Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Happy New Year’s! In Philadelphia, the big tradition on this day is not football. It’s the Mummers Parade. Here’s a description from Visit Philly.com:
Mummers are men and women of all ages who belong to more than 40 organized clubs that make up the parade participants. The clubs, split into five divisions—Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and Fancy Brigades—function mainly to stage their playful performances on New Year’s Day. But Mummers do perform at other events throughout the year, and for many Philadelphia-area families, Mummery is a tradition that spans generations.
The day’s highlight is the parade itself, which begins in South Philadelphia in the morning and winds its way up Broad Street to City Hall approximately eight hours later. Each division knows its role: the Comics and Wench Brigades satirize issues, institutions and people; the Fancies impress with their glamorous outfits that rival those of royalty; the String Bands gleefully play banjoes, saxophones, percussion and other reed and string instruments; and the Fancy Brigades produce tightly choreographed theatrical extravaganzas.
But the noisy camaraderie shouldn’t fool the novice spectator, as each club is embroiled in a friendly yet fierce competition for local bragging rights.
After they’ve displayed their floats, costumes, dances and music, the Comics, Fancies and String Bands that are based in South Philadelphia head down to 2nd Street (or Two Street as it’s affectionately known) to spend the rest of the day and night in hearty revelry with the crowds that follow them there. But there’s more work ahead for members of the Fancy Brigades, who put on two elaborate Broadway-style performances for ticket holders at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in the afternoon.
To give you a sample, here’s a video.
According to this article from the JD Journal blog citing Bureau of Labor statistics, the national mean annual salary for lawyers grew to $129K in 2012 which translates to about $62.00 an hour.
Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, or government agencies on legal issues or disputes. The Mean Annual wage of lawyers reported was $112,760 in May 2010. Verified in November of 2012 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Mean Annual salary for lawyers grew to $129,440. That’s about $62.23 hourly.
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates arbitrate, advise, adjudicate, or administer justice in a court of law. They may sentence defendants in criminal cases according to government statutes or sentencing guidelines. The judge may determine liability of defendant in civil cases. They also may perform wedding ceremonies.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a Mean Annual wage of $105,390, which is an hourly mean of $50.67. States with the highest employment level in this occupation are New York, Texas, California, Georgia and Florida, where the Annual Mean wage is $129,740.
. . . .
Continue reading here
Monday, December 30, 2013
The Association of American Law Schools will hold its annual conference in New York January 2-5, 2014. Here are the panels and events related to legal education:
8:30 am - 10:15 am Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research
Reading Comprehension in the Age of Twitter: Teaching Law Students to Read for Meaning and Materiality
10:30 am - 11:30 am American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Program
Workshop on Innovation in Legal Education - Likely New Approach to Variances and Room for Innovation within the Standards
10:30 am - 12:15 pm Part-Time Division
Reaching Our Part-Time Students – Flipped, MOOC’d or Blended: Developing Strategies to Engage the Part-Time Curriculum
10:30 am - 12:15 pm Women in Legal Education
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm Law Libraries and Legal Information Boxed Luncheon
Teaching the Smartphone Generation
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research Luncheon
1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Committee on Curriculum
Positive Responses to Hard Times and New Expectations
1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers
Educating Non-U.S. Law Professors
1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Law Libraries and Legal Information
What Students Don’t Know (But Should Know) About Research in Practice
3:30 pm - 5:15 pm AALS Committee on Libraries and Technology
The Law Library: Creative and Strategic Innovation in the Midst of Change
3:30 pm - 5:15 pm Post-Graduate Legal Education
Legal Education for a New Audience – Law School Programs for Non-J.D.s/LL.M.s
8:30 am - 10:15 am for the Law School Dean
Managing the Transformation of Legal Education: Lessons from Other Disciplines – A Roundtable Discussion
10:30 am - 12:15 pm Clinical Legal Education and Poverty Law Joint Program
Fifty Years After the War on Poverty: Evaluating Past Enactments and Interdisciplinary Approaches for Addressing Poverty in the 21st Century
10:30 am - 12:15 pm Academic Support
Early Intervention for At-Risk Students
10:30 am - 12:15 pm for the Law School Dean (A Deans-only program)
Using Tools of Awareness to Cope with the New Reality
4:00 pm - 5:45 pm American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Program
Comprehensive Review of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools
4:00 pm - 5:45 pm Transactional Law and Skills
Value Creation By Business Lawyers in the 21st Century
AALS Presidential Program - Workshop on Tomorrow’s Law Schools: Economics, Governance and Justice. Jan. 5: 9 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Several concurrent panels.
10:45 am - 12:15 pm Law School Administration and Finance
Legal Education Affordability and the Responsibility of Law Schools
2:00 pm - 3:45 pm Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research
Erasing Boundaries: Inter-School Collaboration and Its Pedagogical Opportunities
2:00 pm - 3:45 pm Law Libraries and Legal Information
The Reimagined Law Library: Reflecting the Shift from Collections to Services
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm Balance in Legal Education, Co-Sponsored by Section on Teaching Methods
The Many Connections Between Well-Being and Professionalism in the Practice of Law: Implications for Teaching
P.S. Please drop by the ABA Publishing booth and look at my book, Think Like a Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (2013).
Happy New Year’s Eve!
Here are Ella Fitzgerald and Rod Stewart (!) singing “What Are you Doing New Year’s Eve?”
Here’s the ball dropping at Times Square, 2013.
We are home bodies on New Year’s Eve. While our children go to parties, Patti and I will stay home with our two dogs (Westies), toast with champagne, and watch the festivities at Times Square.
1. "Erasing Boundaries: Inter-School Collaboration and Its Pedagogical Opportunities." Jan. 5: 2-3:45 p.m. (Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research)
Summary (excerpted from here):
"Legal writing programs rely on simulated experiential learning to teach their students about oral and written communication. The more realistic these simulations are, the more engaged the students can become with the problem, but the illusion of reality is shattered when a student encounters an opposing lawyer, or a witness, in the cafeteria lunch line."
"This presentation will suggest that technology - particularly video conferencing technology over the Internet - opens up new possibilities for law schools by allowing students from different schools to participate in complex simulations that can, if carefully prepared, teach important lessons about lawyering skills, behavior, and the construction of a professional identity. The presenters will not propose that law school faculty should teach or grade students from another school, but that the faculty can collaborate on problems that are more elaborate and complex than could realistically be produced within one school, and that students from different schools can work together as co-counsel, or in opposition to each other, in a variety of projects, with students from other schools serving as judges or arbitrators, witnesses, clients, and so on. In this way, faculty members teach and grade their own students but both faculty and students gain the advantages brought by collaboration."
"[T]his approach suggests one way in which law schools can offer their students a richer and more interesting learning experience that will go at least some of the way to answering the questions about how they can offer experiential learning opportunities and help students graduate 'practice ready' lawyers without incurring significant, or even any, additional cost."
For example, "Professor Robin Boyle Laisure will speak about the theory of experiential learning, on the importance of experiential learning, and on the ways in which simulated experiential learning can be beneficial to law students. Robin will also talk about her contract drafting course and describe how it would work in a 'split by school' format, with students in one course representing (for example) the Owner, and in the other course, Purchaser."
I love this idea. Law schools should use technology to allow students from one law school to negotiate contracts, conduct mediations, hold settlement conferences, etc. with students from another law school to enhance the experiential experience. I salute David Thomson and his fellow panelists for this session.
2. "Early Interventions for At-Risk Students" Jan. 4: 10:30-12:15. (Academic Support)
"In light of shrinking budgets, smaller applicant pools, and media criticism of legal education, how can law schools proactively address the potential influx of at-risk students? What does 'at-risk' really mean? Are law schools responsible for ensuring that students succeed once they are admitted? Should law schools even admit at-risk students?
This panel will address these questions and provide helpful insights to benefit faculty, administrators, and institutions. Specifically, panelists will discuss programs and methods for supporting at-risk students, the important issue of 'stereotype threat,' at-risk students and bar passage, and a unique empirical method of predicting academic success."
I am particularly interested in this panel, because, last summer, I wrote a paper about how to better help students from disadvantaged backgrounds:
Sunday, December 29, 2013
"Disruption" has been a key word in our current stagnant economy. Gradual evolution in industry and institutions has been replaced by disruptive innovation.
The conditions exist for disruption in legal education. The legal economy still has not recovered from the recession, and many are predicting permanent changes for lawyers and law firms. Law schools face significantly declining enrollments, and their graduates face a tough job market and high debt. Moreover, the American legal system is not serving the legal needs of the middle and lower classes. Finally, delivery of instruction in law schools is based on a nineteenth-century model that fails to prepare graduates for the 21st century. The question is not if or when disruption will occur in legal education, but who will bring it about.
David Thomson and I discussed disruption at the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference in Denver in October. He pointed out to me that law schools must make the changes or others will do it for us, and we probably will not like the changes made by others. During his presentation at the conference, he made the radical proposal that "A possible answer to this conundrum is to reduce law school to two years, but do it by removing the first year. Or rather, significantly reengineering it, by putting most of it online." (Read his full proposal here) The second and third years would be in the building and consist of additional core courses and experiential courses.
Similarly, in a recent article on the legal market, Jordan Furlong declared, "And yet I still see people in this industry asking, "Where’s the revolution? When is the change going to come?" Folks, the change is here. We’re living it. . . . Most importantly, the pace of that change is accelerating. More new things happened in this market in 2013 than in 2012. More happened in 2012 than in 2011, in 2011 than in 2010, and so on." (here)
He continued: "So what’s the problem? Why am I suddenly also concerned about whether all this change will, in fact, be a good thing? Because while I hope and trust that the traditional legal market will fall away and that a better one will replace it, I’m increasingly alive to another possibility — that the traditional legal market may fall away, and nothing will replace it."
He remarked that "George Friedman has observed, accurately, that the people who start revolutions are often not the people who finish them, and that revolutions do not always end up where their instigators hoped they would. I think it’s fair to say that we’re at the start of a revolution in the legal services market. That should be, and is, exhilarating. But it should also summon us to the barricades to make sure that, if the incumbent regime falls, looting and chaos are not the immediate outcome and the lasting legacy."
He also talked about law schools: "If you want an example, take a look at law schools. You’re probably aware that applications to US law schools have been dropping like a stone and that enrolment is now down to its lowest level since 1977. As Bruce MacEwen notes (and as I’ve been saying for some time now), this story has only one ending: many American law schools will close or will become so small as to turn into veritable cottage businesses. There’s no question that there are too many law schools providing too little value to their students and to the clients they’ll someday struggle to serve, and that a major correction is overdue here. There’s also a lot of schadenfreude throughout the profession right now as these schools wriggle on the hook."
He warned, "Or what if the failed law schools are followed by profiteering private law degree factories that replace the passive academic lecture with cookie-cutter ‘practical training’ packages bereft of jurisprudence and professionalism?"
He concluded, "this is a call for the legal profession to recognize that change is really happening — and that we now need to throw our efforts into trying to manage, to the extent possible, the enormously strong forces coming into play. . . . Revolutions are powerful, frightening, and unpredictable things. Once they’re really underway, they can’t be controlled or directed."
I share Thomson’s and Furlong’s concerns. If law schools and law professors do not institute the changes, who will?
I believe that part of the disruption in legal education will come from state bars and maybe the ABA. As I have noted previously, the California Bar enacted a provision that requires "15 units of practice-based, experiential course work or an apprenticeship equivalent during law school, 50 hours of legal services devoted to pro bono or modest means clients prior to admission or in the first two years of practice and 10 additional MCLE hours focused on law practice competency training." Similarly, The ABA Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has sent out for notice and comment a proposal to require 15 hours of clinics, simulations, or externships.
We should welcome these changes from the state bars and the ABA.
However, all the changes may not be as positive as those proposed by the state bars and the ABA. There are many who will seek to profit from the law school crisis. Particularly, there will be entities who will seek to profit by offering online legal education without considering the value received by students–the quality of instruction. (here) If law schools, law professors, and other parties interested in the quality of legal education and what legal education provides to society don’t act before the entrepreneurs do, legal education and society will suffer dearly.
As Wilfred Owen proclaimed, "All a poet can do today is warn."
It’s never too early to encourage young people to think about entering the legal profession. One opportunity is the National High School Moot Court Competition. Now in its 30th year, the competition includes a massive number of students from across the country and U.S. Territories.
Here’s is an article from the Wisconsin Lawyer on how the competition has influenced participants who later became lawyers. In that state, the finalists argue before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. You may want to take part by helping to coach a team.
That's according to Joanne Lipman, author of Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations, former Deputy Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal and founding Editor-in-Chief of Conde Nast Portfolio magazine. In this blog post from the Harvard Business Review, she lists her five principles for the sort of tough love needed to inspire success which she learned from the greatest teacher she ever met, a childhood music teacher known as "Mr. K."
. . . .
The teacher at the heart of the book Strings Attached is on the face of it an unlikely corporate role model. My childhood music teacher Jerry Kupchynsky, who we called “Mr. K,” was strictly old school: A ferocious Ukrainian immigrant and World War II refugee, he was a tyrannical school orchestra conductor in suburban New Jersey. He would yell and stomp and scream when we screwed up, bellowing “Who eez DEAF in first violins?” His highest praise was “not bad.” He rehearsed us until our fingers were raw.
Yet ultimately he became beloved by students, many of whom went on to outsize professional success in fields from business to academics to law, and who decades later would gather to thank him.
My coauthor and I both expected pushback against Mr. K’s harsh methods, which we describe in unflinching detail. But instead, the overwhelming response from readers has been: “Amen! Bring on the tough love.” And nowhere has that response been stronger than in the business world, among corporate executives.
. . . .
So, how best to put those “tough love” principles into action when it comes to inspiring excellence in the workplace? Mr. K’s methods offer an intriguing roadmap:
1. Banish empty praise.
2. Set expectations high.
3. Articulate clear goals –and goal posts along the way.
4. Failure isn’t defeat.
5. Say thank you.
Continue reading here.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
A moving letter from Nelba Marquez-Greene, a parent who lost her six year old daughter. Here is an excerpt:
While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love.
As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith, and love.
You can read the letter here.
Some interesting new research on how to more effectively coach someone towards success as reported by the Harvard Business Review Blog.
. . . .
[Professor Richard Boyatzis, of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western, has done] recent research on the best approach to coaching has used brain imaging to analyze how coaching affects the brain differently when you focus on dreams instead of failings. These findings have great implications for how to best help someone – or yourself — improve.
. . . . “Talking about your positive goals and dreams activates brain centers that open you up to new possibilities. But if you change the conversation to what you should do to fix yourself, it closes you down.”
Working with colleagues at Cleveland Clinic, Boyatzis put people through a positive, dreams-first interview or a negative, problems-focused one while their brains were scanned. The positive interview elicited activity in reward circuitry and areas for good memories and upbeat feelings – a brain signature of the open hopefulness we feel when embracing an inspiring vision. In contrast, the negative interview activated brain circuitry for anxiety, the same areas that activate when we feel sad and worried. In the latter state, the anxiety and defensiveness elicited make it more difficult to focus on the possibilities for improvement.
Of course a manager needs to help people face what’s not working. As Boyatzis put it, “You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive. You need both, but in the right ratio.”
Continue reading here.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Maybe there’s a reason why students and profs seem more tired than in the past. From Education Week:
That's because evidence is mounting that use of artificial light from energy-efficient lamps and computer and mobile-electronics screens later and later in the day can lead to significant sleep problems for adults and, particularly, children.
While lights and electronic devices that mimic daylight can improve students' attention and alertness if used during normal daytime hours, Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, has found exposure in the late afternoon and evening can disrupt sleep cycles as much as six to eight hours—the same amount of "jet lag" caused by a flight from New York City to Honolulu.
You can read more here.
This is a new article by Professor James G. Milles (SUNY-Buffalo ) and available at SSRN here. From the abstract.
The dual crises facing legal education—the economic crisis affecting both the job market and the pool of law school applicants, and the crisis of confidence in the ability of law schools and the ABA accreditation process to meet the needs of lawyers or society at large—have undermined the case for not only the autonomy, but the very existence, of law school libraries as we have known them. Legal education in the United States is about to undergo a long-term contraction, and law libraries will be among the first to go. A few law schools may abandon the traditional law library completely. Some law schools will see their libraries whittled away bit by bit as they attempt to answer “the Yirka Question” in the face of shrinking resources, reexamined priorities, and university centralization. What choices individual schools make will largely be driven by how they play the status game.
Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarians Blog.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Jennifer Taub has written a wonderful article about teaching contracts:
This seems implausible. Yet, this analogy reflects the current reality in many law schools with respect to a required course called Contracts. The casebooks students read mainly include judicial decisions selected and organized around legal issues that concerned contracts scholars more than a century ago. Students infrequently grapple with the murkier contract law challenges of our day. In addition, though some schools do offer upper level courses in negotiations or drafting, these are rarely required.Thus, future lawyers can graduate from most law schools without taking such courses. Yet, as practicing lawyers, drafting, reviewing, and negotiating are skills they will need to hone whether they assist with business transactions, represent consumers in disputes, help negotiate settlement agreements, or craft legislation, as a few examples.
To be clear, I am criticizing my own methods, and do recognize that there are exceptions to this general summation of the status quo. However, this still appears to be the norm because we have not let go of the innovations made in the late nineteenth century by Harvard Law School Dean and Professor Christopher Columbus Langdell (1826-1906). The case method, as described herein, his contribution to pedagogy in 1870, remains the dominant mode of teaching students about contracts. As a result, Contracts is a course in how a particular set of contract disputes (“busted deals”) are adjudicated; it is not a course in contracts.
If a lawyer is not honest with himself or herself, the lawyer may begin believing and acting on mistruths. From the Litigation and Trial blog (Dec. 9):
Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Slaughterhouse-Five that The Brothers Karamazov was the one book “that can teach you everything you need to know about life.” Here’s one of the lessons from Dostoyevsky’s final novel:
Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.
From Law Admissions Lowdown:
Traditionally, law school hopefuls had to focus on two things: getting into law school and staying competitive in arduous classes. It wasn't until after graduating and searching for jobs that most students selected a specialization within the legal field.
Today, however, that's changing. Both prospective and current law students should contemplate their specialization options to be best prepared for their future careers. Review the steps below to select the most appropriate specialization for your interests, needs and goals.
1. Explore your options
2. Experiment with course selection
3. Explore law-related university courses
Continue reading here.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Most of know that Charles Dickens was paid by the line. The more words, the more money he received. I have thought about the famous opening paragraphs of “A Christmas Carol”:
MARLEY was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did.
Would the Dickens have improved his opening if he had written instead:
Marley was dead as a door-nail. His partner Scrooge remembered Marley’s death seven years ago.
I think so. On the other hand, I would not revise Dicken’s opening to “A Tale of Two Cities”:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had eve rything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
But I would have axed the third paragraph:
It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs.
Happy Boxing Day!