Sunday, October 23, 2016

Several experts opine on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on law practice

Some predict the effect will be to usher in a new "skills renaissance" in law practice for those with coding experience while others suggest "AI" may render the need for some attorneys as obsolete. Legaltech News has the story:

Will AI Rush in a ‘Skills Renaissance’ in Law?

There’s a technology revolution underway in law. This week's AI roundup explores, what does the future hold for the lawyer?


What’s the deal with young people these days? Well, in the context of lawyers, the young are leading the way with technology. A recent Reuters blog pegs the innovators’ age range between generations Y (born mid-70s to early 2000s) and Z (the 90s – 2000s), within which lie the individuals that are transforming the future of legal services.


And nothing looks to impact law more significantly in the coming decade than artificial intelligence (AI). The real-world benefit of its application is “continuing to explode,” Reuters’ Westlaw product management senior director Erik Lindberg said in the blog. Using it, attorneys stand to “make more informed decisions and have more confidence.”


However, not everyone is on board with the change, and age for some can be an indicator of stance. Veteran attorneys, Lindberg says, have up until now “been successful without cognitive computing or artificial intelligence, so they may question, why change?”


In fact, now may actually be a great time to be a younger lawyer, especially if you grasp technology. In a Legal Cheek Q&A, Luke Scanlon, head of Pinsent Masons’ “fintech propositions,” said that for junior attorneys, “AI will mean more of a focus on interesting work for lawyers and less time spent on mundane tasks.”


At the same time, this could have considerable implications for the typical job description of the lawyer. According to Scanlon, law students with “coding or data analysis skills are going to be in high demand, because these are areas where the legal profession has an opportunity to build on what it currently offers.”

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


October 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Jurors Take and Review Notes?

Permitting jurors to take notes is the trend. The Holland and Hart blog believes that juror note taking is a good thing. The posting offers suggestions on how the trial lawyer should act to make sure jurors take accurate notes and recognize the persuasive arguments that the lawyer is making.

You can read more here.


October 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Is Going In-House the Worst Decision Ever?

Recruiter Harrison Barnes says yes. Here are his reasons:

a.            Your skills will deteriorate rapidly and significantly. The most important work will be sent to law firms and not done by you.

b.    You will become a "cost center" and not a profit-generator (in most instances) and will be one of the first to go when the company experiences problems – and all companies do.

c.    You will no longer be employable by almost any law firm whatsoever when you lose your job – and you most likely will lose your job inside of a company.

d.    Most companies want to hire younger attorneys (often from law firms) with "fresher" skills than an in-house attorney coming from another company.

e.    Without clients of your own, you will have zero control over your career.

f.     When the company experiences some significant legal problems – and most companies do – you and others in the legal department who "touched" the matter will all likely lose your jobs.

g.   Most attorneys inside of companies are the "resident buzz kills" who spend their days covering their asses by telling management (i.e., people actually doing things) what is not possible. They become impediments to getting things done and are often not liked too much by people inside of the companies either (i.e., they become more isolated and lonely inside of companies than they were inside of law firms).

On the other hand, almost every in-house attorney I know is happy with the job. To read Barnes’ full article, please click here.


October 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Council Approves New Bar Passage Requirement

The Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has just approved a new bar passage requirement for law schools.  The requirement "mandates that at least 75 percent of a law school’s alumni pass the bar within two years of graduation—rather than the current five-year period. It also eliminates a provision allowing schools to meet the standard if its first-time bar pass rate is within 15 percent of the statewide average, and a provision enabling law schools to meet the standard based on data from only 70 percent of graduates."

Now the ABA House of Delegates will consider the proposal, which will probably occur next February.  If enacted then, it would become effective for the July 2017 bar exam.


"The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar overwhelmingly decided to strengthen its bar pass standard for accredited law schools—a long-debated move proponents said is necessary to ensure law schools don’t admit students unlikely of passing the all-important attorney licensing exam.

The council voted for the stricter standard over the opposition of diversity advocates who warned that schools with large numbers of minority students could lose their accreditation and that the stricter rule would prompt schools to admit fewer minority students. That, in turn, would exacerbate the legal profession’s longstanding diversity problem, they argued."

"The committee also cited data from the National Conference of Law Examiners that shows very few bar takers ultimately pass the exam after two years of initially taking it. Shortening the evaluation period from five to two years should have relatively little impact, it reasoned."

Law schools need to be prepared for the new requirement to go into effect next July.  More information here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 21, 2016

For New Faculty: Who Are Friends & Who Are Foes?

How do you know which of your new colleagues are going to support you and which are going to undercut you? At Vitae, you can read the advice of several faculty members (here).

My advice. Listen a lot, and take your time reaching conclusions. Find not just one mentor, but several mentors. At least one of those mentors may, in good faith, offer bad advice. To get good advice, you need to listen to more than one person. Pay attention to interfaculty relationships; which faculty members are friends with which faculty members? These relationships can tell you a lot about your colleagues.

I don’t mean to give these suggestions with a negative tone. Expect the best out of people, but take your time in making new friends.


October 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

National Law Journal op-ed: HBCU Law Deans Say ABA Bar-Passage Rule Changes Will Hurt Profession's Diversity

National Law Journal op-ed:  HBCU Law Deans Say ABA Bar-Passage Rule Changes Will Hurt Profession's Diversity, by Dannye Holley (Former Dean, Texas Southern), Danielle Holley-Walker (Dean, Howard), John Pierre (Dean, Southern), Felecia Epps (Dean, Florida A&M), Phyliss Craig-Taylor (Dean, North Carolina Central) & James Douglass (Interim Dean, Texas Southern).  Excerpts:

"The proposed changes to the American Bar Association's bar-passage standard, set to be decided this week, have been the subject of great debate. Some, like Daniel Rodriguez and Craig Boise, deans of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and Syracuse University College of Law, respectively, have written in support of the proposed changes to Standard 316. But these proposed changes come at a time when bar-passage rates in many states have been declining, and there are many unanswered questions about the impact of the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam. Furthermore, at a time when the legal profession continues to struggle with a lack of racial and ethnic diversity, many of the schools that will be impacted by this change are schools who enroll large minority student populations."

"There is ample evidence of the recent drop in bar-passage rates across the country. The 2015 bar-passage rates suggest that under the new standard it is very likely that a significant number of law schools accredited for decades by the ABA could be automatically deemed to be out of compliance and at risk of losing their accreditation."

"For example, in written comments submitted to the ABA earlier this year, the National Black Law Students Association, citing the ABA 509 law school disclosures, stated that the accreditation of more than 60 schools could be put in jeopardy if this proposal was adopted, including more than 20 law schools at which minorities comprise at least 30 percent of total enrollment."

"Next, the proposed changes to Law School Standard 316 will place an undue burden on law schools associated with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and other law schools committed to admitting a significant number of students of color."

"As we well know, diversity in the law remains a challenge. Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode has noted that 88 percent of licensed lawyers are white, making the profession less diverse than medicine and engineering, in which 72 percent and 81 percent of licensed professionals are white, respectively."

"HBCU law schools have been responsible for a significant and disproportionate percent of the African-American and other new lawyers of color added to the profession annually. . ."

"[T]here has been no disparate-impact study conducted by the ABA to assess how the proposed standard will impact law schools with large percentages of minority law students. No new standard should be considered without making this assessment."

"In summary, we are disappointed that the ABA, without conducting a disparate-impact study, appears to be moving forward with a change to the bar-passage standard that may have an adverse impact on our law schools. Being found to be out of compliance with this new ABA accreditation standard would have seriously negative impacts on our law schools. It would make it difficult for us to recruit students, faculty and the donors that are needed to sustain our academic program —programs that help to promote diversity in the profession and access to justice for underserved communities."

As I have stated before, I don't understand how admitting students to law school who probably won't pass the bar helps the diversity of the legal profession.  All this does is saddle poor students with massive law school debt.

The legal community needs diversity to properly serve underserved communities.  However, as I have said before, the only way to do this is to better educate minority students.  (here)  Look at what North Texas and FIU are doing to accomplish this goal.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

FERPA Privacy: A Summary

The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974, perhaps better known under its acronym FERPA, protects a student’s right to privacy over his or her educational and personal records.

Campus Answers provides a helpful overview of FERPA. Although, the summary is part of an advertisement to purchase a training program from the company, the summary itself is helpful.

You can access it here.


October 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mitchell Hamline Launches a New Mobile Law Network

Mitchell Hamline School of Law has launched a new Mobile Law Network — a red RV specially outfitted to serve as a traveling law office.

“Our intent is to start by working with organizations around the state to increase access to legal services for people in need and to provide our students with even more extensive opportunities for hands-on legal experience,” said Mark C. Gordon, president and dean at Mitchell Hamline.

The vehicle will transport students to support a variety of legal services, focusing primarily in the areas of family law, criminal expungements, and advance health care planning. Students will provide information and assistance to those representing themselves and others who need guidance on legal matters.

You can read more here at preLaw.


October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A "legal prep school" in Chicago aims to increase diversity in the profession

From the ABA for Law Students Blog:

Teaching through law at Chicago’s Legal Prep Charter Academy

The Legal Prep Charter Academy is a legal-themed, open-enrollment charter high school located in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood at 4319 West Washington Blvd. It was founded in 2009 by Sam Finkelstein and Rather Stanton, young lawyers who had the goal of increasing diversity in the legal profession. Since the school’s commencement, teachers have been providing a legal-themed curriculum to Black and Hispanic students and allowing them an opportunity to succeed at four-year colleges and universities and beyond. The students at Legal Prep gain substantive experience strengthening their skills in the areas of communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, writing, and advocacy.


Legal Prep celebrated its very first graduation ceremony on June 4, 2016, honoring the achievements of the first graduating class of 90 seniors and the successes of the school since it opened in August of 2012. Judge Ann Claire Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, served as the keynote speaker. Judge Williams has been instrumental in encouraging the students to work hard, remain humble, and reach for their dreams no matter what obstacles cross their path.


. . . .

Continue reading here.


October 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Salaries of Non-Equity Partners: Not Too Shabby


At least not in Big Law:

Top 10 Firms by Average Compensation Per Non-Equity Partner

Rank Firm Average Compensation Per Non-Equity Partner
1 Quinn Emanuel


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2 Paul Hastings


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3 Wilson Sonsini


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4 Latham Watkins


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5 Weil


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6 Kramer Levin


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7 Cadwalader


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8 O’Melveny & Myers


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9 Milbank


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10 Hughes Hubbard


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You can read more here.


October 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 17, 2016

A great resource for finding writing competitions for law students

The University of Richmond School of Law hosts the self-proclaimed "largest" database on the web of writing competitions available to law students.  Check out this great resource here where students can find competitions and topics to write about that range from everything from state alcohol consumption policies to consumer financial services to tax law.  In addition to offering students prestige, several of these competitions provide students with the opportunity to win some serious cash too.


October 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Differing Perspectives of Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys

In the October issue of the Washington Lawyer, four attorneys discuss the different perspectives of prosecutors and defense lawyers. All have served in both capacities. The take home message I get is that defense lawyers have a greater understanding of the hardship that prosecution has of defendants and their families. The prosecutors, much less so.

You can read this short article here.


October 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deals or No Deals: Integrating Transactional Skills in the First Year Curriculum by Lynnise Pantin

Many of us in the legal education reform movement have argued that transactional skills should be taught in the first year.  Here, is a nice article on the subject.

Deals or No Deals: Integrating Transactional Skills in the First Year Curriculum by Lynnise Pantin.


"In the wake of criticism of legal education from both outside the academy and within, the mandate for developing and graduating practice-ready attorneys has never been clearer. There is a strong desire for law schools to begin graduating students who are practice-ready, meaning that these new attorneys would be prepared for the real practice of law upon graduation. The question of what type of practice remains. At least half, if not more, of all attorneys engage in some form of transactional practice, rather than litigation, or other form of dispute resolution. Transactional practice refers to the art of “planning, negotiating, documenting, and closing the deal.” The fact that so many practicing attorneys engage in transactional work indicates that, in order for law schools to produce truly practice-ready attorneys, law schools must train students for practice in both transactional and litigation fields. If law schools are not teaching transactional skills, then law schools are failing to teach over half of all lawyers the skills necessary to practice law. By changing the status quo, students may leave law school with both a more productive set of lawyering skills and a broader view of how they can contribute to the profession and the communities lawyers serve. If not changed, law schools will have failed in any effort to graduate practice-ready students.

This article joins a growing body of scholarship on the pedagogy of transactional law and skills. This article challenges the traditional pedagogy of teaching law students to think like a lawyer and argues that law schools should shift the analytical framework of a litigation-dominated model, which is typically taught in the first year, to a model that incorporates transactional skills teaching into the first year law school curriculum."


October 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

South Texas College of Law Can’t Change its Name Yet

From the Texas Tribune:

At least temporarily, the former South Texas College of Law must revert to its original name after a judge said Friday that the school's effort to rebrand itself might too closely resemble the University of Houston's law school. 

South Texas changed its name to the Houston College of Law in June, saying the change would "further distinguish itself regionally and nationally." But in a 42-page opinion issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison granted UH's request for a preliminary injunction to block the change.

You can read more here.


October 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Humanistic Model for Human Nature

A prevalent understanding of humankind is the economic model of human nature. One alternative is the RESS model—humans as resourceful, evaluative, and maximizing (here is a fuller explanation). Michael Pirson proposes another model—a humanistic model:

In summary, the new humanistic model of human nature builds on evolutionary sciences’ insights. At the base it posits four basic drives, ultimate motives that underlie all human decisions. There are two ancient drives that all animals with some capacity to sense and evaluate their surroundings share; the drive to acquire (dA) life-sustaining resources, and the drive to defend (dD) against all life-threatening entities. In addition, there are the two newer drives, which evolved to an independent status only in humans: the drive to bond (dB) in order to form long-term mutually caring relationships with other humans, and the drive to comprehend (dC) in order to make sense of the world around us with regard to our own existence.67

The economistic model can potentially accommodate these four drives: the drive to bond, the drive to comprehend, and the drive to defend all serve the drive to acquire. In contrast, the humanistic view suggests that we have four independent underlying natural drives that need to be continually balanced. The humanistic model presupposes that none of the drives can be maximized, but that they need to be in balance to provide a sense of dignity and well-being.

This model can be helpful in understanding organizational behavior and designing organizations. However, it also may prove useful in understanding how to develop persuasive arguments. Here is an endeavor worth pursuing.

You can access the article here.


October 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Law Prof’s “Last Lecture"

In this article, retired professor Jon Lande offers advice to law students and lawyers. Here are the high points:

The article advises students to get the most possible benefit from law school by paying attention to what’s really important, learning to learn, and not doing dumb things.

It advises lawyers to understand themselves and others by focusing on their clients, being careful about making assumptions, recognizing the importance of emotions (especially their own emotions), and understanding others’ perspectives.

It also recommends that lawyers develop good judgment and routines by paying attention to what’s really important, considering what help clients need, developing good relationships with counterpart lawyers, preparing to resolve matters at the earliest appropriate time, being prepared to negotiate much more than they may expect, recognizing that they actually are mediating when they represent clients, being persistent and creative when dealing with problems, and being prepared to advocate hard and smart as necessary.

The article concludes by encouraging lawyers to recognize both the good and harm that they can do as lawyers and wishing them great fulfillment from helping others.

You can access the full “lecture” here .


October 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Conferences

March 25, 2017
Formative Assessment in Large Classes
Emory University School of Law

ILTL Conference at Emory

More info here.

July 7-8, 2017
Teaching Cultural Competency and Other Professional Skills
University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

More info to come.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview

Students often aren’t sure what to ask. Recruiter Harrison Barnes suggests six questions:

Why is the position open?

Whom would I be reporting to and what are they like?

What goals would you have for me during the first 30, 60 & 90 days?

What do you like best about working here?

What are the characteristic of your most successful employees?

What are the next steps?

For each questions, Barnes gives an explanation and advice on how to carry on the discussion.

You can read more here.


October 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

CALL FOR PROPOSALS The Impact of Formative Assessment: Emphasizing Outcome Measures in Legal Education

The University of Detroit Mercy Law Review is pleased to announce its annual academic Symposium to be held on March 3, 2017, at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Symposium will contemplate how the American Bar Association’s emphasis on outcome measures in its revised Standards for Approval will affect law students’ educational experience.

The deadline for abstract submissions is October 31, 2016.

More information here.

(Scott Fruehwald)


October 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The claim that "digital natives" are tech-savvy is a myth

I recently published an article discussing the myths surrounding so-called "digital natives" and technology (in short, we conflate observations about their apparent fluency with technology when it comes to social media and surfing the web with true proficiency). The column below from the Legal Rebels column on the ABA Journal blog agrees. The point being that law schools should do more to teach students how to use the technology they'll be expected to know in practice rather than assume students are already proficient with it.

Tech comes naturally to ‘digital native’ millennials? That’s a myth


The flip side of thinking that technology should be easy (covered last post) is believing that it is too hard for those lacking natural talent. The most common iteration of this belief is the myth of the digital native.


Because they grew up surrounded by technology, the next generation has supposedly acquired all sorts of technological superpowers through osmosis.


But getting a Twitter account in utero does not translate into being able to use business technology well. It is akin to expecting the teenager who can microwave a Hot Pocket to be capable of cooking a gourmet meal. They are capable—if they are trained.


Survival is the threshold most people achieve with most technology. All the statistics we have suggest that very few features on smartphones, smart cars, smart TVs, or smart toasters are ever used by most consumers. People learn what they need to learn in order to do the bare minimum necessary to survive. People includes young people.


Most of the technology young people use is directed towards consumption, not content generation. When they do generate content, it tends to be very rudimentary—text messages, social media, pictures, etc. They learn to use the basic functionality of popular, single-purpose apps because that is important for their survival in their social milieu. To the unfamiliar, this can seem like wizardry. But the bulk of the genius is manifest in the app design rather than the person using it.


Rarely do young people encounter the trade-offs between usability and depth. . . . 

Continue reading here.


October 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)