Monday, February 29, 2016

Self-Formative Assessment Texts

Last week, I wrote about two posts by Professor David Thomson on formative assessment.  (here)  Formative assessment in law classes has recently become an important topic because education researchers have discovered its usefulness in better educating students and because the ABA is implementing a new standard that requires formative assessment in law school.  The biggest problem with formative assessment is that it is time intensive for law professors.   I propose "self-formative texts" (texts with exercises and answers) to correct part of this problem.

First, I am not proposing that students be given simple multiple-choice tests with the only feedback being the correct letter answer.  Such tests do students little good.  As Professor Thomson wrote in his posts, "It seems to me that all of the automated tools provided by vendors – such 'formative assessment tools' seem to be the current hot item in the law school publishing space - will inevitably fall short of the true meaning of the term 'formative assessment.'"

Rather, I propose a new type of textbook that uses self-formative assessment exercises to help students develop their legal reasoning and legal problem-solving skills.  It is based on the discovery that students need many exercises in a skill to master that skill and that some skills are part of more complicated ones.  In addition, students need practice and feedback in combination, and they need it at the proper time.

Others have written about the need for formative assessment: “Continuous evaluation is the most powerful way to maintain, expand and enhance professional competence.”  (Margareta Wilhelmsson, How to Think about Interprofessional Competence: A Metacognitive Model, 26 Journal of Interprofessional Care 2, 9-10 (2012))  Likewise, “The purpose of feedback is to help learners achieve a desired level of performance.”  (Susan Ambrose, How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching 137 (2010))  “[M]ore frequent feedback leads to more efficient learning because it helps students stay on track and address their errors before they become entrenched.”  “Generally speaking, both professors and students underestimate the need for practice.”  (Id. at 135)

Moreover, as Best Practices has observed, “It takes time to develop expertise in legal problem-solving. Problem-solving skills can be developed only by actually working through the process of resolving problems. Developing problem-solving expertise requires repetitions of ‘training’ as against the hard world of consequences, of repeated success and failure, and some inductive efforts at understanding what works and what does not, what seems important and what does not.” Similarly, "Practicing or rehearsing improves retention, especially when it is distributed practice. By distributing practices, the learner associates the material with many different contexts rather than the one context afforded by mass practice."  (Karen J. Sneddon, Beyond Chalk and Talk: The Law Classroom of the Future, 38 Ohio N. U. L. Rev. 257, 266 (2011))

In addition, formative assessment should develop all stages of Bloom's Taxonomy: 1) remember, 2) understand, 3) apply, 4) analyze, 5) evaluate, and 6) create.  

Over the last three years, I have written three self-formative texts:  Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning For Law Students and Business Professionals (ABA Pub. 2013),  Legal Writing Exercises: A Practical Guide to Clear and Persuasive Writing for Lawyers (ABA Pub. 2014), and A Companion to Torts: How to Think Like A Torts Lawyer (2015).  In these books, I developed a wide-variety of exercises based on Bloom's Taxonomy in order to help students develop long-term memory, create connections among ideas, and perfect skills.

Types of exercises:

  1. Retrieval Exercises, a type of self-testing, requiring students to retrieve knowledge from long-term memory.  Retrieval exercises can be simple questions.
    Question. Write down the elements of negligence.
    Question. What are the defenses to battery?
    Questions will become more complex as the semester progresses.
    Question. Make a chart with all the intentional torts and all the defenses to each tort. (Ex. Battery: consent, necessity, defense of others, etc.) Try to do this drawing based only on your memory.
  2. Issue Spotting is the foundational skill for first-year law students because it helps them identify the essential features of the analysis. While traditional Socratic classes do teach issue spotting, many students struggle with this skill because they have to learn it within long cases. Having short issue-spotting exercises would help many law students become proficient with this skill more quickly.  Practice makes perfect.
  3. Legal Reasoning Exercises: Legal reasoning divides into five miniskills: 1) rule-based reasoning (deductive reasoning), 2) analogical reasoning, 3) distinguishing cases, 4) synthesis (inductive reasoning), and 5) policy-based reasoning. Students need to do many exercises in all five types of legal reasoning in order to become competent legal problem solvers.
    One way to help your students understand the five types of legal reasoning is to require them to identify the type or types of legal reasoning a judge is using when they read a case. The students should do so in detail, for example, showing how the reasoning by analogy works. They should also evaluate whether the judge used the legal reasoning technique convincingly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Other examples:
    Problem. Label the following types of legal reasoning.
    1. A contract requires an offer and an acceptance to be binding. In this case, the plaintiff’s letter of July 15 was an offer, and the defendant’s phone call on July 16 accepted that offer.  Thus, the contract was binding.
    2. Smith held that someone who grabs a hat out of another person’s hand can be liable for battery. In our case, the defendant grabbed a plate out of our client’s hand, which is like grabbing a hat out of a person’s hand. Therefore, the defendant should be liable for battery.
  4. Multiple Choice Exercises:
    You can also create legal reasoning or retrieval exercises as multiple choice exercises.
    Problem. Choose the best answer.  Peggy complained several times about a broken lock on her apartment building’s front door. Despite the fact that he knew the building was in a dangerous neighborhood, the landlord failed to fix the lock. Sven, a resident of the building, propped open the front door of the apartment door as he was moving out. While the door was propped open, a thief entered the building and stole Peggy’s television and computer. Can Peggy recover from her landlord for negligence?
    A. No. A landlord does not owe a duty to his tenants to protect their property.
    B. No. Sven’s negligence was a superceding cause.
    C. No. Peggy should have bought a better lock for her door.
    D. Yes. In most jurisdictions, a landlord is strictly liable for the safety of his tenants.
  5. Exercises with Specific Types of Legal Reasoning:
    A. Rule-based reasoning: Rule-based reasoning involves applying a rule (a statute, a case holding, or an administrative regulation) to a set of facts. Examples: Application Exercises (Rule-Based Reasoning): Application exercises are a type of rule-based reasoning. Application exercises present students a short factual scenario and require them to apply their legal knowledge to answer a question concerning the facts. In other words, they are mini problem-solving exercises.
    B. Analogical Reasoning Exercises: Reasoning by analogy involves finding similarities (comparison of the specific to the specific). With legal reasoning by analogy, one argues that the facts of the precedent case are like the facts of the current case so that the rule of the precedent case should apply to the current case. (A lawyer can also argue using analogy between policies.) Because two cases are rarely exactly the same, one must convince the reader that the facts of the two cases are similar enough that the rule from the precedent case should apply to the present one. There are several ways to structure analogical reasoning exercises.
    C. Distinguishing Cases: In distinguishing cases, one argues that the facts of the precedent case are not like the facts of the present case so that the rule from the precedent case does not apply to the present case. In other words, it is the opposite of analogical reasoning. As with analogical reasoning, it is a question of degree. Being able to see subtle differences (discrimination skills), as is required with distinguishing cases, is a key skill in the ability to organize knowledge.
    D. Synthesis Exercises: Rule synthesis involves using holdings from several related cases to come up with a general rule. It is a type of inductive reasoning (going from the specific to the general). The law is like a jigsaw puzzle, and a lawyer must assemble the pieces. To synthesize a rule, you should look at the similarities among the facts of the precedent cases and the differences among the facts of those cases. You should also look at the reasoning behind the holdings.
    E. Policy-Based Reasoning: With policy-based reasoning, the lawyer argues that applying a particular rule to a case would create a precedent that is good for society. For example, in early products liability cases, lawyers argued for strict liability when a product injured a consumer because manufacturers could better spread the cost of injuries than consumers. One can also use policy-based reasoning with reasoning by analogy. For instance, one could argue that the policy behind the rule in the precedent case also applies to the present case so the rule from the precedent case should also apply to the present case.
  6. Reflection Questions: Reflection questions (a type of elaborative interrogation) help students think about why certain rules exist or why certain policies exist. They help students develop the ability to see the deep features of organization.                                                                                                                                                                                   Examples:
    Question. Why is consent a defense to an intentional tort?
    Question. Why do courts use a reasonable person standard for negligence? Would a subjective standard be better? Why or why not?
  7. Miscellaneous Exercises: You can be creative with the type of exercise you use for particular content.
    Examples:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Exercise. Identify the Defense. Identify the defense or doctrine for the following hypos (contributory negligence, last clear chance, pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, assumption of risk, failure to mitigate, automobile guest statute).                                                                                                                                               Exercise: Relating Concepts
    1. Are there any contract doctrines that resemble strict liability?
    2. Are there any criminal law doctrines that resemble tort strict liability?
  8. Metacognitive Questions: Metacognition involves understanding how one thinks–the cognitive processes that a person uses when they are undertaking a mental task. Examples.
    1. Do you think about how you study? Are your study methods effective?
    2. How do you prepare for torts class? After doing so, do you feel prepared for class?
    3. What do you do after class? Do you review your notes? Write in a journal? Relate what you have learned in this class to earlier classes? Reflect on what you’ve learn? Do you create visual learning tools (graphic organizers) to help you study?
    4. Do I always have clear goals when I tackle a problem?
    5. Do I have an effective case analysis strategy?
    6. What would my legal writing professor think about how I have written up my analysis?
    7. How would an opposing lawyer attack my arguments?
    8. Do I set learning goals?
    9. Do I use different learning techniques depending on the situation?
    10. Do you critically assess what is being said in class, or do you just try to absorb it?
  9. Problem-Solving Exercises: Complex problem-solving exercises bring the above exercises together.

These are just some of the examples of the types of exercises a textbook could use for self-formative assessment.  Toady's law students need more practice in legal reasoning and problem solving.

Some may think that having a textbook on torts or contracts with exercises to the extent advocated above is “overdoing it.” However, cognitive psychologists and learning specialists would disagree. As Professor Ambrose and her colleagues have observed, “Generally speaking, both professors and students underestimate the need for practice.” (Ambrose at 135)

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S.  Most U.S. law libraries own at least one of my books.

February 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Four Clear Communication Hints by Mark Herrmann

From Above the Law:

If You’re Using . . . by Mark Herrmann.

  1. "If you’re using an acronym, then I don’t understand it."
  2. "If you’re using shock quotation marks, then you don’t know what you’re saying."
  3. "If you’re using business jargon, then I won’t (1) connect with you on LinkedIn or (2) continue reading your email."
  4. "If you’re using a sentence that’s more than 3 1/2 typed lines long, then I forgot where I was and had to go back and re-read the thing."

Mark Herrmann is author of The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law, one of my favorite legal books.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schools Producing the Most Fulbright Scholars

Below are PDF versions of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Top Producing Institutions.

The numbers of grants awarded and institutional ranking may have changed from the first list published in November, 2011, but applications numbers have not.

You can find the data for previous years here at the Fulbright website.


February 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Positive Institutions: Organizations, Laws, and Policies by Peter H. Huang

Positive Institutions: Organizations, Laws, and Policies by Peter H. Huang.


"We analyze how positive institutions in the form of organizations, laws, and policies can help foster human flourishing and thriving. We provide five examples of positive institutions to illustrate the important role that institutions can play in facilitating positive psychological outcomes by positively changing individual preferences and values. First, we analyze how to apply positive psychology to redesign law firm cultures to enable law firms’ attorneys, clients, and communities to flourish and thrive. Second, we investigate how to apply positive psychology to redesign law schools to empower law students, law professors, and other law school constituencies to flourish and thrive. Third, we demonstrate how to apply positive psychology to foster innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in individuals, organizations, and societies. Fourth, we identify some complexities, due to people’s cognitive and emotional tendencies, of utilizing subjective well-being measures in a wide range of domains to evaluate the impacts of laws and policies. Finally, we develop implications from positive psychology about how and what governments and others can do to support individuals, communities, and societies to flourish and thrive. Our overarching goal is to provoke thoughtful discussion about positive psychology’s role in developing institutions in the form of organizations, laws, and policies that help individuals, communities, and societies to flourish and thrive."
Excerpts from the section on law schools:
"Psychological studies have found that although most entering law students are slightly above the population average in subjective well-being, within the first semester of law school, students report statistically significant drops in well-being and mental health, from which they never fully recover throughout law school and even after."
"Legal education is currently in a state of severe crisis and at a metaphorical crossroads."
"There are structural changes and novel challenges from increased global competition in legal services, clients demanding more value added by lawyers, clients fed up with the system of billable hours, and technological innovations displacing legal jobs."
"The leadership at some law schools is myopic, incompetent, and mistakenly focused on imposing top-down changes to incentivize raising law school applications, increasing lawyer job prospects, and artificially propping up short-term morale among law students and law professors."
"Even before today’s legal education crisis, some law school administrators undertook deceitful practices, if not outright fraud, to receive a (usually only slightly) higher spot in the highly competitive and very influential law school rankings that the magazine U.S. News & World Report annually publishes."

"Although there are numerous psychological (self-report) studies finding that law students are suffering from marked increases in anxiety and chronic stress, higher measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol collected from saliva samples would provide additional corroborating physiological evidence. Structural and functional MRI scans of law students’ brains would provide neuroscientific evidence about how pursuing an American legal education changes law students’ brains and whether it does so for the worse. A research team of three law professors and one psychologist/neuroscientist (Huang et al., 2016) plans a longitudinal, multi-year study of law students that will include the collection of spit samples to test for cortisol levels and the neuroimaging of law students in August, December, and May of the first year of law school to test for structural brain changes."

"Law schools can mitigate law student and future lawyer unhappiness by not fostering learned helplessness; by helping law students make better academic and career decisions based upon a more realistic picture of the boredom, drudgery, and numerous time demands of some lawyer’s professional lives; helping law students develop grit, passion, and resilience; and by helping law students learn their signature strengths."

"Law professors can teach law students about effective, healthy, proven, and positive ways to cope with and mitigate chronic stress and the dangers of using ineffective, unhealthy, unproven, and negative coping strategies to respond chronic stress. One effective way to ameliorate and reduce chronic stress is to practice various forms of mindfulness."

"Law schools can also teach law students about different attribution styles. An optimistic attribution style views positive events as permanent, pervasive, and personal; while a pessimistic attribution style views negative events as temporary and specific. An optimistic attribution style views negative events as temporary, specific, and hopeful; while a pessimistic attribution style views negative events as permanent, pervasive, and personal. In other words, a pessimistic attribution style makes internal, global, and stable attributions for negative events or failure, and makes the converse attributions for positive events or success."  [Similar to Carol Dweck's "positive mindset"]

"Creating a positive law school does not require big, expensive, revolutionary, slow, and structural changes."

"Another way to create a positive law school is to provide a cafeteria that offers every weekday healthy, gourmet breakfasts and lunches (including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options), where professors, staff, and students can share meals and interact in a collegial, informal, non-hierarchical environment."

"Google, many other high technology companies, and even some large law firms provide many of these or similar workplace perks to attract and retain the best and the brightest."

Key point: "There is psychological evidence that being in a happy mood is correlated with creative thinking."

[most citations omitted]

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should You Let Your iPhone Battery Drain Before Recharging?

Practical advice. I’ve always been told to let the charge reduce to almost nothing before recharging. It turns out that it makes no difference if you follow that advice or recharge more frequently. How did this inaccurate advice get such a foothold? You can find out here at the Science Explorer.


February 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Harper Lee on Typewriters and Computers

In a letter, Harper Lee included this postscript:

“When you are my age and are as arthritic you will make as many typing errors but nobody will know it because you will be using a 21st Century word processor,” she wrote.

“My Olivetti will be buried with me.”

You can read about the letter here at Across America Patch.


February 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Early-bird registration extended for April conference on law school incubators

Here are the details:

Incubator Consortium’s 3rd Annual Conference

Access to Justice through Incubator Programs and Non-profit Law Firms

APRIL 1-2, 2016


Early Bird Registration Extended through Monday, March 7

Detailed Program now available on website 

The Consortium for Access to Justice and UMKC School of Law are pleased to announce that a detailed program for the conference is now posted on the conference website at   The conference will include many concurrent sessions on specific issues related to the role of Incubators and Nonprofit law firms in developing access to justice as well as technology workshops and other working groups.  The names of presenters will be posted soon. 

The deadline for early bird registration discount has been extended through March 7 and the website contains links for registration and accommodations.  Please note that the deadline for making reservations at both hotels is March 1st and likely cannot be extended. 

If you have questions about the conference please contact any of the members of the Consortium listed below.






February 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Law Firm Pulls Funding from Student Events at Harvard

From the Harvard Crimson:

According to Law School administrators, in 2012, Milbank—an international corporate law firm–pledged $200,000 each year over five years to be allocated to student groups at the Dean of Students’ discretion, with the stipulation that groups publicly recognize Milbank’s contribution on their promotional materials.

The firm chose to redirect its donations from student events to other Law School initiatives after Justice for Palestine held an event on Oct. 20 titled “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack.”

The event—which between 80 and 100 people from across Harvard attended—invited attorneys to discuss their research on what they identify as a phenomenon of pro-Israel groups silencing Palestinian human rights activists at universities and institutions across the United States. Funds from Milbank paid for $500 worth of pizza, according to event organizers

You can read more here.


February 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Competitive Intelligence Instruction to Develop Practice-Ready Legal Professionals by Catherine A. Lemmer

Using Competitive Intelligence Instruction to Develop Practice-Ready Legal Professionals by Catherine A. Lemmer.


"Competitive intelligence is the identification and use of internal and external information to inform business decisions. Integrating competitive intelligence instruction into the law school curriculum is another option to use when preparing “practice-ready” legal professionals. First, it broadens the curriculum experience beyond the courtroom with its introduction of basic corporate, regulatory, and transactional documents, and second, introduces students to the critical decision-making and business-development skills lawyers use to identify, investigate, and develop business leads necessary for a financially viable legal practice."

February 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pittsburgh law firms report uptick in hiring

From the Pittsburgh Business Times:

New lawyers find strong job market


Recruiting and hiring of new law school grads by law firms nationwide this year is expected to be the strongest since the recession.


A new report by the National Association for Law Placement said 95 percent of 2015 summer associates — law students who will graduate this year — received job offers, the highest percentage in 20 years and in contrast to 2009 when just 69 percent received bids. Some 59 percent of law firms said they made more offers for summer 2016 associate posts than they did a year ago.


Although Pittsburgh firms were included in NALP’s survey, breakout data for the region was not available. But calls to some of Pittsburgh’s largest firms indicated that they’re in line with the national findings.


Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC, No. 4 among local firms by size, eliminated its summer program in 2007 but is reinstating it for summer 2016.


“We’re re-entering in a measured way with two and expect to increase the program,” said CEO Timothy Ryan. “We see some rationalization to first-year compensation in the marketplace and it makes sense for us to again make first-year hires. And we see the need, given our growth, for a larger number of younger associates.”


Cohen & Grigsby PC expects five summer associates this year. It had four associates last summer and made offers to all.


. . . . 


Lori Carpenter, president of recruitment firm Carpenter Legal Search, said she has heard of an uptick in summer associate and new associate hiring from Pittsburgh law firm clients.


"Corporate and real estate associates were in little demand during the recession, and with few being trained at that time, there is now a dearth,” Carpenter said. “We rarely see the same highs or lows as in many other cities. I do not believe the uptick is as great in Pittsburgh as in New York or Washington, D.C.. Regardless, with difficulties in directly acquiring laterals from an extremely limited talent pool from other cities, firms are again considering alternatives to their recruiting initiatives.”

Continue reading here.


February 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Should Schools Sponsor All-Night Writing Events?

There is a difference of opinion. My opinion: No. From University Affairs (excerpts):

When Lucie Moussu, director of the University of Alberta’s Centre for Writers, hosted her school’s first Long Night Against Procrastination in 2014, she was blown away by the response. The all-night writing and studying event, held in the library, was designed to help students confront daunting deadlines with the support of one-on-one tutors, creative writing coaches and learning strategists. . . .

However, despite it being one of the proudest moments of her life, says Dr. Moussu, she’s unlikely to do it again. She recently discovered that several key administrators made the decision to no longer support the event. One associate dean criticized LNAP in an open letter for “teaching bad habits” and “encouraging students to binge-write.” She insists the opposite is true. “Writing is too often associated with lonely suffering,” wrote Dr. Moussu in her final report on the inaugural LNAP in 2014. “We want to teach and promote healthy habits. We want to provide a supportive, creative, innovative and relaxed environment for teaching and learning.”

You can read more here.


February 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Multiple Choice Tests Satisfy ABA Standard 314? David Thomson on Formative Feedback

Professor David Thomson has two posts on whether multiple-choice tests satisfy the new ABA Standard 314 on his Law School 2.0 blog.

"In August of 2014, after five years of study and drafting, the ABA added a new set of assessment requirements to the accreditation standards. Starting with the incoming class in the fall of 2016, ABA accredited law schools are required to 'establish and publish' learning outcomes (Standard 301) addressed to a general description of the purpose and focus of legal education (Standard 302), and use both 'summative and formative' assessment methods to 'measure and improve' student learning and provide meaningful feedback to students (Standard 314)."

“'Formative assessments are designed primarily to improve learning…. [while] Summative assessments are designed primarily to judge learning.'” (Emphasis added)

 "An essential feature of formative assessment is individualized feedback provided by the teacher beyond merely a test score that measures how much the student fell short of an arbitrary standard. The feedback provided should detail what good performance looks like and explain why it is better than what the student did. Such feedback provides tools to the student that help them self-assess going forward, and has been found to foster higher levels of engagement and motivation in learning the material."

"The two posts, taken together, attempt to answer the question whether multiple-choice tests can be formative assessment. In short, in my view it is not a bright-line test, but the answer is generally no – at least not the way multiple-choice tests are most commonly used."

"The term 'formative assessment' refers to something deeper and more individualized – in its best form - than the sorts of things that multiple choice questions can do for students.  Its most important and effective use is in providing qualitative feedback - as opposed to just scores - that is focused on the details of the performance with tailored guidance for each student on how to improve.  It seems to me that all of the automated tools provided by vendors – such 'formative assessment tools' seem to be the current hot item in the law school publishing space - will inevitably fall short of the true meaning of the term 'formative assessment.'"  (emphasis added)

"I believe that when the ABA reviews law schools for compliance with the new Standard 314, they will be looking for evidence of such formative assessments, and mere multiple-choice exams alone - even those conducted in the middle of the semester - will not be sufficient."

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A new labor law textbook that promotes experiential learning

Professor Roger Abrams of Northeastern U. School of Law has posted on SSRN a brief synopsis for a new textbook he's authored on labor arbitration which takes an experiential approach to the subject matter. According to the synopsis, Professor Abrams uses court and arbitration decisions as well as supplementary materials and problems, to encourage student to discuss the role of the advocate in arbitration, the relationship between arbitration and the judicial system, issues of arbitrability, evidence and procedure, as well as a variety of substantive contractual issues that normally arise during arbitration, such as seniority, fringe benefits, wages and hours, subcontracting and union security. In particular, Professor Abrams text focuses on "just cause" discharge and discipline cases. Using transcripts and simulation materials provided in a supplementary website published along with the textbook, students get the opportunity to draft an arbitration brief based on a hearing transcript as well as participate in an arbitration simulation using witnesses and documentary evidence.

You can order a review copy of Professor Abrams' book here.


February 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Practicing Mindfulness Help Law Students?

Teresa Kissane Brostoff, Ann Sinsheimer, and  Nancy M. Burkoff  have published on SSRN a chapter on mindfulness from their book, Legal Writing: A Contemporary Approach (West). Here is an excerpt:

When practicing mindfulness, you gain the ability to focus on the work at hand without the lost time of a wandering mind. While mindfulness practice does not seek to eliminate the wandering mind, it allows you to notice more quickly when the mind wanders and bring it back to the present task and to see the task more clearly. The ability to be mindful may help you and other students in class when reading long assignments, and when preparing challenging written documents. You can also interact with more thoughtful presence with your fellow students, teachers, and potential clients.

You can read more here.


February 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Office of Professionalism & Career Strategy at John Marshall

I have just discovered that John Marshall Law School has an Office of Professionalism and Career Strategy.  It is run by Associate Dean, Professionalism & Career Strategy, Justice Margaret O’Mara Frossard (Ret.).  According to the website,

"The goal of The John Marshall Law School’s Office of Professionalism and Career Strategy, directed by retired Illinois Appellate Court Justice Margaret O’Mara Frossard, is to help students develop their sense of professionalism and engagement with their education. The office will work to improve the delivery of services to students while providing the foundation for professionalism and preparing students to become responsible, dignified members of the legal community. Deans, faculty, and staff will be involved in fostering those efforts by modeling professional conduct for students. Members of the legal community, including judges, practitioners, and alumni, will also be involved in helping students achieve these goals."

I applaud John Marshall for establishing this office, and I hope that other law schools follow its lead.

The Office's website includes a blog on professional identity topics.  The most recent post is Professional Identity: Critical For Success.  Excerpts:

"Defining one’s professional identity, however, requires reflection and thought, as there are many ways to successfully utilize one’s law degree after graduation."

"A study several years ago by the Carnegie Foundation tied lawyer dissatisfaction, disciplinary issues and unprofessional conduct such as incivility to habits learned during law school."

"Just as the law provides that we utilize the rule of stare decisis, so too should you take the time to observe and model the specific ways that experienced attorneys comport themselves. Don’t forget that most if not all successful attorneys today once had a mentor, too!"

"There is no excuse to emerge from law school with no legal work experience. Experts agree that practical experience can go a long way to help you develop a healthy and productive professional identity, including that gained in one of the many excellent clinics located at JMLS."

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stephen King’s 20 Top Rules for Writing

From Open, here are  the first ten.

  1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
  2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
  3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”
  4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”
  5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”
  6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
  7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
  8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
  9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”
  10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

You can read the rest here.


February 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professional Identity Website

I have created a webpage for my book, Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer (2015).  You can find it here.  The page includes an abstract, the table of contents, and summaries of each chapter.  It also includes a bibliography on professional identity.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Suffolk Law School incubator helps train students to use technology to help middle-class households

From LegalTech News:

Incubator of Tomorrow’s Tech, Suffolk Law Program Revolutionizes Legal Access

 “You can’t blink twice without seeing an article about how much better, and cheaper, things are for clients when firms supplement the judgment of experienced lawyers with tools like automation and process improvement,” declared Gabe Teninbaum, director of the Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation (LPTI) at Suffolk University.


Teninbaum is an instructor of Suffolk Law School’s Accelerator-to-Practice Program, which many believe is on the cutting edge of the legal industry’s evolution.


 “Clients are starting to demand these efficiencies, and will do so in increasing numbers,” Teninbaum said. “The problem, though, is that firms don’t typically have personnel who can wear both the lawyer hat and the coder hat. We’re aiming to change that by training our students to use these tools.”


Accelerator-to-Practice is “designed to serve the legal needs of middle-class households —the legal needs of everyday life — by helping lawyers use technology to deliver their services at lower cost and therefore at lower and more affordable prices,” explained Jordan Furlong, co-chair of LPTI, as well as a legal market analyst and consultant in Ottawa, Canada, and a principal with Edge International.


“Middle-class households deserve to receive the same quality of legal services and products as any Fortune 500 company, and technology’s real power in this respect is to upgrade and maintain high standards of product and service quality,” he added. “So it’s not just learning how to deliver low-priced legal services; it’s also about ensuring that these more accessible services are just as high-quality, reliable and useful as high-priced services elsewhere.


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Continue reading here.


February 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Junior Associate’s Guide to Business Development

It’s never too early for the beginning lawyer to start attracting clients and generating business. To assist the young associate, Attorney at Work has put together a packet of 15 short articles in Build It! The Law Firm Associate’s Guide to Business Development. Topics range from “17 Things I Wish I Knew as a First Year Associate” to “How to Handle an Angry Client.”

You can access the guide here.


February 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Law prof says technology will replace some lawyers - the question is how many

HLS Professor David Wilkins, Director of Harvard's Center for the Legal Profession, which studies the impact of globalization on the delivery of legal services, says that technology will "of course" replace the need to hire some lawyers. The only question is how large the impact will be. His remarks are included in an article entitled The Laws of Adaptation published in the fall edition of the Harvard Law Bulletin. Here's an excerpt:

The warning bells have been ringing for at least two decades: The legal profession as we’ve known it is doomed, and lawyers must adapt—or face extinction. For the most part, these dire predictions have been ignored, even as globalization and technology have revolutionized markets, affecting everything from airline travel to taxicabs. Yes, law firms have been outsourcing legal research to India, and electronic discovery is taking over some basic tasks. But lawyers have tended to see themselves as immune: a guild of highly educated advisers whose wisdom, savvy and deep understanding of a complex series of laws are irreplaceable.


Then a computer named Watson beat a human on “Jeopardy!” Now all bets are off.


Watson’s victory showed that artificial intelligence can master what was considered a uniquely human realm: using judgment to select best options after sorting through huge amounts of complex information communicated in real language. Cancer doctors from the nation’s top research institutions were among the first to recognize the broad implications. Today, they are working with the IBM Watson project to sort through massive amounts of data to try to find new ways to diagnose and cure the disease. If a computer can displace doctors—or at least, significant aspects of what doctors do—who’s next?


In fact, lawyers may be far more susceptible than physicians, says Harvard Law Professor David B. Wilkins ’80, vice dean for global initiatives on the legal profession. As a rules-based system, law is similar to chess, he notes, in which Watson’s predecessor, Deep Blue, prevailed 14 years earlier, beating the world chess champion.


“The Watson people say, ‘We won’t replace doctors or lawyers; we’ll just help them be more effective,’” Wilkins laughs, adding, “But of course, they will replace some doctors and lawyers.” The question, he says, is which kinds of lawyers, and how big a share of the legal market?


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Continue reading here

Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.


February 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)