Monday, August 24, 2015

Internet Trolls Explain Why They Quit

Here are 10 first-person stories by former trolls.

According to Wikipedia, an internet troll is “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

According to the stories, what do trolls have in common? They tend to be young people with psychological issues. As they slowly mature, they stop their antics. Interesting reading.


August 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on The California Proposal to Require 15 Credits of Experiential Education

As we have mentioned before, the California bar has proposed that bar applicants take 15 hours of experiential education.

The Trustees of the state bar adopted the Proposal on November 7, 2014.  It now awaits approval by the California Supreme Court and state legislature.

 On July 6, 2015, a group of law school deans issued Statement by the AALS Deans Steering Committee on the California Task Force on Admissions Regulation Recommendations (TFARR), objecting to the Proposal.  "But we have concerns about the proposed 'competency training' requirement for those who wish to be admitted to the California bar. These concerns reflect our dual roles as law-school deans who are immersed in addressing the needs of our students and communities, and as participants in national and global discussions about the present and future of the legal profession."

On August 18, the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education issued Statement of Position Regarding the State Bar of California Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform (TFARR) Experiential Education Requirement, which strongly supported the Proposal.  This Statement declared, "Numerous studies over the past four decades by the American Bar Association (ABA) and others have decried this lack of practical training and called for reforms to the required law school curriculum."  It also pointed out that "Law students also have been clamoring for more experiential education opportunities" and that "The Proposal Permits Great Flexibility and Aligns with the ABA Rules."

On July 29, two members of the California Task Force, Shauna Marshall and  Charles D. Weisselberg, sent a letter to the Deans Committee, asking the Deans to "withdrawn its July 6, 2015 Statement."  "The Deans Steering Committee’s Statement appears to be directed at the recommendations contained in TFARR’s 2013 report, which came at the end of TFARR’s first phase.  (See  However, TFARR’s final report and recommendations were issued in September 2014—following the second phase of TFARR’s work—and were approved by the California Bar’s Board of Trustees in November 2014."  They pointed out, "We note that tax subjects taught experientially would certainly satisfy the Bar’s requirements, as would specialized classes that develop competencies in business strategy and financial analysis (including accounting and valuation)."  Finally, they asserted, "But for students who seek permission to practice law in California, the Bar has every right to set the criteria for admission, just as each state specifies topics for its own bar examination and as New York has done by requiring pro bono hours for admission into its Bar."

Finally, the Deans responded to this letter on August 5, noting that the Phase II Final Report had not been posted on the bar website.  The Deans declined to withdrawn their statement, noting that they still had several objections to it.

As I noted in April, Professor David H. Gibbs has posted a summary of the proposal here.  In April, I wrote, "The proposals by the California Bar are probably the most important development in legal education in recent years.  I had the opportunity to hear Judge Streeter talk about the proposals at an ETL conference a couple of years ago, and I think he and his colleagues have done a tremendous job of creating a plan to significantly improve legal education for the benefit of the general public."

Legal education also needs California to adopt the proposal because law schools need to better prepare minorities and other disadvantaged students for the legal profession.  Legal educators should not complain about the lack of diversity among Big Law partners and in the legal profession in general when they are mostly using 19th-century teaching techniques to educate today's students.

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Problems, Music, and Popular Culture: How I Teach Theory and Practice in Decedents’ Estates to Our Next Generation of Lawyers"

This is a new "legal skills" article posted on SSRN here by Professor Camille Davidson (Charlotte) which will be published in volume 28 of the Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal (2015). Here's the abstract:

In this essay, I discuss my approach to teaching Decedents’ Estates. I hope to inspire each professor who reads this article to find his or her authentic self in the classroom and use it to motivate students to find their passion in law school and beyond. I also share my approach to show the various ways to engage and assess students. The methods that I outline may be adjusted to fit any course -- law school or otherwise.


At my institution, Charlotte School of Law, the Decedents’ Estates course is a required upper level course. My approach is to motivate students and inspire active learning and deep thinking in a large classroom. Although I have an assigned casebook, I supplement it with additional materials. By blending problems, music, and popular culture with the traditional cold-call Socratic method, I am able to engage different types of learners.


While I would love for each of my students to be as passionate as I am about the subject of Estates and Trusts, my goal is not so far-fetched. Like any other law professor, I want them to understand how to identify legal issues and how to apply the law to various fact patterns in an organized way. Additionally, I want them to understand the importance of the subject for both legal and practical purposes because this is an area where many of them might actually find work. I strive to demonstrate my passion for the subject area *395 because it is the passionate teacher who “motivate[s] students to take their courses more seriously” and “inspire[s] them to explore the subject matter further outside of class.”


I try to find a healthy balance between teaching the students to “think like lawyers” and having them “do like lawyers.” Since I cannot teach them everything that they will encounter in practice, I use some of my time to help them transfer what they know to novel situations that they may encounter in practice. My students are not only prepared for the bar examination, they are also prepared to use the knowledge both personally and professionally.


In this article, I outline the approaches that I use to reach large numbers of students and encourage active learning. I use visual aids, music, problems, and simulated legal activities to “show” rather than “tell” the classroom. My approach promotes rigor, but not fear. I attempt to make cold calling fun and I encourage active learning through simulated exercises and the use of popular culture references in the fact patterns. The students become team players in the classroom when I engage them with relevant stories from newspaper headlines or have them perform oral arguments using the lyrics of a song to identify legal concepts. Active participation helps students achieve “content mastery,” “higher-level thinking skills,” “professional skills,” and “[p]ositive attitude.” As Denise Knight states, “[f]ew instructors would quibble with the notion that promoting active participation helps students to think critically and to argue more effectively.” Part I of the essay reminds law professors that they are educators who teach law and Part II discusses the design of my course.


August 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ending a Concluding Paragraph or Document

Sometimes it’s challenging to end your argument with a strong conclusion. And it’s even harder to teach your students how to do it. I have found that the op-ed pages of the New York Times offer instructional examples. Here are three examples of concluding paragraphs from the August 6 Times editorials.

From a piece by the NYT Editorial Board:

Despite fierce opposition, Mr. Obama expressed confidence the deal would get through Congress, even if by the slimmest of margins. After nearly seven years in office and lots of tough decisions, he said, “I’ve never been more certain that this is sound policy.”

From an op-ed by Nelson Denis:

Independence is the only solution, for Puerto Rico and the United States. After 117 years, many Puerto Ricans are victims of Stockholm syndrome, fearful of losing the “safety net” of United States benefits. But it’s clear that the safety net is a chimera. A gradual transition to independence (like that of the Philippines in 1946) would allow both island and mainland to adjust to a sovereign and self-sustaining Republic of Puerto Rico. It is the only way to end this colonial tragedy.

From an op-ed by Edward Walker, decrying corporations (like Uber) lobbying by enlisting the support of customers and beneficiaries of nonprofit donations:

Technology may be neutral, but grass roots should mean bottom up, not top down. The #blacklivesmatter movement is a genuine grass-roots civil rights campaign, mobilized through social media. So is the environmentalist Bill McKibben’s, with its blend of online organizing, social media strategy and in-person campaigning around climate change. But Uber’s corporate populism is not. We should learn to recognize the difference.


August 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

60 Jobs That You Can Do with a Law Degree

Here they are.  I think the list and explanations underestimate the degree of hard work, competitive spirit, and luck that is required to succeed in these fields.


August 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Measuring Legal Education's Employment Outcomes

Measuring Legal Education's Employment Outcomes by Robert R. Kuehn.


"This Article examines evidence of a possible link between learning opportunities in law school and J.D. employment outcomes. It responds to a paper by Jason Yackee that finds, using 2013 data from top 100 ranked schools, “not much evidence” that law clinic opportunities are likely to improve a school’s graduates’ employment outcomes and suggesting that those opportunities may even harm employment prospects.

The Article reexamines Yackee’s methodological approach and then looks beyond both law clinics and his statistical models. The expanded empirical analysis finds it is not possible to draw any reliable conclusion from his models about the likely effects of law clinic courses, or other activities like law journal and interschool skills competitions, on employment outcomes, and surely not any negative suggestion about clinic opportunities or participation. The most realistic conclusion from available data is that nationwide models provide inconclusive results, as they do not achieve statistical significance and yield both positive and inverse relationships depending on the year of graduation, control variables, and outliers. In fact, other evidence shows that law clinic experiences are important to potential employers and do aid some students in securing employment."

August 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 21, 2015

This year's bar exam results could be the most critical in the exam's history

That's because they may determine whether the significant drop in last year's pass rates was an anomaly or the start of a new trend. From Bloomberg BNA Big Law blog:

Are Lawyers Getting Dumber?

Last August, the tens of thousands of answer sheets from the bar exam started to stream into the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The initial results were so glaringly bad that staffers raced to tell their boss, Erica Moeser. In most states, the exam spans two days: The first is devoted to six hours of writing, and the second day brings six hours of multiple-choice questions. The NCBE, a nonprofit in Madison, Wis., creates and scores the multiple-choice part of the test, administered in every state but Louisiana. Those two days of bubble-filling and essay-scribbling are extremely stressful. For people who just spent three years studying the intricacies of the law, with the expectation that their $120,000 in tuition would translate into a bright white-collar future, failure can wreak emotional carnage. It can cost more than $800 to take the exam, and bombing the first time can mean losing a law firm job.


When he saw the abysmal returns, Mark Albanese, director of testing and research at the NCBE, scrambled to check his staff’s work. Once he and Moeser were confident the test had been fairly scored, they began reporting the numbers to state officials, who released their results to the public over the course of several weeks.


In Idaho, bar pass rates dropped 15 percentage points, from 80 percent to 65 percent. In Delaware, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas, scores dropped 9 percentage points or more. By the time all the states published their numbers, it was clear that the July exam had been a disaster everywhere. Scores on the multiple-choice part of the test registered their largest single-year drop in the four-decade history of the test.


. . . . 


This year’s results, which will start coming out in September, may be the most critical in the exam’s history. Lawyers and those who hope to join their ranks will soon know if last year was an aberration or a symptom of a worsening problem. Critics of the bar exam say the test is broken, while Moeser maintains the reason so many students are failing is that they are less prepared. “You can squawk loud and long about what’s happening,” Moeser says, “but you’ve got to look at who your student body is.”


Whether or not the profession is in crisis—a perennial lament—there’s no question that American legal education is in the midst of an unprecedented slump. In 2015 fewer people applied to law school than at any point in the last 30 years. Law schools are seeing enrollments plummet and have tried to keep their campuses alive by admitting students with worse credentials. That may force some law firms and consumers to rely on lawyers of a lower caliber, industry watchers say, but the fight will ultimately be most painful for the middling students, who are promised a shot at a legal career but in reality face long odds of becoming lawyers.


. . . .

You can continue reading here.


August 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fiduciary Duties of University & College Board Members

The Board of Directors of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges has issued guidelines on fiduciary duties of governing board members (here).

This AGB board statement is designed as a tool to orient board members to the

elements of fiduciary duty and to recommend proven practices for translating those duties

into effective board conduct. It comprises a discussion of governing board members and

officers as fiduciaries of their institutions, an explanation of the three fiduciary duties [duties of care, loyalty, and obedience] that apply to them, and principles for translating these duties into effective board conduct.

Integrated throughout the statement are illustrative questions for members of governing boards to consider. 

Apparently, the conduct of a Board member at the university hosting my law school alma mater has had something to do with the issuing of this statement.


August 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Assessment Conference at Whittier Law School

Whittier Law School will host a day-long law school assessment conference on November 14, 2015, called "Building an Assessment Plan from the Ground Up." This conference is designed to help law schools comply with the assessment requirements recently added by the American Bar Association for accreditation.

More information here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Why Nova and Other Law Schools are Stressing Business of Law"

From the Florida Daily Business Review comes this story featuring my very own school, Nova Southeastern:

Along with torts, constitutional law, contracts and civil procedure, law schools have started teaching a new subject in recent years: law firm management.


Recognizing students must learn the business of law—such as how to recruit clients, manage a trust account and track billable hours—law schools are stepping up.


This is particularly true since the legal industry faced a steep economic downturn and many new law graduates opened solo practices.


Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center in Davie is launching a business of law summer program next year as an elective. It may eventually be offered to lawyers as a continuing legal education course.


The course will be taught by professors and law firm managing partners, said Nova Southeastern law dean Jon Garon, who hatched the idea shortly after being named dean last year.


"Students really have to understand the economic and business underpinnings of the law," he explained. "The course will be very experientially focused so they will immerse themselves in running a simulated firm."


Garon said he launched the program partially in response to the recession.


"Lawyers don't typically have that kind of training," he said. "To me, it's a core competency lawyers should understand."


Garon hopes to make the course available to junior associates in a weeklong boot camp to help prepare them for partnership. Students will be taught such skills as setting up an Interest on Trust Account, staff management and client recruiting.

. . . . 

You can continue reading here.


August 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to Sabotage Your Job Search: 8 Ways

From Hillary Mantis in the National Jurist. Here are the headlines:

1. You are not targeting your cover letter:

2. You have not prepared “success stories” before your interview:

3. You didn’t send a thank you note:

4. You didn’t apply quickly enough:

5. You are not asking questions at the end of the interview:

6. You are not networking:

7. Use social media wisely:

8. Believe in yourself:

You can read the full explanations here.



August 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Measuring the Values and Costs of Experiential Education - Report of the Working Group on Cost and Sustainability (Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law)

Measuring the Values and Costs of Experiential Education - Report of the Working Group on Cost and Sustainability (Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law) by Stephen Ellmann & Katherine R. Kruse.


"This report is one of a series of Working Group reports from the Alliance for Experiential Education in Law, collected in “Experience the Future: Papers from the Second National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law,” 7 Elon Law Review 1-108 (2015). The Report of the Working Group on Cost and Sustainability seeks to provide a basis for thoughtful analysis and discussion of both the values and costs of experiential legal education by breaking those values and costs down into their component parts. The way these component parts are arranged will vary from school to school, and this report does not attempt to catalogue every possible combination. Our aim is to categorize the types of value that education adds to experience and the types of costs that need to be assessed, providing a basis for more nuanced discussion of the cost and sustainability of experiential educational programming in law schools. The challenge educators face is not the hypothetical comparison of one clinic and one doctrinal course, but the shaping of programs in which the benefits of experiential education can be realized as fully as possible while the costs are recognized and effectively managed."

August 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

88 College Taglines as a Poem

The Chronicle of Higher Education has arranged these college trademarks as a rather free form poem. It’s hard for me to believe that they have marketing power. I have always liked Skidmore’s: “Creative Thought Matters.”

Change Your Life. Start Here.
Institution: Charter College

State: Alaska

Life's Calling
Institution: Des Moines Area Community College

State: Iowa

It's Your Life
Institution: Columbus State University

State: Georgia

Your Extraordinary Life
Institution: Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

State: Ohio

The Life of the Mind
Institution: University of Chicago

State: Illinois

Change Your Mind. Change Your Life.
Institution: Tillamook Bay Community College

State: Oregon

Minds. Motivated.
Institution: Cypress College

State: California

Inspiring Minds
Institution: Dalhousie University

State: Nova Scotia, Canada

Inspiring Innovation
Institution: University of Wisconsin-Stout

State: Wisconsin

Innovation Is Our Tradition
Institution: Babson College

State: Massachusetts

Innovation. Education.
Institution: Trident Technical College

State: South Carolina

Education for Service
Institution: Langston University

State: Oklahoma

Education for Individual and Social Responsibility
Institution: Olivet College

State: Michigan

Education for a World Stage
Institution: Macalester College

State: Minnesota

Education for an Inspired Life
Institution: Fairfield University

State: Connecticut

Education Redefined
Institution: Ball State University

State: Indiana

Education on Your Terms
Institution: Ashworth College

State: Georgia

Your Education. Your Way.
Institution: Holmes Community College

State: Mississippi

Personal Education. Lifetime Success.
Institution: Bryant & Stratton College

State: New York

Personal Education, Extraordinary Success
Institution: Centre College

State: Kentucky

Where Success Begins
Institution: Lansing Community College

State: Michigan

Where Success Is a Tradition
Institution: State University of New York at Fredonia

State: New York

Your Success. Our Tradition.
Institution: University of Jamestown

State: North Dakota

Experience Tradition. Expect Success.
Institution: Duquesne University

State: Pennsylvania

Real Tradition, Real Success
Institution: Ellsworth Community College

State: Iowa

Real Education. Above All.
Institution: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

State: Arizona

Real Education. Real Results.
Institution: Dakota County Technical College

State: Minnesota

Real Life. Real Knowledge. Real People.
Institution: Moberly Area Community College

State: Missouri

Real People Start Here
Institution: Kankakee Community College

State: Illinois

A Great Place to Start
Institution: Angelina College

State: Texas

It All Begins Here
Institution: Brookhaven College

State: Texas

Higher Education Begins Here
Institution: Gateway Community and Technical College

State: Kentucky

Your Career Path Begins Here
Institution: Metropolitan Community College

State: Missouri

Great Stories Begin Here
Institution: Adams State University

State: Colorado

Start Here. Go Anywhere.
Institution: Berkshire Community College

State: Massachusetts

Going Anywhere Starts Here!
Institution: Cloud County Community College

State: Kansas

Go Farther Than You Ever Dreamed!
Institution: Central College

State: Iowa

From Here, It’s Possible
Institution: Texas Tech University

State: Texas

Possible Is Everything
Institution: Lawrence Technological University

State: Michigan

Realize What’s Possible
Institution: Potomac State College at West Virginia University

State: West Virginia

Redefine the Possible
Institution: California State University at Sacramento

State: California

New Beginnings. Endless Possibilities.
Institution: Missouri State University at West Plains

State: Missouri

Believe in the Possibilities
Institution: Gannon University

State: Pennsylvania

Seek Your Dream
Institution: Wayland Baptist University

State: Texas

Be Your Dream
Institution: Mt. Hood Community College

State: Oregon

Dream Big
Institution: Lincoln University

State: Missouri

Big Dreams Come True Here
Institution: Chatfield College

State: Ohio

Dream Bigger. Do Greater.
Institution: Mid-American Christian University

State: Oklahoma

Do Something Great
Institution: Ohio State University

State: Ohio

Imagine What You Can Do
Institution: Baton Rouge Community College

State: Louisiana

You Can Do That Here
Institution: Alderson-Broaddus College

State: West Virginia

Think. Do.
Institution: Columbus College of Art and Design

State: Ohio

Think Big. We Do.
Institution: University of Rhode Island

State: Rhode Island

Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers.
Institution: University of Memphis

State: Tennessee

Learn by Doing
Institution: California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo

State: California

Learn. Do. Live.
Institution: Central Washington University

State: Washington

Let's Do This
Institution: Hennepin Technical College

State: Minnesota

Are You In?
Institution: Colorado Technical University

State: Colorado

What Will You Do?
Institution: Polytechnic Institute of New York University

State: New York

Who Will You Be?
Institution: University of Findlay

State: Ohio

It’s All About You
Institution: Waldorf College

State: Iowa

Your Dreams. Our Mission.
Institution: MassBay Community College

State: Massachusetts

One Purpose. One Mission. One Dream.
Institution: Ross University School of Medicine

Location: Dominica

Start With a Dream, Finish With a Future
Institution: Central Connecticut State University

State: Connecticut

Imagine Your Future
Institution: Franklin University

State: Ohio

Walk Into Your Future
Institution: William Woods University

State: Missouri

Your Future Starts Here
Institution: College of Southern Nevada

State: Nevada

Your Future Is Our Future
Institution: Louisiana State University at Alexandria

State: Louisiana

Your Future. Our Mission.
Institution: Missouri University of Science and Technology

State: Missouri

Your Future, Our Focus
Institution: Northwest College

State: Wyoming

The Focus Is You
Institution: Southwestern Oklahoma State University

State: Oklahoma

You First
Institution: Columbia College

State: South Carolina

The Education You Want. The Attention You Deserve.
Institution: Capital University

State: Ohio

The Perfect Fit for You
Institution: North Iowa Area Community College

State: Iowa

As Distinctive as You
Institution: Perdue School of Business, Salisbury University

State: Maryland

Like No Place Else on Earth
Institution: University of Hawaii System

State: Hawaii

Exceptional Education. Exceptional Value.
Institution: Muskingum University

State: Ohio

Become Exceptional
Institution: Bellevue College

State: Washington

Set Yourself Apart
Institution: Colorado Northwestern Community College

State: Colorado

Invent Yourself
Institution: Beloit College

State: Wisconsin

Declare Yourself
Institution: Buffalo State College

State: New York

Transform Yourself. Transform the World.
Institution: Naropa University

State: Colorado

It's Your World
Institution: Lake Area Technical Institute

State: South Dakota

Your Place. Your Purpose.
Institution: Belhaven University

State: Mississippi

Your Life. Your College. Your Way.
Institution: Community College of Vermont

State: Vermont

Why Go Anywhere Else?
Institution: Iowa Lakes Community College

State: Iowa

When You Get Here You Understand
Institution: Red Deer College

State: Alberta, Canada

You're One of a Kind. So Are We.


August 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Publishing opportunity: Seeking "micro" essays on the topic of "practice ready" law grads

Are law schools producing "practice ready" grads or is this instead an unrealistic goal? The publication Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing is soliciting "micro" essays on this topic to be published in a forthcoming issue (if you're not familiar with Perspectives, it is published and distributed free of charge by Thomson Reuters to more than 4,000 subscribers interested in LRW pedagogy and skills training). Here's a link to the website and below are more details about the micro essays being sought.

Got Writer’s Block? A New Way to Become an Author for Perspectives! If you’ve never written for Perspectives, and don’t know how to get started, here is our newest opportunity: the micro essay. We are asking our readers to submit 100 words or less on the following topic: Practice Ready. We’ll publish the best selections in an upcoming issue (we’ll even do so anonymously, if asked). Be honest, be creative, let us know what words provoke or inspire!

You can submit essays directly to Perspectives' EIC, Professor Elizabeth Edinger (Catholic University), at [email protected] or to me at [email protected] and I'll forward them to Professor Edinger.

[UPDATE: Submissions due the end of the September]. 


August 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2)

AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education Issues Statement on the California Task Force on Admissions Regulation Recommendations (TFARR)

I am posting this in full because of its importance.  (Scott Fruehwald)

AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education Issues Statement on the California Task Force on Admissions Regulation Recommendations (TFARR)

The Association of American Law Schools Section on Clinical Legal Education (“AALS Clinical Section”) applauds the Trustees of the State Bar of California for unanimously adopting the proposal of the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform (“TFARR”) to require applicants to have completed 15 credits of experiential education prior to sitting for the California Bar. The AALS Clinical Section is made up of hundreds of legal educators, including many in California who have dedicated their professional lives to preparing students for the practice of law through in-house clinics, externships, and other experiential educational offerings. In recent years, we collectively and individually have been involved in efforts to ensure that our JD students are more ready for practice, consistent with calls for such training made by bar associations, alumni, prospective students, and fellow educators. Many of us have participated actively in state bar associations and on bar committees, allowing us to appreciate the goals of both the legal academy and state regulators. With these experiences and perspectives in mind, we believe that the TFARR proposal, which encourages the integration of 21st century lawyering skills into the core of legal education, presents a significant opportunity to better prepare students to meet the demands of clients upon admission to the bar.

As the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) and other stakeholders have noted, the legal profession has lagged far behind every other profession in regards to required pre-licensing professional skills education. Numerous studies over the past four decades by the American Bar Association (ABA) and others have decried this lack of practical training and called for reforms to the required law school curriculum.1 As a result of these reports, the ABA recently increased the number of credits of experiential education required of JD students from 1 to 6 credits.2 While this represents a significant increase for law students, it corresponds to less than 8% of the JD program. It is also 4 times less than the practical training required of social workers and nurses and more than 6 times less than the practical training required of physicians.3

A.   The Proposal Reflects an Increased Demand for Experiential Opportunities

Law students also have been clamoring for more experiential education opportunities. The greatest evidence of this demand is the criteria students rely upon when choosing a law school. These choices have become ever more important for law schools facing declining application numbers. A Law School Admission Council study in 2013 found that clinics/internships were among the most influential factors for prospective students in deciding whether to enroll at a given law school, behind only location and employment of graduates (77% of respondents considered location to be a very important factor and 68% classified clinics/internships as very important).4 In fact, experiential offerings were more important to these prospective students than the cost of the institution, the personal attention they would receive, a school’s ranking, and the reputation of faculty. In addition, a survey conducted in 2004 of recent law school graduates found that opportunities for professional skills training (including clinical courses and legal employment) were rated as the most helpful law school experiences in successfully transitioning to practice.5 Surveys conducted by the National Association for Law Placement in 2010 and 2011 likewise found that lawyers in the private, government, and non-profit sectors attached great value to their law school clinic experiences.6 Thus, from the viewpoints of prospective law students, recent graduates, and more senior lawyers, practical training is vital.

B.   The Proposal Permits Great Flexibility and Aligns with the ABA Rules

We are aware that TFARR took these factors into account and that it crafted and revised the final proposal over several years during which it worked closely with California law schools, practitioners, and the judiciary, and engaged in extensive information gathering, including numerous opportunities for public comment. The result is a proposal that gives law schools guidance on developing and evaluating experiential learning offerings while simultaneously giving schools flexibility to design these offerings in ways that suit particular institutional missions, student bodies, and relevant legal markets. First and foremost, the proposed California bar rules provide a “safe harbor” for courses that comply with the revised ABA standard, thus allowing ABA-accredited schools to offer programs that simultaneously satisfy both requirements. Under both sets of rules, virtually any topic taught in a real-client or simulated setting will satisfy the ABA and the California Bar, including interdisciplinary courses developed in collaboration with other professional schools. Skills learned can be as diverse as law practice management, client counseling, practical writing (including transactional writing), and pre-trial preparation.

In addition, under the California rules, the settings in which these skills can be learned include traditional courses, clinics and externships, uncredited clerkships, and apprenticeships. The proposal even allows for portions of a course to count, such that a 3-credit course that uses a contract-drafting exercise for 1/3 of the class time could count the 1-credit module towards the 15-credit requirement. Moreover, in a nod to schools experimenting with their first-year curricula, all but the first 4 units of first-year legal research/writing courses can count towards the 15 credits if they are taught through real or simulated client work. Finally, summer work that is uncredited is specifically allowed to count for up to 6 of the 15 required units. Thus, there are virtually limitless permutations of course, field, and uncredited work that law schools can offer to their students in order to meet both the ABA and California rules.

Moreover, the emphasis on skills (as opposed to substantive practice areas) provides schools the ability to tailor offerings to the local marketplace (e.g., oil and gas offerings in Texas or maritime law offerings at coastal schools). The result is that virtually any legal experience a student gains, whether in a law and policy reform organization or at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, can potentially count towards the 15-credit requirement. This provides a great deal of room for innovation, allowing institutions to experiment with the delivery of skills and professional training and draw upon generally under-utilized resources such as alumni.

As with any new undertaking, there will be a period of adjustment as schools begin to grapple with both the new ABA requirements as well as state requirements like those proposed by TFARR. TFARR has wisely taken this adjustment period into account by offering exemptions for licensed attorneys from other jurisdictions and allowing post-graduate apprenticeships (which can be paid) to meet the 15-credit requirement. This will ensure that schools have plenty of time to audit and/or ramp up their offerings, that lawyers who had not planned to practice in California still have access to that state’s bar, and that students have every opportunity to learn about and meet the requirements prior to their first bar admission.


Overall, the TFARR proposal presents a significant opportunity to improve the overall competency of new admittees to the State Bar of California. As students enter a rapidly changing and expanding legal marketplace, it is incumbent upon the Bar to ensure that law graduates have the doctrinal knowledge and professional and interpersonal skills needed to effectively and ethically represent clients in California. The TFARR proposal would advance this important obligation of the Bar and help legal education fulfill the demands of our students, their future clients, and the legal profession.


*. Disclaimer in accordance with AALS Executive Committee Regulation 1.4: The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of each member of the Section and do not necessarily represent the position of the Association of American Law Schools.

1. The ABA’s 1979 Report and Recommendation of the Task Force on Lawyer Competency: The Role of the Law Schools (“the Crampton Report”) proposed that law school curricula pay more attention to providing professional experiences. The ABA’s 1983 Task Force on Professional Competence shared this perspective and recommended that the ABA make enhanced law school training in lawyering skills a top priority. A decade later, the 1992 ABA Report of the Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap (“the MacCrate Report”) recommended that law schools “develop or expand instruction” in fundamental lawyering skills and professional values; and the most recent, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education Report and Recommendation reiterated the “calls for more attention to skills training, experiential learning, and the development of practicerelated competencies” and noted that the “balance between doctrinal instruction and focused preparation for the delivery of legal services needs to shift still further towards [the latter].” In addition, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching publication, EDUCATING LAWYERS: PREPARATION FOR THE PROFESSION OF LAW (2007), found that courses that included real-life experience with lawyering could teach students all of the relevant professional competencies: intellectual, practical, and formation of professional identity and judgment.
2. ABA Standard 303(a)(3).
3. Robert R. Kuehn, Pricing Clinical Legal Education, 92 DENVER L. REV. 1, Appendix A (2015) (citing MOLLY COOKE ET AL., EDUCATING PHYSICIANS: A CALL FOR REFORM OF MEDICAL SCHOOL AND RESIDENCY (2010); and COUNCIL ON SOCIAL WORK EDUC., EDUCATIONAL POLICY AND ACCREDITATION STANDARDS, at Educ. Policy 2.3., Accreditation Std. 2.1.3 (2012)).
4. The survey ranked factors based on the percentage of respondents who rated each factor as “4” or “5” on a 5-point scale, with “3” as “somewhat important” and “5” as “extremely important.” See Law School Admission Council, LSAC REPORT, May 2013, at 12.

August 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

First Impressions

On her blog, Listen Like a Lawyer, Jennifer Romig reviews Heidi Grant Halvorson’s No One Understands You and What To Do About It (Harvard Business Review Press 2015). Here is an excerpt on making a first impression:

After laying this groundwork, Halvorson spends most of the book talking about the “lenses” that affect first impressions, before any intentional “corrections” can take place. The three key lenses are:

  • the trust lens

Trust is based on two factors—warmth and competence—that may sometimes be at odds with each other. More on that in a moment.

  • the power lens

To get the attention of a powerful person, it’s all about showing your “instrumentality.” As Halvorson writes, “It’s not about being nice—it’s about being useful.”

  • the ego lens

The ego plays games with perception so that the perceiver comes out on top. Understanding ego dynamics can help a person avoid being seen as an ego threat. The least manipulative-sounding of these is focusing on how the speaker and perceiver are members of the same group (such as alums of the same school or members of the same profession).

These lenses are at work in difficult situations that lawyers and legal professionals face every day. A few that come to mind: clients who resist signing settlements that are strongly in their favor; supervising lawyers who want to control conversations with clients; legal professionals who gain a reputation—either for good or poor work—that seems difficult if not impossible to alter.


August 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 17, 2015

NYC law schools give students an edge by focusing on practical skills training

Though this article from the New York Law Journal was written by Dean Anthony Crowell of New York Law School, and thus focuses on that school's programs, it's worth a read for an overview of the incredible breadth of clinical offerings law schools have been able to develop in recent years (NYLS has doubled its clinical programs since 2013) by partnering with private enterprise, government and non-profits. Good brainstorming material.

From the New York Law Journal:

New York City Law Schools Give Students an Edge While Serving Many Needs

 As the profession demands more practice-ready graduates, law schools must ensure that their students' classroom education is complemented by ample opportunities for a wide range of practical training in both traditional legal settings and new and high-growth fields requiring legal talent. Indeed, in response to the shifting sands of the market, the American Bar Association (ABA) now mandates that law schools require their students to complete at least six credit hours of so-called experiential learning before graduation. Although most, if not all, American law schools have long offered some form of clinical education or a formal externship program, the new ABA requirements call for every school to evaluate its programs and ensure they are sufficiently varied to meet student professional interests while serving important community needs.


Law schools in densely urban environments like New York have the opportunity to create diverse and robust programs through a wide variety of strategic partnerships. Law schools in suburban or rural settings, however, may face more limited opportunities because of lower population density and less diversity of economic, and therefore legal, activity.


New York City, which has long been a major center for financial services, media, health care, and fashion, is now also the largest urban center for technology companies. These industries offer law schools singular opportunities to meet new market challenges. Schools have the opportunity to align their curriculums, academic centers, and practical training programs with the legal needs of these key economic drivers in the City. Fulfilling that goal means that law schools must pursue opportunities in crucial areas of employment and growth, in both the local and global economies: business and financial services; intellectual property, media, technology, and applied sciences; and government and public interest. They must also recognize that sources of employment for their students have to change as the economy changes, and they must build alliances in nontraditional fields, such as compliance, legal technology, entrepreneurship, and financial services.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Too Many Prepositional Phrases?

In the July 2015 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, Professor Barbara Kalinowski offers advice of controlling prepositional phrases—keep the number down, but don’t go overboard. Here is an excerpt:

Professor Joseph Kimble and others advocate

questioning every of. If you use an

of-phrase, consider moving the object of the

prepositional phrase (the part after the of )

in front of the noun to make it a possessive.

Take the verdict of the jury, for example. You

can make it the jury’s verdict. (Note: I didn’t

change object of the prepositional phrase;

a possessive there would be clumsy.)


Similarly, putting the object in an adjectival

position can condense and clarify.

Instead of estimate in writing, try written

estimate. Cost of repairs can become repair

cost. Admittedly, saving one word may

seem insignificant, but consider the difference

when the phrases are used together in

a sentence:


Provide an estimate in writing of the cost

of repairs.


Provide a written estimate of the repair cost.

You can read the rest here.


August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Legal Education Can Learn from Medical Education About Competency-Based Learning Outcomes Including Those Related to Professional Formation (Professionalism)

What Legal Education Can Learn from Medical Education About Competency-Based Learning Outcomes Including Those Related to Professional Formation (Professionalism) by Neil W. Hamilton & Sarah Schaefer.


"Following the American Bar Association’s August 2014 changes in the accreditation standards for law schools requiring the establishment (and assessment) of learning outcomes that include “competency” in knowledge of the law, legal analysis, legal research, problem-solving, effective communication and “the exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities,” every law school will now develop competency-based learning outcomes and a curriculum that help each student develop and be able to demonstrate both the listed core competencies and “other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.” These accreditation changes require a greater emphasis on professional and ethical responsibilities and both the articulation of learning outcomes for each student on these responsibilities and assessment of the learning outcomes.

Medical education, following accreditation changes in 1999 that emphasized learning outcomes (and assessment) of core competencies is fifteen years in front of legal education in learning how most effectively to help students achieve competency-based learning outcomes including those emphasizing ethical responsibilities. This article analyzes what legal education can learn from medical education’s experience over these past fifteen years with competency-based learning outcomes, especially ethical competencies.

While legal education has some experience with developing and assessing student competency in many of the core competencies required by the new standards, law schools historically have not emphasized learning outcomes (and assessment) relating to each student’s professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system beyond a standard curriculum relating to knowledge and analysis of the law of lawyering. Medical education has particularly useful experience to help legal education with learning outcomes related to student ethical development."

August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

What Makes a Narrative Persuasive?

[A]judicial decision must “ring true” with the stories that the audience knows to be true from its experience; that is, the argument must have “narrative fidelity.” Further, it must accept a narrative that is plausible; that is, the argument must have “narrative coherence.”  Narrative coherence requires “external coherence;” that is, the narrative must correspond with the audience’s background social knowledge and cultural presuppositions. Narrative coherence also requires “internal coherence;” that is, all the aspects of the narrative--the plot, the characters, the setting--must join together without contradictions.

Louis J. Sirico, Jr. Opening an Oral Argument before the Supreme Court: The Decline of Narrative’s Role, Duke L.J.Online (forthcoming).  

For this analysis, I relied heavily on J. Christopher Rideout, A Twice-Told Tale: Plausibility and Narrative Coherence in Judicial Storytelling, 10 Leg. Comm. and Rhetoric: JALWD 67, 71 (2013); J. Christopher Rideout, Storytelling, Narrative Rationality, and Legal Persuasion, 14 J. Legal Writing 54, 64-66. (2008). See also Philip N. Meyer, Storytelling for Lawyers (Oxford 2014) (focusing on storytelling in trials); Ruth Anne Robbins, Steve Johansen & Ken Chestek, Your Client’s Story: Persuasive Legal Writing (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen 2012) (focusing on teaching storytelling to law students).


August 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)