Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A tougher grading curve can teach law students resilience

Partially in response to this article that called for law profs to eliminate all C grades because they purportedly cause students to suffer psychological harm, Dan Bowlinga workplace consultant,  visiting scholar at U. Penn and senior lecturer at Duke Law School, says that adopting a tougher grading curve can instead teach students resilience which, in turn, will lead to greater psychological well-being.  Mr. Bowling relies on the work of happiness guru Dr. Martin Seligman for his hypothesis.  From the Careerist column at Lawjobs.com.

Don't Coddle Law Students!

Researchers on resilience and post-traumatic stress have demonstrated there is a bell curve distribution among those who undergo an event they find traumatic. Some suffer mightily and never recover; others—the majority—bounce back after a while. And a certain percentage thrive in the aftermath of trauma. As famed psychologist Martin Seligman likes to note, there is empirical support for the old saying “that which does not kill me makes me stronger.” In my experience, law students are no different.

Is there anything law schools can do to help students bounce back more quickly in law school—yes, become happier—regardless of their 1L grades? Here are three ideas:

 1. Start resilience training in the first year.  Resilience skills can be trained, as the U.S. Army is showing with the assistance of trainers from the University of Pennsylvania. Law schools should invest in upfront psychological training of entering students to better insulate them from the emotional shocks sure to come. Teach students to bounce back, fast.

 2. Focus on student strengths.  Following that initial training, schools should continue to work with students in a formal, structured manner to help them develop strengths awareness and alignment. We are happiest and most productive when we are aware of our strengths and use them in our lives and jobs, as decades of Gallup surveying has shown. Students thirst for this sort of material. My course at Duke Law School (“Well-Being and the Practice of Law”)  fills up within the first hours of registration every year—in no small part because of its strengths-based focus.

 3. Toughen up the grade curve.  You heard me right. Toughen up but standardize grade curves across faculties and between schools to the extent possible. Level the playing field. It isn’t the presence of C’s that is ruining things for the bottom half of the class; it is the almost random way they are assigned among professors and schools.

We have the finest law schools in the world and produce its finest lawyers. The practice of law is tough and demanding, and our training of practitioners must be the same. Keep the C’s. Tough and demanding, however, does not require slavish devotion to a hundred-old pedagogical model that is psychologically damaging to many. A few modest changes and innovations can make a world of difference.

You can continue reading Mr. Bowling's thoughts here.

My opinion?  There's no way law schools are going to do this in the near term, if at all.  The overwhelming trend in higher education over the past few decades is one of incremental increases to students' GPA.  And Law schools in particular have followed suit. Today, given the precipitous drop in law school applications nationwide, most schools are under intense pressure to retain, and not upset, the students they've got.


September 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Copyright, Fair Use, and MOOCs

The issues may be more complicated that you might think. From Academic Impressions, here’s
a 10 minute podcast featuring Kevin Smith, J.D., Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communications, Perkins Library, Duke University.


September 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Don't astroturf me, bro!

The practice of astroturfing, leaving fake reviews at consumer websites to bolster one's online reputation, has resulted in at least one lawsuit filed last week against a San Diego law firm as well as a yearlong investigation by the New York Attorney General's Office that also found lawyers in that state engaged in the practice.  Apparently both soliciting and offering to write fake online reviews at sites like Yelp has become big business which is not surprising given how beholden businesses, including lawyers, have become to online consumer endorsements in order to generate new business.  The article from today's New York Times discusses the aggressive measures that state is taking to stop the practice, including hefty fines, by going after both those who write the reviews as well as those who solicit them.  The Federal Trade Commission has enacted regulations as well that empower that agency to crack down on fake and deceptive online endorsements.  For lawyers in particular, relying on fake reviews could lead to even more trouble in the form of professional ethics violations for engaging in false and misleading advertising.  

The NYT article notes with irony that one of the companies targeted by the A.G.'s investigation into fake online reviews got its start writing fake reviews of its own fake review service. 


September 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reviews of the New iPhone 5

The reviews are very positive. The Wall Street Journal summarizes them:

There is no getting around it: the reviews are universally positive, with
many calling the latest refresh of Apple'sAAPL +0.29% smartphone the best in class. Given
that Apple also just released its completely rebuilt mobile operating system,
many reviews pulled in commentary about iOS 7, too.

There are nearly as many review roundups as there are reviews. If you are
pressed for time, the Atlantic Wire has the tightest roundup that not only skims reviews but
presents them in a table so you can also compare the 5S against the 5C. If you
are not pressed for time, kick off your shoes, pour a glass of wine and settle
in to a long  night of AnandTech, whose review also serves as user’s manual and
explanatory, historical guide.

You can read more here.


September 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Is There a Consensus that the Content and Quality of Legal Education has Failed to Educate Attorneys for their Work?

As we mentioned last week, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education has issued a draft report and recommendations.  You can find the report here.  There is an excellent summary on the Tax Prof Blog.

In his critique of the draft report, Professor Matt Bodie makes this declaration: "However, there is not consensus that the content and quality of legal education has failed to educate attorneys for their work. . . .  To make these much more contestable claims, there needs to be data and analysis to back it up."  I am not sure how you determine whether there is a comsensus in a group as large, dispersed, and as diverse as legal education.  However, the evidence (the data and analysis) has demonstrated "that the content and quality of legal education has failed to educate attorneys for their work."  This proof is not just by a preponderance of the evidence, but beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Studies over the past twenty-five years have shown that current methods of delivering education to law students are ineffective:

McCrate Report (1992)

William M. Sullivan, Anne Colby, Judith Welch Wegner, Lloyd Bond, & Lee S. Shulman, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (2007)

Roy Stuckey et al., Best Practices in Legal Education (2007)

Dorthy H. Evensen et. al., Developing an Assessment of First-year Law Students’ Critical Case Reasoning and Reasoning Ability: Phase 2 (LSAC 2008)

Illinois Bar Association: Special Committee Report: Final Report and Recommendations (2013)

James E. Moliterno, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change (2013)

See also Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, Center for Excellence in Law Teaching, Jay Feinman & Marc Feldman, Pedagogy and Politics, 73 Geo. L.J. 875 (1985), Scott Fruehwald, Preface: Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (2013), Scott Fruehwald, How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School (forthcoming, Texas A & M L. Rev.), Richard K. Neumann, Jr., Comparative Histories of Professional Education: Osler, Langdell, and the Atelier (2013), Benjamin Spencer, The Law School Critique in Historical Perspective, 69 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1949 (2012), James F. Stratman, When Law Students Read Cases: Exploring Relations between Professional Legal Reasoning Roles and Problem Detection, 34 Discourse Processes 57 (2002), Judith Welch Wegner, Reframing Legal Education’s "Wicked Problems," 61 Rutgers L. Rev. 867 (2009), Michael Hunter Schwartz, Improving Legal Education by Improving Casebooks: Fourteen Things Casebooks Can Do to Produce Better and More Learning, 3 Elon L. Rev. 37 (2011), Michael Hunter Schwartz, Teaching Law by Design: How Learning Theory and Instructional Design Can Inform and Reform Law Teaching, 38 San Diego L. Rev. 347 (2001), etc. 

On the other hand, I know of no comprehensive study or report from the past 25 years that says that our current methods of teaching law students are working.  Can anyone cite me such a report?

A few excerpts concerning the need for education reform:

1. The Evenson study concluded, "students’ case reading and reasoning skills do not improve as a result of law school instruction."  (Above at *1).  This study has also shown that law students have difficulty synthesizing cases.  (Above at *4)

2. Professor Schwartz has declared, "law school instruction as a whole, remains locked in an instructional methodology of dubious merit."  (Schwartz, Law Teaching, at 349).

3. "Law schools cannot help students cultivate practical wisdom or judgment unless they give students opportunities to engage in legal problem-solving activities."  (Best Practices at 150)

4. Professor Schultz has declared, "The limited focus of most law school classes on derivation of rules and policy considerations from appellate decisions cannot begin to approximate the thinking process of the competent attorney. Teaching students to think like attorneys loses much of its meaning if that thinking is not placed in the context of what lawyers actually do."  (Nancy L. Schultz, How Do Lawyers Really Think? 42 J. Leg. Educ. 57, 64 (1992))

5. Professors Feinberg and Feldman have contended, "[w]hat is primarily missing in legal school is an educational environment that provides students with resources and the situations with which they can best learn. When given appropriate instruction, nearly all law students can achieve mastery–not merely competence–of the skills of the novice lawyer."  (Above at 896-97)

6. Professor Wegner has asked, "Have law schools limited their expectations of themselves and their students by focusing so heavily on certain educational objectives (comprehension, analysis, and simple application), and giving others (such as more sophisticated forms of application, synthesis, and evaluation) short shrift?"  (Above at 938)

7. Benjamin Spencer has written, "Although these contemporary reforms are appropriate moves in the right direction that will yield results on the margins, to this point they have not resulted in a wholesale change in the practice-readiness of American law school graduates, a failing reflected and explored in the 2007 Carnegie Report and other recent studies."  "Law school does not routinely provide training in many of the practice skill areas—such as drafting, counseling, planning, client development, management—needed to be a successful practitioner; only a tiny percentage of law schools require clinical training and the majority of students graduate with no clinical experience; its primary pedagogical approach (the case-dialogue method) is ineffective and demoralizing; its main approach to assessment remains the final essay exam, which reflects little about the professional competency of students and comes too late to allow self-improvement; faculty incentives promote scholarship over the needs of students; many professors (particularly the more recent ones) have little or even no experience practicing law and lack membership in the bar; and law school costs so much that most graduates have mammoth, mortgage-like debts that limit their economically viable options after graduating. This is no way to produce competent legal professionals."

 Concerning the case-dialogue method, Spencer argues, "the ability of the case-dialogue method to transmit analytical skills effectively has never been demonstrated. . . .  Additionally, the type of thinking promoted by the method is limited to certain kinds of legal analysis, neglecting some of the basic problem solving skills that today’s practitioners need to develop solutions to their clients’ problems."  He also criticizes the use of the Socratic method in large classrooms because it tends to focus attention on a discussion between a few students and the professor. He adds: "Although the students involved may benefit to some extent, the method is less effective in instilling legal analytical skills vicariously to observers not involved in the discussion, creating diminishing returns as the class grows in size."  He notes, "Insights from learning theory reveal that teaching focused mainly on purely abstract concepts divorced from their context—something that fairly characterizes the case method—is less effective than teaching that recognizes that we experience information in many different ways and at different levels of abstraction."  He concludes, "Law school learning exclusively rooted in symbolic, abstract experience is less likely to be effective in giving students the depth of understanding requisite for moving towards proficient legal practice. Further, to the extent that legal learning is exclusively at the abstract level, it becomes difficult for students to synthesize learning from different areas or to operationalize concepts for practical application and the resolution of real-world legal problems."  (Above)

8.  Finally, Richard Neumann has asserted, "Whenever change is proposed in legal education, the threshold question is whether it would be consistent with the Langdellian bargain. If the proposal would significantly reallocate resources — either within the law school or between the law school and the university — in a way that would alter the bargain, the proposal fails because no one will voluntarily give up what the bargain has provided." (Above)

In sum, the data and analysis overwhelmingly demonstrate the need for reform concerning how law schools deliver education to their students.  I would call this a consensus.

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1)

A profile of Fred Rooney - the brains behind law school incubator programs

Over at the ABA Journal Legal Rebels column there's a nice profile of Fred Rooney who was responsible for launching the first law school incubator project in 2007 at CUNY to help mentor new law grads entering practice for the first time much like medical residencies help new doctors transition from academics to practice.  And that was before the economy in general and legal job market in particular crashed.  Since then Mr. Rooney has helped at least nine more law schools start their own incubators among the seventeen in existence today.  Mr. Rooney is presently the Director of Touro Law School's International Center for Post-Graduate Development & Justice in which capacity he will be responsible for helping to start more incubators here in the U.S. and abroad.  According to this website, he is presently working to establish a "network" of law school incubator projects in the Dominican Republic and Caribbean. 

The ABA column says there are presently at least 15 more incubators in the works domestically, presumably including one at Touro that is set to launch later this year.  Go here to read the full ABA Legal Rebels column and check-out below a short video interview with Mr. Rooney courtesy of Thomson Reuters.


September 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The New Issue of the ALWD Journal is Out

Volume 10 of Legal Communication & Rhetoric:JALWD is out. Please click here to
get links to the articles. Also, in the nature of a shameless plug, here’s the abstract of my contribution, “Benjamin Franklin, Prayer, and the Constitutional Convention: History as Narrative”:

Anecdotes from the Constitutional Convention continue to inform contemporary discussions on the Constitution’s meaning. This article discusses an anecdote from the Convention that shows how history and false history shape our laws and cultural traditions.

The article focuses on Benjamin Franklin’s proposal to hire a chaplain and begin each day with a prayer. The Convention deputies showed little interest in the proposal, and it died aborning. However, decades later, a fictional version emerged in which Franklin’s proposal succeeded and saved the Convention from collapse.

 The factual and mythical Franklin prayer narratives offer us the opportunity to examine their
history and rhetorical use in arguing for integrating religion into America’s public life. This examination also offers the opportunity to reflect on how advocates can use history to fashion a persuasive argument. The history of the narrative demonstrates how writers, government officials, lawyers, and judges have employed it to further their own purposes. As for the continuing popularity of the story, Franklin and the archetype he personifies play a critical role in making the narrative persuasive. And as the narrative shows, histories, both factual and mythical, can support persuasive narrative arguments.



September 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Employers Want Critical Thinkers and Good Communicators

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Americans adults and employers want colleges to produce graduates who can think critically and creatively, and cancommunicate orally and in writing, according to the results of a public-opinion survey released by Northeastern University here on Tuesday.

Respondents were far less interested in having students receive narrow training and industry-specific skills.

In fact, nearly two-thirds of adults and three-quarters of employers agreed with the following statement: "Being well-rounded with a range of abilities is more important than having industry
expertise because job-specific skills can be learned at work."

The survey results, which were described in the presentation "Innovation Imperative: Enhancing
Higher Education Outcomes," support the conclusions of a poll of employers
that the Association of American Colleges and Universities released earlier
this year. That poll found broad support for the idea that students should
learn to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems, or
what the association described as "a 21st-century liberal education."


You can read more here.


September 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How "big data" will help lawyers more effectively practice law

This is a new article sent to me by a former guest blogger of ours, Nick Wagoner, who co-authored it along with Professor Drury Stevenson (South Texas).  It's called Lawyering in the Shadow of Data and discusses the use of so-called "big data" to help lawyers more effectively practice law by offering clients a more accurate prediction about how their disputes are likely to be resolved.  Nick says the article has recently been submitted for publication.  You can download a copy here at SSRN. Here's an excerpt. 


Previous technological advances mostly made firms more efficient at tasks that they were already doing—scheduling meetings, drafting documents, sharing ideas, and looking up cases. A few technologies considerably changed how lawyers approached a task. The most obvious example of this was the profession’s massive shift toward precision-timed billing (in minutes or fractions of hours) in the early 1980s, rather than ball-parked or “scheduled” fees, once computer software made such time-tracking more feasible.12 For the most part, however, the underlying nature of the work remained largely the same—researching, writing, meeting with clients and opposing counsel—and the technology merely made these tasks more convenient, or allowed lawyers to handle more cases. Even the research that attorneys now perform through Lexis and Westlaw is analytically analogous to the old approach in law libraries—finding cases in bound digests and reports, using intricate indexing systems like West’s Keys or Lexis’s Headnotes.


Big data, by contrast, invites lawyers to make a fundamental change in their approach to the law itself by looking to statistical patterns, predictors, and correlations, in addition to the legal rules that purportedly control outcomes—case law, statutory law, procedural rules, and administrative regulations. Traditional lawyering required knowledge of the pertinent legal rules and the ability to apply them to a given set of facts, whether in litigation or in transactional work. This application of law to facts would yield a type of estimate about probabilities; that is, a prediction of the likelihood that a given rule would govern a given scenario. The question was whether a feature of the client’s current situation would trigger a rule and its mandatory result. Analogies, comparisons, and normative judgments all figured into this assessment. Lawyer’s fees reflected, in theory, the time and resources required to determine the relevant law and analyze the likely outcome.

Big data turns this approach on its head. Rather than assuming that rules dictate outcomes as the basis for making specific predictions, big data looks for patterns and correlations. For example, historical litigation data, in the aggregate might reveal a judge’s tendency to grant or deny certain types of pretrial motions, an opponent’s historical avoidance of expert witnesses, or a party’s typical timing for settlements may all be more relevant for a client or lawyer than the published court opinions in prior cases that ran the full course of litigation.


September 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indiana Tech Opens Its New Law School

From Fort Wayne’s News-Sentinel:

Indiana Tech's law school, with 28 students enrolled in its first class, is officially dedicated.

The dedication, held Saturday in the Schaefer Center on the school's campus, crystallizes Indiana Tech's ambitions: To set themselves apart, to provide value, for students who have other options.

"This adds to the campus in every way. It distinguishes us as we continue to find ways to improve our image and reputation," said Arthur Snyder, Indiana Tech's president. 

The school had planned on an entry class of 100, but it has high hopes for the future.




September 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Integrating Skills Into Doctrinal Courses

One of the best ways of improving legal education is to integrate skills into doctrinal courses.  Professor Sarah E. Ricks has written an article on this subject, Integrating the Teaching of Doctrine and Skills: An Example Intended to Stimulate Ideas for Your Own Class.


This short piece is intended to generate ideas for integrating the teaching of skills in doctrinal classes. Simulating how lawyers use doctrine in practice can deepen students’ understanding of doctrine and of stimulate thinking about their future professional roles.

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1)

"Measuring the Downside Risk of Law School Attendance"

That's the title of a draft article posted by Professor James Chin (Michigan State) on SSRN here.  Below is the abstract followed by a short excerpt.

Legal education has come under severe political pressure, both external and internal, for its perceived failure to deliver tangible economic benefits to law students. But legal education is not alone. The financial crisis of 2008 and the economic recession triggered by it have forced many other industries, to reevaluate their balance of costs and benefits. Many institutions, even entire industries, must now endure stress-testing in the form of debt-to-income or debt-to-capital ratios. This document focuses on student welfare, especially the core economic question of whether law school attendance delivers a valuable return on students’ investment. It also describe the tools, drawn from quantitative finance and econometrics, that it uses to evaluate downside risk and inequality within any cohort of law school graduates.

. . . .

What emerges from these models of downside risk in law school attendance is at once perilous and promising. Law school graduates today face a job market that is uncertain or even grim. Law schools and the legal profession must do all they can to keep legal education affordable. Law schools should eschew the deceptive and destructive trap of merit stipulations on financial aid. Because a full law degree, unaccompanied by bar passage, is scarcely better than five-sixths of a law degree, law schools should also strive to prepare their students for the bar exam. The continuing economic crisis compounds the usual sources of negative outcomes in legal education. We must now worry about more than just academic attrition and bar exam failure. Unemployment and underemployment continue to haunt American legal education’s most critical constituents. In the face of daunting new economic realities, any school that hopes to survive must control costs, hold the line on tuition, award financial aid both generously and sensibly, and be creative and responsive in the face of the greatest economic challenge the American legal profession has ever faced.



September 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rebooting Legal Research in the Digital Age

LexisNexis has published a report on a survey of how practitioners conduct research today. Forty percent of the survey group were “digital natives,” that is, young attorneys. The report includes a number of interesting charts and statistics. You can find it here. Here is a paragraph from the conclusion: 

There is no question that making some timely changes to legal research instruction
would help students, law schools, and employers. Law school faculty should
consider updating their curriculum to better align with modern legal research
practices. They can do this by adjusting the time allocated for hard copy vs.
online research, reducing emphasis on legal classification systems, offering
more comprehensive training with both paid and free online legal research
services, including mastery of search and filtering functionality that these
systems embody. Additionally, students will be better prepared if they can
master the use of treatises, practice guides, and other highly used sources
such as legal news and regulatory materials, and provide greater emphasis on
primary law materials such as statutes, case law and public records. With a
modern curriculum focused on modern research tools, law schools and legal
research departments in particular, can help their students develop the
research skills necessary to produce a high quality work product expected of them
in the workplace.


September 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. News Weekly Editorial Debate: Should Law School Be Reduced to Two Years?

This week's U.S. News Weekly (subscription required) contains another debate on whether law school should be reduced to two years.  Kyle McEntee takes the yes position, and I take the no position.

Kyle makes a number of good arguments in his editorial.  However, in reading his piece I can discern that we see the issue from different vantage points.  He emphasizes the need to reduce law school costs, while I stress the importance of increasing the quality of legal education.  I agree with Kyle that something needs to be done to reduce the costs of going to law school and the massive debt that many law graduates face.  However, I do not think that this should be done at the cost of the quality of legal education.  As Professor Matt Bodie recently remarked (here), "Choices about the required program of legal education should be based on pedagogy. . . .  If we find that a two-year J.D. provides an adequate education, then we should adopt it.  But if we reduce the quality of our legal education -- and reduce it in ways that leave lawyers less able to handle their vocations -- simply because we can find no other way to reduce the price, then shame on us."

 U.S. News has informed me that my and Kyle's pieces will run online on Septemeber 30 with a piece by Dean Daniel Rodriguez.  I will upload my editorial to my SSRN page in a couple fo weeks,

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education Issues Draft Report and Recommendations

This morning, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education issued a draft report and recommendations.  You can find the report here.  The ABA Journal has a summary here.  I will have some comments next week.

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another interesting study on classroom laptop use that suggests the devices create their own temptation to disengage independent of student boredom, disinterest in the material, etc.

I skimmed the article quickly but that seems to be the upshot of this study by Canadian researchers.  In effect, laptops may create their own temptation for students to surf independent of the usual explanations such as student boredom, lack of interest in the material, lack of self-discipline or other psychological phenomenon that had previously been thought to be the underlying explanation for off-task laptop use. The study also concluded that off-task laptop use correlated "significantly" with both lower academic achievement and satisfaction as self-reported by students. 

On the flip side, on-task use of laptops in class correlated positively with student academic satisfaction but had almost no effect on their academic success.  The researchers further concluded that these results were invariant among students in the academic programs where they gathered their data including science, social sciences, health and arts which they said contributed to the robustness of those findings and the ability to generalize their conclusions to students enrolled in other types of programs [law, perhaps?].  However, the researchers fell short of advocating for a total ban on laptops concluding instead that, for example, doing so might negatively impact students' ability to take effective notes.  

The study, entitled Canadian University Students in Wireless Classrooms: What do They Do on Their Laptops and Does it Really Matter?, is authored by researchers at the University of Ottawa School of Psychology and has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Computers and Education here.  An excerpt:

Of particular importance, results of [the second part of the study] indicated that school-unrelated laptop behavior can significantly predict subsequent academic performance measured objectively at the end of the semester – even after controlling for the effect of variables selected to reflect (a) self-regulation failure, (b) motivational deficit, (c) internet addiction, (d) disorganized learning, and (e) academic disenchantment. Higher usage of school-unrelated laptop during the semester was related to lower end of semester grade point average – an absolute indicator of academic performance – and to lower performance relative to other students enrolled in the same courses. These results provide initial and theoretically important support against the alternative hypothesis that laptop utilization behavior is merely an epiphenomenon entirely accountable and reducible to other sources of influences that are already widely studied in the psychological sciences. The laptop behaviors emitted during class time have incremental power to predict the key indicators that are usually taken to benchmark the academic success of university students.

In both [parts of the study], school related laptop behaviors were mostly unrelated to academic success of students. At a first glance, this result could be taken as evidence to support the argument that laptops should be closed when students are in university classroom . . . . 

. . . .  Although school-related laptop behaviors do not seem to help, future research is needed to unpack their effects by identifying for whom and under which circumstances they might exert their expected positive effect on academic success. Latent class analyses (Marsh et al., 2009a and Marsh et al., 2009b) would be useful to identify subgroups of students more at risks of seeing their academic success compromised because of their specific ways of combining utilization of school related and school unrelated laptop behaviors.

. . . .

This study provided information that could be useful for university professors, administrators, and service providers on campus. First, students are using both school related and school unrelated laptop behaviors during class time, thus contradicting an impression that laptops should be entirely prohibited in the classrooms. Second, the laptop utilization behaviors do seem to matter because they are significantly associated with key indicators of academic success of university students. Third, the potential influence of laptop behaviors cannot be treated or reduced as an epiphenomenon entirely attributable to other known sources of psychological influences. As a result, laptop utilization behaviors should be considered as an important target that should be part of psycho-educational prevention programs on our campuses. Students should be informed about and learn the socially, educationally, and ethically appropriate ways of using their laptops, tablets, and smart phones during class time. Professors need to be informed about both the potential benefits and challenges resulting from the proliferation of wireless classrooms in higher education. Administrators need to support professors by creating training programs and pedagogical services that could help interested professors to adopt teaching behaviors that would match the ever growing usage of technological devices in our classrooms. In summary, this study contributed to a pressing need for a novel line of psychosocial research that will examine how universities can prepare themselves for the upcoming generation of multitasking students who were raised using emerging technologies in most areas of their daily lives (Roberts et al., 2009).

Read the full study here.


September 19, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Post-OCI Thank-you Notes

From “Greedy Associates,” here's some advice for your students on what to do after the on
campus interview:

            1. Be prompt.

    2. Send an actual thank you card. (not just an email)

            3. Follow-up, but don't be annoying.

     4. Reiterate your interest.
     5. Personalize. (Draw from the conversation you had in the actual interview and mention it in your thank-you note.)


September 19, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Is the Most Important Law School Course?

According to Gerald Lebovits, it is legal writing.

Legal Writing in the Practice-Ready Law School

Abstract: Noting that the legal-writing courses are the most important courses in law school, the author urges that law schools strengthen their legal-writing programs to make students ready to practice law when they graduate.

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

U. Memphis School of Law joins others in establishing incubator project for new grads

Add U. Memphis to the growing list of law schools that have started incubator projects (here, here, here, here, here, and here) intended to help new law grads launch their careers.   The Memphis program will provide grads with subsidized office space, help them develop a business plan, teach them how to find clients and provide mentoring from the Service Corp. of Retired Executives in exchange for handling pro bono cases on behalf of Memphis Area Legal Services.  The program begins next month. 

The Memphis Business Journal provides further details:

Memphis law school, legal community launch business incubator

. . . .

The program, called Esq.Build, is designed for Memphis law school graduates who are in their first three years of practice to receive training regarding not only how to practice law, but how to manage a law office or small firm.

. . . .

For one year, a select number of new graduates will receive office space at Memphis Area Legal Services at a low cost (between $50 and $100 per month), including a private office and a conference room to meet clients. Participants provide their own phone, computer, printer and other office equipment. They will also be required to handle pro bono cases for MALS, as well as donate a certain number of hours of service to the Memphis Bar Association.

. . . .

Participants will learn how to create a business plan, manage cash flow, find clients and bill them properly. They will also attend continuing legal education courses that are geared specifically to teach them how to practice law, as well as learn how to run a small business.

Mentors from the Service Corps of Retired Executives also will meet with participants on a regular basis to make sure they are on the right track to get their practices off the ground.

. . . .

Hat tip to National Jurist Magazine.


September 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Five Rules for New Associates

Helen Wan, associate general counsel at Time, Inc., offers five pieces of advice. Here are the headlines:

1. Don't do/say anything that will get you designated the "class jerk."

2. But don’t be so unobtrusive that you blend into the furniture.

3. Don’t ask people to be your mentor out of the blue.

4.  Don't be afraid to take credit

5. Don't forget to be nice—to everyone.


September 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)