Thursday, July 31, 2014
How to Prepare for Class by Aaron H. Caplan.
Kaplan Test Prep survey finds that "pre-law" students care more about school rankings than ability to pay
A new Kaplan survey* of over 600 pre-law students finds that a law school’s ranking continues to factor significantly into their decision where to enroll – in many cases, even more than financial aid and ability to pay. When asked which law school admissions scenario they’d prefer to be in, Kaplan found the following:
- Mid-Tier School, Some Aid: A plurality (46%) of those surveyed said they’d rather be accepted by a mid-tier law school, where they’d receive a half-scholarship.
- Top-Tier Law School, Zero Aid: 39% said they’d prefer to be accepted by a top tier law school, where’d they’d receive no financial aid at all.
- Lower-Tier Law School, Full Aid: Just 16% said they’d prefer to be accepted by a lower ranked law school and receive a full ride scholarship.
According to American Bar Association data, in 2013, average tuition at a public law school was $23,879 per year for in-state residents and $36,859 per year for non-state residents. The average tuition at private law schools was significantly more, at $41,984 per year. While average tuition spiked over 2012, it’s notable that the percentage increases for both public and private law schools were at their lowest rates in 30 years. And recently, a number of schools like Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law and Brooklyn Law School announced they are actually cutting tuition.
“Pre-law students see rankings as part of the overall financial equation when investing in a law degree, as it can impact their earnings and career potential. Statistics show that generally the higher a law school is ranked, the higher a graduate’s starting salary and career opportunities are**. In fact there’s a huge earnings gap between lawyers who graduated from top tier law schools and lawyers who graduated from law schools that are considered lower tier,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan. “By saying they’d choose a top-tier law school where they may have to pay more instead of opting for a free ride with a lower-tier school, pre-law students are making a calculated investment in longer term gain. We continue to tell pre-law students that rank and cost are but two of several important factors they should consider when deciding where to apply and enroll. Applicants should seek out programs that are the best overall ‘fit’ for their academic, professional, financial, and lifestyle goals and needs.”
*The e-survey included responses from 637 pre-law students who took a Kaplan LSAT course and sat for the June 2014 administration of the LSAT.
Here is a summary from the Disciplinary Committee of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania:
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to end its practice of “flagging,” or identifying LSAT score reports for test takers who receive extended time as an accommodation for disabilities. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing brought suit in 2012 on behalf of 17 individuals with disabilities who alleged they were subjected to cumbersome and unreasonable requirements to document their disabilities after requesting LSAT accommodations, including an LSAC request for information about any medications they might be taking. The Department of Justice intervened in support of the plaintiffs. The LSAC did not admit wrongdoing or liability, but decided to settle the matter in the best interests of participating law schools and prospective students.
I find it puzzling that LSAC was ever flagging these test scores.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
These tips come from Hilary Mantis, director of Fordham's pre-law program and author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers, via National Jurist Magazine. Though summer programs will be winding down shortly, Ms. Mantis's advice applies to all working law students and new grads.
- Initiate a project
- Get out of the office and attend events
- Limit your time on social media
- Ask for more work if you're not busy
- Be in early, stay late, and be nice to all
Read the full advice column here.
A reminder comes from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania:
The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (CRD), has taken the position that attorney licensing agencies may not ask applicants whether they have been diagnosed or treated for any mental health disorders. In a letter dated February 5, 2014, Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General, informed the Supreme Court of Louisiana, its Committee on Bar Admissions, and the Louisiana Chief Disciplinary Counsel that four questions on its character and fitness application relating to diagnosis of mental health or substance abuse issues violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12132 et seq. The questions are based on the Standard Character and Fitness Application published by the National Council of Bar Examiners. The CRD noted that 25 states use the NCBE questions. Pennsylvania is not one of those states.
The CRD found that the applications process violates the law by using “eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals with disabilities based on stereotypes and assumptions about the disabilities and are not necessary to assess applicants’ fitness to practice.” The CRD identified six issues created by the process:
- discriminatory inquiries regarding bar applicants’ mental health diagnoses and treatment;
- bar applicants subject to burdensome supplemental investigations triggered by their mental health status or treatment;
- discriminatory admissions recommendations based on stereotypes of persons with disabilities;
- additional financial burdens on people with disabilities;
- inadequate confidentiality protections during the admissions process; and
- adverse conditions on admission based on individuals’ mental health diagnoses or treatment.
The CRD recommended several steps, including changing or eliminating the questions, amending admission rules to consider only conduct and not mental diagnosis or treatment, ending conditions attached to the admission to current members who do not have conduct-related issues, expunging documents and records related to such cases, and monetary damages to individuals who were subjected to discrimination during the bar admissions process.
The letter does not represent a final or enforceable decision, but rather is a step in a process of negotiation and remediation by which the parties hope to resolve the issue.
In the past, I have questioned the continuing existence of student-edited law reviews. They are expensive to publish, and they use time that students could be using on more relevant tasks. C. Steven Bradford also recently questioned the value of law reviews on the Business Law Prof Blog. (here)
Professor Bradford asks, "So, in a world where articles are publicly available and read long before they appear in law reviews, what exactly is the value of law reviews? Most of their content is stale by the time it’s published."
1. "Law reviews certainly don’t do much to filter 'unworthy' publications. Law reviews have proliferated to the point that almost anything can be published in a law review somewhere."
2. "The law review in which an article appears may signal the article’s quality; if so, that signal usually comes too late. By the time an article appears in print, I and many others have already decided whether to read it. And reading an article’s abstract and introduction usually provides a much better sense of its quality than the journal name attached to it."
3. "Law reviews provide editing, but, in my experience, that editing is as likely to reduce the quality of an article as to improve it."
4. "Once articles are published in law reviews, they’re available on Westlaw and Lexis, and thus more broadly accessible. But there’s no reason why availability needs to be tied to law review publication."
5. "I see little value in educating students in the fine minutiae of Bluebook citation form, and most actual editing is done by students with little or no professional instruction or supervision. Advanced courses in writing, editing, and legal research could provide better instruction more efficiently."
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
These four tips come from Above the Law's "Beyond Biglaw" column by Gasten Kroub, a founding partner at the IP boutique firm of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov PLLC in NYC. Mr. Kroub's tips for composing better emails boil down to the following:
- Make sure your emails are "readable" not only in terms of syntax but also as to form.
- Make sure your subject line is clear and conveys something of value to the reader.
- If you're sending an attachment, make sure you've actually attached it (who among us hasn't made that mistake?).
- Put some thought into how you end your message for those emails going to either clients and partners, make sure you include your mobile number so they can follow up if need be.
Head over to ATL to read the full edition of Mr. Kroub's tips for writing better emails here.
National Jurist has published its list of best value law schools. What were its criteria?:
The National Jurist looks at a number of academic and financial variables, including the law school's price of tuition, student debt accumulation, employment success, bar passage rate and cost of living. Employment is given the greatest weight — 35 percent — because of the recent woes in hiring.
This year's list shows it's still possible for students to graduate with under $100,000 in debt and land a job. (!!! Ed.)
You can access the listing here. The journal does not detail how it weighted its criteria.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Here is the job announcement:
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CLINIC FACULTY POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a full-time faculty position at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Clinical Professor to teach in and direct the School’s Environmental Law Clinic. While this position is not in the tenure stream, it is part of a system of contracts progressing to renewable long-term contracts. The position will begin on July 1, 2015.
The mission of the Environmental Law Clinic is to serve the educational needs of our students and the needs of individuals, community groups, and conservation organizations, particularly those in Western Pennsylvania, for legal services relating to environmental issues. Funding for the Clinic is provided by an endowment from the Howard and Vira I. Heinz Endowments. Duties of the Clinical Professor include classroom teaching, including the possibility of teaching doctrinal courses; supervision of second- and third-year law students as they represent clients and participate in community projects; participation in activities related to the School of Law’s Environmental Law Concentration; administrative duties relating to the Environmental Law Clinic; community outreach and fundraising; and participation in faculty governance of the School of Law. The Environmental Law Clinic was founded in 2000. The candidate hired for the position will have the opportunity to shape the future direction of the Clinic.
Qualifications include admission to practice in Pennsylvania or willingness to seek admission to the Pennsylvania bar; substantial experience in the field of environmental law and, preferably, clinical pedagogy; excellent supervisory and communication skills; the ability to work effectively with students, clients, and other constituents; and an interest in developing clinical experiences for students in the Environmental Law Clinic within a community that supports interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative teaching opportunities.
To apply, please submit a letter of interest, resume, and list of two or three references to Professor Ben Bratman, Chair, Clinical Appointments Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write “Environmental Law Clinic Application” in the subject line of the email. The deadline for applications is September 4, 2014.
The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost.
Small alterations in phrases can cause changes in meaning. Take a language more nuanced than our own—Italian. Here are 100 ways to say “I love you” in Italian, from Italian.about.com For starters, here are five:
Ti amo! (I love you!)
Ti voglio bene. (I love you a lot.)
Ti voglio molto bene. (I love you very much.)
Mi piaci molto. (I really like you.)
Ti adoro. (I adore you.)
There have been several articles recently on the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law's success in recruiting students. (here, here, here) While the school expected about 350 applications, it received over 600, and approximately 140 students have enrolled with about a month to go before classes start. This success is probably due to the low in-state tuition and fees: $14,540 a year. Notably, the school does not give merit scholarships to attract students with high LSATs and GPAs. Such scholarships have been harshly criticized by several studies and commentators, including on this blog. (e.g., here, here, here)
What impresses me most about this law school is its commitment to skills training. Last summer, I had a long phone conversation with North Texas's associate dean, Ellen Pryor. She had been calling legal education experts throughout the country to get their views on how her school could use the lessons of recent legal education scholarship.
The school seems dedicated to following the lessons of legal education reform. The message from the dean, Royal Furgeson, states:
"Our goal is to be a teaching law school, concentrating on student learning, but with a different vision of what that means. For one thing, in the first year and beyond, your courses will include periodic feedback and assessments during the course, not the usual single test at the end of each semester. This will help you know how well you are learning the material, and how to improve. It also will help us monitor how effectively we are teaching. We don’t want anyone to fall behind if we can prevent it." (here)
"Another goal is for you to spend as much time as possible "doing" law, and not just studying law. Most of our upper level courses will have a "lab" component in which you will apply the subject matter of the course through activities that law practice involves. We also will have opportunities for you to work with and be mentored by practicing lawyers."
The chancellor, Lee Jackson writes:
"It’s a good time to discuss how to balance the two factors—conceptual analysis and practical skills—that are required to practice law for the benefit of society. And we’re committed to an innovative curriculum that will stress rigorous analysis of the principles and precedents that form our legal system, with an equal commitment to the practical application of that knowledge. We want to produce graduates who are ready to apply their skills after hands-on experience in the real world of legal practice." (here)
Elsewhere, the website states:
"We offer an innovative approach to legal education.
We are a new law school, with a fresh emphasis on learning by doing. We utilize the best instructional practices, offer engaged, experiential and collaborative learning, and provide ongoing assessment for our students. Since sound legal judgment is cultivated by experience, we give you ample opportunities to do real law. Most of our upper level courses include a “lab” component that applies the subject matter while developing practical competencies. And our students actively participate in practice settings while receiving mentoring and guidance." (here)
See here for their curriculum plan, which includes mapping--"individual courses and the curriculum as a whole will be designed in a way that links to the full range of practice-related competencies."
I look forward to watching how this law school develops in its early years. At this point, it is clear that it has a plan to meet the challenges of 21st-century legal education. Good luck to the administration and faculty of North Texas.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Several attorneys interviewed for this article point out that because of the large number of lawyers in Florida, a figure that has grown from 60,900 in 2000 to 96,511 today, many are working harder for less money. A survey administered last year by the Florida bar confirms this with nearly half of the respondents indicating that the biggest problem facing the legal profession today is the glut of lawyers which has caused nearly 25% of them to "adjust" their fees. Most respondents also said they do not expect things to get better anytime soon despite the plummet in law school applications over the past few years. An excerpt:
. . . .
Does Florida have too many lawyers?
Since 2000, the number of licensed attorneys in the state has swollen to 96,511 from 60,900. During the same period, five new law schools have opened, cranking out even more lawyers to join those bemoaning the diminished rewards of their chosen career.
“Now it seems you work harder to make half of what you did in 1998,” said Angela Wright, a Tampa criminal-defense lawyer. “The economy is a reason, but also the fact there are a whole lot more attorneys.”
Almost half of the lawyers responding to a Florida Bar survey last year cited “too many attorneys” as the most serious problem facing the legal profession today. That exceeded even “difficult economic times” and “poor public perception,” which many blamed in part on relentless TV advertising such as that by big personal-injury firms.
The same survey found that 25 percent of lawyers in private practice had “adjusted” their fees. Half said they didn’t expect things to get better anytime soon.
Of course lower legal fees are good news for those who need legal services. And some big corporate law firms are hiring again.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
- Don't Panic! Ten Tips For Surviving The Bar Exam
- Some Last-Minute Bar Exam Tips
- Final Preparations For The Bar Exam
- How To Write A Bar Exam Essay
- The Anxiety That Precedes The Bar Exam
Check out the full list of linked articles here.
Friday, July 25, 2014
This article addresses the implications of the results of a survey of alumni in which they identify the research and writing skills they use in practice. Comparisons are drawn to other similar survey results. The author draws conclusions regarding techniques to be used in teaching research and writing skills based on the survey results. This article should be helpful to those who are interested in pursuing data on their own alumni, a practice encouraged by the article. Moreover, the article should be helpful for those teaching research and writing because there are implications from the findings that may inform how research and writing skills are taught. Finally, this article will add to the discussion within the legal academy about the extent to which the law school curriculum should prepare students for the practice of law.
The American Bar Foundation is conducting a survey of young lawyers over their first 12 post-law school year. Here are some preliminary findings:
- The most powerful partners in law firms control most of the allocation of work assignments and hours to associates. White males remain dominant in these roles and tend to favor other white males in allocation.
- The proportion of women and people of color among a law firm’s partners has a greater impact on hiring, retention and promotion than the presence of formal mentoring programs.
- Appeals to legal mandates for diversity can be more influential than appeals to the business rationale among managers.
- Compared to their white counterparts, lawyers of color face considerable hurdles in acquiring new jobs in the event of firm dissolution.
- Attorneys of color are more likely to stay at law firms when they receive effective mentoring and socialize with partners.
You can read more here.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Charts and diagrams help students understand analysis and synthesis. Here is a useful diagraming method.
The Case Grid: A Tool for Analogical Reasoning by John F. Murphy.
The case grid allows a writer to easily identify similarities and differences between several precedent cases, and between the precedent cases and the facts of the “client” case (the case being analyzed, argued, or decided). These similarities and distinctions form the basis of analogical reasoning. Analogical reasoning — the process of predicting or arguing the outcome of a client case based on its factual similarities to and differences from precedent cases — is in turn a fundamental characteristic of brief-writing and opinion-writing. Because the case grid facilitates analogical reasoning, it deserves a place in every appellate advocate’s — and appellate judge’s — writing toolbox."
The Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers project (and here) has created a versatile new interactive tool called Law Jobs: By The Numbers that lets users calculate the post-graduate employment rate for every law school reporting employment data to the ABA. It allows users to calculate those employment rates based on several criteria such as "bar passage required" versus "JD advantage." Users can also exclude school-funded jobs and grads who go solo to give a more accurate picture of how many students actually get hired after graduation. The calculator uses the employment data collected by the ABA by way of its annual law school questionnaire. Another feature lets users review the employment rates for each school, or compare rates between schools, based on formulas used by other organizations and ranking bodies like the National Association for Law Placement, U.S. News & World Report, the Law School Transparency project, Above The Law and National Jurist Magazine.
Definitely check it out here.
On this 3:17 minute video, Father Guido Sarducci explains the 5 minute university—what the college student remembers five years after graduating requires only 5 minutes of education. At the end of the video, he speculates on the one minute law school.
You can view the video here.