Saturday, May 21, 2016
From Law Practice Today: Beyond Balance: How Women Lawyers Can Find Happiness at Work. I think the advice applies beyond gender lines. Here is the take-away:
Women lawyers often think that they will be happier if they achieve greater work-life balance, and frequently consider leaving their law firm jobs to in order to attain that. But you don’t have to leave your law firm to be happier in your job. Regardless of the number of hours spent at work, what matters most to happiness is aligning the work you do with the skills and strengths you love to use the most, and the values that matter to you.
You can read more here.
A competitor of BarBri's that caters mostly to preparing foreign lawyers to take U.S. bar exams has filed an antitrust suit in a Manhattan federal court alleging that BarBri has colluded with several law schools to keep the rival, LLM Bar Exam, off campus. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the story:
The nation’s largest bar exam-prep company is facing allegations that it elbowed a smaller rival out of the market, capitalizing on special relationships with law schools that it had nurtured with donations and gifts.
BARBRI Inc. and several law schools were named in a federal antitrust lawsuit brought byLLM Bar Exam LLC, a company that prepares foreign lawyers to sit for the bar exam in the United States. The complaint, which was filed in Manhattan on Thursday, alleges an illegal monopoly and asks for $50 million in damages.
A spokeswoman for BARBRI said the company hasn’t been served with the lawsuit and “does not comment about pending or potential litigation.”
Founded in 2009, LLM Bar Exam caters to an increasing number of foreign lawyers preparing to take the New York bar exam, who often struggle with legal writing in English.
. . . .
According to the complaint, BARBRI representatives have persuaded officials at several top-ranked law schools to exclude LLM Bar Exam from marketing on their campuses. It alleges that BARBRI has disparaged the quality of LLM’s courses, even though its students have passed bar exams at higher rates than BARBRI’s.
In some cases, law schools have barred LLM Bar Exam from holding courses on campus while providing BARBRI with classrooms to use free of charge, the complaint said.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Friday, May 20, 2016
From the Wortzmans firm (here):
For the first time, Millennials (those between 19 and 35 years old as of this year) surpassed the Gen-Xers (people between 36 and 51) as the largest employed group in the U.S., according to a report by Pew Research (“Labor Force by Generation analysis”).
The demographic shift has consequences:
Growing up as “digital natives”, Millennials naturally look for technology to solve their problems. They, more than any other group, are uniquely suited to embrace the new technology-centered processes that the next decade will demand. In 2020 and beyond, the new kids on the block will be the ones soaring to greater heights in e-discovery and information management.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
From Crain’s Chicago Business:
Since the fall, elite Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis has offered yoga, meditation and wellness training to some lawyers, a program it is expanding now to all U.S. Offices.
The firm—a "hard-charging" or "sharp-elbowed" place, depending on whom you ask—nevertheless bought in early to ideas and techniques championed by a Chicago venture capitalist to promote emotional well-being. Eric Langshur, founder of Abundant Venture Partners, describes the approach as "P90X for the soul," and the book he co-authored on the subject, "Start Here,"comes out today.
You can read more here.
Saving the Canary by Jeremy R. Paul.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Professor Ian Weinstein (Fordham) argues the point in an article entitled Financial Retrenchment and Institutional Entrenchment: Will Legal Education Respond, Explode, or Just Wait It Out? A Clinician's View previously published at 41 Wash. U. J. Law & Policy 61 (2013) but only recently posted to SSRN where I just found it. Here's the abstract in case you, like me, weren't already aware of Professor Weinstein's article:
Both markets and ideas have turned against the American legal profession. Legal hiring has contracted, and law school enrollments are decreasing. The business models of big law and legal education are under pressure, current levels of student indebtedness seem unsustainable, and a hero has yet to emerge from our fragmented regulatory structures. In the realm of ideas, the information revolution has sparked deep critiques of structured knowledge and expertise, opening the roles of the law and the university in society to reexamination. We are less enamored of the scholar-lawyer and gaze with longing at technocrats. I hope that clinical law faculty can lead and ease the transition to programs of legal education responsive to the new legal environment. Clinicians have supervised in a lot of different settings, and we know what works and how to return real value to law students. A well structured clinical program integrates simulation, field placement, and in-house clinics to offer effective programs with reasonable efficiency. Clinicians have been experimenting with legal education for years and can help legal education meet the challenges of the new legal environment. I fear, however, that in a time of shrinking resources, some faculties and schools may become bogged down in contentious and ultimately counterproductive battles over how to allocate shrinking resources. Programs responsive to the expressed current needs of the bar and students could be sacrificed to programs controlled by better-entrenched faculty.
This posting is too late for the recent exam period, but worth holding onto for the coming year. We know that some students foolishly use drugs in hopes of staying awake and improving their concentration. However, some are also using concentrated caffeine products, which can be deadly. From The Science Explorer:
In its concentrated form, pure caffeine can come as either a powder or a liquid. Since products are often 100 percent pure, that means just one single teaspoon of concentrated caffeine could be equivalent to drinking 28 cups of coffee, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns.
In the wake of the deaths, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has been investigating concentrated caffeine products, and recently released a statement: “After only a quick Google search, we were able to order a small bottle of liquid caffeine from South Korea that contains an astonishing 9,000 milligrams of caffeine – enough to kill nearly seven people – and yet the label says only to use it 'sparingly.'"
CSPI is urging the FDA to ban all highly concentrated caffeinated products. The FDA sent a warning letter to five of the main distributors of powdered caffeine last year, but the CSPI says that’s not enough.
You can read more here. The Center for Science and the Public Interest employed a simple Google search to identify a number of current suppliers for the product. You can find a list of them in this report (here on p. 4).
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
From J.D. Journal:
A group of Yale law school students have formed the Mental Health Alliance after realizing that the school lacked sufficient services for those with mental health problems. Students face long waits to get an appointment with a therapist on-campus, no mental health coverage off campus with the student insurance plan, and an overall feeling of being isolated.
The Yale Law students started an informal group in 2014 before forming the Alliance to raise awareness of mental health problems in law school and the legal industry and ultimately eliminate barriers that the students face when seeking help. Alliance board member and first-year student Bethany Hill said, “Even students who are prepared to seek counseling or treatment often find themselves confronted with a number of obstacles, including limits on insurance coverage, lengthy wait times to see a mental health service provider, or fears that seeking treatment will negatively affect future job prospects.”
You can read more here.
Not just any firm but BigLaw superpower Baker & Hostetler will be using an IBM Watson-based computer program called ROSS (no, that's not an acronym for anything) in its bankruptcy practice. How does it work? According to the informational video below: "You ask questions in plain English, as you would a colleague, and ROSS then reads through the entire body of law and returns a cited answer and topical readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources to get you up-to-speed quickly. ROSS also monitors the law around the clock to notify you of new court decisions that can affect your case.”
Monday, May 16, 2016
My colleague, former judge and prominent mediator/ arbitrator Abraham Gafni gives his students well-known advice: to complete a negotiation successfully, you must provide satisfaction on three fronts.
- Procedural satisfaction. Everyone believes that the process has followed a fair, agreed-upon procedure.
- Substantive satisfaction. Although participants may not get all that they want, they can agree on the compromised result.
- Psychological satisfaction. Participants must feel that the negotiation was acceptable, fair, and, therefore they are comfortable with the process and with the result.
Thirty Reflection Questions to Help Each Student Find Meaningful Employment and Develop an Integrated Professional Identity (Professional Formation) by Neil W. Hamilton & Jerome M. Organ
An excellent article on helping law students develop their professional identities.
Thirty Reflection Questions to Help Each Student Find Meaningful Employment and Develop an Integrated Professional Identity (Professional Formation) by Neil W. Hamilton & Jerome M. Organ.
This article, drawing on and synthesizing scholarship from law and other disciplines, will focus on the design of a curriculum with thirty reflection questions to help each student’s step-by-step development toward professional-formation learning outcomes beyond mere compliance with the law of lawyering. Section I of this article will describe the present context in which law schools must develop learning outcomes, and will highlight the number of law schools that have embraced one or both of the elements of a professional-formation learning outcome where a law school or a professor in an individual course requires that each student demonstrate an understanding and integration of:
1. proactive professional development toward excellence at all the competencies needed to serve clients and the legal system well;
2. an internalized deep responsibility to clients and the legal system.
Section II of the article analyzes the principles that should inform the design of an effective curriculum for these two professional-formation learning outcomes. Section III of the article will suggest thirty reflection questions that help each student:
1) reflect on the story, experiences and passions that brought her to law school and that she develops during law school as a means of both (a) identifying what she wants to do with her law degree and (b) proactively taking ownership over her growth toward meaningful post-graduate employment; and
2) make progress moving through developmental stages regarding these two professional formation learning outcomes; so that
3) she can begin to define and to live out who she wants to be as a lawyer in the context of what clients and the legal system expect of her."
The Impulsive (Stage 1)-- the position of childhood.
"The Instrumental Mind (Stage 2) -- characterized by external definitions of self, predominance of 'either-or' thinking, limited perspective taking ability, and an egocentric view –characteristic of adolescence and early adulthood.
The Socialized Mind (Stage 3) -- characterized by increased social perspective taking ability among allies or in-group, but understanding and expectations continue to be externalized, shaped by relationships, particular 'schools of thought,' or by both.
The Self-Authoring Mind (Stage 4) – characterized by the ability 'to step back enough from the social environment to generate a ‘seat of judgment’ or personal authority that evaluates and makes choices about external expectations.' The independence of judgment and problem solving abilities of stage 4 translates to greater fidelity to one’s inner moral code. At stage 4, one is not easily swayed by group membership or loyalties.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
National Jurist Magazine ranks LL.M. programs for attorneys from outside the U.S. based in part on hands-on legal experience
National Jurist Magazine has ranked law school LL.M. programs in several categories including "academics," "career opportunities," "value," and "overall experience." The latter category relies on factors that include helping foreign students to adjust to campus life, creating opportunities to get to know and collaborate with U.S. students and gain hands-on training and experience through clinics and/or externships. Based on those criteria, National Jurist ranked the top 14 LL.M. programs as follows:
- Indiana University McKinney
- Loyola - Los Angeles
- Loyola - Chicago
- Notre Dame
- U. North Carolina
- U. Oregon
- Wake Forest
- Widener - Delaware
Read the entire article here.
In the May 2016 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, attorney Kenneth Oettle pinpoints writing tactics that prove unsuccessful:
Editorializing: Using intensifiers (e.g., clearly, obviously). Taking ad hominem potshots.
Posturing: Using legalese and Latinate words.
Bulking Up: Mind numbing repetition. Overquoting cases and statutes. Oversummarizing cases. Adding excess words.
Avoidance: Dropping a footnote to address the opposition’s best point. Failing to address the opposition’s best point.
You can read more here.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Friday, May 13, 2016
"Standing in the Judge's Shoes: Exploring Techniques to Help Legal Writers More Fully Address the Needs of Their Audience"
Legal documents are not read for the purpose of entertainment or even to provide the reader with general information. Rather, legal writing serves the purpose of helping its readers — often judges — make legal decisions. Moreover, a legal writer must determine how best to deliver her message to persuade the reader to reach a particular decision. As such, a legal writer’s ability to consider and incorporate the legal audience’s needs into her written work is of the utmost importance. Yet, while many attorneys understand the importance of writing in anticipation of the legal audience’s response, even experienced attorneys may struggle to see their case from a different perspective and to identify the challenges of their case. Through a deliberate process, legal writers can work to detach from their advocate role and commit themselves to the role of the decision-maker in order to better understand this perspective. Strategies such as those discussed in this Essay, help writers to step outside of the attorney role and stand in the shoes of the decision-maker, and thus provide important steps toward better legal writing.
It’s that time of year. From California Berkeley’s alumni magazine, here is an article about the doling out of honorary degrees. And here is the article’s last paragraphs for anyone who has a wall to decorate:
The University of Berkley (an online institution not to be confused with UC Berkeley) will issue honorary doctorates “to a select group of highly accomplished individuals such as yourself.” You can choose between a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.), Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.), Doctor of Laws (L.L.D), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Humane Letters (D.H.L), Doctor of Art or Administration (D.A.), Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) or Doctor of Humanities (D.Hum.), “whichever title you feel your accomplishments best merit.”
All you have to do is send them a brief autobiographical sketch, plus a $2,000 “honorarium contribution to cover processing and handling.”
According to a column posted on Law Crossing (here), the most effective way for law firms to retain associates is to show appreciation for their hard work:
According to LinkedIn, firms can increase the odds that their associates will stick around by simply demonstrating their appreciation for the hard work that they do.
First, associates need to feel as though they matter to a firm. Realizing they contribute a unique value to the firm, and being recognized for that value, will strengthen their sense of loyalty to the firm.
Emphasizing associates’ value will also work wonders for their health. In one study, workers who felt they were unfairly criticized by a superior, or who felt that their superiors did not listen to their concerns and worries had a 30 percent higher rate of coronary disease than those who felt that their work was appreciated.
The highest driver of engagement is a continual habit of appreciation. It is important for managing partners, section heads, and management teams to take the time to demonstrate their appreciation for the work that younger attorneys do. Such positivity will bring energy to the firm and improve workflow. After all, when employees feel underappreciated or undervalued, they may begin to worry about their job security, which hinders productivity.
I think this approach also applies to law students. As teachers, we will encourage students to work hard and learn if we show our appreciation of them. For example, in my 1L Property class this year, I used an “expert system” in which three students knew that they were “up” in class that day. At the end of class, I go to each one, shake his or her hand, and thank the student for being an expert. The students appreciate the “thank you.”
Thursday, May 12, 2016
From CBS News:
The name of a founder of the University of Tulsa law school will be removed from the building because of his ties to the Ku Klux Klan, the private school announced Wednesday.
Trustees voted in a closed-door meeting to strip John Rogers' name from the law building, but the university has yet to decide what it will be called.
Rogers was an attorney and philanthropist who helped found the law school in 1943, served for years as its unpaid dean and was a trustee for decades.
But he also helped incorporate the KKK-affiliated Tulsa Benevolent Association, founded months after the 1921 Tulsa race riot that left about 300 black residents dead and a thriving section of downtown -- known as Black Wall Street -- decimated.
You can read more here.