Wednesday, March 16, 2016
That's right, friends, the Arctic College in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is planning to open up a law school in the fall of 2017. The school will be located in Nunavut capital of Iqaluit which will make it the northernmost law school in the western hemisphere, beating Seattle University's satellite Anchorage campus by several degrees in latitude. According to a 2011 census, Iqaluit's population is only 6,699 so the inaugural class will max out at 25. Nunatsiaq Online has more details:
Universities of Ottawa and Victoria both interested in partnering with Nunavut Arctic College
A law school program aimed at training beneficiaries to become lawyers will start in September 2017, Education Minister Paul Quassa said March 14 in the legislature in Iqaluit.
Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik asked Quassa during question period for an update on the planned program, to be run through Nunavut Arctic College.
“There’s a [Request for Proposal] now being reviewed as to who will be providing support for this program. We expect this fiscal year of 2016 to make a decision,” Quassa said.
Two institutions responded to the RFP, Quassa said: the universities of Victoria and Ottawa.
The University of Victoria helped set up and run the Akitsiraq Law School — a short-lived legal training effort that produced 11 graduates in 2005 after 18 students enrolled in 2001.
The Akitisiraq Law Society partnered with Ottawa University in 2010 to provide legal training to a second batch of beneficiaries, slated to begin September 2011.
But the Government of Nunavut rejected the society’s request for $3.57 million at that time.
Finance Minister Keith Peterson said in 2010, “in a time of limited resources, our focus is on improving our school system from kindergarten to Grade 12.”
The revived program will be a partnership between the GN and Nunavut Arctic College, Quassa said March 14, with the Nunavut Law Society acting as an advocate for the program.
The law society will help the college select up to 25 students to begin the four-year program in September 2017.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Hat tip to Professor Rob Hudson.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
From the New York Times (March 14):
The American Bar Association’s accrediting body put law schools on notice Monday that it intended to tighten a rule that sets a deadline for graduates to pass state bar exams — a near-universal requirement for becoming a practicing lawyer.
The new measure would clarify the existing deadline that 75 percent of students pass within two years. Bar passage rates have been falling noticeably across the country.
At issue for the schools is their accreditation by the association. The theory behind the rule, which is one factor in accreditation, is that schools should be accepting students who are likely to have the qualifications to become practicing lawyers. Proponents of the change say that schools exploit students when they accept those who — based on admissions tests and other measurements — have a small chance of succeeding. . . .
The revision, proposed by the association’s Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, is subject to a hearing and a comment period. Approval by the full A.B.A. would most likely come in February 2017. Some schools are expected to push back against the effort to place a firm lid on student outcomes, especially if they have elected to admit students with less traditional qualifications.
You can read more here. You may need a subscription.
There have been several statewide surveys of lawyers who have encountered work-related violence. Here is a report on a survey by the Michigan Bar Association:
The survey’s chief question asked attorneys if,
while serving as a member of the Michigan legal profession,
they had ever been the recipient of a threat
or the victim of a violent act. Of the 4,219 responses
to this question, 1,529 respondents (36.2 percent)
reported they had been threatened or physically assaulted
at least once.
Survey respondents provided more than 1,000
examples of work-related threats and violence perpetrated
against them. Some examples of egregious
threats and violence reported by Michigan attorneys
*I was followed by the defendant on I-75 for
over 60 miles with him speeding up, passing
me, getting in front of me and slowing down....
*A client who became threatening turned physically
abusive at my home when I told her and
her boyfriend I could not help them anymore.
They attacked me, but severely beat the man
who intervened to help.
*My car was blown up in front of my home.
*My vehicle was tampered with and the wheel
*Client of co-attorney came into our office with
a shotgun because he was upset that he was
charged with a felony.
*[A]n opposing party tried to run me down with
his tractor . . . .
*Plaintiff handed me a bullet while in court and
said he had another with my name on it.
You can read more here.
Over the past few weeks, I have been examining law schools that stress the development of law students' professional identities. Another law school doing this is the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.
"We help each student attain personal and professional satisfaction by developing the qualities of excellence, social responsibility, and ethical integrity. Our students acquire strong technical skills and develop the habits necessary for professional growth through individual reflection, personal dialogue with faculty and other mentors, moral development, and vocational discernment." (here)
Learning Outcome 1: Professional Formation and Ethical Responsibilities
"Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of their professional and ethical responsibilities in serving clients, the profession, and society. Whether working in law, business, government, or the non-profit sector, each graduate will be able to describe his or her evolving professional identity, which is grounded in a moral core, includes a commitment to self-directed professional learning, and reflects a concern for the disadvantaged and those who lack access to justice." (here)
St. Thomas also has a center for ethical leadership:
"The Holloran Center is one of 13 national centers in law schools devoted to ethics and professionalism that is recognized by the American Bar Association's (ABA) Center for Professional Responsibility. The Center’s mission is to provide innovative interdisciplinary research, curriculum development, and programs focusing holistically on the formation of both students and practicing professionals into ethical leaders in their communities. In fulfilling the mission, the Holloran Center seeks to address the most compelling ethical issue facing education in the professions and business: How can higher education most effectively foster the ethical professional formation of each student and practicing professional?"
The Center offers three courses for students: Ethical Leadership in Corporate Practice, Ethical Leadership in Litigation, and Ethical Leadership in Social Justice.
This blog has been following the rise of law school based incubator programs. Here is an important article from a conference on such programs.
Law School Based Incubators and Access to Justice – Perspectives from Deans by Patricia Salkin, Ellen Suni, Niels Schaumann, and Mary Lu Bilek.
From the National Law Journal:
Advice from students who found the right match in the job-search equivalent of speed dating.
The National Law Journal spoke with four law students who landed summer-associate jobs through on-campus interviews, those nail-biting sessions that remain the primary way top law firms fill their full-time positions. These students — from top schools in California, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois — shared their tips for standing out in the crowd, in a good way. Yes, preparation is vital, and it's not to be discounted. But getting the jobs they wanted also required asking themselves honest questions about what they needed to sustain their interest while working those grueling hours of big-firm, full-time jobs.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Sunday, March 13, 2016
The new edition of the U. S. News & World Report Law Rankings are coming out this week. (In fact, they have already been partially leaked.) For the past few years, I have written a post for this blog entitled "Just Say No to the U.S. News Law Rankings." I go into great detail concerning what is wrong with the rankings, (here, here, here, here), and I come up with the conclusion that the U.S. News Law Rankings give law school applicants no useful information on where to go to law school. None, not even a little bit.
This year instead of giving my own statistics, I would like to discuss an article by Kyle McEntee: The U.S. News Rankings Are Horrible. Stop Paying Attention.
Mr. McEntee writes,
"If the rankings measured something useful, the entire charade would be much easier to stomach. The unfortunate irony is that these rankings adversely affect the decision-making process for law school administrators and prospective law students alike. The stakes are high. Our profession and society need law schools that don’t figure inefficient metrics into annual budgets. Dollars spent chasing U.S. News rankings diverts funds away from students’ education. It also stands in the way of reducing tuition."
Mr. McEntee finds five problems with the rankings:
"First, the rankings pay insufficient attention to what matters most to prospective students: job outcomes. . . . Despite the importance of job outcomes, they account for only 18% of the rank and credit schools for jobs few attend law school to pursue."
"Second, the rankings use a national scope, which places schools on the same scale. Only a handful of schools have a truly national reach in job placement. . . . Comparing schools across the country just doesn’t make sense."
"Third, U.S. News rankings follow an ordinal system that fails to show the degree of difference between schools."
"Fourth, performance changes over time but year-to-year comparisons are virtually impossible using the U.S. News rankings."
"Finally, U.S. News inexplicably places every ABA-accredited law school on the list of 'The Best.' The best at what? U.S. News doesn’t say. But it implies that every school on the list is good. The truth is that once costs and employment outcomes are considered in comparison to personal career goals, many schools are bad choices. The U.S. News rankings provide no help in drawing the line."
"However, ranking credibility may be lost when methodologies are unsound, through irrational weighting or meaningless metrics, or when the scope is too broad. The legal profession is worse off for elevating the importance of a publication that falls victim to these flaws each and every year."
There you have it. If you don't want to listen to legal education experts with over twenty years of experience, like me and Brian Leiter, who has chronicled the problems of the rankings in great detail, listen to a recent law school graduate like Mr. McEntee who has been trying to protect law school applicants, by fighting for transparency by law schools. U. S. News doesn't provide transparency; it only muddies the waters further.
University of California at Berkeley law school dean Sujit Choudhry has resigned amid an uproar over the school's handling of sexual harassment claims against him.
Administrators said Thursday that they were wrong in not removing Choudhry following a July 2015 report substantiating the claims. Choudhry now becomes the second Berkeley law dean forced out by sex harassment claims since 2002, and the second prominent faculty member accused of such conduct in the last year.
You can read more here.
In this 5 page article in the New York State Bar Journal, Judge Gerald Lebovitz discusses the components of a contract: the cover page and table of contents; titles and headings; introduction/preamble; recitals; and words of agreement, definitions, and action sections.
The article could serve as a helpful handout to beginning students who are studying contract drafting.
You can access the article here (Making Offers No One Can Refuse: Effective Contract Drafting— Part II).
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Whatever your time zone, when the clock strikes 2:00 a.m. tonight, remember to spring ahead 1 hour.
A PSA from your friendly, neighborhood Legal Skills Prof blog.
Judith Fischer has written an excellent article on the subject. Judith Fischer, Summing It Up With Panache: Framing a Brief's Summary of the Argument, 48 J. Marshall L. Rev. 991 (2015). She focuses on framing and priming as important techniques:
Two theories, framing theory and priming theory, help explain why the summary is so important. Framing theorists define a frame as a mental structure that provides a lens through which a recipient will “locate, perceive, identify, and label” an experience. The way a point is framed affects what readers focus on when forming their opinions. A similar concept, priming theory, holds that exposing Because the summary of the argument appears near the beginning of a brief, it allows the legal advocate to take advantage of both framing and priming to begin to convince the Court. Thus, it’s a mistake for an advocate to treat the section as an afterthought.
The article offers a number of examples from briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Fischer concludes:
But art can be observed and appreciated. The examples in this article show how a summary of the argument with some panache can grab a court’s attention. Lifeless wording and cumbersome citations can fall flat, but vibrant language, attention to sentence structure, and a deft appeal to emotion or logic can pique a judge’s interest at the outset of a brief.
You can access the article here.
The CBS affiliate in San Diego filed the report below on the lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law for allegedly misrepresenting the employment prospects of graduates. The lawsuit, brought by a former student at the school, began on Monday in state court. The CBS reports includes excerpts of the opening statements by both the plaintiff's counsel and the school's defense team. According to the school's lawyers, they intend to show during the trial that TJSL was the only school the plaintiff got into and that after graduating she received not one but two job offers with annual salaries of $60K and $70K, respectively. Thus, the plaintiff was not mislead about her employment prospects and instead got exactly what she bargained for when she enrolled. According to the report, the presiding judge in the case is allowing cameras in the courtroom only for opening and closing statements.
Friday, March 11, 2016
From Sir Winston Churchill’s book, My Early Life:
I began to see that writing, especially narrative, was not only an affair of sentences, but of paragraphs. Indeed I thought the paragraph no less important than the sentence. Macaulay is a master of paragraphing. Just as the sentence contains one idea in all its fullness, so the paragraph should embrace a distinct episode; and as sentences should follow one another in harmonious sequence, so the paragraphs must fit on to one another like the automatic couplings of railway carriages.
You can read more here.
From the National Jurist:
Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing agency, reports that the real estate lawyer is the third most in-demand legal position in the South Atlantic region. Real estate is the second-fastest-growing legal industry in the South Atlantic region and the fourth fastest in the Mountain and Pacific regions.
You can read more here.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Facing a sharp decline in student applications and enrollment at its law school, Valparaiso University is offering tenured faculty and those with multi-year contracts a buyout.
University spokeswoman Nicole Niemi said Friday that law schools in today's post-recession era are facing a sharp decline in student applications and enrollment, and are confronted with a diverse mix of financial challenges due to these issues.
She said VU is no exception.
"To put the law school and our students in the best position to succeed, we are taking steps to meet the challenges facing legal education," she said.
Niemi said the purpose of the buyouts is to align the size of the faculty with the expected future law school enrollment.
You can read more here.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
April conference in Boston on “Responding to the New ABA Standards: Best Practices in Outcomes Assessment”
BU School of Law and the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning are jointly sponsoring a conference in Boston on April 1 & 2 to address the new ABA mandated outcome assessments. The conference schedule (including a wonderful opening reception) is set forth below and you can find out more information as well as register by clicking on this link.
If you have any questions, you can contact Therese Enders, Senior Program Coordinator at Boston University School of Law - Office of Clinical Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you in Beantown.
RESPONDING TO THE NEW ABA STANDARDS: BEST PRACTICES IN OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT
Friday, April 1, 2016
4:30—7:00 p.m. Registration: Butler Atrium (First floor)
5:00—7:00 p.m. Welcome Reception: Charles River Room (Fifth Floor)
6:30—7:30 p.m. Optional Presentation—BarBri Formative Assessment System—Don Macaulay: Room 102
Saturday, April 2, 2016
8:00—8:30 a.m. Registration & Breakfast: Butler Atrium (First floor)
8:30—8:50 a.m. Dean’s Welcome & Conference Opening—Dean Maureen O’Rourke & ILTL Co-Directors: Room 102
8:50—9:00 a.m. Break
9:00—10:00 a.m. The New ABA Standards on Outcomes Assessment—William E. (Bill) Adams, Jr., Deputy Managing Director, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar: Room 102
10:00—10:15 a.m. Break
10:15—11:15 a.m. Identifying and Creating Institutional Outcomes—Emily Grant & Sandra Simpson: Room 102
11:15—11:30 a.m. Break
11:30—12:30 p.m. Translating Outcomes Into Competencies and Rubrics—Lindsey Gustafson, Paul Gugliuzza, & Kelly Terry: Room 102
12:30—1:30 p.m. Lunch: Barrister’s Hall (First floor)
1:30—2:30 p.m. Curriculum Mapping—Lindsey Gustafson, Peggy Maisel, & Kelly Terry: Room 102
2:30—2:45 p.m. Break
2:45—3:45 p.m. Evaluating Attainment of Outcomes and Creating an Assessment Plan—Michael Hunter Schwartz, Katharine Silbaugh, & Sophie Sparrow: Room 102
3:50—4:20 p.m. Closing—Emily Grant, Sandra Simpson, & Kelly Terry: Room 102
Above the Law (here) has gained access to the schools ranked in the top 50:
- Yale (no change)
2. Stanford (no change)
2. Harvard (no change)
4. Columbia (no change)
4. Chicago (no change)
6. NYU (no change)
7. Penn (no change)
8. Berkeley (no change)
8. Michigan (+3)
8. UVA (no change)
11. Duke (-3)
12. Northwestern (no change)
13. Cornell (no change)
14. Georgetown (no change)15. Texas (no change)
16. Vanderbilt (+1)
17. UCLA (-1)
18. Washington University in St. Louis (no change)
19. USC (+1)
20. Boston University (+6)
20. Iowa (+2)
22. Emory (-3)
22. Minnesota (-2)
22. Notre Dame (no change)
25. Arizona State (+1)
25. George Washington (-3)
25. Indiana-Bloomington (+9)
28. Alabama (-6)
28. UC-Irvine (+2)
30. Boston College (+4)
30. Ohio State (+4)
30. UC-Davis (+1)
- William & Mary (-4)
33. Georgia (-2)
33. Washington (-5)
33. Wisconsin (-2)
37. Fordham (-3)
38. BYU (-4)
38. North Carolina (-4)
40. Arizona (+2)
40. Colorado (no change)
40. Illinois (+1)
- Wake Forest (+7)
40. Washington and Lee (+2)
45. George Mason (-3)
45. SMU (+1)
45. Utah (-3)
48. Florida (-1)
48. Maryland (-1)
50. FSU (no change)
50. Temple (+2)
50. Tulane (no change)
50. UC-Hastings (+9)
50. Houston (+9)
As always, for what it’s worth.
A North Carolina lawyer, renowned as an innocence advocate in criminal cases, has received a written admonition from a panel of the North Carolina Bar for removing a water bottle from the home of a relative of suspects in a murder investigation, and submitting the bottle for a DNA test the relative refused to undergo.
You can read more here. I think I saw something like this in an episode of Law and Order.