Monday, October 31, 2016
From the News-Sentinel:
Indiana Tech's law school, which opened in 2013 with far fewer students than expected, failed in its first attempt at accreditation and graduated its first students this year — only one of whom passed the state bar examination — will close, The News-Sentinel has learned.
The school on Maumee Avenue just east of downtown built its $15 million law building to accommodate up to 350 students and expected 100 in its initial class but attracted 28. At the time, some critics doubted the need for the school, saying first-year law school enrollments had dropped 28 percent since 2010 to their lowest level since 1973.
Indiana Tech Arthur Snyder said the university has lost $20 million on the law school and, given projected enrollments, expected the deficit to continue. “This was an extremely difficult decision for all involved," Snyder said. "Over the course of time it has become apparent that the significant decline in law school applicants nationwide represents a long term shift in the legal education field, not a short-term one. Specific to Indiana Tech, the assessment of the Board and our senior leadership team is that for the foreseeable future the law school will not be able to attract students in sufficient numbers for the school to remain viable.”
You can read more here.
If you have written an article and submitted it to numerous law reviews, you have received numerous rejection letters. If you use Expresso and Scholastica, you will determine that many of your correspondents never even read your piece.
Repeated rejection can be depressing. In this article on Lithub, you get unusual advice:
I asked her [a successful writer friend] what her secret was, and she said something that would change my professional life as a writer: “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”
An interesting article. You can access it here.
Bridging the Reading Gap in the Law School Classroom by Patricia Grande Montana.
"Many students struggle in law school, particularly in the first year, because they are weak readers. They do not know how to read text closely and have limited practice in reading complex or lengthy pieces of writing. Nor are they accustomed to reading works that demand deep thinking and reflection.
Yet legal analysis and writing depends on a careful reading and thoughtful understanding of the authority on which a lawyer relies. Without strong reading and critical thinking skills, it is no surprise that incoming law students have difficulty following a structured analysis and mastering legal writing. As the gap between what entering law students know and what legal educators expect them to know widens, it’s time to further study the sources of the problem and adjust not only teaching expectations but also the manner in which professors teach.
To that end, this article explores ways to close the gap in the reading skills of entering law students so that they can develop the competencies in legal reading, analysis, and writing required to excel in law school. The “underprepared law student”, a term commonly used to describe today’s law student , has many attributes that need attention. But this article focuses solely on the student’s reading ability because it is the foundation to building competency in all other areas. Law students need to be able to read legal text in order to understand rules, explain legal principles, identify issues, solve legal problems, and advocate persuasively. Without a strong basis in reading, a law student’s success in all of these tasks is compromised.
Though there are a unique group of forces that might contribute to the underprepared law student, this article concentrates on two sources specifically: (1) the student’s prior educational experience and (2) the student’s relationship with technology. Thus, the article first discusses how students are learning in their undergraduate studies and how technology has transformed the reading experience for many. It also describes the characteristics of a typically underprepared law student. Next, it explores the implications a student’s unpreparedness has on his or her ability to succeed in law school. Finally, it suggests ways to better prepare students so that they develop into strong readers and critical thinkers. Specifically, it proposes that professors use more guided reading exercises to ensure that students master these skills, which are so critical to not only performing in law school, but also to becoming practice-ready attorneys. Thus, by demonstrating for students how expert legal readers read, professors can help tremendously in closing the reading gap for beginning law students."
Deep reading is an important skill for law students. Law students can't just skim cases and treatises, like they often did with their readings in college. I devoted a chapter to deep reading in my book Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (ABA Pub. 2013).
Sunday, October 30, 2016
A special section of "Before the Bar" on the ABA law student blog gathers several stories about law students helping veterans whether through law school clinical programs or via pro bono volunteer work. As I'm spending the year teaching in the law department at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, these stories hit especially close to home. Among the columns:
Good causes one and all.
In observance of the holiday, here’s the 1885 poem by “the Hoosier poet,” James Whitcomb Riley: “Little Orphant Annie” (written in Hoosier dialect):
Little Orphant Annie
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other children, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Here is a column that I wrote for At Issue, the electronic newsletter of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. In it, I illustrate several ways to write the Statement of the Issue for the defendant in the Miranda case. Here is my closing paragraph:
As these examples show, you can draft
more compelling issue statements by using
some or all of these techniques—placing
pieces of information in an order that is
easy to read, numbering items in a list of
facts, using a tabular format, and using
more than one sentence to state the issue.
You can access the column here (p. 3).
Identifying the gap between what we teach in law school and the practical legal skills employers demand
That's the subject of this new article by Professor Joni Larson (Indiana Tech) entitled To Develop Critical Thinking Skills and Allow Students to Be Practice Ready, We Must Move Well Beyond the Lecture Format and available at 8 Elon L. Rev. 443 (2016) as well as SSRN here. From the abstract:
Casebooks are constructed around the case method of teaching - reading appellate opinions to understand the law. However, when the case method approach is compared to what an attorney is expected to do in practice, there is a definite gap. If students are to emerge from law school with practice ready skills, they must be given the opportunity to learn and practice a variety of skills and develop the necessary qualities that will allow them to effectively and efficiently enter the practice of law. Examples are given for how to incorporate skills into the learning environment.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Sorry, law is not among them. According to an extensive survey, here are the top contenders:
Work-life balance rating: 4.0
Median salary: $110,000
If you think of research engineers as the people finding the best technological innovations for a company, development and operations — aka DevOps — engineers are the ones developing and managing such innovations. These roles tend to be a bit more technical.
Work-life balance rating: 4.0
Median salary: $101,318
These developers lead the creation of companies' apps for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Technical account manager
Work-life balance rating: 4.0
Median salary: $75,000
Along with providing technical help, this job generally consists of managing a company's various accounts and assisting partners or customers.
Work-life balance rating: 4.0
Median salary: $48,000
A recruiting coordinator is a bit like a "bouncer" for a company or organization, deciding whether or not candidates are suited for open positions.
You can read more at mic.com, here. Although work-life balance is a good goal, it also can mean easy hours and low commitment to your work. Depends on how much you value your professional goals.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
I don’t think the academic life promotes kindness. I hope I am wrong. Certainly, there are kind people, but there are also very cold and unpleasant people. In any case, at Vitae, Kelly Baker considers the problem of a lack of kindness—even cruelty in academia. Here are some excerpts:
In that climate, your own career success is of the utmost importance. Unkindness becomes a buffer between you and all the other people seeking those elusive tenure-track jobs, grants, promotions, book contracts, prestigious journal articles, named chairs, editorships, and so on. Your career begins to matter more than collaboration and pleasantries exchanged in the hall. Maybe academia is up to its ears in assholes because that is an acceptable route to the career you trained for.
[H]ow we view kindness comes from how we understand humanity. If we understand our fellow human beings to be fundamentally good, compassionate, and altruistic, kindness matters because how we treat other people matters. If, on the other hand, we believe that humans are terrible, deceptive, scheming, and self-interested, we are more inclined to treat other people unkindly. Kindness appears as sentimental and unnecessary. And yet, we still find pleasure in being kind, and we recognize and dwell on those moments when others are unkind to us.
Being kind makes us vulnerable to other people because we don’t know how they will act or react. It makes us care. Caring opens us up to hurt, but it also makes cooperation and collaboration possible.
We don’t have to go along with a system that rewards cruelty and diminishes care. In fact, kindness has the subversive potential to make change. And many academics already know that and practice it.
You can read more here.
Bill Adams, Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar: Employment Data Review Update (Aug. 5, 2016). Excerpts:
"Pursuant to the Protocol for Reviewing Law Graduate Employment Data, and Statement of Procedures for Collecting, Maintaining, and Reporting Law Graduate Employment Data (hereinafter Protocol) passed by the Council, the office procured Berkeley Research Group (BRG) to engage in a review of graduate employment data collected by the schools. BRG has completed the initial stages of its review."
"For the Random Graduate Review, 382 files were selected from 156 schools. Of the 156 schools that had files randomly selected, 16 appeared to have a potential problem with missing items or supporting documentation for an item. Of these 16, 8 had minor issues regarding documentation of an item and probably will not warrant further review. . . .The remaining 8 may have issues requiring heightened review, but BRG is engaged in discussions with the schools to seek clarification about documentation or ambiguities in the file. In regard to one of these [other] 8 schools, it appears to have created its documentation for its files after it was notified that its files would be audited."
"Five of the 10 schools randomly selected had compliance rates of 95% or above. Another school is at 94.8% and two are at approximately 86%. The remaining two schools had file compliance rates in the mid-50’s. BRG is conducting follow-up discussions with the schools that had more than 5% of their files to determine whether some of the files that appear to be deficient are actually deficient. One of these schools also appears to have created its supporting documentation after it was notified that it had been selected for a file review. After this further review of the schools with a compliance rate below 95%, the review committee will determine which of these schools may warrant a Level 2 Review."
"The good news is that the overwhelming majority of schools subjected to the data review have both accurately reported employment results and provided credible documentary support of what they have reported. Of the schools identified for follow-up discussions, most have issues relating to documentation questions. It is not yet evident that any of these schools has misreported data. Our documentation requirements are quite specific and some think complex so it is reasonable, that in the first year of this review, there may be confusion over what we require. The two schools that appear to have created their documentation after the fact raise more serious problems, but they may also be ableto explain that what we perceive is not accurate. We will report what we ultimately determine after BRG completes its final review." (emphasis added)
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Over at the Best Practices for Legal Education blog (Oct. 9, 2016), Shailini George offers a perspective on howGenX’ers, Millenials, and we oldsters interact in the classroom (excerpts):
Gen X’ers want independence and to be given time to grapple with issues on their own, they respect authority, and do not like to be overly supervised.
On the other hand Millennials crave constant communication and mostly positive feedback, do not believe that those in authority deserve respect due to rank alone, and they want supervision to the point that they collaborate with supervisors rather than producing something on their own in the first place. The conflicts are apparent.
Yes, these are generalizations, but I see these conflicts play out in the classroom and anecdotally when those students first experience workplace expectations and report back to me.
Each generation has positive and less positive attributes. It has helped me to understand and appreciate that certain characteristics I may have viewed as laziness or lack of initiative are not individual characteristics, but simply a different mental approach to work and how it is produced. I have tried to adopt some of the positive attributes they bring to the classroom, such as embracing technology, engaging in more group work, and providing more opportunities for ungraded assessment. By doing so, I let go of a characteristic of my generation: reluctance to change.
You can read more here.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Like the bot released earlier this year that helps clients appeal parking tickets, law students in the UK have developed a bot to help crime victims evaluate the legal viability of their claims. From Legaltech News:
As chatbots pick up steam in legal, University of Cambridge's LawBot can communicate legal information in everyday language
Building upon the access to justice uses of chat-based automation seen earlier this year in the parking ticket-appealing DoNotPay bot, four University of Cambridge law students have launched a chatbot that helps users in the U.K. determine whether or not they've been a victim of a crime.
The chatbot, called LawBot, takes users through a set of pre-programmed questions about 26 criminal offenses across England and Wales including sexual harassment, violent assaults, and property crimes. In most cases, if the chatbot determines a crime has been committed, it encourages the user to contact the police and helps them locate the closest police station.
The founders honed in on criminal law as an area of focus because of the confusion victims face trying to identify whether they should contact authorities or seek legal help. "Many times, especially with sex offenses, you may not know you've been the victim of a crime because the law is complicated," said LawBot managing director Ludwig Bull.
Chatbots allow users to communicate using a chat interface with a set of software-driven responses. In conjuring responses, chatbots employ artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning, which allows them to base responses on particulars of queries and learn through use. While chatbot services are only starting to take form in the legal technology industry, they're increasingly used to help with user problems in messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack and Telegram,attracting millions of dollars of venture capital funding in just the last year.
LawBot's founders, much like DoNotPay's founder Joshua Browder, said they're not interested in monetizing the service at this point.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
The call for plain English drafting has a long history. After Thomas Jefferson drafted a bill to establish elementary schools in Virginia, he forwarded a copy to legislator Joseph Cabell and included this sardonic comment:
I should apologize, perhaps, for the style of this bill. I dislike the
verbose and intricate style of the English statutes .... You, however, can
easily correct this bill to the taste of my brother lawyers, by making
every other word a "said" or "aforesaid," and saying everything over
two or three times, so that nobody but we of the craft can untwist the
diction, and find out what it means .... "
LETTER FROM THOMAS JEFFERSON TO JOSEPH C. _CABELL, in 17 THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS
JEFFERSON, at 417-18 (Albert Ellergy Bergh ed., 1903) (1817).
Monday, October 24, 2016
In a recent class, a student asked me what my “favorite” grammar pet peeve is. The answer is making a sentence ambiguous by placing the word “only” in the wrong location. Grammar Girl illustrates using an example employed by James Jackson Kilpatrick:
- Only John hit Peter in the nose.
- John hit only Peter in the nose.
- John hit Peter only in the nose.
- John only hit Peter in the nose.
Put the Adverb “Only” as Close as Possible to What It Modifies
His point was that you need to put the adverb “only” as close as possible to the word it modifies. The sentence “Only John hit Peter in the nose” means that John hit Peter in the nose, and no one else did. The sentence “John hit only Peter in the nose” means that John hit Peter in the nose, and didn’t do that to anybody else. The sentence “John hit Peter only in the nose” means that John hit Peter in the nose, not in or on any other part of his body.
Another example: The old song “I only have eyes for you” should be “I have eyes only for you,” though the rewording spoils the rhythm.
You can read more here.
The political scandals here never seem to end—resignations and a conviction of Supreme Court Justices and now the conviction of the former AG Kathleen Kane on perjury and related charges.
Why? I place much of the blame on the practice of electing judges and other legal officials. As a result, too much politics enters the process.
In the case of Kathleen Kane, she won election to office despite having a very modest legal background. When she found herself in the midst of a political controversy, she found herself over her head and acted unprofessionally and illegally. She disclosed confidential grand jury proceedings and tried to cover up her role in the disclosure.
Does an appointment process guarantee perfect results? No. However, I think it increases the chances of placing responsible, qualified lawyers in positions of power.
You can read more at Philly.com (here).
The University of Dayton School of Law is accepting applications for two Assistant Professors of Academic Success. The Academic Success Program at the School of
Law is designed to help students develop the skills necessary for law school success and first time bar passage. The Academic Success Program impacts every stage of the academic program, providing support to students from orientation until graduation. The Assistant Professor of Academic Success position is non-tenure track with an initial one-year appointment. There is a possibility for renewal long-term (three or five-year) appointments after three years of satisfactory service.
The Assistant Professor of Academic Success will be charged with teaching academic success courses, advising students on issues related to their coursework and professional development, supervising and evaluating the Learning Communities program and upper-class Dean’s Fellows, and participating in the greater academic success professional community.
You can read more here.
From the New York Post:
Anna Wurtzburger, of Hopewell Junction, says she bought a $20 bucket of chicken from KFC over the summer and was disappointed to find it looked much different than what’s in the chain’s ads.
“I came home and said, ‘Where’s the chicken?’ I thought I was going to have a couple of meals,” she told The Post.
“They say it feeds the whole family … They’re showing a bucket that’s overflowing with chicken,” the 64-year-old widow griped. “You get half a bucket! That’s false advertising, and it doesn’t feed the whole family. They’re small pieces!”
KFC says the lawsuit is meritless.
You can read more here.
Using Cognitive Psychology to Improve Student Performance, Part Four: Cognitive Schema Theory by Louis Schulze
Another post in his series on legal education from Professor Schulze:
"CST focuses on the active construction of knowledge by creating cognitive structures around which information can be assimilated and stored in long-term memory. A cognitive schema is a heuristic that promotes the encoding and retrieval of knowledge. In essence, organizational frameworks or mental structures aid the learner both in putting together the arrangement of a topic and in recalling that information. For instance, the memory palace (or “method of loci,” a tool that’s existed since Aristotle) structures ideas and facilitates learning, encoding, and recall."
"A cognitive schema is a heuristic that promotes the encoding and retrieval of knowledge. In essence, organizational frameworks or mental structures aid the learner both in putting together the arrangement of a topic and in recalling that information. "