Monday, December 22, 2014
The New York Times DealBook has a post by David Segal on the law school admissions slide reported by the ABA last week pointing out that total 1L enrollment at the 204 ABA "approved" schools for fall 2014, which is stands at 37,942, has not been this low since 1973 when there were 53 less schools. Further, the combined total enrollment at all law schools is presently 119,775, a figure that has not been this low since 1987 when there were 29 fewer law schools than today. Here's an excerpt:
. . . .
The downturn in enrollment has had some effect on the margins of the business of law school. Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School laid off more than half of its faculty over the summer. There has been talk of some law school mergers, too.
But given the deterioration in attendance, what strikes many in law school academia is how modest the response by law schools has been thus far.
“In any other industry, there would be consolidation, more reductions in work force, but we don’t do those things,” said William D. Henderson of Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. “Students see the debt they will need to take on, but they don’t see the product changing. We still train people in the artisan craft of lawyering that is in decline.”
Fewer people are taking the admissions test and applying to law school, according to recent data from the Law School Admission Council. The number of test takers was 8.1 percent lower than a year ago, and about 50 percent below the same test period in 2009, according to council figures.
. . . .
You can continue reading the NYT DealBook column here.
Historian Barbara Tuchman’s book, “The Guns of August,” deeply impressed President John F. Kennedy. In fact, it helped persuade him not to take offensive action during the Cuban Missile Crisis, despite the passionate arguments of his advisors. In his article in the Journal of the Missouri Bar (here), Professor Douglas Abrams points out that Tuchman’s graceful writing style was an important factor in getting the President’s attention:
What if President Kennedy found The Guns of August opaque, stodgy or inartful and put it aside after a few pages, without drawing lessons that helped stiffen his resolve to avoid the sort of impetuous missteps that led Europe to “sleepwalk” into total war nearly fifty years earlier?
Instead Tuchman delivered prose that observers have called “erudite and highly readable,” “elegant,” “illuminating,” lucid and graceful, and “transparently clear, intelligent, controlled, and witty.” At a time when historiography held immediate real-world consequences, her best-seller sent a powerful message with powerful writing that kept legions of readers (including the President of the United States) turning the pages. It is hard for any writer, including a lawyer, to deliver the first without the second.
Last week I wrote about an article that discussed how law schools can survive by making significant changes. (here) A recent article in the New York Times on declining enrollments contained similar comments from Dean Nicholas Allard:
The financial model can be overhauled, said Nicholas W. Allard, dean of Brooklyn Law School, because “there is a large and exploding unmet demand for lawyers to meet the upcoming challenges in a host of areas like health care, bioengineering, international commerce, government relations, housing, elder care and digital security.”
P.S. My co-blogger, Jim Levy, has also advocated that law schools educate students in the growing field of corporate compliance. (here)
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Last week we reported news from the LSAC that law school applications are down 9.5% (applicants are down 8.5%) from this time last year. This week the ABA's section on legal education reports more grisly news that, no surprise, overall enrollment at all accredited law schools as of fall 2014 is also down. As noted in the headline, total enrollment among the 204 "approved" law schools dropped 6.9% from this time last year and 17.5% from the historic high water mark set in 2010 at the height of the recession. First year enrollment, including day and evening divisions, is down 4.4% from last year.
According to the ABA's report, nearly 2/3's (127) of schools experienced a decline in 1L enrollment compared to last year and at 64 of those schools, the decline exceeded 10%. There are 25 schools where 1L enrollment declined more than 20% from 2013. On the flip side, 69 schools reported 1L enrollment increased from last year. You can check out the full ABA report here. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog also has the story here.
At Education Week, educator Eric Sundberg uses a poem by Walt Whitman to discuss what it takes to be a teacher. The poem, very Whitmanesque is about becoming a poet, but Sundberg eloquently applies it to teachers. Breathtaking daunting, and worth reading (here).
LinkedIn has compiled a list of the top skills that got people hired in 2014 based on an analysis of the skills and experience data found in over 330 million of its members' profiles. The skills that made the list are the ones included in LinkedIn profiles that most frequently resulted in getting hired as well as the skills that employers most frequently searched for on LinkedIn's site. Below are the top 10. Go here to see the full list of 25 and go here to read a related post by the Business Insider.
- Statistics Analysis and Data Mining
- Middleware and Integration Software
- Storage Systems and Management
- Network and Information Security
- SEO/SEM Marketing
- Business Intelligence
- Mobile Development
- Web Architecture and Development Framework
- Algorithm Design
Friday, December 19, 2014
Some “old news” that I just uncovered. Robert Steinbuch has written about the ABA’s secret email list for law school deans:
I found it curious to learn that the ABA has an email list that it shields from the gaze of many within and outside of legal academia. The list, firstname.lastname@example.org, which is part of the ABA's Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (which the ABA designates as "LEAP"), is only for law-school deans — and the ABA really means it! Indeed, the ABA desires to keep both the existence of this list and its contents tightly under wraps.
First, the ABA doesn't publicly disclose this list. On the ABA's website, in the section on legal education "Discussion Groups," the ABA states:
"The Section has four listservs that are open to members.
LEAP-ABAQUESTIONNAIRE: For users of the ABA Annual Questionnaires
LEAP-ADJUNCTFACULTY: For adjunct faculty at ABA-approved law schools
LEAP-ASSOCIATE-ASSISTANT-DEANS: For associate and assistant deans at ABA-approved law schools
LEAP-DEANOFSTUDENTS: For deans of students at ABA-approved law schools."
As you can see, while there are four listservs of varying levels of inclusiveness presented, including two for secondary administrators, none is the Deans' list. In addition, the ABA provides the following instruction to the participants in the secret list:
"IMPORTANT: This list is confidential. You should not publicly mention its existence, or forward copies of information you have obtained from it to third parties." (Allcaps in original.)
Apparently, there are antitrust concerns. Here is one of the list’s rules:
“It is not appropriate to use the listserv to discuss or as a means of collecting and sharing faculty and staff salary, benefits, and perquisite data and analogous information.”
There has been a lot written recently about the steep decline in law school enrollment and the strong possibility of a continuing decline. Joseph Marino has posted an insightful article concerning where the blame belongs on Above the Law.
"The answer is that the blame significantly falls on the shoulders of the law schools themselves. Law schools have not taken responsibility for what is happening and are quick to cite reasons beyond their control. Their failure, however, to adapt to a changing landscape and refusal to let go of a time-dated model are primary reasons many are electing not to go to law school."
"Law schools are at a crossroads. And the way in which schools adapt to these changes will directly impact how, and if, law schools survive. 'But given the deterioration in attendance, what strikes many in law school academia is how modest the response by law schools has been thus far,' noted Elizabeth Olson and David Segal in a December 17, 2014, New York Times article. Unfortunately, law schools have not adapted to the changing landscape, but they must in order to survive."
"Students want to be educated to do something. They want a return on their investment, and until law schools can show that the investment a student makes will yield a return, enrollments will continue to drop."
"It is time the law schools acknowledged their responsibility to educate students for a purpose."
"Law schools need to align themselves with the growing long-term hiring trends. While some may hold a bleak outlook for the legal profession and the future employment prospects for law students, there are many newly emerging and thriving areas of law in need of attorneys. Law schools need to increase their clinic offerings and offer students more academic specializations that could lead to better employment prospects upon graduation. There are several industries and legal practice areas currently undergoing significant changes."
"[T]he practice areas with the most demand for attorneys include energy law, regulatory law, and health care law. This is not surprising given the massive overhaul of the U.S. health care industry with the recent enactment of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), which is creating a demand for attorneys in government agencies, hospitals, and law firms. Other rising areas of practice, according to Denney, are financial services, corporate law (more and more companies are expanding their in-house counsel roles as a way to cut costs), and intellectual property law."
"As I previously mentioned, the failure to adapt to a changing landscape and holding on to a model that is outdated is one of the primary reasons many are electing not to attend law school. . . . Law schools have a duty to ensure all law students have the tools to one day play an important role in society."
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Last week my co-blogger Professor Sirico posted about the hot legal practice areas for lawyers as well as the best global markets (London, Mexico, Asia and Cleveland (!) made the list, among others). Today we have the (partial) list of hot regions for entry level law jobs according to a story in preLaw Magazine (a National Jurist publication). The editors of National Jurist divided the country into 20 regions and, using data from the NALP's job report for the class of 2013 and employment data available from the ABA, endeavored to figure out which of those 20 regions has the best job opportunities for new law grads. The methodology considered the ratio of jobs to those looking for jobs as well as law school placement rates for the region. The editors put it all into a spreadsheet and, voila!, you get the (partial) list below of the best places in the USA to find a job right out of law school (National Jurist Magazine insists on keeping us in suspense about the rest of the list until its February issue is published):
- The Mountain Region (Colorado, Utah and Nevada).
- New York
- Northern California.
- Southern California.
Recently, the Supreme Court denied cert. inSigramSchindlerBeteiligunsgesellschaft v. Lee. The Court was not pleased with the “Question Presented in the cert. petition:
“Does the US Constitution, in legal decisions
based on 35 USC §§ 101/102/103/112,
- • require instantly avoiding the inevitable
legal errors in construing incomplete and
vague classical claim constructions – especially
for “emerging technology claim(ed invention)
s, ET CIs” – by construing for
them the complete/concise refined claim
constructions of the Supreme Court’s KSR/
Bilski/Mayo/Myriad/Biosig/Alice line of unanimous
or does the US Constitution for such decisions
- • entitle any public institution to refrain, for
ET CIs, for a time it feels feasible, from
proceeding as these Supreme Court precedents
require – or meeting its requirements
just by some lip-service – and in the
meantime to construe incomplete classical
claim constructions, notwithstanding their
implied legal errors?”
In denying cert., the Court issued this order:
D-2827 IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF HOWARD NEIL SHIPLEY
Howard Neil Shipley, of Washington, D.C., is ordered to show cause, within 40 days, why he should not be sanctioned for his conduct as a member of the Bar of this Court in connection with the petition for a writ of certiorari in No. 14-424, Sigram Schindler Beteiligungsgesellschaft MBH v. Lee.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
We here at the Legal Skills Prof Blog like to keep track of these post-grad law school training opportunities offered by various law schools. In keeping with that tradition, here's a relatively new program being offered by U. Denver Sturm College of Law that places (and pays) new grads in legal research and writing externships with local judges. As the press release explains below, it sounds like a stellar networking opportunity that has led to some good job opportunities including, not suprisingly, judicial clerkships. Read on and see for yourself:
Each year, the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver provides funding for Bridge to Practice Fellowships in judicial, governmental and public interest settings—each designed as a springboard to full-time employment for graduates.
The Judicial Fellows Program pays recent graduates of the Sturm College of Law to work for local judges in participating state district courts to provide 20 hours of legal research and writing per week for up to one year. The fellows are compensated by the Sturm College of Law and other generous donors, requiring the courts to pay nothing.
“This program has been a win all the way around for the law school, our participating graduates and the courts, which benefit tremendously from the hard work of our judicial fellows,” said Marty Katz, dean of the Sturm College of Law.
Judicial fellow positions are valuable for judges who need help with research and writing to manage their hectic caseloads while also providing valuable hands-on experience, first-rate mentoring and unparalleled networking opportunities for students taking advantage of the program. “Our judicial fellows tell us that these positions are terrific stepping stones, helping them find full-time jobs,” said Eric Bono, assistant dean for career opportunities at Sturm College of Law.
In the class of 2013, there were 29 new graduates employed as judicial fellows. Of those judicial fellows, 83 percent left early for full time employment. Out of this group, 46 percent left the fellowship early to work in full-time, bar-required jobs, 29 percent left their positions early to serve as judicial law clerks and 25 percent left early to begin full-time, JD Advantage positions.
“These results demonstrate that the Judicial Fellows Program is a worthwhile investment in the careers of our new graduates,” said Katz.
The University of Iowa College of Law plans to offer a new law degree. (here) "The state Board of Regents approved the UI’s proposed Master of Studies in Law degree at last week’s telephonic meeting. Generally, the regents expressed enthusiasm."
"The new 30-semester-hour degree would be geared toward students who do not want to practice law but would still like knowledge of legal issues for their professions. It still needs to be reviewed and approved by the American Bar Association." "However, the regents did have some concerns, and they requested a follow-up from law Dean Gail Agrawal in February as well as regular communication before signing off on the program." “It sounds like it could be a very exciting program,” said Regent Katie Mulholland last week. “A couple of concerns: concerns on the resources of the law school because, as described to my colleague regents, it could become very popular, and that would add to staffing needs at the law school.”
"Chris Meazell, a Wake Forest professor of legal studies and director of law graduate programs, said enrollment in its similar program is in the mid-teens with a 'slow growth' since the degree’s inception three years ago."
Similar programs may be one of the ways law schools compensate for declining enrollments.
In Employers Insurance of Wasau v. McGraw Edison, Judge Robert Jonker (W.D. Mich.) began his order stating that he felt like the character in this cartoon.
On December 2, the judge held a meeting with counsel of record to discuss the scheduling of a motion. The lawyer, however, did not disclose certain facts to the judge. Judge Jonker writes:
Imagine the Court's surprise, then, when it learned via an after hours filing (docket # 374)
that on the very same day this Court was meeting with counsel in Michigan, one of parties—Cooper Industries—was filing a motion in New Jersey Superior Court (Essex County) asking the State Judge to enjoin the parties from proceeding with the litigation here in Federal Court! And more than that, the very same lawyer whose name appeared on the motion papers in New Jersey—Michael H. Ginsberg of Jones Day (Pittsburgh Office)—was actually present in Court in Michigan discussing case scheduling issues and other logistics related to handling the case in Michigan. Yet Mr. Ginsberg did not mention or even hint that he was planning to file a motion in New Jersey Superior Court to enjoin the parties from proceeding here in Michigan.
The judge wrote:
But regardless of what happens in New Jersey, nobody likes having someone build or attempt to build a brick wall in a bedroom or a courtroom overnight, especially without providing even the common courtesy of advance notice of the attempt—especially when the interested parties are already gathered in the courtroom. More than that, at least in the Western District of Michigan, this kind of behavior by counsel would—barring some explanation—likely fall below the expected standard of practice for candor with the Court and the other parties.
You can read the judge’s order and see the cartoon here.
Thnx to Robert Hegadorn & Amy Spare
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Earlier this year, Thomas Jefferson School of Law missed a payment to creditors that had financed construction at the school. According to UTSanDiego.com, though the school has struggled financially, an agreement is in the works that will provide stability to the law school. Thomas Guernsey joined Thomas Jefferson School of Law as its dean and president in July 2013. He said the new agreement will put “the school on a solid financial footing.”
The agreement will provide the bondholders possession of the law school’s eight-story building located at 1155 Island Avenue in San Diego. The law school will then become a tenant of the property. Such a move will reduce the law school’s expenses by half, and will lower its debt by an impressive two-thirds.
You can read more here.
Today’s newborns will be tomorrow’s law students. Our younger readers may be interested in the names of their future students,. From Baby Center, here they are:
10 most popular girl names of 2014
See all top 100 girls' names
10 most popular boy names of 2014
See all top 100 boys' names
Monday, December 15, 2014
Though I try to keep track of these things to let our readers know about new programs and such, somehow this bit of news slipped by me. Earlier this fall, William Boyd School of Law launched a new program called "The Community Economic Development Clinic" (or the "Small Business and Nonprofit Legal Clinic," depending on the source) which will be providing legal aid to local small businesses, non-profits and other community based associations. Professor Eric Franklin was hired last year to organize and direct the clinic.
According to the school's website, the clinic provides representation to nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and entrepreneurs in transactional matters. Under the close supervision of licensed attorneys, law students will assist clients in forming businesses or nonprofit organizations; reviewing and negotiating contracts; assisting nonprofit organizations with tax-exempt applications and maintenance of tax-exempt status; working with federal, state, and local government agencies; and providing advice concerning intellectual property issues
You can also read a brief interview with the clinic's director here.
Over at Best Practices for Legal Education (Dec. 1), master teacher Gerry Hess explains that his goal is to help his students succeed in law school. Here are his thoughts on how he can use his behaviors and attitudes to help his students succeed:
Learning Environment. I can play a significant role is creating a class environment conducive to learning for all students. How? By fostering three-way respect: Teacher to Student, Student to Teacher, and Student to Student. By learning students names and something about their lives. By my expectations – they should be high, yet achievable, for every student, and for myself. By making joy and celebration part of the educational experience.
Practice and Feedback. I should provide students with multiple opportunities for practice and feedback, both graded and ungraded.
Good Faith Assumption. I try to operate as a teacher with the assumption that there is a good faith explanation for my students’ behavior.
I can’t succeed for them. At the end of the day, my obligation to help students succeed in law school is not the key to my students’ success. There is no substitute for the passion, diligence, intelligence, compassion, and judgment that students must find in themselves.
You can read Gerry’s full commentary here.