Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mental Health Needs of Online Students

Bonnie Blair (Creighton) has written an article on identifying and addressing the mental health needs of online students. It is easy to see the difficulties of reaching out to an online student as well as the ways that a trouble student can ruin an online discussion. Here is an abbreviated summary of the steps she recommends for addressing the issue:

  1. Pre-enrollment services: On the web-pages describing online programs and courses, self-assessment tools can be posted for students to evaluate their readiness for online programs. This "front-end" focus on the personality characteristics and work habits necessary for online academic success can possibly assist in preventing problems after admission and enrollment
  2. Mental Health Education: Provide links to articles on issues common to college students (e.g. stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse)
  3. Crisis Services: Prominently display phone numbers for crisis and/or suicide hotlines (See Appendix).
  4. Self-help Services: Provide access to tools for self-evaluation, with accompanying articles on strategies for coping with common mental health issues.
  5. Referral to disability services: Provide links to the institution's office for students with disabilities.
  6. Counseling services: Provide links to the campus counseling center and clearly state what services are/are not available to distance students.

You can read the full article here.


August 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 8, 2014

“The Economist” Compares Higher Education with Newspapers

In a recent issue of “The Economist,” the writer sees a bleak future for most of higher education and makes a comparison with the newspaper industry:

Were the market for higher education to perform in future as that for newspapers has done over the past decade or two, universities’ revenues would fall by more than half, employment in the industry would drop by nearly 30% and more than 700 institutions would shut their doors. The rest would need to reinvent themselves to survive.

You can read the full article here.


August 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Achieving the new ABA accreditation mandate that law schools focus on student outcomes

The ABA House of Delegates is presently considering "sweeping reforms" to law school accreditation standards including a new focus on student learning outcomes and assessments.  In this manuscript recently posted on SSRN entitled Achieving the American Bar Association's Pedagogy Mandate:  Empowerment in the Midst of a Perfect Storm, Professor Cara Cunningham Warren (Detroit) discusses ways law professors schools can achieve this new "pedagogical mandate" based on a teaching  effectiveness framework established by the National Research Council of the National Academies.  From the abstract:

Ironically, successful implementation remains an open question, in part because of the traditional nature of the academy and its resistance to change, and in part because law schools may be ill-equipped to respond as a result of the crisis. 

This article seeks to change the dynamic. It begins by putting the 2014 Standards into historical context and explaining their impact on legal education. The author then moves to discuss full achievement of the mandate. First, law schools are encouraged to overcome their resistance to pedagogical innovation and to embrace the mandate and its benefits. 

At the same time, this article seeks to empower law professors to be a driving force for change. More specifically, under the ABA’s new “outcomes” approach, professors are expected to create meaningful learning opportunities for students and to assess and improve the effectiveness of those experiences. To assist law professors in this regard, the author introduces a teaching effectiveness framework that was created by experts in education from the National Research Council of the National Academies and adapts it for use in legal education. 

The legal community has relied on the NRC’s expertise for decades, in a wide range of fields, but the author believes this is the first time NRC expertise has been brought to bear in this context. The NRC is credited for its ability to bring the legal and scientific communities together and to make scientific theories accessible. In this way, the framework is a useful tool for law professors, especially those who are trained attorneys rather than certified educators, and improves the current state of our pedagogy scholarship by placing existing assessment and learning outcomes work in the broader context of modern learning theory and instructional design.


August 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Design Studio Approach to Legal Education

Shared Visions of Design and Law in Professional Education by Cody Thornton.


Two pressures are pushing law schools into new realms of teaching: the need to evolve beyond the Langdellian case method to transfer lawyering skills combined with a contraction in enrollment and revenue. Introspection and ad hoc solutions have failed to bring large-scale change at the right price.

The academy has long considered adapting other professions’ programs, such as medicine and business, but these changes would require a fundamental restructuring of legal academia, and perhaps part of the legal profession itself. The design professions, however, offer a more evolutionary option.

This article reintroduces the legal academy to the learning environment of professional designers: the contemporary studio. Studio courses could provide the balance of theory and practice that the academy and the profession now seek.

Law and design share creative problem-solving methods. Urban planners, landscape architects, engineers, architects, industrial designers, and lawyers all have the power to liberate people and to intervene in systemic problems by removing barriers and shifting resources. Yet the professions teach their crafts in vastly different ways.

The intensive and powerful studio environment teaches students to create and communicate solutions to complex problems. The primary value of a legal studio would be to release students’ creativity within both the practical and the theoretical realms. The studio inherently fosters almost all of the core lawyering skills and should appeal to social justice activists as much as transactional gurus; a studio could, in fact, ask students to engage in both conversations.

For law schools that want to engage students in self-exploration and creativity in a safe zone before they step into a world of obstacles, the studio is an excellent option. Conceptually, the “legal studio” approach would fall between a clinic and a seminar, with elements of simulations, skills courses, and other teaching variations. The method would allow students to explore, without harm to clients or the students’ own careers. In this setting, professors and students could work together to expand scholarship, to reconnect practicing lawyers to law schools, to practice on an academic schedule (not that of the courts), and to help fund the education received.

August 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senator Walsh’s Plagiarism

The media has widely reported that Senator Walsh plagiarized much of his Master’s thesis at the prestigious Army War College. It has not focused on one curious fact—the thesis was all of 14 pages long. This shockingly short length suggests that Senator Walsh and his fellow students viewed the assignment as inconsequential and did not take it seriously—hence the temptation to plagiarize. It also may have decreased their respect for the course of study and the institution.

The episode supports one of my explanations for much of academic dishonesty, at least at the graduate and professional school level: The temptation to plagiarize grows strong when the student lacks respect for the assignment or for the professor. Giving makeweight assignments and acquiescing to disrespect encourages students to disregard their ethical sensibilities.

For an interesting take on this this incident, see Professor David Perry’s blog, “How Did We Get Into This Mess?” (here).


August 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

U.S. Patent Office expands clinical opportunities for law students

Back in 2008, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began a law student clinical program that provided students from six participating law schools with valuable externship experience.  This summer, the USPTO expanded the program to include nineteen more schools bringing the total participating institutions to forty-five.  Apparently there's a boom in patent work going on at the moment that's opened up some great opportunities for law students to get valuable practical experience with the patent office. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has more details:

Student Lawyers Get in on the Intellectual Property Boom

. . . . 


This summer the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office expanded its legal clinic programs—where supervised students practice intellectual property law before the USPTO—to include another 19 law schools, or 45 in all.


“Some of the schools just get flooded with requests for clients,” Will Covey, a USPTO deputy counsel, told Law Blog this week. “It gets the independent inventors the assistance they need… and students get to deal with real clients.”


Most students end up drafting and filing trademark and patent applications on behalf of inventors and small business owners who could not otherwise afford legal help. Law schools can participate in the patent or the trademark program; some do both (two of the “new” schools joining this year already participate in one or the other).


The program was set up in 2008, when six law schools participated, and accelerated after the 2011 passage of the America Invents Act, which encourage the development of pro bono programs.


Mr. Covey said it’s popular among students looking to improve their post-graduate employment prospects.


“Students contact me and say, ‘Hey, how come my school’s not in it?’” he said. “I’m hearing from the law schools that they will have three or four applications for every seat they have in the clinic.”

To make the cut for the program, a law school must have a strong IP curriculum and the ability to serve pro bono clients, as well as some sort of case management system to ensure no deadlines are missed.


. . . .

Continue reading here.


August 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hamlet’s Advice on Oral Presentations

Hamlet, (3.2.1-36) Well, actually, Hamlet’s advice to the actors in the “play-within-the-play”—most of it is good advice for modern lawyers. Here is a video. And here is the text:

Hamlet: Speak the speech I pray   you as I pronounced it to you,

trippingly on the tongue;   but if you mouth it as many of your players

do, I had as lief the   town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the

air too much with your hand   thus, but use all gently; for in the

very torrent, tempest, and,   as I may say, whirlwind of your passion,

you must acquire and beget   a temperance that may give it

smoothness. Oh, it offends   me to the soul to hear a robustious

periwig-pated fellow tear a   passion to tatters, to very rags, to split

the ears of the   groundlings, who for the most part are capable of

nothing but inexplicable   dumb-shows and noise. I would have such

a fellow whipped for   o'erdoing Termagant — it out-Herods Herod.

Pray you avoid it.

First Player: I warrant your honour.

Hamlet: Be not too tame neither,   but let your own discretion be your

tutor. Suit the action to   the word, the word to the action, with this

special observance, that   you o'erstep not the modesty of nature. For

anything so o'erdone is   from the purpose of playing, whose end both

at the first and now, was   and is, to hold as 'twere, the mirror up

to nature; to show virtue   her own feature, scorn her own image,

and the very age and body   of the time his form and pressure. Now

this overdone, or come   tardy off, though it make the unskilful

laugh, cannot but make the   judicious grieve, the censure of the

which one must in your   allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of

others. Oh, there be   players that I have seen play, and heard others

praise and that highly, not   to speak it profanely, that neither having

the accent of Christians   nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man,

have so strutted and   bellowed that I have thought some of nature's

journeymen had made men,   and not made them well, they imitated

humanity so abominably.

First Player: I hope we have reformed   that indifferently with us, sir.

Hamlet: Oh reform it altogether.   And let those that play your clowns

speak no more than is set   down for them, for there be of them that

will themselves laugh, to   set on some quantity of barren spectators

to laugh too, though in the   meantime some necessary question of

the play be then to be   considered. That's villainous, and shows

a most pitiful ambition in   the fool that uses it. Go make you ready.



August 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Legal sector losses 200 jobs in July

After gaining 900 jobs in June (revised downward by 300 jobs from the last report), the legal sector reversed course again - this time losing 200 jobs in July.  The American Lawyer has more details.

Summertime Blues: 200 Legal Sector Jobs Erased in July


The legal sector shed 200 jobs in July, offsetting gains from the previous month, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The revised data for June’s legal sector jobs in the latest BLS report shows the industry adding 900 jobs that month, which is 300 less than what was previously reported.


So far, the legal sector has witnessed a loss of 800 jobs since the beginning of 2014, hitting the second-lowest point of the year. Still, compared with the same time last year, the legal sector has gained 3,900 jobs, currently employing almost 1.136 million people.


. . . .

Continue reading here.


August 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kentucky U Prez Takes Pay Cut to Raise Employees’ Salaries

From Education Dive:

  • Kentucky State University Interim President Raymond Burse asked for his pay to be cut about $90,000 so 24 employees could be paid more.
  • The employees in question were among the lowest paid at KSU, with some making as little as $7.25 an hour.
  • Burse's salary will now stand at $259,744, compared to the $349,869 that the Board of Regents initially intended to pay him "in recognition of his skills, talents and ability,"      according to Chairwoman Karen Bearden.

You can read more here. We need more executives like him.


August 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple’s iWatch: Coming Soon?

Rumor has it that Apple will be releasing its iWatch in October. From MacRumors:

Though we don't know exactly what the iWatch will look like, at least one model is expected to include a durable sapphire crystal display, produced in collaboration with Apple partner GT Advanced. Apple and GT Advanced recently signed a deal that will see the latter producing large quantities of sapphire crystal for use in various Apple products.

While the iWatch will perform some tasks independently, it will be dependent on a compatible iOS device for functions like receiving messages, voice calls, and notifications. It is also expected to feature wireless charging capabilities, advanced mapping abilities, and possibly NFC integration.

Along with serving as a companion device to the iPhone and iPad, the iWatch will be able to measure multiple different health-related metrics like steps taken, calories burned, sleep quality, heart rate, and more. The iWatch is said to include 10 different sensors to track health and fitness, providing an overall picture of health and making the health-tracking experience more accessible to the general public.

You can read more here.


August 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Improving Legal Ethics and Professionalism Through Better Decision-Making

How Wrap and Mindfulness Can Improve Legal Ethics and Professionalism by Peter H. Huang.


Lawyers who behave unethically and unprofessionally do so for a variety of reasons, ranging from intention to carelessness. Lawyer misconduct can also follow from flaws in how lawyers make decisions. Psychologist Chip Heath and his brother Dan Heath, in their best-selling book, Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work, suggest a process to help improve people’s decision-making. They introduce the acronym WRAP as the mnemonic for these decision-making heuristics: (1) Widen your options, (2) Reality-test your assumptions, (3) Attain distance before deciding, and (4) Prepare to be wrong. The WRAP process mitigates these cognitive biases: (1) narrow framing of a decision problem, (2) confirmation bias of seeking only supportive information, (3) temptation of short-term emotions, and (4) overconfidence in your ability to predict the future. This Article applies the WRAP process to analyze how lawyers can improve their ethical and professional decision-making. This Article also offers primers about mindfulness and real options in order to apply real options theory to analyze the value of mindfulness in improving legal ethical and professional decision-making. This Article develops eight properties about the value of the real option to engage in unethical or unprofessional behavior that mindfulness provides its practitioner. This Article is novel in being the first article to apply real options theory from modern financial economics to analyze the value of mindfulness. Finally, this Article analyzes some of the interrelationships among the WRAP process, mindfulness, and positive psychology. By explaining how mindfulness and the WRAP process are related, this Article also connects mindfulness with behavioral economics.

August 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 4, 2014

ABA will vote this week on sweeping accreditation reforms including mandatory legal skills training

This week the ABA House of Delegates will vote on major changes to law school accreditation standards that include, among other provisions, a requirement that every graduate complete a minimum of six credit hours of "experiential learning."  Should it be approved, that requirement can be satisfied through clinical coursework, externships or other practice simulation courses. At present, the ABA only requires law schools to provide a single credit hour of "experiential" coursework for a student to graduate.  The National Law Journal has more details:

Legal Education Due For a Makeover

ABA's House of Delegates prepares to vote on a sweeping revision of its accreditation standards.

To protect their accreditation, law schools will be under pressure to more closely assess student achievement and provide students with more practical skills training under a slate of legal education reforms headed for final consideration by the American Bar Association House of Delegates.


Faculty tenure would remain sacrosanct, and students still would be barred from earning both money and course credit for externships under draft standards headed for a vote by the delegates on Aug. 11.


"If there was a theme to what the comprehensive review accomplished, it moved legal education into a 21st century model in two ways," said Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen, who spent four years on the committee reviewing the standards. "One is by requiring schools to assess their achievement in student learning. The second is requiring more practical skills training."

. . . .


One of the most substantive proposed changes involves "student leaning outcomes." Each law school would define its mission — what it is attempting to teach — and would measure how well it succeeds. Administrators would have plenty of ­leeway in defining their learning goals, but would now be judged less on the nuts-and-bolts of running a law school and more on results of those efforts.


"I think the change to outcomes measures presents law schools with a real opportunity to define and present themselves differently and set goals and benchmarks for themselves," said Kate Kruse, director of clinics at Hamline University School of Law and past president of the Clinical Legal Education Association. "The door is really open to do things in a different way."


Second, every law graduate would have to complete a minimum of six credits of "experiential learning" — clinics, externships or simulation courses. Kruse's association unsuccessfully lobbied for 15 credits but has accepted the compromise. Right now, the requirement is a single hour's credit.

 . . . .

Continue reading here.


August 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Renewing Ourselves and Avoiding Burnout

At the Teachers College Record, Eleanor Drago-Severson reports on her study of how school principals renew themselves and avoid burnout. Her study applies to us as well.

 The following list details their renewal strategies (in order of most common and most emphasized in interviews to least). Interestingly, and importantly, most of the supports were strategies they employed to support themselves and not supports provided by others. 


Spending time with family and friends


Reading independently and/or participating in book groups


Dialoguing with school board members, trustees, and/or school site council members


Carving out time for reflection and retreats


Attending conferences, delivering talks, and speaking with other principals at conferences


Learning through formal programs and fellowships


Using some portion of the summer to get away from school


Talking with mentors and mentoring aspiring or current principals


Connecting with universities and principal centers


Participating as a board member in professional organizations


Talking with and observing students






Appreciating art and music




Participating in reflective practice groups with principals


Watching television 

Professor Drago-Severson emphasizes the need to give school leaders more opportunities for reflective practices. Her article led me to realize that professional conferences are important reflective times for me. They give me the opportunity to talk with many friends and acquaintances who have the same interests and professional passions as I do. You can read the full article here.


August 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Glitch Prevents Applicants from Submitting Bar Exam Answers

From JD Journal:

A glitch in a popular system to upload bar exam answers and essays failed temporarily this week, according to Fox News and the Associated Press. This means that the students’ answers were not uploaded or sent to state websites.

The popular software platform is ExamSoft and it takes care of digital bar exam submissions for multiple states. The technical issues occurred on Tuesday of this week and caused many graduates to have issues completing their exams, which are required to practice law.

Bar associations from 20 states had to extend their submission deadlines due to the glitch.

The testing session on Tuesday was held for the essay portion of the two-day exam and it takes six hours to finish. There were some test takers who said it took the same amount of time to submit their completed tests.

You can read more here.


August 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The New York Times on law schools reinventing the curriculum

There's an interesting editorial in today's New York Times about the steps some schools are taking to reinvent the traditional law school curriculum after the first year.  Among the examples is a program at Michigan State (here, here and here) that teaches students to think more like a businessman to better service that kind of client as well as helping students develop entrepreneurial skills to compete against more traditional legal service providers like law firms. Other programs profiled include one at U. Colorado called Tech Law Accelerator, a summer bootcamp designed to teach students

'[A]ll of the things they don’t teach you in law school and they don’t teach in law firms but which you need to be effective in today’s world.' Students are brought up to speed on tech tools designed to make legal services more efficient. They hear lectures from companies like Adobe and NetApp. After the four weeks, they spend the rest of the summer, or even the following semester, working directly for a company.

Northwestern Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez mentions the curricular reforms at his school designed to prepare students for a more competitive legal marketplace including the expansion of practical training through clinical offerings and leveraging business and technology expertise among the faculty to teach students about “the law/business/technology interface.”

You can check out the full editorial here - it's definitely worth a read.

For a different view about these types law school reforms, check out this post by Professor Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns & Money who is skeptical that law schools can achieve better employment outcomes for students by re-making the curriculum to look more like an MBA program.


August 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

College Prez Lists Leadership and Management Principles

Scott Scarborough, the new president of the University of Akron, is requiring senior administrators to follow his set of principles. Among other things, he includes a list of “Mistakes/Problems":

• Failing to work hard.

• Failing to serve others with an attitude of humility.

• Failing to pick up trash.

• Having a personal agenda incongruent with the organization’s agenda.

• A breach of confidentiality.

• A breach of honesty or trust.

• Losing one’s cool.

• Having a persistently negative attitude.

• Taking issues personally.

• Being territorial.

• Putting the needs of a unit ahead of the needs of the institution.

• Failing to support or help a team member.

• Failing to acknowledge one’s own weaknesses and the compensating strengths of

diverse team members.

• Failing to maintain an orderly and clean work environment.

• Acceptance of mediocrity within one’s area of responsibility.

• Wasting money or other resources.

• Being late to meetings.

• Missing agreed-upon deadlines.

• Failing to hire people who are smarter than you.

• The inability to keep things simple.

• Overspending one’s budget.

• An unwillingness to try new things.

• The inability to answer a question directly and succinctly.

• Not doing what you say you will do.

• Using external stakeholders or students to leverage positions of self-interest.

• Lacking courage to tell people what they need to hear—not what they want to


• Using personal relationship(s) with board member(s) to pursue a personal agenda.

• Failing to put students first.

You cn read the rest of President Scarborough’s principles here.


August 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A new blog on "therapeutic justice in the mainstream"

That's the name of the blog - Therapeutic Justice in the Mainstream  - it will be publishing short, interesting and readable posts on a range of topics related to therapeutic justice for judges, academics, professionals and students (in law, psychology, criminology, social work, etc.) as well as court managers/staff and court support workers.   

The blog is an initiative of the International Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Mainstream project (coordinated by Magistrate Pauline Spencer (Victoria, Australia), The Honorable (ret.) Mike Jones (Arizona) and Professor David Wexler (U. Arizona & U. Puerto Rico)) - the team that launched the project last year as part of the Hague Innovating Justice platform.

Hat tip to Professor David Wexler.


August 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academic Libraries and the Future

Portal, the electronic journal of the Johns Hopkins University Press, is publishing a series of articles on academic libraries and the librarian as futurist. Here are the articles:

We Can Imagine the Future, But Are We Equipped to Create?
By: By: Damon E. Jaggars

The University as a Fully Integrated and Distributed Platform: A Vision
By: By: Johanna Drucker

Imagine! On the Future of Teaching and Learning and the Academic Research Library
By: By: Kelly E. Miller

Start a New Fire: Measuring the Value of Academic Libraries in Undergraduate Learning
By: By: Frank Menchaca

Staying True to the Core: Designing the Future Academic Library Experience
By: By: Steven J. Bell14.3bell.pdf

Reenvisioning Teaching and Learning: Opportunities for Campus IT
By: By: Malcolm Brown

Collection Directions: Some Reflections on the Future of Library Collections and Collecting
By: By: Lorcan Dempsey, Constance Malpas, and Brian Lavoie

Access to Everything: Building the Future Academic Library Collection
By: By: Michael Levine-Clark

Diversity, Social Justice, and the Future of Libraries
By: By: Myrna Morales, Em Claire Knowles, and Chris Bourg

Librarian as Futurist: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future
By: By: Brian Mathews14.3matthews.pdf


August 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tips from "The Careerist" on getting that law firm interview this fall

Since OCI is just around the corner, rising 2Ls and 3Ls should check out this column from Vivia Chen at The Careerist (via The American Lawyer) on advice for asking about jobs interviews from law firms.  Before compiling her list of tips, Ms. Chen spoke with a recruiter at an "Am Law 100" firm who disclosed some pet peeves that can keep you from getting that key interview.  There are the obvious ones you should already be thinking about like proofing the bejesus out of your cover letter and resume to banish typos.  But other tips may not be so intuitive like re-doing your voicemail message to make sure it sounds professional and includes your name since recruiters are reluctant to leave sensitive information about job interviews when they're not 100% sure if they've got the right number.  Go here to check out the other tips you'll want to follow to avoid the mistakes that can take you out of the job hunt this fall. 


August 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bill Gates’ Favorite Book

And also Warren Buffett’s. It’s John Brooks'Business Adventures, “Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street.” Here is a review from Slate.


August 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)