Monday, July 25, 2016
As most of you probably know, the ABA has enacted new standards that require law schools to create and publish learning outcomes. Here are the new standards:
Standard 301. OBJECTIVES OF PROGRAM OF LEGAL EDUCATION
(a) A law school shall maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares its students, upon graduation, for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.
(b) A law school shall establish and publish learning outcomes designed to achieve these objectives.
Standard 302. LEARNING OUTCOMES
A law school shall establish learning outcomes that shall, at a minimum, include competency in the following:
(a) Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law;
(b) Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context;
(c) Exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system; and
(d) Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.
Implementing these new standards will require that law schools carefully evaluate their programs of legal education. Hopefully, this will reveal the many deficiencies in current legal education, and help law schools create programs that reflect the latest education research. Over the next few days, I will look at some of the law schools that have already posted their learning outcomes.
Of these materials, I believe that the following are the most helpful.
Susan A. Ambrose et.al., How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (2010)
Peter C. Brown et.al., Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (2014)
Duane Shell et.al., The Unified Learning Model: How Motivational, Cognitive, and Neurobiologal Sciences Inform Best Teaching Practices (2010)
Daniel T. Willingham, Why Don’t Students Like School? (2009)
E. Scott Fruehwald, How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School, 1 Texas A & M L. Rev. 301 (2013)
E. Scott Fruehwald, Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (2013)
Michael Hunter Schwartz et.al., Teaching Law by Design (2009)
Michael Hunter Schwartz et.al., What the Best Law Teachers Do (2013)
Sunday, July 24, 2016
From Advisor Technology:
On Monday (July25), the search engine is introducing a search feature that will facilitate users looking to register to vote before the presidential election in November, The Verge and The Next Web reported.
If someone Googles “register to vote,” the phrase will yield thorough instructions on how a person can register in each U.S. state, including requirements and deadlines.
Jacob Schonberg, a Google product manager, said that it won’t matter which state you’re in or how you cast your ballot. Users will be able to “find the step-by-step information they need to register correctly and on time — right at the top of the Search page and in the Google app,” he said, according to The Verge.
Google confirmed that the feature will launch Monday at 6 a.m. Pacific time (9 a.m. Eastern.)
For those of our readers who thought those old Property cases were irrelevant, think again. From Cozen O’Connor:
The Texas Supreme Court handed property owners a major victory on an issue of increasing importance as West Nile Virus and Zika Virus spread around the country. The court held that the doctrine of ferae naturae limits a property owner’s liability for harm from indigenous wild animals that the property owner has not attracted to its property. As a result, the court dismissed the claims of a worker who asserted that the property owner should have protected him from mosquito bites that infected him with West Nile Virus.
You can read more here.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
In the Practical Real Estate Lawyer, Professor Tanya Marsh has published an article on the subject in which she analyzes a number of restrictive covenants in litigated cases. Her examples would be useful in teaching a transactional drafting course or in the landlord-tenant segment of a Property course.
Here is the abstract:
Retail real estate lease transactions heavily utilize two kinds of restrictive use covenants — prohibited use covenants and exclusive use covenants. The structure and language of these covenants is so well established that they are practically boilerplate. This article analyzes recent appellate court decisions as well as common formulations and uses of restrictive use covenants and concludes that there is a significant disconnect between the expectations of tenants and landlords, and the way that modern courts interpret, enforce, and remedy restrictive use covenants. Common vulnerabilities in restrictive use covenants are discussed, and transactional attorneys are encouraged to dust off form language and methodically address each of the issues raised in the paper in order to craft clear and unambiguous restrictive use covenants that efficiently address client goals.
You can access the article here.
Yup, the very last company making VCRs, the Funai Company of Japan, stopped production this week due to the difficulty in obtaining parts according to this New York Times "Personal Tech" column. One of the more interesting tidbits from the article is that Funai actually sold 750,000 VCRs last year. I never would have guessed it have even been possible to sell that many. And get this; Sony was still making Betamax cassettes up until this year. If you're the kind of person who finds that intriguing, you may want to read on . . . .
Many new technologies are born with a bang: Virtual reality headsets! Renewable rockets! And old ones often die with a whimper. So it is for the videocassette recorder, or VCR.
The last-known company still manufacturing the technology, the Funai Corporation of Japan, said in a statement Thursday that it would stop making VCRs at the end of this month, mainly because of “difficulty acquiring parts.”
The Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported on the impending demise earlier this month.
The news represented the death rattle of a technology that was considered revolutionary when it was introduced in the 1950s. It took several decades for VCRs to make their way into consumers’ homes, but in its heyday it was ubiquitous and dominant.
According to the company — which said in the statement, “We are the last manufacturer” of VCRs “in all of the world” — 750,000 units were sold worldwide in 2015, down from millions decades earlier.
In 1956, Ampex Electric and Manufacturing Company introduced what its website calls “the first practical videotape recorder.” Fred Pfost, an Ampex engineer, described demonstrating the technology to CBS executives for the first time. Unbeknown to them, he had recorded a keynote speech delivered by a vice president at the network.
“After I rewound the tape and pushed the play button for this group of executives, they saw the instantaneous replay of the speech. There were about 10 seconds of total silence until they suddenly realized just what they were seeing on the 20 video monitors located around the room. Pandemonium broke out with wild clapping and cheering for five full minutes.
. . . .
At the time, the machines cost $50,000 apiece. But that did not stop orders from being placed for 100 of them in the week they debuted, according to Mr. Pfost. “This represented an amount almost as great as a year’s gross income for Ampex,” he wrote.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Friday, July 22, 2016
Attorney and Adjunct professor Glen West gives this checklist to students in his In-House Counsel course. He emphasizes that contract issues must be taught in the context of cases that deal with these issues. Here is a summary checklist:
Limit The Parties Liable on a Contract to the Intended Parties to that Contract
- Clearly disclosing the limited-liability entity as the actual party to the contract
- Ensure that the signatory on behalf of a limited-liability party only signs in a representative capacity
- Ensure that the contract contains no language that suggests that the signing representative has undertaken personal liability in addition to or in lieu of the named limited-liability entity
Actually Read and Understand (and Consider Modifying) the Choice of Law, Choice of Forum, and Notice Provisions of the Contract
- A mandatory choice of forum clause actually chooses the mandatory forum
- Notice provisions matter and need to be updated when your company moves
- Choosing all the law you want to apply to the contract and claims that could arise thereunder or related thereto
Know the Difference Between Conditions and Covenants and Use the Right Words to Convey that Difference
Damage Limitations Clauses: Please don’t use words to which you do not know the meaning—the contract will be construed in accordance with the meaning the courts have previously given those words, whether or not you know what they mean
You can access the article here.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Here’s one formulation of the doctrine:
A pronoun, relative pronoun, or demonstrative
adjective generally refers to the nearest reasonable antecedent.”
Professor Kimble offers a simple example:
Start with an innocuous example: men and women who are
tall. Are you talking about all men or only those who are tall?
That is, does the who-clause modify both nouns? There’s no
way to tell — no syntactic principle, no grammatical rule or
convention, that resolves the ambiguity. Yes, English meaning
depends on placement, and ideally the modifier would attach
only to the nearest antecedent, but here it may not.
After a full discussion of the doctrine, with plenty of examples, he criticizes textualism for its dismissal of legislative history as an aid to interpretation:
Canons as a group have no superior claim
to legitimacy, orderliness, reliability, or acceptance. If judges
can make informed, sensible decisions about them in individual
cases, then surely judges can make informed, sensible decisions.
about legislative history.
It’s a good idea to acquaint students with the doctrine and show them how to write sentences that are unambiguous and do not require resorting to questionable canons.
You can access the article [15 Scribes 5] (2014-15)) here.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Law.com has the story:
The University of Nebraska College of Law’s new Build Your Character app helps students track their law school activities and development in eight key skills areas.
Want to graduate from law school as a well-rounded attorney?
There’s an app for that.
Next month, the University of Nebraska College of Law will roll out an app designed to help students develop 27 distinct professional skills by tracking their activities and coursework. Administrators say that the app, built by students in the university’s computer science school over the past year with input from law faculty and students, is the first of its kind at a law school.
“The goal is to help students focus on the broad range of skills they will need as lawyers,” said Interim Law Dean Richard Moberly. “In some ways, I want students to use this to take ownership over their educational opportunities.”
The Build Your Character app aims to encourage students to look beyond reading, writing and “thinking like a lawyer” to hone abilities including networking, listening, organizing and problem solving—skills that students tend to overlook.
The tracking feature also enables students to easily review all their relevant law school experience ahead of job interviews. Should a student interview for a job at a mediation center, for example, the app can create a document listing every class, organization, speaker and event they attended that dealt with conflict resolution, said Molly Brummond, assistant dean for student and alumni relations. Hence, students have ready-made interview talking points, she said.
Several bar exam and Law School Admission Test prep outfits offer apps, as do legal research databases and The Bluebook—that Bible of legal citation. But law schools in general have been slow to embrace mobile technology.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
At the Chronicle of Higher Education, writer Noah Berlatsky argues that good writing is more than writing clearly and in plain English:
To me, at least, as a writer, "good writing" doesn’t necessarily mean "clear information transmission." Good writing includes humor, love of language, fitting style to content. That can sometimes mean clarity and a lack of clutter. But, as writers like Slavoj Zizek demonstrate, it doesn’t have to. Remember that in 1984, totalitarian newspeak is created not through elaborate sentences and jargon, but through cutting words out of the dictionary and simplifying grammar. Clear, transparent writing can be used for propaganda purposes as easily as can convoluted prose — and maybe even more easily.
I think the implicit message is that a writer must find his or her voice, a quality that goes beyond the standard rubrics for writing well.
The full article is here, though you may need a subscription.
The ABA Journal Website has an article today on Deborah Rhode and legal education.
Deborah Rhode is at war with complacency (podcast) by Terry Carter.
"Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode is the enemy of complacency."
"Since joining the Stanford faculty in 1979, after clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Rhode has wielded a sharp blade, such that in her analysis of legal education she seems to be performing a living autopsy."
"Just one example, for the irony of it: Rhode believes law reviews as currently constituted tend to be a waste of money and effort, putting long leashes on untrained pups."
"Rhode believes that most legal education is built on misguided structures and emphases that go back more than 100 years, thanks to inertia fed by complacency and vice versa. And she feels many new developments are counterproductive, such as giving more merit-based scholarships to attract applicants with higher LSATs and thus rise in the rankings, and shortchanging needs-based scholarships that increase diversity."
"Rhode applies a similar analysis to many areas, pointing to the lack of practical experience for students that not only readies them for practice but also inculcates values that can’t be learned in a single course. And she argues for one- or two-year programs for specialists in some areas of the law where demand is great and supply short for legal service."
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Good networking skills are key to landing a job in a tight market. The Business Insider has consulted a number of sources to compile a list of traits that can increase one's likability quotient when it comes to networking and similar social interactions. And here they are:
- Keep eye contact.
- Show enthusiasm.
- Put your smartphone away.
- Call people by their name.
- Use a firm handshake.
- Be a good listener.
- Also be an active listener.
- Stroke egos.
- Know how to accept a compliment.
- If someone is interrupted, ask them to continue.
- Know when to say that you're sorry.
- Don't be a complainer.
- Practice good posture.
- Be true to your word.
- End a conversation right.
Read the accompanying article here for a further explanation of how each of these traits increases your likability factor.
On a hot topic from the firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore:
A group of law professors from across the country released an open letter to state and federal lawmakers, college administrators, and officials at the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) this month. The letter protests a series of OCR directives and enforcement actions issued pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-funded educational institutions.
The letter argues that OCR has unlawfully expanded the nature and scope of institutions' responsibility to address sexual harassment. In particular, it argues that the majority of OCR's directives on the topic of campus sexual harassment have not undergone notice and comment procedures as the Administrative Procedure Act requires of all proposed regulations as part of the rule-making process. Instead, OCR's directives incorporate obligatory language such as "must" and "require" without citing any regulatory or statutory basis.
The open letter further argues that OCR's directives and enforcement actions have had a harmful effect on campus free speech and due process by dramatically expanding the U.S. Supreme Court's definition of "sexual harassment" under Title IX, which is limited to conduct that is "severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive."
You can read more here.
Monday, July 18, 2016
Law.com checks-in with several schools that have launched two year JD degree programs to see how they're doing. Some, like Gonzaga's, have exceeded expectations while other schools, like Northwestern, have dropped their two year degree programs due to lack of student interest.
Albany Law School is the latest to launch a two-year juris doctor program, and more than a dozen schools around the country now offer students the option to shave a year—and in some cases a year of tuition—off their legal educations.
Most of these accelerated programs were introduced in the six years since nationwide law school enrollment started its 29-percent slide following the recession, in a bid to appeal to a wider pool of potential lawyers. The programs tend to attract highly motivated students who want to jump-start their legal careers earlier, as well as foreign-trained attorneys, career changers, and those with families who want to re-enter the workforce as quickly as possible.
But two-year programs aren’t a sure bet. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law pulled the plug on its two-year J.D. program in 2015 due to waning interest from students. The program started strong in 2010 but recently struggled to find applicants with credentials as high as those entering the three-year program, said dean Daniel Rodriguez.
“When it reached the point where the program was not at a reasonable scale, we decided to suspend the program,” he said.
Gonzaga University School of Law is putting its program on hiatus after just two years. The resources required to operate the two-year program, coupled with a faculty downsizing brought on by declining enrollment, meant Gonzaga needed to re-evaluate the program’s structure and feasibility, said dean Jane Korn.
“We couldn’t maintain both programs with the academic integrity that we require,” Korn said. “So we’re taking a breath and looking at what we can do to bring it back.”
. . . .
Continue reading here.
The answer depends on the values of the juror. A blog posting by the firm of Holland & Hart discusses a recent psychological study. The finding:
"The higher participants were in binding values," meaning purity, loyalty, and obedience, "and the lower they were in individualizing values," meaning care, fairness, and the avoidance of harm, "the more they judged victims as responsible and as having made a difference to the outcome." And it is not just a matter of focusing on a bit of shared responsibility on the victim's part, it is an effect that extends all the way to what they call "inverted moral judgment," where the victim receives more attention and more blame than the perpetrator. They also observed that these moral foundations bleed over into non-moral decisions, like causal responsibility. They concluded, "Binding values are linked with victim stigmatization, whereas individualizing values are linked with sensitivity to victim suffering."
This carries a few implications for trial lawyers. . . .
Over the course of four studies, the authors focus on the content of individual moral values in order to predict attitudes toward victims in scenarios like the one above. They find that those who put the greatest emphasis on the "binding values" of loyalty, obedience, and purity will increase blame toward victims, while those who emphasize "individualizing values," focusing on care, fairness, and a prohibition against harm, will instead focus foremost on the perpetrators. This research carries clear implications for litigators: In both civil and criminal contexts, there are perceived victims and perpetrators, and the individual differences in how we blame one versus the other is important to both jury selection and message construction.
The posting is well worth reading. You can access it here.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Networking letters differ from cover letters in that their purpose is to establish personal contacts that may eventually lead to a job versus cover letters whose aim is to characterize the author's credentials as the best suited for a specific job opening. Lots of electrons have already been spilled advising law students on writing effective cover letters but networking letters? Not so much. This recent column from The Vault's blog helps fill that gap with a list of top tips (click on the link below to read a further description of each):
- Respect your reader's time.
- Don't ask for an interview or a job.
- Sell your strengths.
- Consider the timing of your letter.
- Stick to it.
Continue reading here.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Here are the top ones:
This year’s No. 1 FORBES Top College is Stanford University, followed by Williams College and Princeton University.Harvard University, comes in at No. 4, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University (No. 6) and Pomona College (No. 7). Rounding out the 10 best U.S. schools are Brown University, Wesleyan University andSwarthmore College.
What sets our calculation of the best 660 U.S. colleges and universities apart is our firm belief in ROI. We look at factors that directly concern students (and their families): Are current undergrads satisfied? Is it likely I’ll graduate on time or incur a ton of student debt? Will I get a good job and be a leader in my chosen profession?
You can access the article here.
On the third screen of the article, you can find the full list. I’m afraid the list consists of the usual suspects. A bit more creativity in the selection process might have resulted in a more refreshing result.
Each year The Vault asks a large sampling of law firm associates to rank their quality of life based on several criteria that include "overall satisfaction," "substantive work," "pay," and "associate/partner relations" among other factors. This year, the 18,000 associates queried chose the 10 law firms listed below as the best places to work in 2017. Following the list is more about The Vault's ranking methodology and a link to their website:
And here's the methodology used:
The [Vault's] Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings are derived from Vault’s Law Firm Associate Survey, in which more than 18,000 associates rated and commented on various aspects of their work life. This year’s Best 25 Law Firms to Work For rankings were calculated using a formula that weighs associate ratings in a dozen different areas: Overall Satisfaction (25%); Firm Culture (10%); Hours (10%); Substantive Work (10%); Compensation (10%); Business Outlook (5%); Career Outlook (5%); Associate/Partner Relations (5%); Leadership Transparency (5%); Informal and Formal Training (5%); Pro Bono (5%); and Overall Diversity (5%).
Continue reading here.
Temple University's Board of Trustees has voted to remove President Neil Theobald. The Board took a unanimous vote of no confidence in Theobald Tuesday with the intention to dismiss him.
In a statement released Tuesday night, Chair Patrick O'Connor said the Board did not like Theobald's handling of the removal of University Provost Hai-Lung Dai and blamed Theobald for the $22-million deficit in the school's financial aid budget. "After providing an opportunity for President Theobald to resign his position, which he refused, the Board concluded that it is compelled to proceed with Dr. Theobald's removal as President," O'Connor said in the statement.
You can read more here. The Board has approved appointing JoAnne Epps, Temple’s law dean, as provost.