Friday, January 31, 2014

Is Albany Law School contemplating faculty lay-offs?

And speaking of the "crisis" in legal education (see below), this story popped up today on a couple of legal blogs (here and here).


January 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New York State Bar Association annual meeting addresses the future of legal education

Earlier this week in Manhattan at the Presidential Summit during the annual New York State Bar Association meeting, several speakers addressed the current "crisis" in legal education as reported by The New York Law Journal.  Among them was the new Chancellor of Syracuse University, law professor and legal educational expert Kent Syverud.

No Easy Answers for Challenges Facing Law Schools

. . . .

"We do not have a crisis in legal education," Kent Syverud told more than 400 lawyers attending the presidential summit at the New York State Bar Association's annual meeting at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan.


Rather, Syverud said law schools experiencing a 20 percent average increase in expenses versus revenues face what he called a "management challenge" that should be embraced as an chance to produce better and more practice-ready graduates.


"It is not even an unusual management challenge," said Syverud, who was dean of Washington University School of Law before recently taking over at Syracuse last month. "The fact that it's unusual for American law schools to see this great a swing is interesting, but in almost every other sector of our economy, including legal services, it's a management challenge that's quite familiar."


He said many schools are "embracing" their financial troubles as an "opportunity to get better" and to take on "calcified practices" that have been hard to change in the past.


"Those that don't adjust are going to fail," he said. "That's a good thing, too. This is America. There is no constitutional right for you institution to continue forever without changing or evolving."


Syverud was on a panel on the future of legal education that was moderated by James Silkenat, the Sullivan & Worcester partner who is currently president of the American Bar Association.


Others on the panel were Jenny Rivera, a state Court of Appeals judge, and University of Maryland School of Law Dean Phoebe Haddon.

. . . .
Continue reading here (subscription might be required).


January 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congrats to the Michigan Bar Journal’s Plain Language Column: 30 Years!

The January 2014 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal celebrates this anniversary of the column with a fascinating retrospective by Joe Kimble, who has edited the column for 26 of those years. His predecessor was the column’s founder, the legendary George Hathaway. In this column, Joe lists the objections to the plain English style:

• Plain language is baby talk, or

Dick-and-Jane style. It dumbs down.

• Plain language is dull and drab.

• Plain language is all about simple

words and short sentences.

• Plain language is less precise than

traditional legal style (it’s actually

more precise).

• Legalese is required by law—

statutes or regulations or precedent.

• Some ideas are too complex for

plain language.

Nonsense. He also supplies a point/counterpoint of arguments for and against plain English. Guess which side has the better arguments. You can read more here.


January 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

BigLaw partner offers advice on how to best train new lawyers

The tips are from the Careerist column in the American Lawyer and authored by Stephen Susman, the founding partner of Susman Godfrey and one of the nation's leading trial lawyers, which means his wisdom and experience are worth their weight in gold.

How to Train Junior Lawyers (Hint: Not the Big Law Way)

. . . .

. . . [S]ome law firms have established apprenticeship tracks, offering new associates sharply reduced salaries in exchange for less responsibility and more on-the-job training.

I believe law firms should take the opposite tack: Give new associates more responsibility—not less. Not only will firms recruit better candidates as a result, but it will also help junior lawyers develop their skills exponentially faster. This will also enable the firm to leverage its resources, staff cases more efficiently, and achieve better results for its clients.

This is not the typical way most big law firms operate, but it has worked effectively for us. Here are the five key ways we approach associate development, starting from their first year:

  • Send them to court!  Our firm has a rule: If you go to court, you get to stand up. And if you write it, you get to speak it in court. New associates like that.
    Staff your cases leanly. Staffing cases leanly and efficiently translates into greater opportunities for new attorneys.
  • Give them a vote. Our “one lawyer, one vote” policy gives the firm’s newest associate an equal voice—and an equal vote—with the most senior partner.
  • Open up the books. By adopting a policy of financial transparency, firms can help their new associates gain valuable insight into negotiating fee agreements and other important business aspects of the profession.
  • Show them the fun. I love being a trial attorney. I don’t know of anything I’d love to do more. And if you convey that enthusiasm, new associates will more likely find that being a trial attorney and practicing law can be a lot of fun.
Continue reading here.

January 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Power of Pleasure Reading

From Education Week:

A recent study by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano of The New School for Social Research in New York City argues that reading literary fiction (as compared with reading popular fiction, or nothing at all) temporarily enhances one's ability to understand others' mental states and deepens empathy. The study—published in the journal Science in October—grabbed a lot of attention, including a front-page article in The New York Times.

What makes the claim noteworthy is its scientific support. After all, the notion that reading literature has a civilizing impact has been with us at least since Matthew Arnold wrote on literary criticism in the late 1800s. And the idea that literary fiction is superior to popular fiction has been around for an equally long time.

You can read more here. I have long believed that reading teaches us about the human condition—important information if you want to grow as a person and relate to others. I remember a professional lobbyist telling me how important the classic Greek plays were to his professional development.


January 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Technology to Implement the Reforms of Maccrate, Carnegie and Best Practices

Teaching for Tomorrow: Utilizing Technology to Implement the Reforms of Maccrate, Carnegie and Best Practices by Stephen M. Johnson.


More than a half century ago, John Dewey predicted that “if we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” While Dewey was not referring to legal education, his call for reform has been echoed for decades in the legal education community by academics, accrediting agencies, and think tanks. Major studies by the ABA, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Clinical Legal Education Association conclude that law schools need to reform legal education to provide more focus on training students in professionalism and practical skills. The studies do not call for the elimination of the case method or Socratic method, but stress the need for integration of new methods of instruction and assessment, especially after the first year of law school.

Due to the nature of the students that are currently attending law school or planning to attend law school, and due to the economic realities of the modern practice of law and the legal job market, technology needs to play, and can play, a central role in the reform of legal education. The reformed law school classroom will likely look significantly different than the traditional 1L Langdellian classroom. Simulations and other instructional methods that focus on developing skills should become more prevalent and technology can significantly enhance them. Technology itself is an important skill that lawyers must master to effectively practice law, so there will be additional focus in law schools on training students in the technology that is central to practice. More formative assessment will likely be incorporated into courses and technology can facilitate that. Furthermore, new coursebooks and materials will be needed to facilitate the new instructional models, and technology will be key to the development of successful and effective materials to replace the traditional case books.

This article examines the central role that technology can and should play in implementing the reforms suggested by the ABA, Carnegie Foundation and Clinical Legal Education Association’s reports.

January 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

University of Akron School of Law is another school taking aggressive measures to control tuition costs

To follow up on some earlier posts by my blogging colleague Professor Sirico (here and here) you can add the University of Akron School of Law to the growing list of schools that are taking aggressive measures to control the spirally cost of obtaining a J.D.  In particular, Akron has frozen tuition for the entering classes of 2013 and 2014 nor will it increase tuition for those classes throughout their years at the school.  The school has also eliminated the nonresident tuition surcharge to a minimal $50 per semester (apparently a surcharge is required under Ohio law).  This move reportedly saves entering out-of-state students approximately $12,000 annually (if they are full-time students) from the 2012-13 tuition charged to non-residents.

Hat tip to Dean Elizabeth Reilly


January 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Comments on the ABA Proposal to Require 15 Credit Hours of Experiential Courses

As you probably know, the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has sent out a proposal for notice and comment that would require 15 credit hours of experiential courses. 

Professor Mary A. Lynch of Albany Law School has commented (here):

"As a longtime legal education reform activist, I applaud the Council’s decision to approve for notice and comment a proposal requiring law schools to provide at least 15 credit hours of professional skills instruction. This proposal is responsive to: 1) the call for providing added value to students’ law school experience; 2) the need for tomorrow’s lawyers to possess more extensive skills sets; and 3) the complaint by employers that law schools need to graduate more profession-ready students. It wisely recognizes the need to produce graduates who not only know law but can apply their knowledge competently, ethically and creatively to help solve tomorrow’s legal problems. Globalization and digitalization have together so transformed law practice that tomorrow’s lawyers must be equipped with problem-solving, interpersonal, collaborative, multicultural, and teamwork competencies not needed by yesterday’s graduates. In addition, new findings from educational theorists, psychologists, and studies of the brain inform us that real situations are integral to the motivation and context needed for deep learning. Requiring law schools to provide substantial experiential and skills opportunities does a tremendous service to tomorrow’s consumers of legal education and the communities they will graduate to serve."

Individual members of the Illinois State Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Education, Admissions, and Competence also submitted a comment in support of the proposal.  (here)  As you may remember, the ISBA issued a Report that was adopted by unanimous vote of approximately 200 members of the ISBA Assembly in June 2013.  The commentators state that the 15-hour requirement is consistent with the findings and recommendations of the Report.

Quoting from their Report, the commentors wrote, " Many lawyers testified at the hearings that law school did not provide them adequate tools to succeed, and that they needed more instruction in the skills that are required in practice. In particular, law schools do not provide adequate opportunities for law students to practice legal writing skills in simulated or real practical settings. Many law schools teach students to write a basic research memo and an appellate brief. Few, however, provide extensive instruction in drafting contracts, legislation, client letters, press releases, discovery requests or responses, wills, or other documents lawyers are called on to produce daily."

 They continued, "Law schools should prioritize simulation courses, live-client clinics, and other courses that give students the opportunity to learn and apply legal principles in the context of real life problems. Nearly every young lawyer to testify to the Special Committee indicated that he or she would have preferred to have more of these courses in law school if they were offered. Most law schools offer these courses, but few law schools offer sufficient numbers of them. [emphasis added] Law schools should ensure that every student has an opportunity to benefit from practice-oriented courses."

They concluded, "The ABA is uniquely situated to galvanize the cooperation that is necessary between the academy and the bar to educate the next generation of lawyers. We strongly urge the Council to take an important step in this direction by increasing the accreditation requirement for experiential courses. That requirement will ensure that all students have a solid foundation of the skills they need to be successful in practice."

(Scott Fruehwald) 

January 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

No. Kentucky Announces Honors Immersion Program in Law, Business & Technology

From the News Release:

The Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law announced today it has approved a new curriculum for the W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business + Technology, with the first courses being offered in the 2014-15 academic year.

The W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business + Technology will be an honors immersion program operated by the NKU Chase Law + Informatics Institute. The focus of the program will be to develop "Renaissance lawyers" for the Information Age. The program's specialty courses enhance the comprehensive legal education provided by Chase by emphasizing legal technology, business, finance, leadership and other skills critical to the future of the practice of law.

The Lunsford Academy curriculum combines quantitative analysis and research, high-level legal analysis, and best business practices to manage the constant change at the heart of modern legal practice. "This program will become an integral part of our curriculum and will provide Chase students with a dynamic environment in which to learn the skills they need to succeed in a technology-driven world," said Chase Dean Jeffrey A. Standen.

You can read more here.


January 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Full Text & Video of the State of the Union Speech

In case you’re thinking about analyzing President Obama’s speech in a discussion about persuasion, here is the speech—both text and video--compliments of Politico.


January 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Announcing an upcoming academic conference devoted to legal incubators

If you're one of those people who's been saying to yourself "enough already with the legal incubators" then you likely won't be interested in this April conference at Touro Law School which might be the very first devoted to "conceptualizing, designing and implementing" legal incubators.  The particular focus of this conference will be on law school incubators that provide legal services to low and moderate income clients. 



January 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Memoriam: Pete Seeger

In Memoriam: Pete Seeger

Legendary Folk Singer Pete Singer has passed away at age 94. I have a wonderful memory of watching him perform at a Ralph Nader event. Actually, the audience didn’t watch; it participated.

Here’s Pete last September singing “This Land is Your Land” at Farm Aid in Saratoga Springs with John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and Neil Young. He outshines his younger colleagues.

And here’s Pete in 1990 singing Guantanamera.

And here he is in the Vietnam era on the Smothers Brothers TV show singing “Wimoweh” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” CBS considered the Smothers Brothers too controversial and dropped the show.




January 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Developing Advocacy Skills with Positive Psychology

I want to recommend an article by my coauthor and frequent co-presenter, Nancy Schultz, “Lessons from Positive Psychology for Developing Advocacy Skills,” 6 John Marshall Law Journal 103 (2012). One way to coach students is to tell them what they did wrong. Although working with the negatives is important, Nancy emphasizes helping students to identify their strength and then to build upon them. I also appreciate her informal, readable writing style. Here are some passages from her article:

Thus, the more we can help our students to feel that they can succeed, the more likely it appears that they will indeed find ways to succeed. If we convince them that they can work through frustration and adversity, they will emerge stronger and better. This is likely true of their long-term view of potential success, not just the immediate task at hand.

The research even suggests that putting students in a positive frame of mind enhances the likelihood that what they learn will be accurate. As they pay attention, they learn what works and what doesn‘t, which can adjust their expectations; additional experience then confirms or denies those expectations. ―Importantly, the personal resources accrued during states of positive emotions are durable—they outlast the transient emotional states that led to their acquisition.

[I]f we figure out when our students are feeling comfortable, and try to add elements of skill to broaden that zone of comfort, we can use their strengths and talents to add to their repertoire and help move them toward mastery. I always tell my students that comfort comes from confidence, and confidence comes from knowing that you can handle the situation, whatever it is. The more experience they get, the more they see that they can add to their strengths, the more that comfort and confidence will get them through.

This gets us to the question of feedback—do we start with positive comments, or do we just focus on what needs fixing? The vast majority of the literature suggests that the simple act of starting with the positive will reap immense rewards: it will make our students feel better, it will encourage them to believe that their goals are within reach, and it will make it easier for them to process the comments about what needs fixing.


January 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 27, 2014

The 2013 Law School Survey of Student Engagement is out now

From the LSSSE press release (you can download the full report here):

National Survey of Law Students Reveals that Satisfaction with Career and Job Search Advising is Relatively Stable Since Before the Downturn

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-- Since 2007, the job market for new law school graduates has been in steady decline.  According to the National Association of Law Placement, the overall employment rate was 92% in 2007.  By 2012, however, that rate had declined to 85%.  Moreover, median starting salaries as well as the proportion of new graduates working in jobs for which the law degree is required have experienced similar declines. 

Given the angst engendered by these trends, conventional wisdom dictates that students are less satisfied with their law school experiences, especially the career counseling and job search help they receive.  However, newly released data from the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) challenges this assumption.  According to the survey, which garnered responses from more than 26,000 students at 86 U.S. law schools, student satisfaction rates have remained relatively stable since before the downturn.

 In 2007, 45% of law students in their final year reported satisfaction with job search help provided by their law school.  The 2013 satisfaction rate was 45%. When assessing their school’s overall career counseling services, 45% of law students in their final year were satisfied in 2007, compared to 49% in 2013. 

 These trends suggest that the challenging environment has not led to an increase in the proportion of law students who feel their school shoulders some blame for job search difficulty.  The stability of these trends, in light of the overall market, is heartening, given much of the criticism directed at legal education.  It is possible that law schools have been able to stem increased dissatisfaction by redoubling efforts to advise students on career-related matters. 

 But the trends have an unfavorable side.  Large percentages of students remain unsatisfied with the career counseling and job search help they have received. In addition, satisfaction with all advising services—career, academic, personal, and financial aid—sharply declines as students progress through their program, with first year students being most satisfied and students in their final year being least satisfied.

 According to Aaron N. Taylor, director of LSSSE and assistant professor of law at St. Louis University School of Law:

“These findings offer reasons for law schools to be encouraged, while also recognizing that more must be done.  Satisfaction with advising services is associated with overall law school satisfaction and greater gains in academic and professional development.  Therefore, law schools have a compelling interest in ensuring that students feel adequately supported throughout their matriculation.  Advisory services may add to the cost of legal education, but they also add substantially to the effectiveness of what occurs in the classroom.”   

LSSSE's 2013 Annual Results, Evaluating the Value of Law School: Student Perspectives, explores four themes, drawing on data gathered in 2013 from over 26,000 students at 86 U.S. law schools:

·         The extent to which law schools expose their students to business and financial concepts and quantitative analysis (Director’s Message)

·         What law students know about the legal profession, where they learn it and the role law schools play in promoting that learning (Learning About and From Lawyers: Engagement with the Profession)

·         Critical and analytical thinking in law school classes and its effect on law students (Learning to Think Like a Lawyer)

·         Satisfaction with student advising services and its relation to overall law school satisfaction and gains in academic and professional development (Student Advising)

The report is introduced by David N. Yellen, Dean and Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

 Other key findings from the 2013 LSSSE report are:

 ·         Only 25% of third-year students reported frequentlyworking with faculty members on activities other than coursework (such as committees, orientation, student life activities, etc.) and only 30% of third-year students have worked with faculty on a legal research project outside of course or program requirements.

 ·         Close to half (43%) of responding third-year students reported never participating in a clinical or pro bono project as part of a course or for academic credit; similarly, 63% of 2Ls and 87% of 1Ls reported never having participated in such projects.

 ·         Of those students who had experiences with financial aid advising during the current academic year, slightly more than two-thirds (68%) were satisfiedwith their advising experience.

 ·       Nearly two-thirds of students (65%) reported that their law school places a substantial emphasis on providing the support they need to succeed academically.

 ·        Forty three percent of students who used their law school’s job search services and 42% of those who used career counseling services during the current academic year reported being unsatisfied with their experience. However, nearly half of all respondents (47%) reported that their law school placed a substantialemphasis on providing the support they needed to succeed in their employment search.

 LSSSE’s 2013 Annual Results can be downloaded from the LSSSE Web site

About LSSSE. With more than 256,000 student responses since 2004, LSSSE comprises a treasure trove of information about law students’ experiences, activities and attitudes. Since its inception, 187 law schools in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have used LSSSE to measure the extent to which their students engage in effective educational practices that are empirically linked to learning and other desirable outcomes such as professional and academic development.


January 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Resolutions at the ABA House of Delegates

The House of Delegates will consider a number of resolutions at its meeting, beginning on Feb. 6. Here is a summary of the proposals. If you have an interest in any of them, you may want to contact your state delegates to the House.


Urges Congress to enact legislation that creates and adequately funds alternative avenues of redress for victims of unwanted sexual contact in the military.


Approves the Uniform Powers of Appointment Act, promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, as an appropriate Act for those states desiring to adopt the specific substantive law suggested herein.



                        Grants approval and reapproval to several paralegal education programs, withdraws the approval of one program at the request of the institution, and extends the term of approval to several paralegal education programs.

 102A               SECTION OF BUSINESS LAW

                        Urges governmental bodies to engage in actions designed to reduce unnecessary tension, expense and litigation, and to foster inter-court, inter and intra-agency, and inter-party cooperation and coordination in cases where parallel actions or proceedings arise under both (i) bankruptcy or insolvency law and (ii) asset forfeiture or analogous regulatory enforcement law. 


Adopts the black letter ABA Model Business and Supplier Policies on Labor Trafficking and Child Labor, dated February 2014, and urges businesses to adopt and implement their own business and supplier policies on labor trafficking and child labor that are consistent with the ABA Model.


                        Urges governments to ensure that juveniles are provided effective appellate representation and have access to appeals consistent with state statutes and/or state constitutional provisions. 


                        Urges state governments to apply generally applicable administrative procedure acts’ notice-and-comment rule-making provisions to regulations governing correctional facilities and officers.


                        Reaccredits the Criminal Trial Advocacy and Family Law Trial Advocacy programs of the National Board of Trial Advocacy as designated specialty certification programs for lawyers for an additional five-year term, and extends the period of accreditation of the Child Welfare Law program of the National Association of Counsel for Children until August 2014. 


                        Supports modernization and simplification of the requirements and procedures related to verification of signatures in cross-border contexts.      


                        Encourages governments to adequately fund judicial system security protocols and urges courts to create and review judicial system security protocols so that they may effectively communicate their needs to policymakers and appropriators.             


                        Urges governments to promote the human right to adequate food and nutrition for all through increased funding, development and implementation of strategies to prevent infringement of that right. 


                        Opposes the proposed “Innovation Act” of the 113th Congress (H.R. 3309) or other similar legislation that would circumvent the judicial rulemaking process set forth in the Federal Rules Enabling Act (28 U.S.C. §§ 2071 – 2077).


                        Opposes a mandatory award of attorney fees to the prevailing party in a civil action arising under the patent laws of the United States and supports the discretionary authority of federal district courts to award attorney fees to the prevailing party in a patent case in circumstances that are less restrictive than those currently required by judicial precedent.


                        Supports amendment of patent law to reduce the estoppel effect of an adverse ruling to a challenge to a patent in a Patent Office administrative proceeding and opposes changing the standard for construing claims in two types of Patent Office administrative proceedings.


                        Urges governments to enact and implement legislation and policies which prohibit youth from transitioning from foster care to a status of homelessness, or where a former foster youth will lack a permanent connection to a supportive adult.


                        Urges lawyers, law schools and bar associations to adopt trauma-informed, evidence-based approaches and practices on behalf of justice system-involved children and youth who have been exposed to violence, including victims of child abuse and neglect or other crimes and those subject to delinquency or status offense proceedings.


                        Urges Congress to enact the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1179) (S. 569), or similar legislation, that deems an individual receiving outpatient observation care services in a hospital to be an inpatient with respect to satisfying the three-day inpatient hospital stay requirement for Medicare coverage of a post-hospitalization stay in a skilled nursing facility.               

 177C              BOARD OF GOVERNORS

Recommends that membership dues be increased effective with Fiscal Year 2014-2015 and further recommends that in [each of the fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018,] the dues levels of each of the categories affected shall be increased by an amount equal to the Cost of Living Increase, as the Board of Governors in its discretion may determine annually, subject to approval by the House.


Recommends that certain Association policies that pertain to public issues that were adopted through 1990 be archived.


January 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Faculty Members Aren’t Planning on Retiring Soon.

This is the finding of a survey sponsored by the Chronicle of Higher Education and TIAA-CREF. I’m not planning to retire until I become totally incompetent, but others may want to move on. The survey also reports on the phased-in retirement programs that many institutions are offering. You can access the 18 page study by clicking here. Here are the major findings"

75% of faculty plan to delay retiring.

44% of faculty would delay retiring at least 5 years because of the recession.

9 in 10 faculty members say their biggest reason for not retiring is because they enjoy their work. 


January 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Teaching Evidence as an Experiential Course

When I took Evidence in law school, I was bothered by the fact that it was taught like any other course--like a casebook course.  More than any other basic law school course, Evidence is a practical course.  It should be taught by first learning a rule of evidence, then applying it like a student would in the court room.

Steven Friedland has just posted a course portfolio in which he shows how evidence can be taught as a specialized form of applied trial advocacy.  (here)  Notably, Evidence is a required course at Elon.

Professor Friedland teaches Evidence as "learning by doing": "I approach this course as a specialized form of applied trial advocacy, using the trial context as a vehicle by which to teach the course objectives. The engaged and experiential dimensions of the course regularly incorporate a blend of simulated trial techniques, evidentiary objections, and courtroom settings. In essence, there is an emphasis on learning-by-doing. The in-class learning-by-doing contexts include group strategizing and problem solving, direct and cross examination, refreshing recollection, the examination of expert witnesses, laying evidentiary foundations for exhibits, hearsay statements and other rules, and, time permitting, student participation in a final trial prior to the end of the semester."

He notes that "While embedding the rules of evidence in their natural context of trial practice can be more challenging for students during the semester – given the speed and extended skill sets required for knowledge and technique acquisition – the trial context creates relevancy for students and deeper learning, both immediately and in the long-term, with numerous opportunities for feedback. It also helps the process when a group of students is engaged, participating, and challenged on a regular basis."

He describes his teaching methods as: "Students are required to write out answers for to up to a half-dozen problems in the course book prior to discussion in class. Sometimes, students are asked to post a problem response on the course Web platform. At other times, students are asked to collaborate in small groups after they have written responses to a problem and to create an agreed upon structure for an answer that is then written on the classroom marker-boards. With up to ten groups writing answers on the front boards, the structures can be readily compared and discussed. On occasion, I ask students to bring in current events involving evidence for classroom discussion. Students also are assigned to observe a real trial proceeding or participate in a mock trial. If students observe a trial or proceeding, they are asked to write about it and post their reaction on the Internet."  He also stresses formative feedback in his class.

In sum, a class like this produces more retention of knowledge and deeper learning than traditional law school classes because it is active, engaging, challenging, collaborative, and transparent.  As Professor Friedland has declared, "When teaching, I would advise instructors to have fun; it is contagious. Be transparent. Let students know what the outcomes are for the main segments of the course and how to get there. Establish by word and deed that the course is collaborative, with student participation an essential component. Keep class challenging; if it is too easy, students will split their screens and pay partial attention. Be relevant to them, using props, videos, music, and more to draw them in."

You can find the materials that Professor Friedland uses in teaching his course here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S. The Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers website has many more portfolios on teaching experiential courses here.  Experiential teaching can be used in any doctrinal area of law.

January 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hofstra Law School will launch legal incubator to serve Long Island community

Hofstra has joined the growing list of law schools that have or will shortly launch a legal incubator project (here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here)  In this case, Hofstra is joining hands with the New York Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services to place its recent grads in the local community where they will provide legal help to low income clients.  From the school's website:

Hofstra Law to Launch Postgraduate Incubator to Serve Long Island Community

The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University will officially launch its postgraduate fellowship program, the Hofstra Law Access to Justice Incubator, on February 4, 2014, at the Hofstra University Club. With the creation of the Incubator, the Long Island-based law school will break new ground by putting recent law graduates to work in the surrounding community, giving them the opportunity to gain valuable experience as new lawyers while also providing much-needed legal services for indigent individuals in Nassau County.

. . . .

The Incubator is a nonprofit entity formed with the assistance of the New York State Unified Court System and the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services established by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in 2010. Similar to the Task Force, the Incubator’s dual mission is to fill a critical gap in access to civil legal services for low- and moderate-income individuals, and to promote a culture of service in the legal profession. The Incubator will work in consultation with the local bench and bar to identify critical areas of need for civil legal services in Nassau County.

Recent Hofstra Law graduates will be hired to work for the Incubator for one-year fellowships. According to Dean Eric Lane, "our hope is that the Incubator will be a bridge from the classroom to full-time legal practice, offering Hofstra Law graduates a growth opportunity to prepare for practice while serving the public interest."

Fellows will be closely supervised while they are trained to provide the full spectrum of representation for clients and will hone the skills of reflective practice under the guidance of executive director/managing attorney Lisa M. Petrocelli, Esq. '94. Before joining the Incubator, Petrocelli served as a principal law clerk in the Nassau County Supreme Court for nine years, and previously handled guardianship matters, real estate transactions and trusts and estates as a private practitioner.

. . . .

Continue reading here.


January 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Latest Issue of Second Draft is Out

The Fall 2013/Spring 2014 issue is now on line. Here’s the link, and here’s the table of contents:

President’s Column..................................................2

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste:

Erasing the Lines Between Faculty..........................3

From Awkward Law Student to Articulate Attorney:

Teaching the Oral Research Report.........................6

A Third Semester of LRW:

Why Teaching Transactional Skills

and Problems is Now Essential to

the Legal Writing Curriculum...................................8

From the Desk of the Writing Specialist:

Dancing with Semicolons –Using Distance

Learning to Motivate Student Writers ..................10

Legal Writing Professors Need

to Draw On General Education Research

In Order to Remain in the Forefront of Evolving

Best Practices In Legal Education.........................12

Integrating Practice-Ready Skills:

Legal Updates, Status Updates,

and Professional Updates ......................................15

GOT SKILLS? Adding Skills Through

Professional & Business Development Exercises.18

Program News and Accomplishments...................20

Thanks to the Second Draft Editorial Board:

Mary Ann Becker

Harris Freeman

Heather Baum

Mary-Beth Moylan

Teri McMurtry-Chubb

Harold Lloyd

Iselin Gambert 


January 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New York Times on the financial and job security woes of non-equity partners

James Stewart, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and former associate at Cravath, has an article appearing in today's New York Times business section about the "looming glut" of non-equity partners at large law firms and the financial pressures they face just to keep their jobs.  The story is told from the perspective of a non-equity partner at White & Case who, from outward appearances, is the "embodiment" of success yet recently had to file bankruptcy (in part due to a divorce settlement) and has job security equivalent to a contract attorney.  Mr. Stewart reports that many in the swelling ranks of non-equity partners face similar circumstances with respect to financial pressure and lack of any job security.

A Lawyer and Partner, and Also Bankrupt

Anyone who wonders why law school applications are plunging and there’s widespread malaise in many big law firms might consider the case of Gregory M. Owens.


The silver-haired, distinguished-looking Mr. Owens would seem the embodiment of a successful Wall Street lawyer. A graduate of Denison University and Vanderbilt Law School, Mr. Owens moved to New York City and was named a partner at the then old-line law firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, and after a merger, at Dewey & LeBoeuf.


Today, Mr. Owens, 55, is a partner at an even more eminent global law firm, White & Case. A partnership there or any of the major firms collectively known as “Big Law” was long regarded as the brass ring of the profession, a virtual guarantee of lifelong prosperity and job security.


But on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Owens filed for personal bankruptcy.


According to his petition, he had $400 in his checking account and $400 in savings. He lives in a rental apartment at 151st Street and Broadway. He owns clothing he estimated was worth $900 and his only jewelry is a Concord watch, which he described as “broken.”


Mr. Owens is an extreme but vivid illustration of the economic factors roiling the legal profession, although his straits are in some ways unique to his personal situation.


The bulk of his potential liabilities stem from claims related to the collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012. Even stripping those away, his financial circumstances seem dire. Legal fees from a divorce depleted his savings and resulted in a settlement under which he pays his former wife a steep $10,517 a month in alimony and support for their 11-year-old son.


But in other ways, Mr. Owens’s situation is all too emblematic of pressures facing many partners at big law firms. After Dewey & LeBoeuf collapsed, Mr. Owens seemingly landed on his feet as a partner at White & Case. But he was a full equity partner at Dewey, Ballantine and Dewey & LeBoeuf. At White & Case, he was demoted to nonequity or “service” partner — a practice now so widespread it has a name, “de-equitization.”


Nonequity partners like Mr. Owens are not really partners, but employees, since they do not share the risks and rewards of the firm’s practice. Service partners typically have no clients they can claim as their own and depend on rainmakers to feed them. In Mr. Owens’s case, his mentor and protector has long been Morton A. Pierce, a noted mergers and acquisitions specialist and prodigious rainmaker whom Mr. Owens followed from the former Reid & Priest to Dewey, Ballantine to Dewey & LeBoeuf and then to White & Case.


“It’s sad to hear about this fellow, but he’s not alone in being in jeopardy,” said Thomas S. Clay, an expert on law firm management and a principal at the consulting firm Altman Weil, which advises many large law firms.


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Continue reading here.


January 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)