Sunday, July 31, 2016

Learning Outcomes: The Next Step

Last week, I discussed learning outcomes, and I presented four learning outcomes from law school websites, which I thought were particularly well-done.  The next step concerns how law schools determine whether learning outcomes have been met.  As James Fischer noted in a comment, "I agree; however, what I believe would be of much greater value would be the identification of ways to meaningfully assess whether students have reached the desired competencies. This would also require that we benchmark what the competency is. It is rather easy to say that someone shall be competent in a particular activity; it is more difficult to define that competency in ways that allow the teacher to see if the desired level of competency has been achieved."

Of course, this issue needs more than a blog post, but I will start a general discussion today.

The best way to measure learning outcomes is to measure them in every class.  However, the present system of law school testing with often just a single exam at the end of a semester is a poor way to measure outcomes.

What is need is formative assessment--frequent assessment throughout the semester with feedback.  Not only does formative assessment aid in determining learning outcomes, it helps students learn, and it tells them how well they are doing.

Frequent formative assessment could be combined with well-designed rubrics.  Rubrics are "detailed written grading criteria, which describe both what students should learn and how they will be evaluated."  I got the above definition from Sophie M. Sparrow, Describing the Ball: Improve Teaching by Using Rubrics--Specific Grading Criteria.  Professor Sparrow continues, "These criteria are based on the learning goals of the course. These goals are what the professor has identified students should learn by the end of the course. Within these goals, benchmarks may describe varying levels of student performance."  Her article contains numerous examples of rubrics.

Based on rubrics, a professor can create a grand rubric at the end of the semester to show how well a students has met the class's learning goals.  These grand rubrics should then be given to the student and the administration.  Based on a combination of the grand rubrics, the administration can determine whether a student has met the institution's learning goals.

The above is just one suggestion on how law school's can evaluate learning goals.  I am certain that there will be many papers and conferences on learning goals over the next few years.

Actually, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Conference for 2016 will be on learning goals:

Learning Outcomes for Hire

September 22-24, 2016 in Denver.

"Law schools across the country are talking about learning outcomes—what should they be, how do you develop them, and how do you measure them? But what if learning outcomes could be more than an ABA requirement and an internal tool to evaluate student learning objectives? What if learning outcomes could also signal to legal employers that students have the foundations they desire in their workplace?"

More information here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Persuasive Writing: Exercise in Fundraising Writing

Here a possible exercise. Have students pick a nonprofit and write a letter calling on recipients to contribute money to the cause. Have students think about what techniques would be effective. As a practical matter, anyone who enters the nonprofit arena can expect to spend substantial time raising funds. I speak from experience.

Here are guidelines offered by Jeff Brooks on the GuideStar blog (abridged):

  1. The importance of being urgent

Fundraising requires [a] sense of aggressive urgency. When it’s not there, when it’s the equivalent of “somebody call 9-1-1?” We get the same result. Everyone thinks someone else will take care of it. Hardly anyone gives.

  1. Make it easy to read

Sixth-grade level copy isn’t just for 6th-graders. It’s just easier to read. Easier for everyone, no matter how well-educated.

  1. Long messages work better
  2. Grammar for fundraisers

Fundraising copy that works is colloquial, informal, and simple. It doesn’t call attention to the education of the writer. In fact, it’s far more important to sound natural than it is to obey the grammar, usage, and structure rules your english teachers taught you.

  1. Persuade with story, not statistics

If you want action, you must help donors feel the pain of hunger by seeing it play out in one life. Then give them the opportunity to save one life—then another and another.

If you want to put it in environmental terms, it’s one pelican, covered in sticky tar and flopping along the beach, that galvanizes response to an oil spill. Not the reports of millions of gallons of oil churning into the ocean.

  1. Make it all about the donor

You’re not raising money to fund your organization. You’re enabling your donors to make the world a better place—through your organization.

That means the only facts that matter in fundraising are those you can directly connect to donors. To do that, apply the boy rule.

Boy stands for “because of you.” It means you never lose a chance to credit donors for the good work your organization does.

  1. Call to action

It’s normal to start a conversation with easy, inconsequential small talk (“nice weather we’re having”). We do this to gauge the mood of those we’re talking to and to ease our way to the topic at hand, especially when the topic is difficult.

Let me tell you a secret: nobody is fooled by your fundraising appeal. They don’t think they’re getting a letter from a pal. They know you sent it to ask for money. If you fail to ask, or pretend not to ask, all you accomplish is unclear communication.

So just ask.

You can read more here.


July 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Confusing Wording on a Ballot Proposition?

As with some other states, Pennsylvania is debating whether to raise the maximum age for judges from 70 years to 75 years. On November 8, this proposition is scheduled to appear on the state election ballot:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges, and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?

Two retired state Supreme Court justices and a prominent lawyer have sued to prevent this proposition from appearing on the ballot, arguing that it "deceitful." The Philadelphia Inquirer explains:

The reworded question asks only whether judges should be required to retire at 75, not mentioning that they are already required to retire at 70. The new wording might produce an outcome different from the invalidated vote in April, when a slight majority said "no" to raising the retirement age.

Of course, since we are in Pennsylvania, there’s politics involved. Some argue that the language is the result of Republicans and some Democrats who want to keep on the court the Republican chief justice who is about to turn 70. His successor will be a Democrat. (in Pennsylvania, judges are elected—a method that has failed to work in Pennsylvania, IMHO).

The high court has given the secretary of state until next Wednesday, August 3, to respond. An interesting word-parsing question to propose to students. But for us who live here, more discouragement over the politics in our judicial system.

The Philadelphia Inquirer offers more background here, here, and here.


July 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Passive Voice

When I was in school, I was taught that I should avoid the passive voice.  Later, I learned a little better rule that said that no more than 10% of sentences should be in passive.  But, this rule was still problematic.  What 10% should be in the passive voice?  This was just another mechanical rule that provided no real guidance.

A recent article by Geoffrey Pullum gives more guidance to students: Finger-Pointing, Trouble-Saving, and Pussyfooting.

He writes, "Warnings against the passive have in fact been getting increasingly extreme for about a hundred years. . .  So when I encounter a book that’s a bit better than the average, as I recently did, it’s only fair that I should comment. The Handbook of Good English (1982), by Edward D. Johnson, also known as The Washington Square Press Handbook of Good English, is a bit more sensible on the topic than most works addressed to the general public in the past half century."

Some good advice: “Don’t be afraid of the passive voice,” he says firmly [Johnson]. Adults “can forget that ‘Avoid the passive’ rule”: It’s for kids. “The passive voice is respectable, is capable of expressing shades of meaning that the active voice cannot express, and is sometimes more compact and direct than the active voice.”

He asks, "When does the passive express a shade of meaning that the active doesn’t? In what could be called the finger-pointing use of long passives. A passive with a by-phrase lays stress on the agent."

He continues, "And when is the passive more compact and direct? One class of such cases comprises Johnson’s “trouble-saving passive.” If you were to take a sentence like Smith was arrested, indicted, and found guilty, but the money was never recovered and try to wrestle it into the active voice, as so many writing guides insist you should, you would have to find subjects for all the active verb phrases. You’d need subjects for arrested Smith (the police department? the county sheriff?), and indicted him (a grand jury, as in the U.S.? the Crown Prosecution Service, as in Britain?), and for found him guilty (a judge? a trial jury?), and for recovered the money (the detectives? some bank or post office? the people whose cash had been stolen?). Implementing this pointless and clumsy elaboration would make the sentence nearly twice as long."

Johnson also notes the utility of what he calls “the pussyfooting passive,” which he says “is essential in journalism” because “often the writer does not know who did something or is not free to say who did it, but he wants to say it was done.”

Pullum concludes: "Edward Johnson’s discussion of the passive and when to use it, then, while not complete or perfect, is vastly superior to the “use the active voice” dogma repeated in so many dreadful books and articles and web pages on writing."

I agree with Pullum's and Johnson's comments, but I don't think they have gone far enough.

In my book, Legal Writing Exercises: A Practical Guide to Clear and Persuasive Writing for Lawyers 12-17 (ABA Pub. 2014), I stated, "You should only use the passive voice when you have a particular reason to do so."  I continued, "Effective writing uses both active and passive sentences. The passive voice may sometimes be preferable, such as where the actor is obvious or where the writer wants the actor to be ambiguous."


Mistakes were made. (In this example, the person who made the mistakes is hidden to de-emphasize the subject)
Mistakes were made by Jim. (In this example, the fact that Jim made the mistakes is de-emphasized.)
John was shot by Jim. (In this example, I wanted to emphasize John so I used the passive voice.)

In addition, the passive voice can affect emphasis and paragraph coherence.  As I wrote in Chapter Four of my book, "The above sentences say the same thing and, for the most part, they sound equally correct. The version one chooses depends on the emphasis desired (and how the sentence fits with other sentences in the paragraph). A writer should never settle for the first version but should consider all correct means of expression."

In other words, a writer should not apply a mechanical rule to the use of the active and passive voice, but she should choose the voice based on the intended meaning, emphasis, coherence and sound.  As I stressed throughout my writing book, while you should know the rules of writing, the number one thing is to follow your ear.

(Scott Fruehwald) (hat tip: Volokh Conspiracy)

July 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

"What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know"

That's the subject of a new article by Professors Tracey E. George and Suzanna Sherry (both of Vanderbilt) recently posted to SSRN here. The full title of the article is What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know: Introducing New Law Students to the Study of Law and here's the abstract:

Law school is an exciting and enriching experience but also an intimidating and difficult one for students. Students and professors want students to succeed. We have written this essay and a book in order to decrease students' anxiety and increase their chances of achieving academic success. We offer here a short introduction to how a new law student can succeed, taken from the Introduction and first chapter of the book. The full book serves as a law school success guide, featuring insight into how and why law school works the way it does and the tools and techniques to fully understand first-year substantive law. In addition to teaching techniques for getting the most out of reading and out of class, the book also conveys information about the American legal system and court structure, and about cross-cutting legal concepts such as burdens of proof and standards of review. By reading this book before law school, students will be able to not only get by, but thrive in the classroom. We want to help law students feel more confident starting their new academic endeavor and be better prepared with the knowledge of what is to come and how to conquer it. We provide a foundation on which law teachers can build in the first year.


July 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Equal Citizenship for Legal Writing Professors

By now, one would think that legal education would have recognized the professional quality and contribution of legal writing professors. However, despite acceptance at some schools, many LW professors still lack the status that they deserve. At the Best Practices for Legal Education blog (July 15, 2016), Professor Shailini George reports on the current campaign for equal citizenship:

The Legal Writing Institute (“LWI”) the Association of Legal Writing Directors (“ALWD”), and the Society of American Law Teachers (“SALT”) have formally adopted a policy statement on full citizenship for all faculty.  Here is the text of the statement:

The Legal Writing Institute is committed to a policy of full citizenship for all law faculty. No justification exists for subordinating one group of law faculty to another based on the nature of the course, the subject matter, or the teaching method. All full-time law faculty should have the opportunity to achieve full citizenship at their institutions, including academic freedom, security of position, and governance rights. Those rights are necessary to ensure that law students and the legal profession benefit from the myriad perspectives and expertise that all faculty bring to the mission of legal education.

 LWI launched a campaign for individual signatures which began at the conference and will continue.

A recent article also discusses the impact of the lack of full citizenship for a group of faculty who are largely female: Stars Upon Thars: Law Schools Use ABA Standard 405(c)’s Tenure Like Security of Position to Discriminate Against Female Legal Writing Faculty, 34 Law. & Ineq. 137 (2016) by Melissa Weresh from Drake Law School.  This article addresses the potential for exploitation of law faculty members who hold ABA Accreditation Standard 405(c) status (“reasonably similar to tenure”) and the likelihood that such exploitation will have a disparate and discriminatory impact on a predominantly female cohort of law faculty.

You can read more here.


July 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Millennials: Tips for Talking with Your Elders

At Attorney at Work, consultant Linda Hazelton offers tips for talking across the generational divide. For example, here are her tips to millennials on communicating with elders via email:

More and more, email is the mode of formal communications, so keep your tone and format professional.

  • Subject line. Use an informative subject line, and change it when the subject changes. In some instances, it’s helpful to indicate what the reader should do, and when.
    • “Anderson Project — Would you please read and respond by tomorrow at 9 am? Thanks!” or
  •          “Anderson Project — For your information. No response necessary.”
  • Use a greeting and closing to avoid seeming abrupt. “Hello Ms. Roberts,” or “Good morning,” are better choices than “Hi!” “Dear Ms. Roberts” is a bit stilted. Close by thanking the reader (when appropriate) and saying “Best regards” or “Warm regards” or something similar.
  • State your purpose clearly and get to the point quickly (although some small talk is fine, for example, “I hope you had a great weekend.”) Emails should be precise and concise. If you need multiple paragraphs to get your point across, email isn’t the right medium.
  • What next? Convey the action step you want the reader to take. If no action is necessary, say so. “I’m sending this to keep you in the loop. No action on your part is required.”
  • Proofread! You must read your email carefully before sending it. Make sure your tone is appropriate and that there are no typos or grammatical errors. Autocorrect is not always your friend. When possible, print your email (or any other document, by the way) and read the hard copy.

You can read more here.


July 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Learning Outcomes: University of Dayton School of Law

For a final look at learning outcomes, here is the list from the University of Dayton School of Law.

Learning Outcome 1: Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the law and the American legal system.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Identifying, describing, and interpreting the fundamental terms, rules, and principles of law, including significant alternative formulations, such as minority rules.
Criterion 2: Describing the American legal system’s structures, processes, and procedures.

Learning Outcome 2: Graduates will exhibit issue-spotting skills.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Identifying each potentially applicable legal theory as it relates to the facts.
Criterion 2: Identifying each legal rule relevant to each potentially applicable legal theory.
Criterion 3: Identifying the legally significant facts relating to each applicable legal rule.

Learning Outcome 3: Graduates will demonstrate competency in analytical and problem-solving skills.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Critically reading the applicable authority, including identifying the key rules within each authority.
Criterion 2: Synthesizing the relevant rules of law into a logical framework for analysis.
Criterion 3: Where rules conflict, thoroughly analyzing which rule a court is likely is likely to apply.
Criterion 4: Meticulously applying the identified rules to the facts, including evaluating potential counterarguments, to determine the likely outcome of the case.
Criterion 5: When appropriate, analogizing the facts to and distinguishing the facts from those of
precedent cases in specific and helpful ways to determine the likely outcome of the case.
Criterion 6: Articulating practical considerations, such as cost and effects on other people.

Learning Outcome 4: Graduates will communicate effectively and efficiently to individuals and groups.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Writing documents that are clear, concise, well-reasoned, organized, professional in tone, appropriate to the audience and the circumstances, and if appropriate, contain proper citation to authority.
Criterion 2: Speaking in a clear, concise, well-reasoned, organized, and professional manner that is appropriate to the audience and the circumstances.
Criterion 3: Actively listening to clients, colleagues, judges, and others.

Learning Outcome 5: Graduates will research effectively and efficiently.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Devising and implementing a logical research plan, which reflects an understanding of the limitations created by time and financial constraints.
Criterion 2: Accurately assessing the weight of authority.
Criterion 3: Identifying and effective
ly employing the fundamental tools of legal research.

Learning Outcome 6: Graduates will demonstrate competency in legal practice skills.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Capably managing a legal project (e.g., case, memorandum, mediation) from its inception to its conclusion.
Criterion 2: Effectively planning and controlling their use of time.
Criterion 3: Identifying and effectively engaging in appropriate dispute resolution processes.

Learning Outcome 7: Graduates will recognize and resolve ethical and other professional

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Listing the sources of the law governing lawyers.
Criterion 2: Identifying and explaining the applicable law governing lawyers.
Criterion 3: Using the law governing lawyers to recognize ethical and other professional dilemmas.
Criterion 4: Applying the law governing lawyers to help resolve ethical and other professional dilemmas.
Criterion 5: Exercising professional judgment to help resolve ethical and other professional dilemmas.

Learning Outcome 8: Graduates will continue to develop professional skills and attributes.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Exhibiting self-directed learning skills that will allow them to understand areas of the law with which they were previously unfamiliar.
Criterion 2: Participating in extracurricular opportunities to increase knowledge, hone
skills, and inform values.

Learning Outcome 9: Graduates will exemplify the Marianist charism of service, community, and inclusivity.

Graduates will demonstrate achievement of this learning outcome by . . .
Criterion 1: Exhibiting civility and treating others with respect.
Criterion 2: Displaying diversity skills, including sensitivity to social and cultural difference.
Criterion 3: Contributing to the profession's fulfillment of its responsibility to ensure that adequate legal services are provided to those who cannot afford to pay for them.

I especially like that this list includes developing self-directed learning skills.  I also like the problem-solving presentation in no. 3.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New law grads offer advice on hanging a shingle

The blog interviewed several recent law grads who decided to hang a shingle for a variety of reasons ranging from they couldn't find a traditional law firm job in a tough economy to enjoying the freedom and entrepreneurship represented by working for oneself. These newly minted solo practitioners offer advice to others who are contemplating a similar career path including everything from the importance of effectively managing your law school debt to using incubators and other experiential learning opportunities while still in law school to develop key legal skills before attempting the solo life.

In Tight Job Market, New Law Grads Boldly Hang a Shingle


Let’s face it, the Big Law life isn’t for everyone. Some 4.4 percent of law school graduates—or about 1,900 each year—launch their own firms, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which last ran the numbers in 2014.


In talking to young lawyers who went into business for themselves during the past few years, found that some had no choice: They couldn’t find a place at a law firm, where hiring from top-tier schools has improved since the recession but generally not from lower-ranked schools. Some of the recent graduates we talked to did find a law firm job; but they didn’t like it. Others were realizing ambitions—they preferred the flexibility and autonomy of running their own practices, plus the close interaction with clients.


The solo career choice is not easy, they said, but added that practice incubators, which provide office space and support for young solos, can ease the pain.

. . . .

Continue reading here.


July 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Irrational Rules: Miniscule Mysteries of Grammar Demystified

In 42 Litigation No. 1 (Fall 2015), George Gopen deals with three controversial topics of grammar: (1) Can you split the infinitive? (2) When a comma or period follows a quote, should it be placed inside or outside the question mark? (3) Should you use the Oxford comma?

As usual, Professor Gopen’s answers are well-reasoned and accord with common sense. You can access the article here.


July 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Journal of Legal Education: Book Review: Building on Best Practices

Book Review of Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World by Deborah A. Maranville, Lisa Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez by Jeffrey R. Baker.

Conclusion: "Building on Best Practices is a worthy addition to the canon of literature on reforming legal education. Before the Great Recession, without today’s pressing economic incentives, law schools made uneven strides to incorporate lessons from MacCrate, Best Practices, and Carnegie. Today, compounding economic crises and escalating accreditation requirements make reform urgent, necessary, and inevitable. To demonstrate that law schools can still add value to careers and society, legal educators must grapple with structural changes that affect every aspect of teaching, learning and researching. Building on Best Practices provides diverse expertise and useful guidance on approaching these challenges and on improving and expanding the enterprise of legal education."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Learning Outcomes: California Western School of Law

Cal Western also has an excellent, detailed list of learning outcomes.  It is a little long to post so I will just provide the link.  Look especially at the Skills section.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sixth Annual Western Region Legal Writing Conference: Awakening the Force: LWI and the Development of Professional Identity


Jeffrey E. Proske and Hether C. Macfarlane:

Exciting news! It’s not too late to register for the Sixth Annual Western Region Legal Writing Conference which will be held at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law on August 5-6, 2016. The theme this year is “Awakening the Force: LWI and the Development of Professional Identity.” We have an exciting line-up of presenters, and there is no registration fee.  However, we do ask that everyone, including presenters, register so we know how many people will be attending. The link on the McGeorge website is:

 The website includes information about hotels in the area and the free parking at the law school. It also includes a list of the presenters and presentations we’ll be featuring this year.

 We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in August.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The “One Simple Rule” for Succeeding in a Law Firm

According to recruiter Harrison Barnes:

In fact, most attorneys who work in law firms are exposed to a literal parade of people coming into their offices, going out to lunch with them, texting them, taking them out for drinks, emailing them and calling them on the phone to discuss how things are so negative and wrong inside of their law firms.  

  • The people instigating these conversations and negative way of thinking never last inside of law firms.
  • In most instances, the people who choose to listen to and participate in this way of thinking also will be gone in short order.He observes:
  • Unfortunately, the careers of most attorneys inside of law firms end unnecessarily—not because they cannot do the work but because they adopt the “us versus them” attitude that holds everyone on the “us” side back. When I talk with partners who are not succeeding, associates who are not succeeding, and counsel who are not succeeding, in virtually every conversation it comes out that they do not view themselves on the same team as the people they are working for. In contrast, when I talk to attorneys who are succeeding all they talk about is how they are on the same team as the people running the law firm.
  •   You must never think or act negatively towards the powers that feed you.

He observes:

Unfortunately, the careers of most attorneys inside of law firms end unnecessarily—not because they cannot do the work but because they adopt the “us versus them” attitude that holds everyone on the “us” side back. When I talk with partners who are not succeeding, associates who are not succeeding, and counsel who are not succeeding, in virtually every conversation it comes out that they do not view themselves on the same team as the people they are working for. In contrast, when I talk to attorneys who are succeeding all they talk about is how they are on the same team as the people running the law firm.

You can read the rest here. I think the follow-up advice should be that if you are unhappy with a firm, don’t complain. Move elsewhere.


July 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Massachusetts adopts Uniform Bar Exam

Massachusetts joins 24 other states in adopting the Uniform Bar Exam beginning in 2018. The UBE consists of essay questions, multiple choice and "skills" assessments (such as asking students to draft documents based on the supplied materials). Bloomberg's Big Law Business News has more details:

Massachusetts Adopts New Bar Exam


Passing the bar in Massachusetts may soon carry a little more weight.


That’s because this week, Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Bar Exam, a standardized test that consists of multiple choice questions, essays, and skills assessments, now used in 24 states and the District of Columbia.


The move comes amid growing support for a national standardized bar exam: In February, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates approved a resolution from the ABA Law Student Division that called for all jurisdictions to adopt the UBE as quickly as possible. The Division argued that the current exam structure needlessly burdens mobility throughout the country.


In New York, bar exam students take the UBE for the first time this month.


According to Erica Moeser, president of the NCBE, “The UBE is under study in a number of places.”


Oregon appears to be moving forward, though the State has not released a formal order at this time. In June, the Supreme Court of Texas ordered the creation of a task force on the Texas Bar Examination, which will consider, among other things, whether to adopt the UBE.


Examinees in Massachusetts will sit for the UBE beginning in July 2018, and it will include a Massachusetts-specific component to ensure that newly-licensed attorneys are familiar with key state laws and procedures. It is the ninth jurisdiction to adopt a local law component.


. . . . 

Continue reading here.


July 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Learning Outcomes: Washburn

Here is another excellent example of learning outcomes from Washburn School of Law:

1. Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of the law and the legal system.

1.1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the terms, rules, and principles of law.
1.2. Students will read authority, identify the rules within the authority, and synthesize those rules into a logical framework for analysis.
1.3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of organization, hierarchy, and relationships within the legal system.
1.4. Students will demonstrate an understanding of primary and secondary sources of law and the ways in which they relate to one another.

2. Graduates will demonstrate analytical and problem-solving skills.

2.1. Where there is controlling legal principle, students will identify and apply the controlling legal principles that apply to case-based or hypothetical fact scenarios.
2.2. Where the controlling legal principle is indeterminate,
2.2a. Students will use analogical reasoning to identify possible legal rules to predict and explain how case-based or hypothetical fact scenarios will likely be resolved.
2.2b. Students will identify policy and practical considerations to predict and explain how case-based or hypothetical fact scenarios will likely be resolved.

3. Graduates will communicate effectively.

3.1. Students will write in a clear, concise, well-organized, professional manner that is appropriate to the audience and the circumstances.
3.2. Students will speak in a clear, concise, well-organized, professional manner that is appropriate to the audience and the circumstances.
3.3. Students will demonstrate active listening in communications with others, including legal professionals and laypersons.

4. Graduates will demonstrate competency in legal practice skills.

4.1. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct legal research.
4.2. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct a factual investigation.
4.3. Students will demonstrate the ability to interview and counsel a client.
4.4. Students will demonstrate the ability to negotiate and advocate on behalf of a client in appropriate circumstances.
4.5. Students will demonstrate the ability to draft documents used in legal practice.

5. Graduates will possess the requisite skills to recognize and resolve dilemmas in an ethical and professional manner.

5.1. Students will articulate the sources, structure, and substance of the laws governing the ethics of the legal profession.
5.2. When presented with a dilemma drawn from case-based or hypothetical facts, students will articulate the relevant and applicable ethical standards, apply those ethical standards, and propose one or more resolutions that result in an ethical outcome.
5.3. Students will consistently exercise professional and ethical responsibilities.

6. Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of the importance of service to the profession and to the community at large, both nationally and internationally.

6.1. Students will demonstrate an awareness of and a willingness to contribute to the profession's responsibility to ensure access to justice.
6.2. Students will demonstrate a willingness to contribute to serving the underserved and traditionally marginalized communities.
6.3. Students will recognize the interconnectedness of societies and cultures throughout the world and will demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions to problems that impact people globally.
6.4. Students will recognize the existence and value of diversity both within the legal profession and among the clients it serves.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trump and Clinton: Compare Their Positions on Education

Education Weekly provides a detailed comparison of their stands on a multiplicity of education issues—from “academic standards” to “bullying.” You can access it here.


July 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Getting Off on the Right Foot with a New Boss

At Chronicle Forums, a reader asks this question:

So we have a new VPAA starting soon, and he asked to meet with me in mid-July to discuss the department I chair, its majors, etc.

I have three goals:

1) Clearly communicate the state of our department and its programs.
2) Get the relationship with the VPAA started on the right foot.
3) Send the signal that our dean has been very difficult to work with (he is the worst supervisor I have ever had), has been strangling our department, etc., without seeming unprofessional.

So... Any advice about how to handle this discussion? Do I just need to leave #3 out? Or are there ways to send the message without compromising #2?

Most responders advised staying away from #3. Soon, I will be speaking with my new dean. I plan to establish my credentials by talking about what I am doing and discussing several projects that I or the school might undertake. I will let the dean learn for himself the negatives.

You can access the conversation here.


July 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 25, 2016

UALR Learning Outcomes

I will first examine the learning outcomes of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. I have chosen UALR because it is headed by Michael Hunter Schwartz, who was the first legal education scholar to use general education research on a large-scale. (He took a community college course in learning theory.)

Statement of Educational Goals Concerning Knowledge, Skills, and Values

A. KNOWLEDGE. Every graduate should have knowledge and understanding of the following at a level sufficient to practice ethically as a lawyer and to pass the bar examination in any United States jurisdiction:

1. The organization, hierarchy and relationships of legal systems;

2. The sources of primary law and the ways they relate to one another;

3. The nature of legal rules and institutions;

4. The fundamental sources and tools of legal research;

5. The principles of the fundamental areas of American substantive law, including civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, property, and torts;

6. The nature, sources, and content of ethical standards applicable to lawyers and the practice of law in the United States.

B. SKILLS. Every graduate should have the following skills:

1. Within a specific or discrete subject matter, to engage in effective problem solving by:

a. identifying and diagnosing problems;

b. generating alternative solutions and strategies;

c. developing and implementing plans of action; and

d. keeping the planning process open to new information and ideas.

2. To comprehend legal texts and apply the legal principles extracted from the texts to new factual circumstances by:

a. comprehending a legal text, such as a case, a statute, an administrative rule, a secondary source, or a contract;

b. comprehending a series of legal texts and synthesizing them into a coherent legal narrative, including the ability both to harmonize apparently conflicting authorities and to recognize genuinely conflicting authorities; and

c. applying governing legal principles to new factual situations, including the abilities to spot issues, to formulate issues, to develop potential legal solutions, and to assess their validity.

3. To conduct effective and efficient legal research by developing a research strategy, identifying potentially relevant sources of law, locating legal texts that provide the governing legal principles for a factual situation, and understanding the role that legal reasoning plays in legal research.

4. To communicate effectively orally and in writing by presenting material in a clear, concise, well-organized, and professional manner that is appropriate to the audience and circumstances.

a. For all communication, to use active listening, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

b. For written communication, to write

1) an effective objective memorandum predicting the resolution of one or more legal issues;

2) effective trial and appellate briefs advocating a position for a client; and

3) a legally effective document other than in the litigation context.

5. To work cooperatively as part of a team.

6. To practice effectively by:

a. recognizing and resolving potential ethical issues;

b. developing systems and procedures to ensure the efficient allocation of time, effort, and resources, and the timely performance and completion of work; and

c. facilitating effective working relationships.

C. VALUES. Every graduate should understand and exemplify the following values:

1. As a member of a profession dedicated to the service of clients, a commitment to professionalism and to the rules of professional responsibility, including:

a. attaining and maintaining a level of competence in the lawyer’s own field(s) of practice;

b. representing clients in a competent manner;

c. increasing the lawyer’s knowledge of the law and improving the lawyer’s practice skills; and

d. other aspects of professionalism, including honesty, integrity, reliability, respect for others, diligence and hard work, maturity, and judgment.

2. As a member of a profession that bears special responsibilities for the quality of justice, a commitment to:

a. promoting justice, fairness, and morality in the lawyer’s practice in harmony with the lawyer’s ethical duties to clients;

b. contributing to the profession’s fulfillment of its responsibility to ensure that adequate legal services are provided to those who cannot afford to pay for them;

c. contributing to the profession’s fulfillment of its responsibility to enhance the capacity of law and legal institutions to do justice; and

d. showing respect for all people.

3. As a member of a self-governing profession, a commitment to:

a. participating in activities designed to improve the profession;

b. assisting in the training and preparation of new lawyers; and

c. striving to rid the profession of prejudice based on race, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or socio-economic status, and to rectify the effects of those prejudices.

4. As a member of a learned profession, a commitment to selecting and maintaining employment that will allow the lawyer to develop as a professional and to pursue the lawyer’s professional and personal goals.

This list divides learning outcomes into three parts: knowledge, skills, and values. This division corresponds to the Carnegie Report's three apprenticeships: 1) the “cognitive apprenticeship,” which focuses on expert knowledge and modes of thinking, 2) the “apprenticeship of practice,” which educates students in “the forms of expert practice shared by competent practitioners,” and 3) the “apprenticeship of identity and purpose,” which “introduces students to the purposes and attitudes that are guided by the values for which the professional community is responsible.” As the Carnegie Report noted with its apprenticeships, UALR's knowledge outcome corresponds with what has traditionally been taught in law school, while skills and values deals with subjects that until recently hadn't received much coverage in law school. This shows that we need to continue to teach most of the subjects we have been teaching in law school, but that we also need to significantly expand the scope of legal education to include practice skills and professional identity.

The knowledge section encompasses the traditional subjects of law school, but it does so in a detailed manner so that individual professors can see what they specifically need to teach in their classes.

The skills list is a detailed list of the skills students will need in practice. Much of this part covers metacognitive thinking, which is necessary to produce self-regulated learners. It includes problem-solving skills, reading skills, research strategy skills, communication skills, cooperation, ethical/professionalism skills.

The final section concerns values (professional identity). Having spent the last couple of years writing a book on how to teach law students professional identity, I find this list to be comprehensive and detailed. This section divides into serving clients, serving the community (justice), serving the profession, and choosing one's profession.

In sum, the UALR learning outcomes is an excellent list. Compare this list to what you were taught in law school and see which you prefer.

(Scott Fruehwald)

Update: Dean Schwartz has informed me that the learning outcomes were in place before he came to UALR.  It is great to see such a proactive faculty.

July 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professors Rostron's and Levit's updated guide to submitting articles to law reviews

It's become the de facto bible on law review article submissions including sections that cover the methods for submitting an article, any special formatting requirements, how to contact law reviews to request an expedited review, and how to contact them to withdraw an article from consideration. It's now been updated once again for the 2016 article submission season. Professors Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit (both of UMKC) point out that the latest version of their guide includes these highlights:

  1. They've included an updated chart showing as much information as possible about what law reviews are not accepting submissions right now and what dates they may resume accepting submissions; and
  2. They note the continuing trend toward journals that use and prefer Scholastica or accept emails submissions. Specifically, 20  journals prefer or strongly prefer Scholastica, 20 more list it as one of the alternative acceptable avenues of submission, and 24 (compared to 10 a year ago) now list Scholastica as the exclusive method of submission.  There has also been an uptick in schools having their own independent online submission platforms.  In addition, two schools permit submissions through Lex Opus, one through SSRN’s e-submission service, and one through Twitter.

Download the complete and updated submission guidelines from SSRN here.


July 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)