Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Professor James E. Moliterno made an interesting observation in a recent post on the Legal Whiteboard: "in the legal profession and legal education in particular, the status quo never seems to need empirical justification. Only change is suspect and wrong until proven definitively to be otherwise. Is there any empirical evidence that the status quo third year is the best possible third year except that it has been done that way for a long time? None that I know of. The old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ does not apply here. The third year of legal education is ‘broke.’"
He continued: "Change is not good merely for change’s sake. But it is not prudent to stay the same when the world has changed. The practicing branch has changed; client needs and demands have changed; the society that the legal profession claims to serve has changed. Only legal education (and the organized bar) now remain stubbornly tied to anachronistic ways. The legal profession itself and legal education in particular, live as if they had eyes on the back of their head, but none on their face. Only what is past seems to be valued–Even when what has past has no empirical basis and the conditions in which it exists have dramatically changed."
Of course, those who are advocating change do have a responsibility for supporting the need for the change and effectiveness of that change. However, Professor Moliterno has a point, those who support traditional ways of legal education also have a responsibility of providing evidence that the traditional methods work better than the proposed changes.
This is especially true in light of the clear evidence that traditional legal education is not working. The Carnegie Report, the McCrate Report, Best Practices in Legal Education, and numerous scholarly articles have established that there are major flaws in traditional legal education. Has anyone proven these reports wrong? Are their methodologies flawed? Do they lack adequate support for their claims? I have not seen any study that successfully refutes these reports.
While it will take some time to study the effectiveness of reform on legal education, the methods being advocated by reformers have been shown to be effective in other areas of education. Over the last twenty years, there has been an avalanche of books and articles on active learning, self-regulated learning, expert learning, teaching metacognition, teaching reflection, and experiential learning. It is time that legal education adopt this new scholarship, rather than "remain[ing] stubbornly tied to anachronistic ways."
We are deep in the midst of "degree inflation" in this country which is the result of more people getting college degrees and a buyer's market where fierce competition for jobs means heavily indebted college grads are grateful to find jobs they would have previously turned down. Just ask any recent law school grad who's doing the work formerly done by paralegals or any law school applicant who decides to matriculate despite all the bad publicity coming out of law schools. For many, it still looks better than working at Starbucks.
The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.
Consider the 45-person law firm of Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh here in Atlanta, a place that has seen tremendous growth in the college-educated population. Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills.
This prerequisite applies to everyone, including the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants and file clerks. Even the office “runner” — the in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and the office — went to a four-year school.
. . . .
Even if they are not exactly applying the knowledge they gained in their political science, finance and fashion marketing classes, the young graduates employed by Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh say they are grateful for even the rotest of rote office work they have been given.
“It sure beats washing cars,” said Landon Crider, 24, the firm’s soft-spoken runner.
He would know: he spent several years, while at Georgia State and in the months after graduation, scrubbing sedans at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Before joining the law firm, he was turned down for a promotion to rental agent at Enterprise — a position that also required a bachelor’s degree — because the company said he didn’t have enough sales experience.
His college-educated colleagues had similarly limited opportunities, working at Ruby Tuesday or behind a retail counter while waiting for a better job to open up.
“I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now,” said Megan Parker, who earns $37,000 as the firm’s receptionist. She graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2011 with a degree in fashion and retail management, and spent months waiting on “bridezillas” at a couture boutique, among other stores, while churning out office-job applications.
“I will probably never see the end of that bill, but I’m not really thinking about it right now,” she said. “You know, this is a really great place to work.”
Continue reading here.
In this Op-Ed from the New York Times, Dean John J. Farmer, Jr. argues that law schools should require post-graduate apprenticeships modeled on medical school residency programs.
. . . .The job market for law school graduates is collapsing; some schools have been misleading, or even fraudulent, in reporting admissions and employment data; tuition and student debt have reached record levels. Some question legal education itself: What is its mission? What value does it add?
Those are legitimate questions. But to answer them for legal education, we also need to ask them of the profession.
Consider this: Nearly half of those who graduated from law school in 2011 did not quickly find full-time, long-term work as lawyers. Yet the need for legal representation has never been greater. In New Jersey, where I teach law, 99 percent of the 172,000 defendants in landlord-tenant disputes last year lacked legal counsel.
Nationwide, judges decry not a surplus of lawyers, but a lack of competent representation for those who aren’t rich individuals and corporations.
. . . .
There is a way out. Law schools and the legal profession could restore a vibrant job market by making representation easier to obtain. In doing so, they would revive their historic commitment to the balance between acquiring wealth and promoting civic virtue.
The New York State courts took a step in that direction recently by requiring pro bono service as a condition for admission to the bar. That is laudable, but many law schools already encourage or require pro bono service. That proposal doesn’t address the deeper problem: the disconnect between cost and need.
That disconnect relates to how lawyers are hired. Big firms have been hiring a few graduates from a few select schools, and paying them exorbitantly. The result: These law-firm associates provide services, like document review or memo drafting, at rates that their competence and experience don’t merit. In a recession, clients resist paying the rates; now, firms resist hiring new lawyers.
Let’s scrap this system. We need, at its entry level, the equivalent of a medical residency. Law school graduates would practice for two years or so, under experienced supervision, at reduced hourly rates; repaying their debts could be suspended, as it is for medical residents.
Law firms would be able to hire more lawyers, at the lower rates, and give talented graduates of less prestigious institutions a chance to shine. The firms, at the end of the residencies, could then select whom to keep. Even for those who don’t make the cut, the residency will have provided valuable experience. The law firms should be required, under this proposal, to offer stipends to help those residents who don’t make the cut but have debt burdens.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Beyond knowledge and skills, what assets will students need in the coming years? According to a draft report by the U.S. Department of Education, they will need grit, tenacity, and perseverance. Although the report focuses on very young people and adolescents, its conclusions certainly apply to our students as well. Here is a link to the lengthy report. And here are its definitions of its key terms:
Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest
over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty
individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is
stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to
change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.
Academic tenacity is about the mindsets and skills that allow students:
• To look beyond short-term concerns to longer-term or higher-order goals, and
• To withstand challenges and setbacks to persevere toward these goals.
Academic perseverance refers to a student’s tendency to complete school
assignments in a timely and thorough manner, to the best of one’s ability, despite
distractions, obstacles, or level of challenge…To persevere academically requires
that students stay focused on a goal despite obstacles (grit or persistence) and
forego distractions or temptations to prioritize higher pursuits over lower pleasures
(delayed gratification, self-discipline, self-control).
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The ProfHacker column over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed makes the point that just because our students are digital natives doesn't mean they know how to use technology as well or efficiently as their teachers assume. Accordingly, author George Williams has compiled some basic tips and shortcuts directed at students who want to make better use of their laptops for school work.
This semester, I’ve begun maintaining a list of tips and links under the heading “Basic Technology Advice.” The more frequently I teach in a computer classroom, the more frequently I identify things that students do (or don’t do) that can make using a computer a slower or more frustrating process than it needs to be. One example is the use of the keyboard instead of the mouse. I was somewhat surprised that most students don’t use keyboard shortcuts for commons tasks like
save(clicking, instead, on the application menus at the top of the screen). But I was really surprised that few of them knew to use
ALT-TABto quickly switch between applications in Windows. It’s not that using keyboard commands represents some kind of super-seekrit expertise; rather, it’s that tasks can take so much longer when you rely on the mouse (over and over and over again) instead of relying on keyboard shortcuts.
I’ve uploaded my “Basic Technology Advice” document to GoogleDrive, and anyone can comment on it there. (If you sign in with your GoogleDrive account first, it will be easier to keep track of whose comments are whose.) The document is licensed Creative Commons for re-use, so please feel free to copy it and alter it for your own purposes. If you do so, I’d appreciate getting a link so that I can see what you’ve done with it.
I have been critical of online courses because of their lack of interaction between teacher and student and because they are not amenable to the best teaching methods. The New York Times has published an editorial that is also critical of online courses.
The editorial states, "First, student attrition rates — around 90 percent for some huge online courses — appear to be a problem even in small-scale online courses when compared with traditional face-to-face classes. Second, courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed."
The writer continues, "Online classes are already common in colleges, and, on the whole, the record is not encouraging. . . . The picture the studies offer of the online revolution is distressing."
"Lacking confidence as well as competence, these students need engagement with their teachers to feel comfortable and to succeed. What they often get online is estrangement from the instructor who rarely can get to know them directly."
However, "Interestingly, the center found that students in hybrid classes — those that blended online instruction with a face-to-face component — performed as well academically as those in traditional classes. But hybrid courses are rare, and teaching professors how to manage them is costly and time-consuming."
A commentor added, "Online education is inferior for role modeling to students, assisting struggling students and allowing students to learn from each other in in-class discussions (which are in NO way replicated by online discussion boards)."
In sum, learning needs teacher and student interaction. You may be able to do that remotely, but not in large classes.
I have received my copy of Terri Leclercq’s new book, Prison Grievances: When to Write, How to Write. Here is a description:
This entertaining and educational graphic novel teaches inmates how to think through a jail or prison problem and then write a grievance about it. Written with 5th-grade vocabulary and syntax, it engages readers with plot and character development. Grievances must conform to the stringent rules of the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act and the rules of particular jails or prison systems. This novel teachers those rules. It also warns against frivolous and malicious filings. Endorsed by Sister Helen (Dead Man Walking) and over 700 human and civil rights groups, this much-needed novel is priced just right--and needed right now.
Wehen I was in law school at the University of Texas (before Terri’s time there), I spent a summer working in a federal prison. I saw how limited prisoners were in being able to access information and in being able to express themselves in writing. Terri’s book makes a great contribution. You can learn more on her blog, here. You can also learn how to make a financial contribution that will permit sending more copes to prison libraries.
Monday, February 18, 2013
The author of the highly influential The End of Lawyers? has a new book to be released on March 1 called Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future which is aimed specifically at both brand new and aspiring lawyers. A few advance reviews are available on Amazon here while the publisher's synopsis is below.
In his latest book, Richard claims that legal institutions and lawyers are poised to change more radically over the next two decades than they have over the last two centuries.
The future of legal service, he says, will be neither Grisham nor Rumpole. Instead, it will be a world of virtual courts, Internet-based global legal businesses, online document production, commoditized service, legal process outsourcing, and web-based simulated practice. Legal markets will be liberalized, with new jobs, and new employers, for lawyers.
Tomorrow’s Lawyers is a guide to this future – for young and aspiring lawyers, and for all who want to modernize our legal and justice systems. It navigates the new legal terrain and offers practical guidance for those who intend to build careers and businesses in law.
Tomorrow’s Lawyers is divided into three parts. The first offers an updated restatement of Susskind's views on the future of legal services, identifying the key drivers of change, and presenting strategies for coping with the radical changes in the legal market. In the second part, the author sketches out his predictions for the new legal landscape, including the future for law firms, the shifting role of in-house lawyers, and the coming of virtual hearings and online dispute resolution. The final part focuses on the prospects for aspiring lawyers, and equips young lawyers with penetrating questions to put to their current and future employers.
Training practice ready students is the current cliché in legal education. But, as Professor Ruth Anne Robbins (Rutgers-Camden) points out in her piece in the National Law Journal, the discussion often leave out the need to teach students to work with clients and understand their needs. Law graduates need to be “client ready.” Here are a few excerpts from her valuable article:
What lawyers and the public actually want from law graduates is a sense of how to work with clients. Lawyers are paid to counsel clients and to advocate for their clients, whether they are people, companies, governments or nonprofits. As FMC Technologies Inc.'s general counsel, Jeffrey W. Carr, said in the 2011 New York Times article, "The fundamental issue is that law schools are not capable of producing people who are capable of being counselors."
Learning the judgment needed to counsel or advocate requires students to engage with the nuances of a client's situation: the needs and goals in the legal matter at hand. To understand the situation, law students must grapple with the messy process of finding and understanding the facts. Otherwise, law graduates are left questioning the utility of something as elementary as using narrative structure for legal argument. Even the act of telling a story becomes foreign by graduation. Professor Ken Chestek of the University of Wyoming College of Law, in 2010, published a study of the persuasive effect of story in legal briefs, and was startled to discover that the only practitioners who were unsure of the persuasive effect of storytelling for a client were those who had just graduated from law school.
Skills courses will remain hollow until the professors fill them with real or real-seeming clients. Simulations will never substitute for live client contact, but they can certainly be infused with vivid detail that will allow students to work through the nature of clients.
Graduate Programs.com has released some interesting rankings: how law students rank their schools for academic competitiveness, social life, and manageable workload. Here are the results:
Academic Competitiveness- Is the level of peer competition healthy, is it cut-throat or is it somewhere in between?
Social Life- Is it easy for law students to meet people and make friends and/or date.
Manageable Workload- Is the workload generally manageable? Is law school work pertinent, practical, and constructive or just busy work?
The rankings are based solely on surveys completed by graduate students and use a 10 star system (with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the best) and verbatim answers submitted by 4,000 students (including those currently enrolled and recent grads) from over 150 accredited law schools across the United States.
The following law schools were ranked highest for Academic Competitiveness:
1. Vanderbilt University
2. Stanford University
3. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
4. Baylor University
5. Cornell University
Top five for Social Life:
1. Washington University in St. Louis
2. University of California-Berkeley
3. The University of Texas at Austin
4. University of Colorado at Boulder
5. Stanford University
Top five for Manageable Workloads:
1. Baylor University
2. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
3. Cornell University
4. University of Miami
5. Columbia University
Sunday, February 17, 2013
There has been a lively discussion on the PrawfsBlawg over the past few days on legal education reform. However, some of the posts and comments displayed a misconception of what legal education reform is about. While I (and Brian Tamanaha) tried to clear up some of these misconceptions, I think a longer post is needed.
1. Legal education reformers do not want to teach law students simple tasks like finding the courthouse.
Some critics of legal education reform have accused legal education reformers of wanting to teach students to find the courthouse and fill out simple forms. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who are attacking legal education reform on this ground are just trying to set up a strawman.
Legal education reformers want more sophistication and deeper learning, not less. In addition to doctrine and legal theory, we want to teach students to apply that doctrine and theory to facts–to become problem solvers who can deal with real world problems. First, education scholars have shown that students remember better when they apply knowledge to facts because repetition and application strengthen the neurons where knowledge is stored in long-term memory. Second, manipulation and application of knowledge creates deeper learning (greater understanding and more uses for the knowledge). For example, if a student can successfully apply the parole evidence rule to a set of facts, that student understands the parole evidence rule. Third, theory still has a place. You have to be able to understand the reasons behind a rule to properly apply it to a problem.
In addition, as Jim Moliterno recently pointed out on the Legal Whiteboard, legal education reform is not anti-academic: "To say so betrays a false elitism more likely borne of insecurity than of truth. Many legal academics could not do what lawyers do: solve real clients’ problems that involve extra-legal attributes. The work of lawyers is sophisticated. It partakes of some of the rigor of law school teaching and scholarship, but it also relies on sophisticated problem-solving and a multiplicity of other talents. Some who claim that lawyer work is mundane and uninteresting fail to understand the nature of that work in the first instance." He added: "One blogger said that the 3L curriculum at W&L ‘focuses on practical lawyer skills.’ This sort of statement sells the new curriculum far short of its reality. It actually focuses on the attributes, skills and mental habits of successful lawyers, all while providing students with substantive law and theoretical learning as well. A broad view of lawyer skills would include the mental development fostered in the first year as well. It is time to stop pretending that legal analysis is not a practical lawyer skill. It is and it is both critical and fundamental—but it is not the only skill/attribute/talent that lawyers need to be successful." He also remarked, in the Washington & Lee Third Year program, "students learn the relevant substantive law, but they learn it the way lawyers do rather than the way students do. They learn law to solve a client’s problem. This alone is an activity that adjusts students’ mental pathways from student to lawyer. . . . [For example, in the Lawyer for Failing Businesses,] "students learn the relevant substantive law, but they learn it the way lawyers do rather than the way students do. They learn law to solve a client’s problem. This alone is an activity that adjusts students’ mental pathways from student to lawyer."
Finally, I don’t remember where I read this idea, but it sums up this section nicely: studying what lawyers do is an academic subject.
2. Legal education reformers do not want to destroy everything in the current law schools model; rather reformers want to add to the current law school model.
Some critics have accused legal education reformers of wanting to banish theory and philosophy completely from law schools and send it to graduate schools. They have also criticized legal education reformers of wanting to eliminate the Socratic/casebook method and to prevent law professors from doing scholarship. None of this is true.
First, most legal education reformers do not object to the Socratic/casebook method when it is used properly. I believe that this method does develop thinking skills that practicing lawyers need. What we want is to add other teaching methods that education scholars have shown to be effective, such as experiential learning, problem-solving, teaching reasoning and skills explicitly, etc. These other approaches help students learn in ways that the Socratic/casebook method can’t.
For example, in teaching students a unit in a first-year class, why not adopt this approach? Start by giving a lecture that introduces the students to the topic. Next, discuss cases, using the Socratic method, to help the students understand the details of the topic. Finally, give the students problem-solving exercises to do over night then discuss them in class the next day.
Second, most reformers do not what to eliminate philosophy and theory classes from the curriculum. These classes give students thinking skills that they will need in practice. However, we think that students need more than just practice and theory.
Finally, legal education reformers do not want to eliminate scholarship from a professor’s job description. Reformers just want a better balance between teaching and scholarship. As Brian Tamanaha pointed out in a comment on the PrawfsBlawg, most reformers do esoteric scholarship in addition to their work on legal education.
3. Legal education reform will not create a great deal of new work for law professors.
Many critics of legal education reform are concerned about the new methods creating a much greater workload for law professors. It won’t. Publishers, like Carolina Academic Press and LexisNexis, have already issued casebooks and textbooks that contain what is needed to better educate our students. These books contain (in addition to cases) numerous short and long problem solving exercises, graphic organizers. professionalism materials, etc. Similarly, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers has numerous portfolios on its website, which show how other law professors have incorporated new ways of teaching into their courses. The materials are there; we just need to use them.
I hope I have achieved my purpose of clarifying what legal education reform is and is not about. In discussing this topic, we need to focus on what is at issue, not at strawmen.
Ms. JD is pleased to be offering $500 scholarships for law students working in public interest law this summer.
This year's essay topic asks applicants to explain their philosophy as a public interest attorney. How do you believe the law serves as a vehicle for social change? How could your desired public interest position/career impact an issue you believe is important?
Ms. JD is thrilled to continue our annual support of women pursuing public interest careers, as part of our ongoing efforts to support mentoring and career development at home and abroad. We will feature blog posts from our winners throughout the summer, and hope to start a discussion about the unique role of women public interest attorneys in the profession.
Unpaid judicial externs also qualify for these scholarships. Students need not have a placement at the time of their application, but must send an offer letter to Ms. JD by the beginning of the summer.
There is a new academic support conference from May 28-30 in Las Vegas being sponsored by AASE (“Association of Academic Support Educators”). It looks like they have a really good panel of speakers. You can find more information here.
(Scott Fruehwald) (hat tip: George Mader)
Senator Rubio’s Sip of Water
In case you missed Senator Marco Rubio’s inartful grab for the water bottle in his reply to President Obama’s State of the Union address, please click here.
Lessons to be learned:
- If you really need the sip of water, please go ahead.
- Have the water in a glass.
- Place the glass right next to you and not out of reach.
- Don’t try to maintain eye contact with the audience while you are drinking.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
From JD Journal (excerpts):
A federal lawsuit has been filed in response to a rule that requires state-accredited law schools in California to keep their bar passage rates at 40 percent or higher, according to The National Law Journal.
The new rule was adopted back in December and it applies to cumulative passage rates over a five-year period and is retroactive. If a school does not meet the 40 percent minimum this year, they will receive noncompliance notices. As of 2016, schools that are non-compliant could be placed on probation and lose their state accreditation.
“The legislature provided no policy guidelines and gave no directions for the implementation of such policies,” the complaint says. “By acting in violation of state constitutional prohibitions against judicial and quasi-judicial rule-making, defendants acted without legal authority.”
A major theme on this blog has been making law students self-regulated (life-long) learners. Elizabeth M. Bloom has just posted an article on this topic, which focuses on self-regulated learning in academic support, on SSRN.
Abstract: Amidst current concerns about the value of a legal education, this article seeks to identify ways in which law schools and law professors can take steps to maximize the learning experience for their students. The article focuses on cutting-edge strategies that will help a diverse population of law students become self-regulated learners. Drawing on the work of educational psychologists, it describes ways to help students adapt to the demands of the law school learning experience and then outlines specific strategies for teaching students to regulate their motivational beliefs, their resource management practices, and their approaches to mastering the material. Throughout, the article emphasizes the importance of these skills for success both as law students and as lawyers. Finally, checklists are provided to help law professors build a culture of self-regulated learning in their schools.
This article from the New York Law Journal describes an increased focus at three New York City area law schools on teaching the kind of legal skills that should make students more marketable to local employers given the dominance of the financial services industry in the city.
New York Law School recently launched a Center for Business and Financial Law to provide students with academic study and skills training in corporate, commercial and financial services law.
Four full-time faculty members are associated with the program that offers CLE, a speakers' forums and events on topics like transactional law, regulation of the financial services industry, development of corporate values, and legal and business challenges for new and small businesses.
"As we continue to deliver on the fundamentals of a legal education, it is incumbent on us to also develop focused tracks to employment in traditional and non-traditional legal fields, especially in areas of high growth," Dean Anthony Crowell said in a press release. "Even as our city's economy diversifies, the financial sector will always be a major employer in New York and across the globe. Given our proximity to Wall Street and depth of expertise in the area, I'm confident this new program will be a competitive advantage for our students."
New York University School of Law last week received a $750,000 gift from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to support the school's law and business curriculum. Select courses will now be housed under the heading "Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP Transactional and Law and Business Courses." The gift was facilitated by two alumni, Paul Weiss partners Alan Kornberg and Valerie Radwaner.
For its part, Brooklyn Law School held a three-day "business boot camp" before the start of the spring semester for 200 students interested in the business of law. Students learned basic business vocabulary and skills they will need to understand future clients' business objectives and to launch their own entrepreneurial careers.
The free, for-credit course was a partnership with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. It was modeled on law firm training on business and financial topics that Deloitte teaches first-year associates. "No matter what path you choose—private practice, government service or joining a public interest organization—becoming business literate will be critical to your future success," Barry Salzberg, a Brooklyn Law alum and Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, said in a school press release.
More than 50 Brooklyn law alumni—including law firm partners, CEOs and general counsels of companies—led small-group sessions sharing their experiences as law practitioners and entrepreneurs.
Friday, February 15, 2013
It's that time of year when law students approach their profs for letters of recommendation for summer internships (the employers who recruit through fall OCI typically don't ask for letters of recommendation; they only want to know class rank and whether you're on law review). According to the Lawyerist blog, there are three things that will make it less likely your prof will want to write that letter or otherwise recommend you for the job. I'll add that the list is one that I wholeheartedly agree with.
adjunct instructor at my law school, I have the privilege of imparting practical advice to law students. Many of my students heed my advice on how to succeed in law school (and beyond).
On the flip side, I also witness behavior that leaves me less than impressed.
Here are three ways to create a bad impression with a law school professor.
Obsess over grades
Wanting to get good grades is a good thing. Obsessing over it to your professor or instructor is not. Like every other lawyer, I went to law school. I was immersed in the ultra-competitive bubble where grades are the beginning and end of the universe.
Even then, however, I understood that getting good grades is just part of law school success. I even pushed myself to work during law school (gasp!) to acquire practical skills.
In hindsight, I wish I had taken more skills-based classes. In the ones I did take, I was focused on the exercises and learning from them—because those were the building blocks of actual lawyering skills. In other words: I focused on my mistakes and correcting them. I’m sure I thought about grades, but I rarely asked “so, what grade did I get on that assignment?”
There’s nothing wrong about asking for feedback. That is completely distinct and different from asking about your grade(s). In my humble opinion, asking “what grade did I get” is the equivalent of going to an interview and asking “so, did I get the job?”
Here’s a little tip: students who put forth a strong effort on a regular basis and actively engage to improve their legal skills will usually end up ok in the grade department. Most importantly, they will end up light years ahead in the skills department.
Putting forth less than 100% effort
For practical skill classes, effort is critical. Throwing yourself into a simulation at 100% and hitting some bumps in the road is not only desirable—it is expected. Simulations are not designed to make law students cry, but they are designed to make them learn. That usually means unpredictable roadblocks.
It’s impressive to see law students recognize roadblocks and step to the challenge. It’s incredibly impressive to see students reflect on it afterwards and say: “I didn’t handle that as well as I wanted to, but now I know what to look for/how to handle it next time.” News flash: that’s what happens in the world of lawyering.
It’s not impressive to see a student throw in the towel. Even worse: complain about how the roadblock was unfair because they were not prepared for it. Again: random explosions and unpredictably are common in the practice of law. Complaining is never a solution to those situations.
Don’t listen/don’t pay attention/feign interest
It’s ok to screw up when you encounter a tough situation in law school (see above). It’s a bad idea to do something that was discussed as “please, please, don’t do this: ______” and then immediately do it during the next class or exercise. Unless you think it’s impressive to demonstrate that you were not paying attention. I’m not talking about something tricky, I’m talking about something basic, simple, and intuitive.
Continue reading here.
For all the intellectual property folks: Mark Towle, a California custom car designer has made replicas of the Batmobile. Warner Brothers was not happy. At issue is whether a car can be a copyrighted character. From Hollywood, Esq.:
Towle was taken to court for violating trademarks and copyrights on replicas of the Batmobile, which set off a furious dispute over whether a car is entitled to copyright protection. The defendant objected to the contention, saying in court papers in December that a ruling that afforded the studio the ability to stop reproduction and distribution of a famous car would have "a significant impact on automobile makers and manufacturers."
In an extraordinary 54-page ruling Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lew writes that "it is clear that the Batmobile is a copyrighted character."
You can read the opinion here
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Bucking the nationwide trend among law schools, the University of Montana School of Law reports that applications are up this year. Indeed, it may be one of only four schools among the 200 or so accredited by the ABA that has seen an increase in applications for fall 2013. Administrators attribute this to low cost tuition, high bar pass rates and good job placement stats that lead one publication to rank the school among the ten best value law schools in the country. From The Montana Kaimin:
While applications to law schools nationwide have been plummeting, the University of Montana School of Law is one of just four law schools out of 200 to see an increase in applicants for next year.
As of last week, the University's law school applications were running ahead of the number of applications received at this time last year. That number is gradually rising while other universities continue to drop, said Lori Freeman, who oversees admissions and career services at the law school.
Freeman said students are getting a good deal in Missoula.
"I believe the reason the UM School of Law is in a relatively good position is due to increased recruiting efforts as well as the fact that we are ranked as a top 10 Best Value law school," Freeman said.
. . . .
While UM’s application numbers are up now, the law school has been on a roller coaster along with other law schools. Applications rose quickly with the rest of the nation in 2010, only to drop from 511 to 325 between 2010 and 2012.
The University's application statistics reveal that the most dramatic drop was in out-of-state students, while in-state students seem to show very little difference in recent years.
Freeman believes the consistent number of Montana residents stems from the UM School of Law's in-state tuition, high bar passage rates, and more consistent job placements in the legal industry, which is perhaps why UM was ranked number seven in this year's Top 10 Best Value Law School.
In-state tuition to UM’s School of Law is about $11,000 a year, Freeman said. Out-of-state students pay about $27,000.
“Even our out-of-state tuition is a good deal compared to many school’s in-state tuition,” Freeman said. “Tuition overall is a good deal.”