Friday, October 24, 2014
This is a tough time for the legal profession. Law firm revenue is mostly stagnant. Law school enrollment is down to 1975 levels. Jobs for recent law graduates are scarce by historical standards. Just 55% of law school graduates of the Class of 2011 had a law-related job nine months after graduation. The legal profession lost 1,000 jobs between December 2012 and December 2013. For litigators, the number of trials is shrinking'" About 97% of all civil cases settle. In 2009, only 1.7% of all federal court civil cases were tried by a jury. One might even question whether entry into the legal profession is worth it after considering the typical law graduate's indebtedness from student loans and the extremely difficult job market. Notwithstanding this dire picture, clients will still sue and bc sued, competent litigators of all kinds will still be needed, and the judicial system will not grind to a halt. Thus, this Article is directed to the hearty bunch of new law school graduates who will practice as litigators and their respective law schools. Both should want to increase the value of a law degree so that the litigators and trial lawyers of tomorrow can not only survive, but flourish, even in this difficult environment.
The fates of new law graduates and their law schools are intertwined and symbiotic. Law graduates want their alma maters to be highly ranked, helpful in job placement, have taught them practical skills, and have prepared them for their new careers. Law schools want to enroll qualified students, achieve high job-placement rates for their graduates, attract financial and other support from alumni and other donors, and enhance their prestige. The dual goals of both student and school have a common solution, especially when focusing on the preparation of new Iitigators: making the new graduate an attractive recruit and as "practice-ready" as possible upon entry into his or her first job. This Article will focus on the skills needed by the new litigator and what law schools can (and some would say must) do to achieve the respective objectives set forth above. By way of example, I will draw upon my teaching techniques and classroom activities in three classes that I have been teaching for several years at two different law schools as well as my experience teaching continuing legal education to lawyers for over thirty years.
Powell’s Books has published a listing of all this year’s book awards, ranging from the Pulitzer to the local and specialized book awards. You can access the listing here.
And here is AbeBooks’ list of 50 “must read” classics. In the comments following the list, many readers argue that the list leaves out their favorites.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
The LSAC website is reporting that the number of LSAT test-takers for the October exam is down 8.1% from last year - 30,943 this year versus 33,673 in October, 2013. As you may recall, the number of June test-takers was also down 9.15% from the year before - 21,803 compared to 23,997 the previous year which was a 14 year low for the June exam.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has a post about a new rankings list released by Payscale that rates law schools based on the salaries of mid-career graduates. The full rankings list available on the Payscale website lumps together the mid-career salaries of professionals from a full range of graduate programs including law, business, and PhD's. The data was collected by Payscale based on survey results from over 1.4 million college graduates. The full rankings list includes a search feature that lets you check schools by name. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has conveniently culled law schools from the masterlist to rank the top 10 law schools based on mid-career salaries (check it out here). Harvard tops the list with Emory and Santa Clara following though Yale, Stanford, U. Chicago and NYU, among other T14 schools are strangely absent from the top 10. As to the masterlist on the Payscale website, it's surprising to see - at least to me - that mid-career grads from lesser ranked schools are doing way better than their counterparts from the some of the most elite PhD programs in the nation. Of course the rankings reflect past performance and it remains to be seen whether law grads outside the top ranked schools will continue to earn more than, for example, STEM PhD's going forward.
I am a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina. I graduated in December 1979 with an M.A. in Music History. I had fine teachers such as Thomas Warburton, James Haar, and Howard Smither. However, today I am very ashamed of my school: very ashamed.
From the New York Post (here):
"More than 3,100 students — nearly half of them athletes — enrolled in classes they didn’t have to show up for and received artificially inflated grades in what an investigator called a 'shadow curriculum' that lasted nearly two decades at the University of North Carolina. The report released Wednesday by former high-ranking US Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein found more far-reaching academic fraud than previous investigations by the school and the NCAA."
"The report outlined courses in the former African and Afro-American studies department that required only a research paper that was often scanned quickly and given an A or B regardless of the quality of work." "The report outlined how the fraud ran unchecked for so long, as well as how faculty and administration officials missed or looked past red flags such as unusually high numbers of independent study course enrollments." "'By the mid-2000s, these classes had become a primary — if not the primary — way that struggling athletes kept themselves from having eligibility problems,' the report said."
"By 1999, in an apparent effort to work around the number of independent studies that students could take, Crowder began offering lecture classes that didn’t meet and were instead paper classes."
From the Washington Post (here): "Rich in numbers, the report cites 188 different 'lecture classes' and 'hundreds of independent studies and ‘paper classes,’ involving more than 3,100 students. It states that 47.4 percent of enrollments in 'lecture' paper classes were student-athletes, who comprise about 4 percent of the student population. While the average grade in a 'paper class' was a 3.62 compared with 3.28 in regular AFAM classes, the average grade of student-athletes above the norm was 3.55-2.84, according to the report."
My question is what will happen to the more than 3,100 students who participated in the academic fraud. Will their diplomas be revoked? Will they have to answer before an honor board, which is normal for students who participated in academic fraud? Will they be expelled from the University? Or, will they keep their fraudulent grades and diplomas? These questions must be answered before UNC can claim that it has moved beyond this massive scandal.
Many law schools have adopted innovative programs to provide their students with better educations. Legal Education in Transition: Trends and Their Implications by Sheldon Krantz and Michael A. Millemann discusses some of these programs.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Elon already has a "dean of experiential learning." Now the school has announced plans to launch the nation's first and only "residencies in practice of law" program starting next fall. Here are the details from the school's website followed by a short video in which Elon's Dean Luke Bierman describes generally the school's new experiential curriculum:
Hat tip to The National Law Journal.
Here’s fashion advice from Otto Sorts, professional curmudgeon (male-oriented advice):
- Buy good, well-made clothes. They do not have to be the most expensive, but spend the amount necessary. Investing in quality will be worth it in the way you look and feel — and they’ll last a whole lot longer than bargain items will. Any store with an in-house tailor to make modifications is a good bet.
- Take care of your clothes. Polish your shoes, clean and press your suits and ties. Replace the holey socks and scruffy belt.
- Don’t chase after the newest fashions. You are a lawyer, not a model parading down the runway at Fashion Week. If you like it, if it’s comfortable and flattering, who cares about the lapels or cuffs or vents? When you become a movie star, you can wear this year’s edgy style. Several of the suits I’ve worn have been in and out of style more times than I remember. At any given time, my medium-width ties have been either too thin or too wide. Which makes them just right.
- Wear what’s appropriate for the occasion. It’s not always appropriate to wear a suit and tie or a dress and blazer, but it’s sure inappropriate to be without it in court. You know your audience, so tailor your clothing to the occasion. Don’t be a prig, but don’t be a slob either.
You can read more here at Attorney at Work. Compare the advice that Polonius gives to his son Laertes:
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man
Monday, October 20, 2014
Here are the details:
14TH ANNUAL TRANSACTIONAL CLINICAL CONFERENCE
CALL FOR PROPOSALS, PAPERS, & PANELISTS
Teaching and Writing Methods of the Transactional Clinician
This year’s conference theme is Teaching and Writing Methods of the Transactional Clinician. The conference will have two tracks: (1) a “Nuts & Bolts” Teacher Workshop and (2) a “Pen & Paper” Scholarship Workshop. The Planning Committee seeks proposals for (1) presentations, (2) papers, and (3) panelists as outlined below.
1. “Nuts & Bolts” Teacher’s Workshop – Call for Proposals
How do you teach? The Planning Committee seeks proposals from presenters to share how they teach particular lawyering skills in transactional law clinics. We seek presentations that:
(i) Identify a lawyering skill or tool that the clinician teaches effectively;
(ii) Explain the clinician’s learning objectives with respect to the lawyering skill or tool,
(iii) Explain in detail how the clinician teaches this lawyering skill or tool; and
(iv) Share written and other materials (such as class handouts or videos) that will assist the conference audience members in adopting the discussed teaching method.
The Planning Committee seeks individual or group proposals. For individual presentations, we will put presenters together on panels based on the lawyering skill or tool presented. Proposals should describe the presentation using the tabulated outline above and be no longer than two pages. Please submit proposals to Susan Felstiner at firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15, 2014. Below are non-exclusive suggestions for presentation topics.
In the context of your transactional clinic, explain how you teach:
- Bootcamp / Orientation
- Client Interviewing
- Transactional Research
- Problem Solving & Legal Analysis
- Client Counseling
- Contract or Document Drafting
- Professional Skills such as Collaboration & Leadership
- Independent Learning & Reflective Lawyering
- Project Management / Transaction Planning
- Client-Centered Lawyering
- Incorporating and Using Technology in Practice
2. “Pen & Paper” Scholarship Workshop – Call for Papers
What are you writing? The Planning Committee seeks proposals from presenters to share works-in-progress. Any topic generally of interest to transactional clinicians is welcome, whether doctrinal, theoretical, empirical, normative, pedagogical, or interdisciplinary. The format of the works-in-progress panels will consist of “rocket panels” in which each presenter gives his or her “elevator pitch” of the work in progress, speaking for no more than 10 minutes. The presenters will then engage in Q&A with the audience.
Work-in-progress proposals should include a 2-page abstract of the work-in-progress and be submitted to Susan Felstiner at email@example.com by December 15, 2014.
3. Plenary Sessions – Call for Panelists
The Conference will hold two plenary sessions.
- The “Nuts & Bolts” Teaching Plenary invites panelists to work through a choice of entity hypothetical and present their teaching approaches to the audience. The hypothetical will involve a founder whose organization could be a nonprofit, a for-profit, or a hybrid entity. The hypothetical will be drafted by the Planning Committee and sent to the panelists at least two months prior to the conference. The panelists will then have the opportunity to work together or separately to answer the hypothetical and put together a presentation on how they would approach the problem and how they would teach the hypothetical to their students.
- The “Pen & Paper” Scholarship Plenary will focus on publication of scholarship by transactional law clinicians. Panelists will discuss: (i) how to decide what type of scholarship to write; (ii) writing strategies and written materials on how to write legal scholarship; (iii) where to publish and what audiences to reach; (iv) how scholarship impacts tenure and promotion; and (v) topical areas of growth in scholarship written by transactional clinicians.
If you have an interest in presenting on one of these two plenaries, please submit (i) a statement of interest (no more than one page) and (ii) your resume to Susan Felstiner at firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15, 2014.
Conference Date & Location
Friday, April 24, 2015
University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law (host)
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Kansas City, MO (host partner & location)
This year’s Transactional Clinical Conference will be held on Friday, April 24, 2015. The Pre-Conference Dinner will be held on Thursday, April 23. We hope to see you at both!
14th Annual Transactional Clinical Conference Planning Committee:
Michael Bressman (Vanderbilt)
Susan Felstiner (Lewis & Clark)
Tony Luppino (UMKC)
Alicia Plerhoples (Georgetown)
28 Harvard law professors, both present professors and emeritus professors, have criticized the university’s new policy, focusing primarily on its definition of sexual harassment and on its procedures for dealing with incidents. The professors cross the political spectrum. Here is a summary paragraph:
The goal must not be simply to go as far as possible in the direction of preventing anything that some might characterize as sexual harassment. The goal must instead be to fully address sexual harassment while at the same time protecting students against unfair and inappropriate discipline, honoring individual relationship autonomy, and maintaining the values of academic freedom. The law that the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have developed under Title IX and Title VII attempts to balance all these important interests. The university’s sexual harassment policy departs dramatically from these legal principles, jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.
You can read more here, from the Boston Globe.
Beg Borrow or Steal: Ten Lessons Law Schools Can Learn from Other Educational Programs in Evaluating Their Curriculum
While in the past, law schools have not had strong incentives to change, things may be different now. In our most recent economic times, tinkering with the law curriculum may have been a luxury. Now, many law schools are realizing that they are proverbially “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Law schools are seeking to change legal training -- not just incorporating more practical skills, but really thinking about doing business differently. That is a vast undertaking for legal faculties, many of whom are without direction other than their own experiences.
Our system of law is obviously known for its reliance on precedents. Legal education has modeled that through the years, taking a very “stare decisis” approach to our educational product. However, in the law, when a new case comes to a court which demonstrates that the law they have been faithfully applying for years is no longer serving its purpose, courts change course. But before inventing radical new courses on which to embark however, courts look to other jurisdictions or situations in which they might borrow a method or process and develop a new plan accordingly.
The time has come for legal education to do the same. The current crisis in legal education should be demonstrating to legal educators that their decisions should not stand. Legal educators should be looking at other programs in higher education, other programs turning out professionals, and those with years of experience studying education, as “persuasive authority” to help us determine what the right path is for legal education. While this article is not the first to suggest that other educational theories need to be incorporated into legal education, these ten suggestions, ‘begged, borrowed and stolen” from other areas of education should be considered by every institution as part of its new plan for legal education in the 21st Century.
"In short, legal education has for years imagined itself as a unique educational experience and made its own rules for how to do things well. The belief that training lawyers in a formal education setting is somehow different than other professional training or education has caused legal education to turn a blind eye to the improvements that have been made in higher education. Instead of moving forward in alignment with proven educational theories, law schools remain rooted in the past. Law schools would benefit from considering how other educational programs have studied teaching and learning."
"Reflection could be incorporated further into legal education by recognizing that course coverage should not be the only driving force in educational planning. When professors of foundational courses present at conferences on "different" ways they teach, including giving writing exercises and conducting practical simulations, a frequent question asked of them is 'but how do you cover all the material?' with the corresponding answer most frequently being 'I don’t.' Given that lawyering is a process of learning and many lawyers will admit that most of the substance they use in daily practice was learned on the job and not in the classroom, incorporating reflective behavior, resulting in deeper rather than wider coverage into the legal experience, could actually prepare students for better learning later in their career."
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014
According to the Princeton Review, here they are:
- Yale University – Law School (Acceptance Rate: 9%; Total Enrollment: 625)
- Stanford University – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 10%; Total Enrollment: 574)
- Harvard University (Acceptance Rate: 16%; Total Enrollment: 1,741)
- University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley Law (Acceptance Rate: 10%; Total Enrollment: 916)
- Duke University – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 19%; Total Enrollment: 629)
- University of Pennsylvania – Law School (Acceptance Rate: 17%; Total Enrollment: 786)
- University of Virginia – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 18%; Total Enrollment: 1,048)
- University of Chicago – Law School (Acceptance Rate: 20%; Total Enrollment: 612)
- Columbia University – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 21%; Total Enrollment: 1,250)
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 18%; Total Enrollment: 737
According to the Princeton Review, it surveyed 19,500 law students and administrators from 169 law schools. LSAT scores, enrollment rates, acceptance rates, and undergraduate GPAs of first year classes were also reviewed.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Thanks to the Lady (Legal) Writer for this fun pop-culture nod. Justice Debra Lehrmann writing for the Texas Supreme Court in a defamation case cites to Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski for the proposition that The U.S. Supreme Court has "roundly rejected prior restraint." You can find the reference in footnote 7, here.
"You want a toe? I can get you a toe. There are ways, dude."
The Lady (Legal) Writer also tells us this is not the first time a court has cited to this all time classic of American cinema. In a 2006 unpublished decision from a federal district court in Pennsylvania, Perry v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. Civ.A. 05-5350 at n. 3 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 12, 2006), involving a fraud claim against a large pharmaceutical company, Judge Stewart Dalzell found that the plaintiffs had failed to plead with sufficient specificity the details of the fraud. The judge noted that given the number of evidentiary sources available to the plaintiffs, it was not enough for them “to say, as Brandt does in The Big Lebowski, 'Well, dude, we just don't know.'"
Be sure to check out the Lady (Legal) Writer blog often for more interesting and informative posts!
From Wikipedia (Ebola Virus)
Ebola virus (abbreviated EBOV) was first described in 1976. Today, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses lists the virus as the single member of the species Zaire ebolavirus, which is included into the genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales. The name "Ebola virus" is derived from the Ebola River — a river that was at first thought to be in close proximity to the area in Democratic Republic of Congo, previously called Zaire, where the first recorded Ebola virus disease outbreak occurred — and the taxonomic suffix virus.
Strictly speaking, the pronunciation of "Ebola virus" (/iːˌboʊlə ˈvaɪərəs/) should be distinct from that of the genus-level taxonomic designation "ebolavirus/Ebolavirus/ebolavirus", as "Ebola" is named for the tributary of the Congo River that is pronounced "Ébola" in French, whereas "ebola-virus" is an "artificial contraction" of the words "Ebola" and "virus," written without a diacritical mark for ease of use by scientific databases and English speakers.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Bill Henderson is currently studying the effect of experiential education on law student development. In an earlier article, he concluded that it did but that this was it was only his best guess. He has now undertaken a more rigorous study of cooperative placements at Northeastern Law, which appear to accelerate the professional development of its law students.
He concludes, "Although the focus groups comprise only a small portion of the Northeastern law student body, the student responses yield a remarkable number of examples of learning and improving practical skills, gaining confidence and growing into the role of a competent legal professional. Further, there is substantial evidence to support Northeastern’s three-part theory that experiential education is significantly enhanced when it is structured to be (1) immersive, (2) iterative and (3) integrated into the law school experience. The immersive and iterative nature of the cooperative experience, in particular, seem to work in concert with one another and also support the three Carnegie apprenticeships: cognitive, practical skills and professional identity."
You can find the details of the study here.
DOJ has just released a moble app for job hunters looking for attorney positions or law student internships. It's available for free from the iTunes store (here) for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch and should be available shortly for Android devices. Here's DOJ's press release:
The U.S. Department of Justice unveiled a new mobile app, called DOJ Law Jobs, which will provide attorneys and law students with a quick and easy way to find an attorney position or law student internship with the department. DOJ Law Jobs is available for free now on iTunes for Apple iPhone, and additional versions for iPad and Android devices will be available in the next few weeks. The mobile app was developed by the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management and Office of the Chief Information Officer. Users of the app will be able to create personalized job searches based on practice area, geographic preference, and hiring organization.
DOJ Law Jobs includes the following key features: provides instructions on how to apply to attorney jobs and legal internships; saves search criteria for quick access to future opportunities; allows users to save, share, and email their favorite jobs; and provides access to hundreds of attorney jobs and legal internships at the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ Law Jobs logo was developed in-house, following a DOJ-wide request for ideas.
“The new app directly aligns with President Obama’s digital government strategy aimed at delivering better digital services to the American people,” said Director Jamila Frone of the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management. “We are very excited about this app as it allows an increasingly mobile workforce to quickly and affordably access legal employment opportunities with the department and conduct personalized searches at the touch of a button.”
“Mobility is the future,” said DOJ Chief Information Officer Joseph Klimavicz. “The Department of Justice is committed to changing the way citizens interact with government information. We are tailoring our mobile strategy to align with the needs of American citizens.”
The Department of Justice is the world’s largest law office, employing more than 10,000 attorneys nationwide. The Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management oversees the department’s outreach and recruitment efforts for law students and attorneys with the goal of attracting a highly-qualified and diverse talent pool. For more information, please visit www.justice.gov/legal-careers.
Hat tip to Law Technology News.
P.J. Podesta writes about his decision not to go to law school. In the article, he does offer advice to potential law students on how to make the big decision. Here is the most disheartening excerpt:
Most important, however, was a simple question he [a friend enrolled in a prestige law school] asked: What was I interested in doing?
I had been asked that so many times before. But speaking with a peer who was of a similar inclination against Big Law and was “on the ground” at one of the best law schools in the country (one where I still had some small chance of being admitted; I would later be waitlisted before withdrawing), it was as if I was speaking to myself in some alternate reality. And so it was useless to pretend. I don’t recall precisely how I answered his question. I might have said something vague about being interested in “creative” or “entrepreneurial” work for a good cause. What I do remember is that whatever I said had little to do with being a practicing lawyer.
You can read more here.
Practicing law does not have to be drone work. I fear that the current advertising slogan of law schools—becoming practice ready—sends the wrong message. Of course, in a general way, law school helps a student become practice ready. But practice ready to do what? Practice ready in what way? The practice of law can be creative and entrepreneurial, no matter what the field.