Friday, November 16, 2012

The Need for Lawyers who are Self-Regulated Learners

We have talked a lot on this blog about the need for lawyers who are self-regulated, self-reflective learners.  The same call comes from a practioner.  Why You Need to Self-Critique in Law School by Randall Ryder.

Ryder declares, "When you graduate law school, you should be able to think, talk, and write like a lawyer. You also need to be self-reliant and able to work on your own. With the legal economy undergoing a transformation, employers want young attorneys who jump into the fire right after graduation. You will still learn as a young attorney, but most employers expect you can complete a task on your own. In other words, you will be assigned a writing assignment and expected to finish it without much, if any, assistance."

He adds: "Every lawyer is different, but most attorneys probably don’t have the time (or interest) in reading an outline or a rough draft of a task they assigned you. Even if you have a mentor—it’s your job to research it, write, polish it, and submit a final product. If you can develop the ability to self-critique in law school, you will put yourself in a better position to succeed after law school."

He concludes, "If you are completely dependent on detailed feedback from other individuals, you are in for a rude awakening after law school."

Among the advice he gives to law students is to "Read, read, and read again" (your drafts) and to read your writing out loud.

(Scott Fruehwald) (hat tip: Jennifer Romig)

November 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ABA task force on future of legal ed. accelerates deadline to complete report

The nineteen member panel formed last August to study the current state of legal education and make recommendations for the future has moved up the deadline for completing its work from spring 2014 to fall 2013 recognizing that time is of the essence. The committee is also interested is also soliciting public comment, not on the already well known problems related to the oversupply of lawyers but instead it's looking for constructive ideas about how to fix them. From Law.com:

ABA task force wants to know: What to do about law schools?

The task force the American Bar Association formed in August to examine the challenges facing law schools is asking for public input on questions ranging from how the cost of legal education hurts students and the legal profession, to what law schools should seek to achieve during the next 25 years.

The 19-member Task Force on the Future of Legal Education also is moving up the time frame for completion of its work. The group originally was slated to issue its recommendations in spring 2014; now, it plans to submit that report in fall 2013.

"It's our view that the pressures on the profession and law schools are sufficiently serious that we needed to act more quickly," said former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, chairman of the task force. "We hope to have a draft report in 10 or 11 months."

Shepard said the task force members are less interested in looking back, and more focused on concrete proposals.

"We don't want people to recite the current set of dilemmas," Shepard said. "There is a Niagara of discourse on the problems—that's been laid out in great detail. We're hoping that people will write to us about the actions they think might be productive."

The task force isn't only looking at what the ABA should do, but also at what law schools, universities, bar examiners and other actors might do. Thus far, the task force has split into two subcommittees, one concentrating on the cost and economics of legal education, the other on the regulation and delivery of legal education.

The first subcommittee is seeking comments about the ways in which law school costs affect current and prospective students, faculty, universities, recent graduates, clients, the legal profession and society as a whole. The other subcommittee seeks comments regarding the goals law schools should adopt; student demographics; and how schools should be financed and accredited.

(jbl).

November 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

My Heart Transplant Anniversary

November 16 marks the 17th anniversary of my heart transplant. The anniversary is like a second birthday.  Back in 1995, I spent 4 months in the hospital waiting for my turn to get a new heart. I think for that year, I had the longest wait of any patient in the hospital.  Today, the typical wait is much longer, although patients usually wait a home longer.

At this point, I can expect to live a normal life span.  But for many, their lives end prematurely, because there are not enough hearts and other organs to go around. Yet, it’s so easy for healthy people to sign an organ donor card or to have “organ donor” stamped on their drivers licenses.

I think about my transplant every day. I celebrate the chance that I have been given to continue to live a full life.

(ljs)

November 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In new trend, law firms eat cost of legal research

We'd previously reported that some corporate clients are trying to save on their legal bills by purchasing their own contracts with commercial legal research companies like Wexis and Bloomberg and then insisting that outside counsel use those accounts whenever conducting research as a means to avoid the mark-up law firms normally charge. The following story from today's ABA Journal blog indicates that some firms are now choosing to eat the cost of legal research entirely in order to avoid the ire of clients who may walk if the bills get too large.

Firms Wave Goodbye to Billing for Research Costs

With clients increasingly primed to demand discounts, balk at hourly rates and refuse to pay for associate lawyers, a greater number of law firms have found themselves absorbing legal research costs as a way to shrink their clients’ tabs.

More and more billing partners are knocking research costs off invoices before they’re even submitted to clients, legal consultant Rob Mattern of Mattern & Associates recently told me.

“They don’t trust that the rates charged are a fair representation of what the firm is paying [to the third-party legal research vendor].”

This trend is apparent at firms that negotiate deals with research providers but historically haven’t passed along discounts they received to their clients, sometimes as a means to collect on other, nonbillable items, Mattern added. Mattern's firm’s 2012 Cost Recovery survey reported an influx of firms with clients who either balked at or outright refused to pay for legal research.

While some firms have adopted policies to charge clients only the hard costs billed to them, others are adding legal research charges to the cost of doing business.

“The third-party cost of online research used to be a billable charge to everyone, and we’re seeing pretty fast that’s been eroded and a lot of firms are treating it as overhead,” Lou Andreozzi, chairman of Bloomberg Law, told me.

In fact, 43 percent of law firm respondents said they absorb more of their legal research costs today than in 2010, according to a recent Bloomberg Law survey (PDF) of 97 law firms, ranging from 50 to more than 400 attorneys. And transactional matters are less likely to recover legal research costs than litigation.

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

November 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

PrawfsBlawg Series on Law School Finances

Matt Bodie is running a five-part series on the law school financial crisis this week on the PrawfsBlawg.  His topics are:

  • MONDAY: Is it better to cut tuition or class size?
  • TUESDAY: If tuition is to be cut, is it better to cut the sticker price or increase aid to students?  And if increasing aid to students, should it be through merit scholarships or loan repayment assistance?
  • WEDNESDAY: If a school is cutting costs, is it better to cut positions or cut salaries?
  • THURSDAY: If salaries are to be cut, is it better to have an across-the-board cut or cuts based on different principles?
  • FRIDAY: Should the faculty be responsible for implementing a cost-cutting plan or is that best left to administration?

There are already a number of very good comments.

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A tip for keeping email exchanges secret courtesy of the Petraeus-Broadwell affair

OK, so this little trick didn't actually work out for them (the reason is explained below) but apparently it's a technique that's been successfully employed by terrorists and teenagers alike hoping to keep their email exchanges secret from prying eyes. What is it, you ask?  Open a Gmail account with your clandestine accomplice and then compose and exchange emails in "draft" form which remain on the server rather than sending them which provides IP addresses that can be traced.  The Business Insider explains:

The CIA director and his biographer had a shared Gmail account and wrote some of their personal missives as draft emails, which were left in a draft folder or an electronic, "dropbox".

They could each then access the shared account and open the other's draft messages, reading them without the emails actually being sent.

Sending emails between two separate accounts leaves an electronic trail, including IP addresses that have been used.

Al Qaeda terrorists began using the technique years ago. It allowed them to exchange information without sending traceable emails. An account would be opened by one conspirator and a draft email written and saved. The account could then be opened by a co-conspirator with access anywhere in the world, who could read the draft email and delete it.

The process meant the information had never been sent in the form of an email, making the electronic trail weaker. The technique has since been copied by teenagers in many countries to avoid having their emails monitored by their parents.

Despite the care taken by Gen Petraeus and Mrs Broadwell in keeping their email exchanges secret, it was precisely the type of trail they were hoping to avoid with the Gmail trick that resulted in their affair being exposed.

FBI investigators were able to use the data trail left when Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Florida socialite who was family friends with Gen Petraeus, received emails allegedly warning her to stay away from the former CIA director. The data trail revealed that the emails were being sent by Mrs Broadwell from an anonymous email account, information which eventually brought the affair to light.

(jbl).

November 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Above the Law's David Lat reports on "Future of Legal Education" panel discussion

David Lat filed the following report after attending a conference last Friday at George Mason University School of Law entitled Unlocking the Law: Building on the Work of Professor Larry Ribstein.  Specifically, Mr. Lat describes the discussion that took place during a panel called The Past and Future of Legal Education.

What Does the Future Hold for American Legal Education?

Professor John O. McGinnis presented a paper arguing for an undergraduate option for legal education.

It’s not an entirely novel proposal — Elie attended a conference over the summer where another professor presented a similar idea — but it’s certainly worth considering. Here’s how McGinnis described his proposal in a Wall Street Journal piece (co-authored with Russell Mangas of Kirkland & Ellis):

States should permit undergraduate colleges to offer majors in law that will entitle graduates to take the bar exam. If they want to add a practical requirement, states could also ask graduates to serve one-year apprenticeships before becoming eligible for admission to the bar.

An undergraduate legal degree could be readily designed. A student could devote half of his course work to the major, which would allow him to approximate two years of legal study. There is substantial agreement in the profession that two years are enough to understand the essentials of the law—both the basics of our ancient common law and the innovations of our modern world. A one-year apprenticeship after graduation would allow young lawyers to replace the superfluous third year of law school with practical training.

This option would reduce the law school tuition to zero. And the three years of students going without income would be replaced by a year of paid apprenticeship and two years earning a living as a lawyer.

I support the idea of reducing classroom time and combining formal instruction with paid apprenticeship. I outlined a similar proposal in the New York Times last year.

In his conference presentation, Professor McGinnis suggested that about 60 credit hours of coursework could suffice for an undergraduate degree in law. This might require change from the American Bar Association, since the ABA currently requires 80 hours of coursework to earn a law degree from an ABA-accredited law school, and many jurisdictions require those who sit for the bar to have graduated from an ABA-accredited school. (Northwestern Law’s former dean, David Van Zandt, has persuasively argued why this requirement should be reduced.)

McGinnis argued that his proposal of allowing for an undergraduate option, to be offered in addition to traditional graduate study in law, would have several advantages. It would lower the cost of getting a legal education, in terms of eliminating both the cost of a J.D. degree and the opportunity cost of graduate study in law, and this lower cost would hopefully translate into lower-priced legal services for consumers. But consumers would still be protected, thanks to the requirement of bar exam passage.

. . . .

One interesting query from the Q-and-A: given the glut of lawyers we already have, why do we still see so many Americans unable to afford legal services? Why hasn’t the cost of legal services for ordinary Americans come down dramatically, thanks to the large number of unemployed and underemployed lawyers out there?

McGinnis suggested that some law school graduates might be seeking work outside the profession because it’s a better way for them to earn money to pay off their student loans than trying to hang the proverbial shingle. If their educational debts were more modest, maybe some of these individuals would stay in the legal profession and attempt to provide their services to clients in a cost-effective manner.

. . . .

The subject of what the future might hold for the legal academy and legal profession as a whole came up in a subsequent panel. Professor Benjamin Barton of the University of Tennessee College of Law presented a paper entitled “A Glass Half Full Look at the Changes in the American Legal Market.”

Professor Barton observed that after years of incredible growth, the legal profession is experiencing a painful transition process. He identified three factors contributing to that transition: (1) in-house legal departments paying less to outside firms, (2) the rise of LegalZoom and similar services on the consumer side, and (3) the flood of law school graduates seeking jobs.

So where’s the “glass half-full” analysis? According to Barton, after the legal profession goes through this difficult transition — one in which unemployed and underemployed lawyers will abound, and some law schools might lose ABA accreditation or even close — things will be better. Corporate legal departments and individual consumers will benefit from more reasonably priced legal services. Fewer people might go to law school, but these people will have a better idea of what they are getting into, as well as more reasonable expectations when they come out. There might be fewer jobs in law firms, but people lucky enough to obtain these jobs will enjoy higher career satisifaction (perhaps because they went to law school because they actually wanted to practice law, or perhaps because many of the more routine, less pleasant tasks got outsourced or taken over by technology).

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

November 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should We Measure Student Satisfaction/Engagement at the End of the First Year or Third Year?

Many British universities are giving the National Student Survey (NSS) to students at the end of their final year to gauge student learning and satisfaction. In an intriguing article, Principal Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University John Lea argues that the survey belongs at the end of the first year. Moreover, he sees a different purpose for the survey:

But the NSS is troubling for a simpler reason as well: its customer-orientated questions are asked at the end of an undergraduate degree, at the very point when one might have hoped that students would have moved beyond such a depiction of their experience. The place for a satisfaction survey is surely at the end of the first year, at the point when it is understandable that they would still be dependent on their instructors and their teaching, and when they are still being informed of the accepted knowledge of their chosen discipline.

Any survey after that must surely start reflecting how they have moved on from the comfort and safety of the textbook to the frontier of disciplinary knowledge, and asking them to reflect on what contribution they themselves have made to the learning process and knowledge production. In which case perhaps the most intriguing questions to ask in a final-year survey would be: Do you still need your professors? Can you set your own learning outcomes? Can you accurately mark your own work? At least the American NSSE is a move in that direction.

As currently constituted, the NSS keeps students in a prolonged state of dependency, and, echoing that old Rolling Stones song, tries to keep academics concerned with just how white their shirts can be. Fine perhaps for the first-year experience, but isn’t this pretty useless information—which won’t fire anyone’s imagination—by the end of the final year? What’s needed is an engagement survey, not just a satisfaction survey. To paraphrase President Kennedy’s line, isn’t it time we all tried to shift the emphasis and ask students not what their university has done for them, but what they have done for their university?

Many American universities employ a similar measuring device, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). I don’t know of an U.S. law school that employs a survey at the end of the first year that asks students about their learning process and their growth as independent learners. If you know of such law schools, please send along a comment to this posting.

(ljs)

November 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bluebook Citations of Books and Use of Antiquated Abbreviations

I was recently reading the ABA Publishing Author Guidelines Manual, and I noticed the following: "The Bluebook has never cited books properly: do it one better by including the author’s full name, the book’s full title, the publisher, and the year of publication. Your readers will thank you."

Before going to law school, I got a Ph.D in musicology.  All the citation manuals I used for writing my dissertation required use of the publisher's name in the citation.  I found it odd when I started using the Bluebook that it lacked this requirement.  Over the years, I became accustomed to the Bluebook's odd requirements.

I think the ABA manual is correct; we should be including the publisher in legal citations.  (I should note that the ALWD Citation Manual already does this.)  One of the main purposes of citation is to give the reader information, and including the publisher gives the reader important information.

While we are on the topic of the Bluebook, when are the editors going to get rid of the antiquated abbreviations?  (ALWD also uses the antiquated abbreviations.)  I realize that people don't want to have to follow the dictates of the post office, but the two letter abbreviations for states have become standard.  Why require each new generation of students to learn new abbreviations they won't use elsewhere?  Isn't legal citation confusing enough?  In addition, the postal abbreviations are shorter.

(Scott Fruehwald)        

November 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Law firm to offer "a la carte" legal advice in divorce cases for $75.00 an hour

The oversupply of lawyers has placed tremendous pressure on law firms to control costs in order to remain competitive and attract clients.  It means that some smaller firms are starting to experiment with pricing options to attract potential clients who may not have otherwise engaged an attorney due to cost.  The legal press has reported before on these so-called "kiosk" law firms (here and here) and now an Atlanta, Georgia law firm is trying its hand by opening a "Justice Cafe" where clients can "purchase" a la carte legal advice from divorce lawyers at a rate of $75.00 an hour. The lawyers will work on a contract basis, keeping half of the billed rate meaning they can earn about $55k per year based on a 30 billable hour work week. From Law.com:

New Atlanta Firm Offers Divorce a la Carte

Many middle-income people seeking a divorce can't afford to hire a lawyer but aren't poor enough to qualify for legal aid. Michael and Shelia Manely hope to fill this gap with a new kind of family law firm, the Justice Café.

Located a block from the Fulton County, Ga., Superior Courthouse, the Justice Café will charge $75 an hour for a la carte help in divorces and other family law matters, with no retainer up front, unlike most family law firms.

The storefront space at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Peachtree Street will take walk-in clients who want to handle their divorce themselves but need some guidance from a lawyer. Clients can pay for either general advice or specific tasks, such as drafting an answer to a complaint or representation at a 30-day hearing.

The typical client will engage a Justice Café lawyer for 10 or fewer hours, said Michael Manely.

"If they need more than 10 hours of help, then they probably need a full-service approach," said Manely, whose Marietta, Ga.-based practice, The Manely Firm, has specialized in full-service family law for about a decade.

Firms offering walk-in, a la carte family law services have sprung up in other parts of the country, but Manely said this is a first for Georgia.

The lawyers staffing the Justice Café will work on contract and collect half the $75 hourly fee. The other half will cover overhead. At $37.50 an hour, a lawyer billing 30 hours per week can earn an annual gross salary of about $55,000.

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal blog.

(jbl).

November 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Teaching Metacognition

One of my co-bloggers has cited an excellent article on metacognition below.  Teaching metacognition has become very important in new approaches to general education and legal education.  Here are some more articles on metacognition:

Anthony Niedwiecki, Teaching for Lifelong Learning: Improving the Metacognitive Skills of Law Students through More Effective Formative Assessment Techniques, 40 Cap. U. L. Rev. 149 (2012).

Anthony Niedwiecki, Lawyers and Learning: A Metacognitive Approach to Legal Education, 13 Widener L. Rev. 33, 40 (2006).

 Robin A. Boyle, Employing Active-Learning Techniques and Metacognition in Law School: Shifting Energy from Professor to Student, 81 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 1 (2003-2004).

Michael Hunter Schwartz, Teaching Law Students to Be Self-Regulated Learners, 2003 L. Rev. M.S.U.-D.C.L. 447.

Paul R. Pintrich, The Role of Metacognitive Knowledge in Learning, Teaching, and Assessing, 41 Theory into Practice 219 (2002).

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching Metacognition to Students

It’s no surprise that for many students, thinking about the learning process is an almost foreign concept. At the Teaching Professor blog, Mary Ellen Weimer writes:

Metacognition can be a word that gets in the way of students’ understanding that this “thinking about thinking” is really about their awareness of themselves as learners. Most students don’t spend much time thinking about learning generally or how they learn specifically. In order to become independent, self-directed learners, they need to be able to “orchestrate” their learning. That’s the metaphor the National Research Council uses to describe planning for learning, monitoring it as it occurs, and then evaluating both what has been learned and how it was learned.

Professor Weimer offers suggestions on how to encourage students to think about how best they learn.

(ljs)

November 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Favorite Plain English Vignette

From William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well,” Chapter 2:

I would have preferred the presidential approach taken by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he tried to convert into English his own government's memos, such as this blackout order of 1942:

Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination.

"Tell them," Roosevelt said, "that in buildings where they have to keep the work going to put something across the windows."

(ljs)

November 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

E-textbooks that tell you whether students have done the reading

You heard right, a publisher has begun selling an electronic textbook that, among other features, tells the professor whether students have done the reading. From the Chronicle of Higher Ed.:

Now E-Textbooks Can Report Back on Students’ Reading Habits

CourseSmart, which sells digital versions of textbooks by big publishers, announced on Wednesday a new tool to help professors and others measure students’ engagement with electronic course materials.

When students use print textbooks, professors can’t track their reading. But as learning shifts online, everything students do in digital spaces can be monitored, including the intimate details of their reading habits.

Those details are what will make the new CourseSmart service tick. Say a student uses an introductory psychology e-textbook. The book will be integrated into the college’s course-management system. It will track students’ behavior: how much time they spend reading, how many pages they view, and how many notes and highlights they make. That data will get crunched into an engagement score for each student.

The idea is that faculty members can reach out to students showing low engagement, says Sean Devine, chief executive of CourseSmart. And colleges can evaluate the return they are getting on investments in digital materials.

Three institutions—Villanova University, Rasmussen College, and Texas A&M University at San Antonio—plan to run pilots of the product, called CourseSmart Analytics. It’s expected to be broadly available in 2013.

“There is a screaming demand in the marketplace for knowledge around what impact course materials have on learning,” Mr. Devine says in an interview at the Educause technology conference here.

But reading surveillance raises privacy issues. The American Library Association, for example, recently raised alarms about efforts by libraries to lend e-books on Kindles, which exposes their patrons’ reading behavior to monitoring by Amazon.

Isn’t it a bit creepy to have textbooks watching their users?

Mr. Devine’s answer: “Not if it helps you succeed.” But he also points out that students will be able to opt out if they don’t want their data shared.

“We do understand the Big Brother aspects of it.”

(jbl).

November 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Midsize law firms cautiously optimistic about future

In contrast to a recent survey of BigLaw firms that are reporting flat growth, midsize firms (those with fewer than 400 lawyers) are cautiously optimistic the future according to a survey conducted by the National Law Journal:

Managing partners at midsize law firms across the country report guarded optimism about business during the year to come.

The results of a survey The National Law Journal sent to leaders at firms with fewer than 400 attorneys showed that most firms of that size planned to add lawyers—although not many—to their practices. They also expected higher profits per partner.

The responses came from 26 midsize law firms, 17 of which employed between 100 and 199 lawyers. The firms were based in major cities in the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and Southwest.

Half of the firm leaders expected litigation to provide the most revenue growth, and 19 of the firms planned to add lateral attorneys in that area. Corporate work was the second-most cited growth practice, with four firms expecting increased revenue there and 16 planning to add laterals. Fifteen of the 26 firms said they expected deal flow to increase moderately; 10 expected it to remain flat.

Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Mitchell attorney Stan Gibson echoed the expectations regarding litigation. He said that Jeffer Mangels, which is based in Los Angeles with 125 lawyers, saw patent litigation double this year. "Large companies have realized they can get first-rate service and big firm legal expertise from midsize firms, without the big firm rates," said Gibson, chairman of the patent litigation practice.

Asked to identify practices facing the biggest challenges next year, 11 firm leaders pointed to real estate and seven to corporate work.

Washington and Los Angeles were targeted for the largest expansions. Only one firm expected to add laterals in New York, and only one to add laterals in Chicago. Fifteen of the 26 firm leaders expected their firm's total headcount to increase by 1 percent to 5 percent. Six anticipated that their firms' headcounts would rise by 6 percent to 10 percent.

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

November 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Examples of Plain Language Rewrites

From the Plain Language International Association website:

From a brief of a few years ago. Widgets inserted to protect the guilty (submitted by Judge Mark P. Painter, Cincinnati, Ohio, www.judgepainter.org):

Due to the fact that the plaintiff-appellant had up to this point in time supplied an insufficient number of widgets, defendant-appellee specified that, in the event that an insufficient number was supplied in the future, the contract would be held to be terminated, and deemed to be null and void and of no further effect. (55 words)

Translation:

Because Smith Co. had not supplied enough widgets, Jones Co. said that, if this happened again, Jones would terminate the contract. (21 words)

From A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr, a close call...

He said he wanted a settlement that would provide for the economic security of the families, and for their medical bills in the future.

Perhaps clearer:

He said he wanted a settlement that would make the families financially secure as well as pay their future medical bills.

And a recent headline from a Virginia case:

"It's a $25 fine for driving while applying mascara."

This reverses the onus on the wrong behavior ands makes it sound like:

 

It is the applying of mascara that is unlawful, instead of the driving under sub-optimum conditions; or

 

The primary activity was applying mascara which was interrupted by driving.

Rewritten, the headline should properly read:

"It's a $25 fine to apply mascara while driving."

From a Clarity Award Winner from the State Bar of Michigan's Plain English Committee:

"[Name] informed you of the procedures for calculating interest for insufficient estimates. If the enclosed invoice(s) include charges for insufficient estimates, a detailed insufficient estimated [sic] used to calculate these charges is also enclosed."

Changed to:

"How to pay your bill: To avoid penalties as well as further interest, you must pay this bill by its due date."

And another Michigan Award Winner:

Before:

I give my Agent the power to exercise or perform any act, power, duty, right, or obligation whatsoever that I have or may hereafter acquire, relating to any person, matter, transaction, or property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, now owned or hereafter acquired by me, including, without limitation, the following specifically enumerated powers. I grant to my Agent full power and authority to do everything necessary in exercising any of the powers herein granted as fully as I might or could do if personally present, with full power of substitution or revocation, hereby ratifying and confirming all that my Agent shall lawfully do or cause to be done by virtue of this Power of Attorney and the powers herein granted.

After:

I give my agent the power to do anything that I have a right or duty to do, now or in the future.

(ljs)

November 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Job opening for Elder Financial Justice Clinical Prof

Here are the details:

College of Law

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois College of Law – a national leader in the field of elder law and policy – invites applications for a clinical professor to develop and direct an Elder Financial Justice Clinic focused on matters relating to elder financial abuse.  Each year, elderly U.S. citizens lose roughly $3 billion through financial frauds perpetrated by strangers, family members, friends, and neighbors.  Despite increased attention to the phenomenon of elder financial abuse at the state and federal levels, instances of wrongdoing remain underreported, under-investigated, and under-prosecuted.  The primary missions of the Elder Law Clinic will be to educate law students about the prevalence of elder financial abuse, to equip students with the necessary tools to detect, manage, and prosecute instances of wrongdoing, and to represent indigent elderly clients who have been financially victimized.

The position is a nine-month appointment as a Clinical Professor.  Responsibilities include teaching a classroom component to the Clinic designed to orient students to the problem of elder financial abuse and to develop the necessary skills to detect, manage, and prosecute cases; closely supervising student casework and other matters related to the Clinic’s representation of clients; developing relationships with other entities – including governmental agencies, advocacy groups, financial services organizations, and other campus units – that may be in a position to advance the Clinic’s mission; and undertaking administrative responsibilities relating to management of the Clinic. 

The successful candidate must be licensed to practice law (or in a position to secure licensure) in the state of Illinois; experienced in the area of civil or criminal litigation – ideally, with prior exposure to the field of fraud; and able to work effectively with students, clients, the bench and bar, other faculty members, and the broader community.  Previous experience with clinical education is preferred, but not required.  Salary is dependent upon experience. 

To apply for the position, please create your candidate profile at http://jobs.illinois.edu and upload a letter of interest; resume; and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three references by December 5, 2012 via the University of Illinois’ online system. All requested information must be submitted for your application to be considered. Proposed start date would be the first day possible after hire.

For questions about the application process, you may contact Chris Grant at cgrant@illinois.edu

The University of Illinois is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity (www.inclusiveillinois.illinois.edu). 

(jbl).

November 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

William Zinsser Explains How He Wrote “On Writing Well.”

A few years ago, William Zinsser composed a lengthy column on how he wrote and revised his classic guide “On Writing Well.” He tells us that in his own writing, he had tried to emulate E.B. White, among other accomplishments, the coauthor of “The Elements of Style.”  Zinsser worried that he would have nothing new to say in his own book. Here is an excerpt:

The dominant manual at that time was The Elements of Style, by E. B. White and William Strunk Jr., which was E. B. White’s updating of the guide that had most influenced him, written in 1918 by his English professor at Cornell. My problem was that White was the writer who had most influenced me. His was the style—seemingly casual but urbane and wise—that I had long taken as my own model. How could I not agree with everything he said about language and usage in The Elements of Style? He was Goliath standing in my path.

But when I analyzed White’s book, its terrors evaporated. The Elements of Style was essentially a book of pointers and admonitions: Do this, don’t do that. As principles they were invaluable, but they were only principles, existing without context or reality. What his book didn’t teach was how to apply those principles to the various forms that nonfiction writing can take, each with its special requirements: travel writing, science writing, business writing, the interview, memoir, sports, criticism, humor. That’s what I taught in my course, and it’s what I would teach in my book. I wouldn’t compete with The Elements of Style; I would complement it.

That decision gave me my pedagogical structure. It also finally liberated me from E. B. White. I saw that I was long overdue to stop trying to write like E. B. White—and trying to be E. B. White, the sage essayist. He and I, after all, weren’t really much alike. He was a passive observer of events, withdrawn from the tumult, his world bounded by his office at The New Yorker and his house in rural Maine. I was a participant, a seeker of people and far places, change and risk. At Yale I had also become a teacher, my world enlarged by every new student who came along. The personal voice of the teacher, not the literary voice of the essayist, was the one I wanted narrating my book.

The column offers more on other aspects of Zinsser’s excerpts. Well worth reading.

(ljs)

 

 

November 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New ETL Portfolio On International Business Negotiations

Improving teaching in law schools lies with the individual teachers.  As I've mentioned before, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers has portfolios from expert teachers showing how they teach courses from Contracts to White Collar Crimes.  Jay Gary Finkelstein and Daniel D. Bradlow have just posted a portfolio here on International Business Negotiations.

The authors describe the course:

"Teaching students to be transactional lawyers requires innovation. Transaction documents provide no insight into the process of reaching agreement. Our course, in which students participate in an extended simulation exercise, brings the process of structuring and negotiating an international business transaction into the classroom. It allows students to learn how lawyers translate business concepts into legal agreements that meet their clients’ objectives, experience the demands of working collaboratively, learn about the impact of business transactions on society, and develop their negotiating skills. The simulated environment allows “mistakes” to become lessons and not malpractice. This course has been offered with the two negotiating teams located in one law school and at two different law schools."

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tips for the initial law job interview

From the Lawyerist blog. 

  • Do your homework

  • Separate Job-Obtaining Phase from Information-Gathering Phase

  • Work on your small talk

  • Don’t lose your sense of humor

  • Watch others at lunch

  • End each interview by asking for what you want

Click on the link for the full details on each of the tips.

(jbl).

November 7, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)