Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Harvard offers course to train students to work as in-house counsel

It's a new offering that began this fall called "Challenges of General Counsel" and is being co-taught by the General Counsel for Ernst & Young and the former GC of General Electric. From Corporate Counsel at

Law Students Attend Harvard's First Class on GCs

It's a September evening at Harvard Law School. Twenty-two students are being asked to imagine that they are the general counsel of Hewlett-Packard, circa 2010. They've worked with the boss, CEO Mark Hurd, for years, and they consider him a friend, too. Then one day Hurd steps into their office with a letter from the high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, claiming that he has sexually harassed her client, a company contractor, and revealed secrets about the corporation.

The instructors want to know what the general counsel should say to Hurd.

Pooja Patel, a third-year, jumps into the hot seat: "I'd ask him if it's true."

"Is [Hurd's answer] a privileged statement?" asks Ben Heineman Jr., former general counsel of General Electric Company. "I believe so," she says. Heineman corrects her. "No," he says. It's not privileged as far as Hurd is concerned.

Sitting next to Heineman is his coinstructor, professor and vice-dean David Wilkins, who prods further. "Is this just a question of [Hurd's] personal ethics or morality?" he asks. "Why is this not solely a personal matter?"

Another student chimes in. "Because he was in a position as an employer." Others keep going: He was allegedly using company funds. Hurd is the face of the corporation. He was allegedly dispensing insider information. "So why isn't this privileged?" Wilkins asks.

Now Patel's got it. "Because there's a conflict between his interests and the company's interests." Bingo. The general counsel represents the company, and the privilege belongs to it, not the employees.

The exchange sets the stage for the challenging questions to follow, including how to inform the board about the allegations, what role the GC should play in the internal investigation, and whether it's worth ousting a CEO for lying about several thousand dollars in expenses—as Hurd eventually was.

Welcome to "Challenges of General Counsel," a new offering at Harvard this fall, taught by Wilkins, Heineman, and Ernst & Young general counsel Michael Solender. While Heineman and Solender originated the course at Yale Law School in spring 2011, this semester it's Harvard students who are wrestling with about a dozen case studies that range from global sourcing at IKEA to BP's handling of the Gulf oil spill. The guiding principle for each discussion is (to paraphrase the syllabus) not just "what is legal," but "what is right."

"This is really a course about how to be a lawyer when the law is only part of any question you're dealing with," Heineman explains in an interview after class is over.


October 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Halloween - from the Legal Skills Prof Blog

Here's a Halloween treat of a different sort from those real-life movie monsters, The Cramps:



October 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Business Blogs Worth Following

Our readers who are interested in commercial matters may be interested in this list of 15 blogs that the Levick Weekly (p. 17) lists as “Business Blogs Worth Watching.” The blogs fit under three headings: “Thought Leaders,” “Industry Blogs,” and “Business Related.” It’s nice to have a listing in which all the blogs are still active.


October 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do you grade papers better in hardcopy or online?

I grade my papers electronically but jeez louis it takes me much longer than the old fashion way. Though my comments are more detailed and definitely easier for students to read, I miss the efficiency of grading in hardcopy (in theory the ability to copy and paste comments from one paper to the next should save lots time but I wind up customizing my comments for each paper so it actually takes me a lot longer). And I miss being able to use diagrams, arrows and such to explain to students some of my suggested edits.  Apparently I'm not alone based on this columm from ProfHacker at Chronicle of Higher Ed in which the author defends hardcopy feedback as better than the electronic kind.  It's not because he's a Luddite either.

I have a confession to make: I hate responding to student essays through a computer screen.

Yes, I know I’ve advocated using text-expansion software to respond to student writing, Billie has taught us how to respond to student writing audio style, Jason has explained how tracking changes on the iPad might be useful when grading, Doug Ward has described grading with voice on the iPad, and I know that Erin (among others, probably) uses iAnnotate with her students’ essays (an iPad app that both Jason and Mark have covered).

Here’s the thing, though: I am much more comfortable (both ergonomically and psychologically) with a printed essay on the table in front of me and a pen in my hand. It’s much faster (for me), and it is much less taxing (for me). I realize that it might sound ridiculous to describe reading and responding to student essays as “taxing,” but here we are. When it comes to grading essays, I just haven’t gotten to the point where using some kind of digital interface feels as comfortable, as seamless, and as transparent to me as using a pen and paper.

What do you think?  I'm assuming the vast majority of profs comment electronically but do you find it as effective or efficient as the hardcopy kind? Let us know in the comments below.


October 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sobering Student Debt Statistics

In the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Congress

established an ombudsman for private student loans within the Consumer Financial

Protection Bureau. The ombudsman began accepting student loan complaints in March 2012. Here is the executive summary of its recent annual report:

Outstanding student loan debt is now over $1 trillion, with private student loans

accounting for more than $150 billion. There are at least $8 billion of private student

loans in default, representing more than 850,000 individual loans. Private student loans

are issued by banks and credit unions, state-affiliated and non-profit agencies, schools, and

other financial companies. Like in the mortgage market, creditors often employ third party servicers to collect payments from private student loan borrowers. Many of these

servicers are also active in the federal student loan market.


In less than seven months, the CFPB has handled approximately 2,900 private student

loan complaints. For complaints where companies report monetary relief, the median

amount of relief reported was $1,572. The vast majority of the complaints were related to

loan servicing and loan modification issues.


Eighty-seven percent of all student loan complaints were directed at just seven companies.

This is not surprising, given that the private student lending and servicing markets are

highly concentrated.


The complaints and input received by the CFPB resemble many of the same issues

experienced by mortgage borrowers, such as improper application of payments,

untimeliness in error resolution, and inability to contact appropriate personnel in times of

hardship. Many borrowers feel overburdened by paperwork and other requirements to

activate incentives marketed prior to loan origination.


Similar to the mortgage market, active-duty service members and their families sometimes

experience difficulty exercising their rights under the Service members Civil Relief Act.


Like mortgage borrowers, student loan borrowers face challenges when attempting to

refinance or modify their debt. Many borrowers are unable to take advantage of low

interest rates due to a lack of refinance options, while others have been unable to secure

modified payment plans during the difficult labor market environment.




October 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

U. Georgia seeking to hire tenure track director for medical-legal clinic

Here are the details:

University of Georgia Law School - Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic – Assistant Professor

The University of Georgia School of Law seeks a tenure-track assistant professor to serve as the director of a to-be-created Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) Clinic, beginning the 2013 – 2014 academic year.  Job expectations include both clinical work and the production of academic scholarship.  On the scholarship side, the director must be able to satisfy all the standards applicable to other members of the tenure-track faculty, including the production of first-rate scholarship published in major law reviews.  On the clinical side, the successful applicant will be responsible for establishing partnership(s) with medical providers in the community to house the new MLP Clinic.  The goal of the MLP Clinic is to provide legal services to underserved individuals receiving treatment from the medical provider.  Responsibilities include managing the partnership relationship, teaching the classroom component of the Clinic, and supervising student legal work in the Clinic.  Finally, the director will teach a related doctrinal course.  Applicants must possess a J.D. or equivalent law degree and must be a member of the Georgia Bar or willing to become a member as soon as practical following appointment.  Applications should include a cover letter, resume or CV, description of scholarly research agenda, existing scholarship and references.  The University of Georgia is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply.

Contact:  Professor Erica Hashimoto

University of Georgia School of Law

Herty Drive

Athens, GA 30602

(706) 542-5098

[email protected]


October 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

To better prepare students, law schools need to offer specialty training

From the New York Times DealBook commenting on NYU's recent decision to revamp the third year curriculum.

The Shift Toward Law School Specialization

The twilight of the generalist law degree is here.

As Peter Lattman reported last week, New York University School of Law is retrofitting its third-year curriculum to allow for increased specialization. Options include advanced study in areas like tax or corporate law, working in Washington at a federal agency or foreign study in Buenos Aires, Paris or Shanghai.

While the study-abroad aspect of the program has received much of the attention, the heart of the proposal is an important shift toward specialization.

In the traditional model of legal education, schools offer a general professional degree in law. No majors or concentrations. Schools provide a strong foundation of legal analysis and grounding in the common law, on the assumption that law firms will teach new associates the specifics of what they need to practice law, whether that means drafting deal documents or taking a deposition.

In the emerging model, law students must add on a degree, certificate or other indication of readiness to engage in a particular practice area or industry. N.Y.U.’s strategy committee described this goal as providing “professional pathways that prepare students to operate in a world that demands increasing specialization.” (Full disclosure: I was a visiting professor of law at N.Y.U. in 2010.)

Law schools, like most established enterprises, change only when they have to. In this case, the ripples of change arising from the segmentation of the market for legal services have been felt by corporate clients, law firms and law schools.

Corporate clients are more savvy, sophisticated and cost-aware. Routine legal work is increasingly outsourced offshore, outsourced to contract attorneys or performed by professionals who do not have a Juris Doctor degree.

Law school graduates who fail to land one of the shrinking number jobs at big law firms find themselves moving down-market to small law firms for low pay, or competing with college graduates and M.B.A.’s for jobs in compliance, risk management or business development.

Law firms are struggling with the new normal of a segmented industry. The new economics of the profession are marked by increased lateral mobility among partners, increasing numbers of nonequity partners, increased client scrutiny of fees and a decrease in the routine legal work that used to support the pyramid model. As a result, it is harder for law firms to devote nonbillable time to training entry-level associates. Law graduates are expected to arrive knowing more than just how to “think like a lawyer.” The tricky part for law schools is trying to figure out what, exactly, they need to know.

In my view, law schools should play matchmaker, guiding students toward specialties that are likely to endure. Big firm attorneys in some practice areas will continue to have a comparative advantage over low-cost attorneys, in-house lawyers and other professionals. One area is bet-the-company litigation, where high stakes justify high fees. Another is mergers and acquisitions and securities work, where, in addition to negotiating and drafting documents, lawyers usually quarterback the deal to closing. A third area is any practice that demands highly specialized legal and regulatory knowledge, like bankruptcy, tax and financial regulation. The knowledge required is intrinsically legal and cannot be easily moved offshore or outsourced to nonlawyers or contract attorneys.

Continue reading here.



October 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Important New Article on Self-Directed Learners

I believe that the most important skill we can give to our students is the ability to be self-directed and self-reflective learners.  (here)  Neil W. Hamilton, Verna Monson, and Jerome M. Organ have just posted an important new article on this topic entitled Encouraging Each Student's Personal Responsibility for Core Competencies Including Professionalism on SSRN.

Abstract: "The market for entry-level positions in law firms is changing as competitive market pressures drive a “new normal” for law firms, and law schools must respond to meet students’ educational needs in this “new normal” market. A high percentage of law firms are rethinking their business models and adopting proactive talent management strategies like competency models to respond to competitive market pressures. One core competency in these models that influences all the other competencies is an internalized commitment to self-development toward both excellence in all competencies and active initiative in exercising all of them. This paper focuses on how legal education can foster each student’s internalized commitment to self-development toward excellence and initiative."

An excerpt:

This essay focuses on the specific competencies of ‘commitment to career-long self development toward excellence in all competencies’ and ‘proactive initiative in exercising all competencies’ in Table 2. Law students and early-career lawyers must learn to internalize self development toward excellence and proactive initiative in developing these capacities and skills. In this new normal, students and early career lawyers must anticipate having several jobs over the course of their careers that may require development of new skills. Law schools must define clear learning outcomes to signal to students the importance of developing these competencies. This education assessment model requires law school faculties to:

1. Identify student educational needs (including the meta-cognitive capacities of self directed learning and self-regulation capacity);

2. Articulate student learning outcomes (educational objectives) that respond to student educational needs;

3. Plan and implement an educational program and curriculum that help students achieve the learning outcomes;

4. Identify instructional methods that integrate formative and summative assessments that are cost-effective, manageable, and meaningful; and

5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the educational program and curriculum."

A problem is that "In legal education, then, law students get acclimated to being ‘dependent’ learners rather than self-directed learners. Law professors like to be in ‘control’ of the classroom, dictating what gets learned and how it is learned, resulting in a social context in which students feel very little encouragement toward or ability to engage in self-directed learning toward all the competencies beyond those involved in immediate course work."

The solution to this problem is being explicit. "A student cannot own something without awareness that it is important. Law firms implementing competency models begin with an orientation for associates that explains the full model followed by reminders and training as needed at evaluations and transition stages as well as formal training to help lawyers understand the model. Similarly, day one of law school should begin with introducing the lawyer competency model, explaining its importance, and informing students it is each student’s personal responsibility to engage in activities inside and outside the classroom that develop self-directedness. . . . The presentation should make clear that the responsibility for development of these competencies does not reside with faculty or administrators, but with each student. This emphasis should foster the developmental growth of personal responsibility towards self-directedness."

Everyone in legal education needs to read this article!

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boston College Appoints Faculty Director of Experiential Learning

From the Law School’s media release (excerpts):

Boston College Law School has announced the appointment of Clinical Professor and Law Fund Research Scholar Paul Tremblay to the newly created position of faculty director of experiential learning, a move that underscores and enhances the Law School's longstanding emphasis on real-world experience for law students.
Tremblay will be responsible for coordinating experiential learning throughout the curriculum to ensure that every student will have reasonable access to significant opportunities in this area, alongside the critical doctrinal and theoretical training which remains a hallmark of the BC Law School program.

With a director in place, the school intends to strengthen its established and nationally-known in-house clinics, such as its Legal Assistance Bureaua model for other programs across the country since 1968through which students and their advisors represent clients with a variety of legal problems, including domestic violence prevention, family law, landlord-tenant disputes, Social Security disability appeals. They also offer free legal services to small businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and first-time home buyers through the Community Enterprise Clinic, which Tremblay founded in 2008.

"In this new role, I plan to advocate for more clinical opportunities for students and more externships, including international placements, through creative partnerships with private firms, public interest offices, and government agencies," he said, "as well as coordinate ongoing efforts to include more simulation and practicum components to our high quality, nationally-ranked classroom courses.”


October 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Rethinking legal research: preparing law students for using empirical data."

By Professor Steven B. Dow (Mich. St. School Crim. Justice) and available at 2011 Mich. St. L. Rev. 523-540. From the introduction:

Despite its limitations, the North Carolina Racial Justice Act constitutes an emphatic rejection by a state legislature of the U.S. Supreme Court's myopic view on the relevance of empirical data in death penalty cases, a view articulated by the Court in McCleskey v. Kemp. Looking at it from a broader perspective, however, this statute and a similar statute enacted in Kentucky over a decade ago are less of a departure from, than a manifestation of, the broader trend of judicial reliance on scientific and social scientific data in formal dispute resolution. This trend, which began in the last third of the nineteenth century, has dramatically accelerated over the last four decades, despite the Supreme Court's decision in McCleskey, to the point where many courts now routinely utilize such evidence in certain types of cases. This broad trend of judicial reliance on empirical data in formal dispute resolution is very important, and I genuinely appreciate and applaud the efforts of Michigan State University College of Law in hosting this Symposium. At the same time, I could not help but notice more than a bit of irony in the fact that this Symposium on law and empirical data is hosted by a law school. American legal education is unique among all the university graduate-level programs in the natural and social sciences, as well as business and medicine, in not requiring even a basic level of competency in empirical research methods. As this Symposium demonstrates, such training is imperative today and is increasing in importance. Without adequate training, lawyers will be ineffective both in taking advantage of this trend in the practice of law and in advancing this trend on behalf of their profession and society. In this Article, I will discuss the current state of law school training in empirical research methods and then suggest how the effectiveness of that training can be enhanced without undermining the training in the more traditional professionally mandated competencies such as doctrinal analysis, client counseling, and advocacy.


October 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why every law student needs a mentor

From the always informative Lawyerist blog:

Learn things you won’t learn in law school

Law school teaches you lots of great things. Mostly, it teaches you how to think, talk, and act like a lawyer. Although law school curriculums are starting to include more practical skill classes (which I recommend), the majority of classes are substantive, not skills-based.

That’s why having a mentor is so important. Instead of doing a mock deposition with your classmates, you can watch a practicing attorney take or defend one. Even better, you can pick their brain before and after to see how they prepare and how they thought it went.

A good mentor should give tell you how to succeed in law school, how to move past bad law school grades, and how to make the most of your law school experience. Perhaps most importantly, they will pass on little bits of knowledge that can’t be described or categorized—but they are pieces of wisdom you will rely on for your entire career.

Learn how things (don’t) work

Not only is it important to watch lawyers do things the right way, it’s perhaps more valuable to watch them do it the wrong way. I’m not suggesting you find yourself a terrible mentor, and I’m not suggesting that most attorneys are incompetent.

I am suggesting, however, that even the best attorneys second-guess themselves and wish they could do ____ differently during a case. Watching them make those decisions and then analyze what went right (and wrong) is invaluable. One, you will benefit from their mistake and will hopefully not make the same decision when you are an attorney. Two, you will learn why it’s called the practice of law, not the perfection of law.

When you realize that even the best attorneys make mistakes, that should make you even more wary and protect against making those same mistakes.

If you want to know how finding a mentor might lead you to a good job with one of her colleagues, click here.


October 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Scalia says his "single best advice" to law students is stick with "bread and butter" courses

Speaking recently at U. of Wyoming Law School, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told students to avoid "law and [fill-in-the-blank]" courses and instead focus on the fundamental subjects to best prepare themselves for practice. As reported by the Casper Star Tribune:

In response to [a] question about the single best piece of advice Scalia would give to law students, he advised them not to waste their time taking “frill courses.”

“Professors like certain subjects that they’re writing a book on, so they teach a course in that subject,” he said, adding that students who take the course get to do the research for the book.

“Because there are so many professors teaching their hobbies, the rudimentary courses are not taught with the frequency necessary for everybody to take them,” Scalia said.

“The only time you’re going to have an opportunity to study a whole area of the law systematically is in law school,” Scalia said. “You should not waste that opportunity. Take the bread and butter courses. Do not take, ‘law and women,’ do not take ‘law and poverty,’ do not take ‘law and anything,’” he said.

You can read full cover of his recent speaking engagement here.

Hat tip to ATL.


October 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Padding Law School Employment Numbers: More Allegations

Yet more allegations of fudged employment data reports. From the National Law Journal:

A former assistant career services dean at the Thomas Jefferson Law School has filed a declaration in a class action against the institution in which she acknowledges padding graduate employment statistics in 2006. 

Karen Grant said in a sworn statement in August that she counted recent graduates as employed if they had worked in any capacity since graduation. She blamed pressure by her supervisor to improve the school's jobs statistics.

Law schools are only supposed to report graduates as employed if they have a job nine months following graduation, according to American Bar Association rules.

"I was to ask first if they were currently employed," she said. "If the graduate indicated he or she was not currently employed, I would then inquire whether he or she was employed at any time after graduation. If the graduate indicated he or she was employed at any time after graduation (even though currently unemployed), I was instructed to record the graduate as 'employed' " for the record.


October 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Legal Scholarship Focus On Practice?

Towards Engaged Scholarship by John R. Nolon (abstract only)

Pace Law Review Vol. 33, No. 1, Summer 2013

Abstract: "This article addresses the relatively novel question of whether, as law school teaching evolves to embrace legal practice, the scholarship of law school professors should become more engaged in the practice as well. Traditional legal scholarship necessarily engages a central objective of law school teaching, which is to impart an understanding of the law and the legal system to students who must learn legal analysis and to “think like lawyers.” On the other hand, the practice-oriented influences of the Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers and the report of the Clinical Legal Education Association, Best Practices for Legal Education, have been working on the academy for only five years; law teachers are just now learning how they can better prepare their students to practice law “effectively and responsibly in the contexts they are likely to encounter as new lawyers.”

These reports have stimulated a vast literature on how law professors can improve their teaching methods, how law schools can alter their curricula, and how the legal academy as a whole can prioritize skills education. Much less attention has been paid to the connection between legal scholarship and practice-oriented teaching. For many law professors, there is an intuitive link between their teaching and scholarship. Does that link apply to teaching law students to be more practice-oriented, and what precisely does that mean? Should our scholarship examine more regularly the problems that practitioners confront and the contexts in which they arise?

This article contains and analyzes the reflections of sixteen law professors on this issue of linking scholarship to the context of legal practice. From these reflections, several themes are identified that lead to new perspective on legal scholarship in a time of dynamic change in the law school education. This article begins a dialogue on engaged scholarship and concludes with the hope that its discussion of the issue will help the legal academy reflect critically on one of the most important roles of law professors as academics and as molders of the careers of their students."

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Beyond Practical Skills: Nine Steps for Improving Legal Education Now"

A recent essay by Professor Michael Cassidy (BC) and available at 53 B.C. L. Rev. 1515 (2012) and here on SSRN.  A summary:

Five years after the Carnegie Report Educating Lawyers called upon law schools to adopt an integrated approach to legal education—teaching practical skills and professionalism across the curriculum—few schools have risen to that enormous challenge. Comprehensive reform will take years, requiring major resource reallocations, realignment of teaching responsibilities, redesign of courses, and changes to graduation requirements. R. Michael Cassidy, Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, in Beyond Practical Skills: Nine Steps for Improving Legal Education Now, empowers faculty members and administrators desiring to respond to the Carnegie Report with immediate, realizable tools to improve legal education in the United States. Cassidy’s nine proposals, each modest in isolation, could collectively have a huge impact on law students’ professional development. “Our current students deserve our best efforts to make progress now toward improving the professional education of lawyers, even if it means proceeding in a piecemeal fashion,” writes Cassidy.


October 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Symposium today on "The Law School in the New Legal Environment"

Hosted by Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, featured speakers include big guns in legal education reform like Dean Kent Syverud, Brian Tamanaha, Bill Henderson and Kyle McEntee, director of the Law School Transparency project.  The National Law Journal provides the overview:

Some big names in the law school world will convene in St. Louis on Oct. 26 to discuss how law schools should respond to the changing realities of the legal industry.

Washington University in St. Louis School of Law will host "The Law School in the New Legal Environment" symposium, the latest in a series of conferences that law schools and legal education organizations have held on that topic during the past three years. Those meetings generally have had little problem diagnosing the problems facing legal education, including skyrocketing tuition and diminished job prospects for new lawyers. They have been less successful in identifying how law schools should change.

Host dean Kent Syverud said the impending gathering would be different because the 210 attendees are influential decision-makers within the law school community and legal industry. A dozen law deans are slated to attend, as are an array of judges, managing partners, corporate counsel and university presidents.

In addition to Syverud, chair of the American Bar Association's Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the speakers will include Lauren Robel, president of the American Association of Law Schools and interim provost of Indiana University; and Daniel Bernstine, president of the Law School Admission Council.

Attendees will also hear from Washington University professor Brian Tamanaha, author of the book Failing Law Schools, and Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit organization that has been instrumental in reforming the way law schools provide consumer information. Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor and legal industry expert BillHenderson will also speak, as will Andrew Puzder, a lawyer and chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. chains.

"The predominant view shared by students, practicing attorneys and lawmakers is that law schools are in denial about these challenges, and it's time for law schools to make some serious changes to adjust to the new realities facing law graduates," Syverud said. "This symposium will address how American law schools can embrace needed change rather than avoid it."

Panel discussions covering affordability, the future of law faculties, preparation for practice, job placement for graduates and online legal education are planned. The closing session will zero in on the five highest priorities for change within legal education. Those priorities will be decided through an online poll of attendees.

Continue reading here.


October 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clinic and Skills Courses Are on the Rise

The American Bar Association has published a study of law school curriculum. Comparing the numbers in 2002 and 2010, it finds a significant increase in the number of skills and clinical courses. You can find the statistical breakdown here (two pages). The biggest increase among skills courses was in Advanced Trial Advocacy. The biggest increase among clinical courses was in prosecutorial and defense clinics.


October 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday Fun: New novels by lawyers about lawyers

For your reading pleasure Vivia Chen at the Careerist blog has compiled a list of new books written by lawyers cum novelists.  Perhaps there's something on this list to tickle your fancy:

1. Godsent by Richard Burton, an in-house attorney with Landmark Management Group in Plano, Texas. (He also practiced at Bickel & Brewer.) TexParte Blog says it's a "thriller about the Son of God coming to earth in the modern time." Okay.

2. Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman. (About life in a big firm.) 

3. Guilt by Association and Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark (yes, that Marcia Clark).

4. Terminal Ambition by Kate McGuinness, a former partner at an Am Law 100 firm and GC of a Fortune 500 company. It's about Big Law and politics. Susan Estrich and Steven Harper liked it.

5.  Attorney-Client Privilege by Pamela Samuels Young, a former O'Melveny & Myers associate and in-house counsel at several companies.

6. The Floater  by Sheryl Sorrentino, a solo practioner.


October 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chicago-Kent joins the list of schools that have started solo incubator programs

Chicago-Kent joins CUNY, Pace, UMKC, Thomas Jefferson, Maryland and a few others in launching a solo incubator project reflecting the new reality that many law grads must start their own firms if they want to practice law. From the ABA Journal blog:

Law School Launches Program to House New Solo Lawyers

Chicago-Kent College of Law's "Solo and Small Firm Incubator" is a one-year program designed to provide real client experience under the guidance of clinical faculty and alumni mentors. The seven participants were selected through an application process which included submissions of detailed business plans for their practices.

"Schools have never really fully recognized or supported solos. Law school is not traditionally geared for that," says Chicago-Kent Dean Harold Krent. "This program provides much more than just resources, it recognizes that a significant portion of law school graduates will be trying to make it on their own."

Kent is among several law schools jumping on the incubator trend as newly minted attorneys struggle in the current job market. Schools that have launched programs include CUNY, University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Maryland and Pace University.

"There seems to be an emergence of interest in incubator, residence and post-grad support systems," Will Hornsby, staff counsel for the ABA’s Division for Legal Services, told the ABA Journal for a story in the October issue. The story notes that the ABA is starting a discussion list and document archive for idea-sharing about incubators, and will host forums for those administering the projects.

At Chicago-Kent, Krent envisioned the program this spring and pushed for its launch this fall. The school and alumni mentors hosted the first all-day training session and Q&A for participants Wednesday.

The law school provides office space, technology and access to legal research tools in its for-fee law firm, "The Law Offices of Chicago-Kent," periodic workshops on business management and practice-related topics, and, perhaps most importantly, a network of committed faculty advisers and mentors to offer guidance and, hopefully, client referrals. In exchange, the participants, all 2011 and 2012 Chicago-Kent graduates, are expected to contribute ten hours each week assisting on cases in the clinic.

"What I really hope to get out of program is more litigation experience with someone who knows what she’s doing," says Rebecca Graham, who founded her own firm G&G Law, with friend and former classmate Michelle Green in 2011. For new lawyers, even logistical issues such as navigating federal court buildings are simplified with a knowing guide, Graham says. "Just having someone available down the hall for easy questions that we might spend hours researching, but anyone who has been practicing for a while would know, is a huge help."


October 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Apple iPad Mini coming to a school near you.

At the recent unveiling of the new iPad Mini, Apple touted its use as a must-have educational tool having eclipsed MAC use by a factor of two to one in grades K-12.  How soon the iPad replaces PC's and laptops in law schools?  From Education Week:

Apple Unveils Smaller, Cheaper iPad, Touts School Use

While it may not be an intended outcome when Apple launched its iPad tablet device in 2010, K-12 schools seem to love the thing. iPads sales in K-12 schools are now twice the amount of Macs, Apple's desktop counterpart, the company's chief executive officer, Tim Cook, announced in July. (On Tuesday, he announced that 100 million iPads have been sold worldwide.)

So when word leaked this week that the company would be unveiling a smaller, cheaper version of its iPad—in typical Apple fashion, at an invite-only presentation in a San Jose auditorium, live-streaming online around the world— the education world took notice.

. . . .

The iPad Mini starts at $329 for a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet with 16 gigabytes of memory; a device with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, useful for students without Internet at home, starts at $459. Regular iPads for K-12 schools run between $379 and $829, depending on the model and specifications.

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During Apple's live event, Cook introduced the iPad Mini by touting its potential for schools. He said 80 percent of the nation's "core curricula" is available in iBooks, Apple's digital bookstore. He showed a glowing quote from James Ponce, the superintendent of schools in McAllen, Texas, which recently purchased 25,000 iPads as part of a $20 million digital learning initiative that I wrote about here. There is also a new version of iBooks, which allows people, including teachers and "not just the big three textbook publishers," Cook pointed out, to author their own textbooks. He highlighted the ability to include math tools and multi-touch widgets within the e-textbooks, though that functionality is available through other e-textbooks providers.

But overall, one of the big selling points for iPads in education is that the learning experience is better and less burdensome than print textbooks. There is growing support on a national level for the switch. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Communications Commission unveiled a "Digital Textbook Playbook" that encouraged schools to switch to all digital materials by 2017—in a recent report the State Education Technology Directors Association followed that recommendation.

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October 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)