Saturday, November 15, 2014

Buzzwords to Avoid

According to business educator Mike Periu, here are nine buzzwords and buzz-phrases “that can make you sound dumb,” because they are worn out and often imprecise:




"Growth Hacker"




"Key Takeaways"

What’s so wrong with these words? You can read more here at American Express’ Open Forum.


November 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 14, 2014

National Jurist ranks the 25 most influential people in legal education

The full list of 25 will be published in the January issue of National Jurist Magazine.  For right now the magazine has published a list of 20 returning honorees here.  The new inductees include Professor Paul Caron (Pepperdine), Dean Eric Janus (William Mitchell), Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz (Arkansas - Little Rock), Dean Maureen O’Rourke (BU) and Dean Philip Weiser (Colorado - and returning honoree after a year's absence) will all be included with the full list published in January. National Jurist solicited nominations from all schools and then narrowed down the list down to 50 nominees whom were voted on by law school deans, the magazine’s editors and "other influential" people in legal education.  Again, check out the almost complete list here.


November 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Writing Tips from “The Careful Writer”

Attorney Teddy Snyder consults Theodore Bernstein’s book, The Careful Writer, and offers these selections:

“Literally” and “veritable” are examples of Bernstein’s law. These words are frequently misused and add nothing. Eliminate them from your writing. See more about why “literally” has turned into a cliché here.

Speaking of clichés, Bernstein advocates their use “with discrimination and sophistication.” Shun them as a substitute for precise thinking.

Avoid exaggeration. When everything is “awesome” or “amazing,” everything is prosaic. Bernstein calls these exaggerations “atomic flyswatters.”

Go ahead and split your infinitive. Bernstein gives this example: The setback was sure to defer further hopes of keeping pace. Does “further” modify “defer” or “hopes”? Clarity is better than ambiguity.

“Bias” can be for or against. If you (or a venire member) have a favorite color, you have a bias in favor of that color. “Prejudice” is a preconceived attitude that is almost always against. We all have bias. Sound out witnesses and potential jurors for prejudice.

Is a “verbal” agreement spoken or signed? It could be either. To avoid confusion, use “oral” for spoken words and “written” for documents.

Bernstein calls the pretentious use of jargon “windyfoggery.” Government or corporate documents might refer to “improved financial support and less onerous workloads” instead of “more pay and less work.” Better to speak and write plain English. Don’t let windyfoggery obscure your message.

You can read more here at “Attorney at Work.”



November 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

National Jurist ranks the 55 best law school buildings

My co-blogger Professor Sirico previously posted about the "50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings" according to Best Choice Schools.  Now National Jurist Magazine has ranked the 55 "Best Law School Buildings."  See if you school made the list and contrast and compare here.


November 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best 25 Companies for Women

 Daily Worth selects the best 25 companies for women based on these factors:

  Number of female board members

  Number of women with “chief” titles (additional points for a female CEO)

  The company’s profitability

  On-site childcare/subsidized childcare options

  Adoption/IVF/fertility reimbursement

  Paid maternity leave

  Paid paternity leave

  Flex-time/working off-site options

  Female leadership/mentor programs

  Retention rate of female employees

Here is more on the methodology.

Leading the list are KeyBank,, Kohl’s, HSN, and Facebook.  You can find the full list here.


November 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Does Class Size Reduce the Gender Gap? A Natural Experiment in Law

Daniel E. Ho and Mark Kelman have recently published a study that concludes that adoption of smaller class sizes reduces the GPA gender gap of law school graduates.

Does Class Size Reduce the Gender Gap? A Natural Experiment in Law.


"We study a unique natural experiment in which Stanford Law School randomly assigned first-year students to small or large sections of mandatory courses from 2001-2011. We provide evidence (i) that small sections closed a slight (but substantively and highly statistically significant) gender gap existing in large sections from 2001-08; (ii) that reforms in 2008, which modified the grading system and instituted small, graded, writing and simulation-intensive courses, eliminated the gap entirely; and (iii) that women, if anything, outperformed men in small, simulation-based courses. Our evidence suggests that pedagogical policy --- particularly small class sizes --- can reduce, and even reverse, achievement gaps in post-graduate education."
The conclusions of this study do not surprise me in the least.  Most students do not learn well in large classes, especially ones that use an inefficient approach to teaching.  I would expect that if researchers did a similar study of the racial gap in GPAs of law school graduates that the researchers would make similar conclusions.
It has been well-established in general education scholarship that more personal attention, active learning, and formative feedback produce more retention of knowledge and better ability to use that knowledge.  Law schools are cheating all their students--women, minorities, and men--by clinging to old methods of teaching.  Some law school teachers are bravely making the change to a more effective pedagogy.  However, many others are not.  It is time that law schools and law professors do what is best for their students--adopt the new methods of teaching based on the latest education scholarship.
(Scott Fruehwald) (hat tip: TaxProf Blog)
P.S.  Here are a couple of excerpts from a discussion of the article (here):
"The smallest, simulation-intensive class led women to outperform men. These results are consistent with evidence from physics courses suggesting that pedagogy via interactive engagement exercises reduces gender differences," said Ho.  "I do think schools should look at these results and experiment with whatever forms of small-group, problem-focused pedagogy that they are able to make available and study whether they get the sorts of effects we have gotten from small sections and simulation-based courses," he said.
Kelman said that the study also refutes a common assumption that performance is predetermined by "fixed" student traits.
For more concerning the fixed versus the growth mindset, see my article How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School.

November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

preLaw Magazine names the 25 "most innovative" law school clinics

The magazine, a National Jurist publication, sought nominations from law schools nationwide based on innovative subject matter, structure or community service and then narrowed down the list to 25 which will be formally recognized in the winter issue.  For now, here are the top 15.  Go here to check out the remaining 10 runners up.

The Top 15 honorees


Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University Indie Film Clinic


Duquesne University School of Law’s Veteran’s Clinic


Georgetown University Law Center’s Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic


Indiana Tech Law School, Law Clerk Clinic


Lewis & Clark Law School, Animal Law Clinic


Marquette University Law School, Mobile Legal Clinic


New York Law School’s Clinical Year


Seattle University School of Law, The Incarcerated Parents Advocacy Clinic


University of Akron School of Law’s Reentry Clinic


University of California, Berkeley School of Law, Death Penalty Clinic


University of California, Irvine School of Law, International Justice Clinic


University of Memphis – Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Housing Adjudication Clinic


University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Legislative and Public Policy Clinic


Washington and Lee University School of Law’s Black Lung Legal Clinic


Wayne State University Law School’s Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic



November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

One Way to Take Class Attendance: Secret Photographs

At a recent meeting of Harvard’s Arts and Sciences faculty, Professor Harry Lewis opened his remarks in this way:

Madam President, I learned recently from two of my faculty colleagues that students in their courses had been surreptitiously photographed throughout the past spring term using cameras trained on the seats in the lecture hall. This was done under the cloak of research on class attendance. A senior university official called in these professors and explained that by means of this electronic monitoring, images of all the students in attendance had been captured at each class. These faculty colleagues, neither of them tenured, first learned that their classes had been under surveillance when this senior central administration official called them in without informing the computer science area dean, and asked them to comment on the attendance data. And contrary to a basic principle of research involving human subjects, the students who were subjects of this study still, I believe, have not been informed that their images were captured and analyzed.

 You can read more here at the Harvard Magazine.

 The project had the approval of Harvard’s Institutional Board. Having dealt with my university’s board, I know that it never would have given its approval.

 In any case, my law school has a cumbersome method of taking attendance. At the beginning of a semester, I apologize to my students for having them pen their names on a sign-up sheet. I am told there was a time when university students had to show up only to take their exams. Classes were only one means they could use for pursuing their studies. (Not that I necessarily agree with that approach.) Times have changed.


November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Attacking Langdell's Jurisprudence

There has been a great deal written recently on Langdell’s pernicious influence on legal education.  However, Christopher Columbus Langdell’s influence went beyond legal education.  His ideas also affected how scholars viewed law; it affected the basis of jurisprudence.

Dennis Patterson has recently written an article on the harmful effects of Langdell’s influence on jurisprudence and how contemporary jurisprudence can escape it.

What is at Stake in Jurisprudence?

“Dean Hellman, Mrs. Quinlan, distinguished faculty, students, and friends of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. My topic this afternoon is the subject of jurisprudence. As a subject of study, jurisprudence occupies a unique place in the law school curriculum. Jurisprudence is simultaneously both its own subject matter and an aspect of every area of law. We are all familiar with phrases such as ‘criminal law jurisprudence’ and ‘the jurisprudence of remedies.’ When it is mentioned in these ways, ‘jurisprudence’ identifies the most general aspects of legal doctrine.”

Here are some excerpts:

“The first thing we need to do is bury Langdell. Yes, I told you earlier that Langdellian formalism is dead as legal philosophy. While that is true, the picture of law given to us by Langdell lives on. Langdell was, at bottom, a reductionist. He thought legal argument was reducible to a few principles that lie beneath the surface of law and do all the normative work. In the same spirit, one need only look at the work of economists, critical legal theorists, and even some forms of analytic jurisprudence to see the same aspiration at work. Reductionism is a deep-seated affliction of the academic soul. While its most noticeable form is classic Marxism and the theory of dialectical materialism, the explanatory picture offered by modem day legal reductionists is no different. The lesson of Wittgenstein is that the task of philosophy is not to theorize. The task of philosophy is to gain a clear view of how, in our practices, we go about the business of making assertions and adjudicating claims. For jurisprudence the lesson is clear: everything we need for our work lies on the surface.”

“There is no algorithm for the correct employment of forms of argument. I am fond of saying that in any given case one form or another is ‘actuated.’ When it comes to education and legal argument, the task of law professors is clear: teach students how to use these forms to make good legal arguments.”

“There is a sense in which my conception of jurisprudence is consistent with Langdell's project. I do think law exhibits unity and structure, but it is a unity and structure different from that to which Langdell aspired.”

“I want to suggest that for we lawyers, ‘progress’ in law should be measured not by the degree to which we are able to force the law to conform to our preconceptions, be they political or otherwise. Rather, I want to suggest that progress in the law comes when we reconfigure the vocabulary of law in ways that allow us to see more clearly how our current notions might be recast to give us a more satisfactory account of legal practice.”

My question is: if the jurisprudential basis of Langdell’s approach to legal education is faulty, why are law schools still using it as the basis of legal education?  Can modern science advanced if it uses a Ptolemaic conception of the universe?

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"War of words" between Brooklyn L.S. Dean and NCBE over drop in bar exam scores

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog is reporting that a "war of words" has broken out between the Dean of Brooklyn Law School and the President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners over her  suggestion that a sharp decline in bar passage rates for the July administration of the exam is the result of "less able" law graduates.  Some states reported a sharp drop in bar pass rates including Texas which saw a decline of 11% from the previous year.  The bar pass rate for Brooklyn L.S. was down 10% from July, 2013.  Brooklyn's Dean responded by asserting that the median LSAT scores for the class of 2014 had not declined from the previous year suggesting that the drop in bar pass rates was the result of administration and scoring errors by the NCBE.  Check out the full story here.


November 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ten SCOTUS Cases to Watch in October & November

From Findlaw here they are:

Beginning October 6, the nation's highest court will hear appeals involving issues of criminal law, prisoner's rights, labor law, class-action claims, and patent law.

Here's a preview of the Supreme Court's first 10 cases of the October 2014 Term:

  1. Heien v. North Carolina (October 6): Police need reasonable suspicion to pull over a vehicle for a traffic stop, but the Court will tackle whether an honest mistake about traffic law will suffice for Fourth Amendment purposes.
  2. Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS Inc. (October 6): This case may clear up when the deadline is for filing a class-action suit for securities-based fraud claims.
  3. Holt v. Hobbs (October 7): A Muslim man is fighting an Arkansas prison policy preventing him from growing a half-inch beard -- a policy already upheld by the Eighth Circuit.
  4. Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company LLC v. Owens (October 7): When removing a class-action suit to federal court, what proof do you need? This case may provide a clearer answer.
  5. Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. v. Busk (October 8): Both Amazon and Apple employees have complained about not being paid for time spent during security screenings, and now the Supreme Court may decide whether this time is covered under the FLSA.
  6. North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC (October 8): The Court is set to decide whether entities like this state dentists' board can share in a state's immunity from federal antitrust claims.
  7. Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado (October 14): Battle of the Plains States! Kansas claims Nebraska is hogging all the water from the Republican River, violating a deal between the three states.
  8. Warger v. Shauers (October 14): If a juror lies during voir dire, can you get a new trial by introducing collaborating evidence from jury deliberations? The High Court will debate whether the Federal Rules of Evidence allow this in the face of alleged juror misconduct.
  9. Teva Pharmaceuticals v. Sandoz (October 15): The Supreme Court will decide whether the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals can independently review an inventor's patent claims despite what happened in the district court.
  10. Jennings v. Stephens (October 15): When a prisoner wins his or her habeas petition in district court, can he or she raise new issues when the state appeals?


November 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bruce Springsteen’s Favorite Books

Here are the books that shaped his mind and music. You may be surprised. I, for one, am humbled. From Brain Pickings:

In a recent New York Times interview, marking the release of his charming picture-book Outlaw Pete (public library), Springsteen shares the books that shaped his music and his mind, from poetry to philosophy to children’s books — an eclectic reading list spanning numerous genres and sensibilities, life stages and moods. (Favorite childhood book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; last book that made him laugh: Richard Ford’s The Lay of the Land; last book that made him cry: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road).

  1. Moby-Dick (free download; public library) by Herman Melville
  2. How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question      and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (public library) by Sarah Bakewell
  3. Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos: The Scientific Quest for      the Secret of the Universe (public library) by Dennis Overbye
  4. Love in the Time of Cholera (public library) by Gabriel García      Márquez
  5. Anna Karenina (free download; public library) by Leo Tolstoy
  6. Leaves of Grass (public library) by Walt Whitman
  7. The History of Western Philosophy      (public library) by Bertrand Russell
  8. Examined Lives (public library) by Jim Miller
  9. American Pastoral (public library) by Philip Roth
  10. I Married a Communist (public library) by Philip Roth
  11. Blood Meridian (public library) by Cormac McCarthy
  12. The Road (public library) by Cormac McCarthy
  13. The Sportswriter (public library) by Richard Ford
  14. The Lay of the Land (public library) by Richard Ford
  15. Independence Day (public library) by Richard Ford
  16. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories      (public library) by Flannery      O’Connor
  17. Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll      Music (public library) by Greil Marcus
  18. Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley      (public library) by Peter Guralnick
  19. Chronicles (public library) by Bob Dylan
  20. Sonata for Jukebox (public library) by Geoffrey O’Brien
  21. Soul Mining: A Musical Life (public library) by Daniel Lanois
  22. Too Big to Fail (public library) by Andrew Ross      Sorkin
  23. Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great      Depression (public library) by Dale Maharidge
  24. The Big Short (public library) by Michael Lewis
  25. The Brothers Karamazov (free download; public library) by Fyodor      Dostoevsky
  26. Great Short Works (public library) by Leo Tolstoy
  27. The Adventures of Augie March (public library) by Saul Bellow
  28. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (public library) by L. Frank Baum



November 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Advanced Legal Writing Text

Putting Skills Into Practice: Legal Problem Solving and Writing for New Lawyers by Daniel L. Barnett (Wolters Kluwer 2014).

Publisher's Abstract:

This concise book can be used either as the main text for an advanced legal writing course focused on preparing practice-ready documents, or as a reference for new associates. The author, Daniel L. Barnett of the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai'i, has consulted at a variety of law firms.  He has found that new lawyers often struggle to complete the projects they are assigned, often because they do not understand how to apply the skills and knowledge they acquired in law school.  This step-by-step guide leads advanced legal writing students and new associates through the process of completing typical assignments. It begins with the essential legal process question of determining the law that applies to the issue at hand and then guides readers through sophisticated questions of how to handle unclear analysis in different types of legal documents.

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"Law schools vie to attract more transfer students"

From the Associated Press via  An excerpt:

Law schools vie to attract more transfer students

Competition for students among law schools has grown fiercer in recent years, as enrollment numbers nationwide hit their lowest point since the 1970s.

These schools aren't just vying to attract the most talented 1Ls, however. Even the relatively small number of students who transfer schools after their first year are sought after.

"One of the things that's happening more and more in legal education is the competition for students," said Donald Tobin, dean of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. "As law schools shrink, some law schools are working harder to make their enrollments larger by taking transfer students, and so there's been more of a move to try to entice students away."

UM Carey Law recorded 29 students transferring in during the 2012-2013 academic year, the most recent year for which data were available, while 21 students transferred out. While that was still a net gain for the school, the prior year saw a much more favorable scenario: 34 transfers in, 8 transfers out.

At the University of Baltimore School of Law, the 2012-2013 academic year saw five students transfer in and 36 transfer out. The year before, the figures were much closer, at 17 students in and 22 out.

The disparity with other law schools in the region is striking.

. . . .

Continue reading here.





November 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cases & Materials on Legal Writing: An Imaginary Text & Tale

So here you are, teaching writing out of a traditional casebook. For each class, the students read cases in which a litigant drafts an unfortunate document or a case turns on an ambiguous regulation, ordinance or statute.

 In class, you ask a student to recite the facts of the case and state the holding. You then throw out some hypotheticals—suppose the wording had been different? Suppose the court had applied some other equally accepted rule of statutory construction? Suppose the comma had been in a different place? Then you ask what policies should influence the interpretation of the text. Finally, you ask what lessons of good drafting should the students take away from the case.


This imaginary tale makes the case for experiential, interactive learning. The conventional teaching methods virtually guarantee that the students will retain very little from the course and will not know how to apply what they have learned.

For that matter, what does this imaginary tale suggest about traditional teaching in podium classes?


November 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Legal sector losses 300 jobs in October

That brings the year to date job loss at 2,000 according to the tally kept by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.  And according to their calculations, it means the legal sector (which includes legal consultants, paralegals, process servers, notaries and patent agents, among other non-lawyer legal service professionals) is down approximately 45,000 jobs since the pre-recession record number of jobs set in May, 2007.   Check out the full WSJLB report here. Or if you prefer you can get the Bureau of Labor Statistics October report here.


November 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anti-Gay Marriage Covenant Costs a Law School Its Accreditation


From vancitybuzz:

Law Society of British Columbia’s Board of Governors, also known as Benchers, has rescinded its approval of Trinity Western University’s (TWU) new law school program.

The decision was made on Friday following the results of a binding membership referendum.

In the vote, 8,039 valid ballots were cast with 74 per cent or 5,951 lawyers voting in favour of the motion that requested Benchers to not approve TWU’s faculty of law.

TWU’s proposed law school has been the subject of controversy for the law community. The school’s covenant bans sexual activity that “violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Opponents of the law school argue that this is a form of discrimination that contradicts the principles of the Law Society of B.C.

You can read more here.


November 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fewer LSAT Test Takers—Down 8.1%

From JDJournal (excerpts):

The latest data, for the test taken in October, is down by 8.1 percent from the same time last year. Compared to the number of students who took the test in 2009 (60,746), the drop is a major one. The total number of students who took the test in October of this year hit just 30,943, according to The National Jurist.

This is the lowest total of LSAT test-takers for the month of October since before 1987.

The test taken in July saw a drop in takers too, but not nearly as bad as the month of October. There were 21,803 test-takers in July this year compared to 23,997 in July of 2013.

You can read more here.


November 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Does the medium matter? A study comparing legal research results obtained via print and online

This is a new article by Professors Stefan Krieger and Katrina Kuh (both Hofstra) entitled Accessing Law: An Empirical Study Exploring the Influence of Legal Research Medium, 16 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 757 (2014) and here on SSRN.  From the abstract:

The legal profession is presently engaged in an uncontrolled experiment. Attorneys now locate and access legal authorities primarily through electronic means. Although this shift to an electronic research medium radically changes how attorneys discover and encounter law, little empirical work investigates impacts from the shift to an electronic medium.

This Article presents the results of one of the most robust empirical studies conducted to date comparing research processes using print and electronic sources. While the study presented in this Article was modest in scope, the extent and type of the differences that it reveals are notable. Some of the observed differences between print and electronic research processes confirm predictions offered, but never before confirmed, about how the research medium changes the research process. This Article strongly supports calls for the legal profession and legal academy to be more attentive to the implications of the shift to electronic research.


November 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Here is the Sixth Circuit Opinion Rejecting Same-Sex Marriage

For the text of the Nov. 6, opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder, please click here.


November 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)