment metric, and a reliability indicator. These broad displays of employment outcomes are then supplemented with more detailed information about each individual school. The data is both thorough yet presented in an intuitive manner, allowing prospective students to easily make more informed decisions about which schools, if any, match their career objectives."

(Scott Fruehwald)  

July 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Is law school a good investment these days?"

This article by Professor Herwig J. Schlunk (Vanderbilt) is available at 36 J. Legal Prof. 301 (2012) and on SSRN here. It updates his earlier essay called "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be . . . Lawyers."

From the abstract:

There continues to be an active debate on the question of whether or not law school is a good investment. I prefer to think of the question not in terms of “whether,” but in terms of “when.” In this essay, I conduct an analysis for three current undergraduates who are considering attending private law schools. I demonstrate how such individuals should take all known costs and all expected benefits into account in making their “investment” decision. As the calculation necessarily differs dramatically from one potential law student to another, my conclusions are far less important than my methodology.


July 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Law Schools Ask Applicants for their Facebook and Social Media Passwords?

In the private sector, some employers ask job applicants and employees for these passwords. Can they? In a helpful article, attorney Daniel Prywes provides this summary:

Federal law (such as the Stored Communications Act) and many states' laws prohibit employers from gaining unauthorized access into private areas of a social media account. When employers ask job applicants for their consent to such access, applicants are presented with two unpleasant choices: (1) sacrifice privacy and expose private and possibly embarrassing information, or (2) lose a job opportunity in a difficult labor market.

Many observers have condemned this practice as a severe invasion of privacy. It undoubtedly does invade privacy, but that does not necessarily mean that it is illegal, especially in the private sector. 

My question is whether law schools should request the social media passwords of student applicants.  In my experience, many undergraduate institutions fail to disclose important information about a student’s prior behavior. They often claim that privacy rules prevent disclosure. Not true.

 As a result, law schools can end up with students who have serious behavioral issues and who should not be lawyers or law students. Given the failure of colleges to disclose, maybe law schools should protect themselves and their students by requiring full disclosure.



July 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"The Status of Clinical Faculty in the Legal Academy: Report of the Task Force on the Status of Clinicians and the Legal Academy"

By Professor Bryan L. Anderson (Seattle) et al. and available at 36 J. Legal Prof. 353 (2012) as well as SSRN by clicking here.  From the abstract:

In the midst of ongoing debates within the legal academy and the American Bar Association on the need for "practice-ready" law school graduates through enhanced attention to law clinics and externships and on the status of faculty teaching in those courses, this report identifies and evaluates the most appropriate modes for clinical faculty appointments. Drawing on data collected through a survey of clinical program directors and faculty, the report analyzes the five most identifiable clinical faculty models: unitary tenure track; clinical tenure track; long-term contract; short-term contract; and clinical fellowships. It determines that, despite great strides in the growth of clinical legal education in the last 30 years, equality between clinical and non-clinical faculty remains elusive. Clinical faculty still lag behind non-clinical faculty in security of position and governance rights at most law schools.

The report then identifies four core principles that should guide decisions about clinical faculty appointments: 1) clinical education is a foundational and essential component of legal education; 2) the legal academy and profession benefit from full inclusion of clinical faculty on all matters affecting the mission, function, and direction of law schools; 3) there is no justification for creating hierarchies between clinical and non-clinical faculty; and 4) the standards for hiring, retention, and promotion of clinical faculty must recognize and value the responsibilities and methodologies of clinical teaching.

The report concludes that these core principles are best realized when full-time clinical faculty are appointed to a unitary tenure track. This conclusion does not ignore the imperfections of a tenure system. However, to the extent that tenure remains the strongest measure of the legal academy's investment in its faculty and is the surest guarantee of academic freedom, inclusion in faculty governance and job security, the report recommends that law schools predominantly place their clinical faculty on dedicated tenure lines. In addition, it recommends that schools implement standards for hiring, promotion, and retention that reflect the teaching responsibilities and methodologies, as well as practice and service obligations, unique to their clinical faculty. To facilitate the development of such standards, the report suggests good practices for the appointment of clinical faculty on a unitary tenure track.


July 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Most Lawyers Will Fail to Have Great Careers

This posting may have some relationship—not necessarily compatible—with my posting yesterday. Veteran lawyer and coach Cordell Parvin combines the insights of others to offer an answer to my question:

No matter how many people tell you that if you want a great career, pursue your passion, pursue your dreams…you will decide not to do it.” Excuses, [Carmine Gallo] says, are holding people back.

What do you suppose is the number one excuse people use to not following their passion and having a great career? In this CNN Opinion Piece: Want a great career? Find your passion, [Ted] Smith shares what he said in the TED Talk:

The most common excuse is to use the importance of family and personal relationships as the reason to avoid the demands of a great career.

Smith adds:

But how can you be a great spouse, parent or friend by denying your true identity?

Without passion, no one can fully express their talent or define who they are.

For me, passion for my work and passion for my family are the most important, and for me, they leave little time for other interests.


July 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 20, 2012

A cost-effective alternative to the law firm associate

Speaking of alternatives to the traditional law firm associate when it comes to providing legal service value, a UK firm named Dundas & Wilson will start using specially trained and supervised paralegals to do work formerly done by associates but at a cheaper cost to the client.  Clients, of course, will have the option of choosing to have the pricier associates staff their matters. The firm merely wants to provide a lower-cost option as a service to clients. From UK's

Dundas launches low-cost paralegal initiative for volume work

Dundas & Wilson has launched a new paralegal-led Legal Services Unit (LSU) in Scotland, which is intended to cut costs for clients by taking on routine work often carried out by qualified lawyers.

The initiative, which Dundas is dubbing a “firm within a firm”, will see a nine-strong team of paralegals split across Dundas’s Scottish offices take on searches, filings, registrations, basic due diligence and document review and collation work.

Dundas claims that having paralegals rather than qualified lawyers handle the work will offer clients better value for money.

The unit will be led by qualified solicitor Fiona Letham, under the oversight of managing partner Allan Wernham, and will offer services to Dundas’ offices in London as well as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Clients will be given the option of having some of their work handled by the LSU, although their existing contact within the firm will not change.

Wernham (pictured) said: "Clients are keen for their law firms to come up with innovative ways to resource their work and deliver new models that can improve efficiency.  The LSU allows us to provide clients with more flexible resource for volume tasks, but at the same time, retain the assurance of having work done by a leading law firm.

“The LSU is a breath of fresh air in the legal market and as well as being advantageous for clients, it will benefit paralegals, who will have a new career path opened up to them.”

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal blog.


July 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Can In-House Women Lawyers “ Have it All?”

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” (worth reading) has raised considerable controversy. A sub-question is whether women who work in-house as corporate counsel can have it all, or at least come closer to having it all. Corporate Counsel notes:

A study published by the William & Mary Journal for Women and the Law, titled “Better on Balance?”, analyzed to what extent quality of life is better for female attorneys in corporate law departments. It found that, on average, full-time in-house lawyers worked 50 hours a week (though some worked much more), and those hours were more likely to be on weekends and evenings than for lawyers in private practice. Roughly a third of companies surveyed in the study were classified “balance-supportive,” meaning their law departments offered alternative schedule arrangements and plenty of part-time positions.

On the other hand:

However, lawyers in part-time positions are highly stigmatized in the industry, the study found, and a majority of attorneys interviewed said they would not take part-time jobs out of fear that their status, promotions, and pay would ultimately suffer. Of the women surveyed, 65 percent said their "commitment to personal and family responsibilities" was the top barrier to advancing their careers in-house; that number is 74 percent for female attorneys in private practice.

Work-life balance continues to be a difficult issue.


July 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New York Times: The Trouble With Online Education

The New York Times has summarized the problem with online education with this subheadline: "Internet courses are monologues. True learning is a dialogue."  It's attached to an op-ed piece by Mark Edmundson, a University of Virginia English Professor.

He states:

"With every class we teach, we need to learn who the people in front of us are. We need to know where they are intellectually, who they are as people and what we can do to help them grow. Teaching, even when you have a group of a hundred students on hand, is a matter of dialogue."

He continues, "Every memorable class is a bit like a jazz composition. There is the basic melody that you work with. It is defined by the syllabus. But there is also a considerable measure of improvisation against that disciplining background."

He notes that "Online education is a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It tends to be a monologue and not a real dialogue. The Internet teacher, even one who responds to students via e-mail, can never have the immediacy of contact that the teacher on the scene can, with his sensitivity to unspoken moods and enthusiasms. This is particularly true of online courses for which the lectures are already filmed and in the can. It doesn’t matter who is sitting out there on the Internet watching; the course is what it is."

He concludes:

"A truly memorable college class, even a large one, is a collaboration between teacher and students. It’s a one-time-only event. Learning at its best is a collective enterprise, something we’ve known since Socrates. You can get knowledge from an Internet course if you’re highly motivated to learn. But in real courses the students and teachers come together and create an immediate and vital community of learning. A real course creates intellectual joy, at least in some. I don’t think an Internet course ever will. Internet learning promises to make intellectual life more sterile and abstract than it already is — and also, for teachers and for students alike, far more lonely."

I agree with Professor Edmundson.  A major part of teaching is the interaction between student and teacher.  Teachers must be aware of what is going on in the class and change their approach as needed.  They must motivate their students and help them reflect on what they are learning.  Lecture is not enough; class discussions and exercises are vital to learning.  In sum, online teaching goes against everything that modern education theory tells us.

(Scott Fruehwald)      

July 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

UK consultant says most lawyers today don't have the right skills to service corporate clients effectively

The head of Riverview Law, a UK-based legal services provider and consultant, told an audience in Manchester, England attending a symposium on legal education and training that he wouldn't employ most lawyers on the market today because they don't have the right skill set. To effectively service corporate clients, Karl Chapman told attendees that "legal competence is only part of the picture." Attorneys must also possess a range of management and analytical skills that have more to do with providing economic value to the client in the context of managing large, costly legal issues than practicing law per se (this is also consistent with Richard Susskind's predictions for the future of corporate law practice).

From the blog LegalFutures:

Goodbye lawyer, hello legal workflow and process analyst

Speaking at last week’s Legal Education and Training Review Symposium in Manchester, Karl Chapman – chief executive of Riverview Law – said he would not employ many lawyers currently available because they do not have the right skills. “They cannot do what’s required in a customer service environment,” he explained.

Riverview is creating a host of new roles – all of which he said need some degree of legal knowledge – such as project managers, scoping and pricing analysts, management information and data analysts, knowledge management specialists and client managers. “Some of best people we’ve got are senior lawyers doing legal workflow and process analysis,” he added.

However, “legal competence is only part of the picture” – clients need to know what to do with the advice to give it any value.

His view was backed up by James Atkin, head of legal, risk and compliance at CLS, who predicted that alternative business structures (ABSs) in particular are “likely to employ and train specific skills for specific elements of client interaction and service delivery, including behavioural as well as technical skills”; while some roles will require detailed legal knowledge, others “will demand a broad but relatively modest knowledge of a large number of legal areas”.

“This isn’t to say career development opportunities will be limited. There will be a greater range of roles, opportunities to move between them, internal training opportunities, more ‘on the job’ training, and opportunities to manage teams which perform them. It ought to be easier to get a first foot on the ladder without having a qualifying law degree, post-degree qualification and training contract or equivalent.”

Mr Atkin said legal services roles will increasingly focus on limited aspects of the customer or operational journey, such as advice, sales, operations, audit and reporting. “Some roles in larger providers will have very little or nothing to do with law, and more to do with risk management, project management, technological solutions and pure service considerations.”

Continue reading here. Hat tip to the TaxProf blog.


July 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Ails the Law Schools by Paul Horwitz.

Paul Horwitz has posted an "early draft" of a paper on legal education on SSRN.

Abstract: Everyone engaged in legal education and not utterly asleep agrees that there is a "law school crisis." Building on recent works by Brian Tamanaha and Walter Olson, this paper discusses its causes and potential solutions, using a typical dichotomy in recent populist movements--the "one percent" versus "99 percent" meme--as a lens. It examines arguments that the problem is economic and that it is primarily cultural; although I conclude the problem is economic and structural far more than cultural, I also argue that one of Tamanaha's primary recommendations for reform--that law schools ought to display more experimentation and institutional pluralism, and that ABA accreditation requirements ought to make this more possible--goes some way toward addressing both diagnoses. The paper is more descriptive than prescriptive, although I offer some thoughts on solutions. I emphasize three things: 1) law schools would be better off focusing on regional than national markets, although the US News rankings make regionally oriented approaches more difficult; 2) a serious increase in meaningful faculty governance and involvement is needed; and 3) the role and needs of the client have been surprisingly marginal in recent discussions of law school reform. The client needs to be a prominent part of reform discussions, which suggests, contrary to some extant views, that curricular reform ought to continue to be part of the discussion along with economic and structural reform.

This is an early and imperfect draft intended for discussion and feedback, given both the importance of the issue and the need for increased public discussion. Comments are welcome."

I think that Horwitz's most important point is the need to focus on the client, which has been previously discussed on this blog.  (here and here)  He states, "I close with a discussion of what seems to me a remarkable gap in both books—and, indeed, in discussion of law school reform generally. That is the absence of the client. It is an unfortunate fact that we have in this country both an apparent oversupply of law school graduates, and an undersupply of lawyers who are willing and able to serve vast stretches of the population who need competent legal representation." 

Later, he writes, "Clients have been remarkably absent from contemporary discussions about what ails the law schools. That’s not universally true; concern for clients has certainly been a part of the literature addressing curricular reform, and of the literature on the changing nature of the legal economy itself. But the client is practically nonexistent in much of the current discussion about the “law school crisis.”

He adds, "The schools’ immediate responsibility may be to their students. As long as they continue to be accredited gatekeepers, however, they serve the profession as well."  "But, with all due respect, clients ought to be our ultimate concern."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)