Wednesday, November 30, 2016
A while back (April 2011), we offered a post discussing this exam archive and how to access it. Here it is again:
Harvard has just made available online an archive of old exams. Click here to access it. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has taken the time to review some of them and concludes that tests were much easier back in the old days. Of course the law was less complex back then too. Here's an excerpt from the WSJLB:
Even someone who’s never been to law school could kill an hour or two thumbing through these things.
But even upon the most cursory glance, it’s hard not to come away with the following conclusion: that law school exams used to be a lot easier than they are today. Seriously. A lot easier. Granted, U.S. law was arguably simpler back in 1871. No Sherman Act, no Voting Rights Act, no Title VII. Etc., etc., etc.
Take, for instance, this question, pulled from an 1871 property exam:
VII. Define a tenancy in severalty, a joint tenancy, and a tenancy in common. What are the incidents of joint tenancies and tenancies in common? How may they be severed by act of the parties or act of law?
Okay, fair enough. It’s not like we could answer the question off the top of our heads, of course. But it’s something that, with a little studying, most high-school students could answer.
Compare it to this property exam question from 1995:
Ames is one of three states that retained, after the Married Women’s Property Acts, the traditional definition of tenancy by the entireties. Under this definition, the husband had the exclusive right to control the use, profits and disposition of the property. This meant he could exclude his wife from the premises for any reason or no reason, sell without her consent, and dispose of rental property in any way he pleased. Several hundred-thousand married couples acquired property as tenants by the entireties up to 1981, in which year the Ames legislature passed a statute declaring that for the future when a c0uple took property by the entireties, they would have equal control rights. In a case before the Ames Supreme Court, a wife who had taken property with her husband as a tenant by the entireties in 1954 urges the Ames Supreme Court to treat her as having equal rights with her husband. Write a memo for a justice of the Court reviewing the pros and cons of taking some kind of action with respect to pre-1981 conveyances.
You can read more of the WSJLB analysis and comments here.
Hat tip to the online ABA Journal.
In my school’s popular Advanced Legal Research course, Professor Lori Corso assigns each student a project: create a website that hosts a research guide. Each student creates a guide on a different topic. The quality is very good.
In the coming weeks, I will post links to some of the websites. Here is the first: Copyright Law & Music by Ashley Albano (here). On the website, be sure to click on the drop-down “more” to find “Listen to Similar Songs.”
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
For decades Cravath has been the trendsetter when it comes to BigLaw associate compensation. What Cravath does, most other BigLaw firms follow. Thus many associates may be disappointed to learn that Cravath has just announced it will not be increasing associate year-end bonuses for 2016 (though last year's bonuses which ranged from $15K to $100K ain't too shabby). The New York Times DealB%k has the details:
The prominent Wall Street law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore has splashed some cold water on those still hoping for higher year-end bonuses.
The firm — a trendsetter when it comes to pay for big law firms — disclosed on Monday in an internal firm memo that bonuses for its associates would be $15,000 to $100,000 — the same range as in 2015.
Shortly after Cravath’s bonus scale became public, two major law firms matched the amounts. They are Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Hopes had been kindled for a larger increase after the elite firm last June raised the basic salaries for its junior lawyers — for the first time in nearly a decade — to $180,000. That led dozens of law firms to follow suit, raising the pay for associates.
No reason was given in the memo, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, for this year’s bonus scale. But like other law firms in its rarefied tier, Cravath’s annual financial fortunes are shaped by merger and acquisition work and other transactions, which have been down of late.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
After you die, who has control over your Facebook account, your online financial accounts, and your emails? From the Mongomery McCracken blog:
New York, California, Florida, Connecticut, Maryland and a number of other states have enacted what is called the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (the “Act”). Similar legislation is pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and a number of other states. Delaware passed the Act prior to its being a “revised” act.
The Act allows a “user” (the customer) to use an “online tool” (which is separate from the “Terms-of-Service Agreement” (“TOS”)) to designate another person to gain access to digital assets either during the user’s lifetime or at the user’s death.
If the user has not made such a designation or if the service provider does not have an online tool, the user can by a will, trust agreement or power of attorney designate someone to gain access to digital assets. If there is no specific direction by the online tool or an estate planning document, then the TOS controls.
You can read more here.
The Moritz College of Law invites applications for an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law to teach its two criminal justice clinics beginning in academic year 2017-2018. To allow adequate preparation, the position will start no later than July 1, 2017.
Our College offers both a prosecution clinic (taught each fall semester) and a defense clinic (taught each spring semester). The defense clinic represents indigent misdemeanor defendants in Franklin County, home of the nation’s fifteenth largest city. The prosecution clinic handles misdemeanor cases in nearby Delaware County, which encompasses suburban and rural populations. Both clinics exercise autonomy over selection and handling of all cases.
The Assistant Clinical Professor will team teach both clinics with an experienced member of the Moritz faculty. The two professors will share responsibility for course design, classroom instruction, and student conferences; the newly hired Assistant Clinical Professor will serve as counsel of record in all cases and take primary responsibility for courthouse supervision of the student legal interns.
The position is a nontenure-track position with security reasonably similar to tenure, as provided by ABA Standard 405(c). . . .
The Assistant Clinical Professor will be hired for an initial probationary period of 3 to 5 years (with annual review) and will have full rights to participate in all College governance matters other than the appointment, promotion, and tenure of tenure-track faculty. Assuming satisfactory performance during the probationary period, the Assistant Clinical Professor will be eligible for promotion to Associate Clinical Professor under a long-term renewable contract of 3 to 5 years that permits removal only for cause or financial exigency. The College would consider lateral appointments (at the Associate Clinical Professor level) only for candidates with significant law school teaching experience.
You can read the full announcement here.
Monday, November 28, 2016
My co-blogger Scott has been following the controversy concerning the new University of North Texas Law School (here, here and here) and now comes a report that a group of state legislators is pushing to open another new law school in the southern part of the state (the Rio Grande Valley to be exact). From the McAllen Valley Monitor:
McALLEN — A new legislative year is bringing renewed hope for Rio Grande Valley representatives who hope to establish a law school in the area.
“The law school is a natural progression as our demographics grow, as our population grows,” said Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville. “There are some great, very talented young professionals who for financial reasons or reasons related to family cannot travel to San Antonio, which is our nearest law school.”
Lucio III and Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, both filed legislation — House Bill 169 and 46, respectively — last week calling for the establishment of a public law school in either Cameron or Hidalgo County.
Just like with the creation of the medical school at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, for which legislation was filed more than 70 years ago, the idea is to lay the groundwork for the creation of the law school.
The Valley had been slated at some point by the UT System Regents as the next best place for a medical school and, according to Lucio III, the same should be said for the law school.
“If you look at other parts of the state — Houston, Dallas, San Antonio — everybody has a law school,” Martinez said. “We believe that we are able to compete with the rest of the state, and we want to be able to provide that opportunity to our bright students here.”
The bills call for any university system to establish the law school and, even though UTRGV might be the first to come to mind, the fact that there has been more interest from other systems, like Texas A&M, expanding to the region opens up more avenues.
“So you are not only saying the University of Texas School of Law,” Martinez said. “You are saying ‘Any public university that would like to create a law school in Texas, here, we have the framework for it and now you can do it.’”
Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, also introduced legislation along the same lines asking for a distance learning program at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law so that UTRGV students can take the first year of law school courses remotely.
“The program must be administered in a manner that is consistent with the accreditation requirements for the law school,” Canales’ House Bill 319 states.
The bill asks for the program to begin no later than the 2018 fall semester and for the UT Board of Regents to ensure that at least five students are able to participate in the remote program each academic year.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Being from a state that has had more than its share of issues with judicial misconduct, I am particularly interested in how other jurisdictions evaluate their judges. Here is how the D.C. Bar periodically carries out an evaluation. It seems like a good model.
The D.C. Bar Judicial Evaluation Committee has begun its 2016–2017 survey of the performance of selected judges who preside over the D.C. Court of Appeals and the D.C. Superior Court.
Attorneys who had cases pending before one or more of the selected judges during the period between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016, have been asked to participate in the survey. The survey is conducted online only, and all responses will remain confidential and anonymous. Evaluations are due by 5 p.m. on December 12.
Judges are evaluated in their 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 13th year of service. Senior judges are evaluated during the second year of their four-year terms, and once during their two-year terms.
Each evaluated judge will receive a copy of his or her survey results, and the chief judge of each court will receive the results for all judges from his court. Survey results of senior judges and judges in their 6th, 10th, and 13th year of service also will be sent to the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.
You can read more here.
As I have mentioned here before, the Florida International University College of Law had the highest passage rate for first-time takers on the July 2016 Florida bar. I also just learned that they had the highest rate for first-time takers on the February 2016 and July 2015 Florida bar exams. This is a remarkable achievement.
Let's look at the details. Professor Louis Schulze started the current Academic Excellence Program at FIU in 2014. FIU first-time bar takers scored 87.3% on the July 2015 Florida bar versus 68.9% for all schools. In February 2016, the comparison was 84.6% versus 58.4%. In July 2016, it was 87.5% versus 68.2%. Miami was second in Florida for July 2016 with an 80.6% rate, and Stetson was third with 80.5. In July 2016, the University of Florida had a 78.6% passage rate, and FSU had a 78.8% rate.
FIU is 103 (tie) in the current U.S. law school rankings. Their students who took the bar in July 2016 had an entering LSAT 25th percentile score of 151. (I use this figure because it is probably the most suggestive for bar failure.) FSU had a 157; Florida 156; Miami 155; Stetson 152. Notably, FIU's graduates scored significantly higher on the bar than schools that had a much higher entering 25th percentile LSAT. This suggests that FIU's methods work well for marginal students. These results support the argument I made in my article How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School, 1 Texas A & M Law Review 83 (2013) that law schools can do a much better job with minority students.
As I have said before, Professor Schulze achieved these remarkable results by adopting techniques from general educational research. You can find the homepage for his program here. He has also been presenting his methods for the last few weeks on the Faculty Lounge.
As I have said many times before, law schools can do a much better job at educating their students. FIU's bar results show that this is true.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
A new article by Professor Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State) just showed up in my news-feed in which she argues that "thinking like a lawyer" entails two similar, but separate cognitive skills which she calls "rule-changing" justice and "rule-abiding" justice. According to Professor Merritt, law schools focus more heavily on the former often to the exclusion of the latter when it's the cognitive skills associated with "rule-abiding" justice that lawyers use most in practice. The article, Cognition and Justice: New Ways to Think Like a Lawyer, which was delivered in connection with the Hartman Hotz lecture at U. Arkansas, and has now been published at 69 Ark. L. Rev. 47-69 (2016) (though it's not yet available on the law review's website) though you can find it on SSRN here. From the abstract:
Practicing lawyers commonly pursue “functional justice,” which I define as the peaceful resolution of competing interests. That justice includes two sub-types: rule-abiding justice and rule-changing justice. Law schools focus primarily on rule-changing justice, while practicing attorneys most often pursue rule-abiding justice. This article, delivered as a Hartman Hotz Lecture at the University of Arkansas, explores the problems arising from that rift.
The pursuit of rule-changing and rule-abiding justice require complementary, but somewhat different, cognitive skills. By overlooking the complex skills of rule-abiding justice, law schools fail to fully prepare their graduates to “think like a lawyer.” Schools should continue to teach the skills of rule-changing justice, but must complement that work with more attention to rule-abiding justice. Otherwise, clients suffer and lawyers risk losing more of that work to other professionals.
Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law: Spring Conference 2017
“Compliance with ABA Standard 314: Formative Assessment in Large Classes” is a one-day conference for law teachers and administrators who want to learn how to design, implement, and evaluate formative assessment plans. The conference will be interactive workshops during which attendees will learn about formative assessment techniques from games to crafting multiple choice questions to team-based learning. Participants will also learn ways to coordinate assessment across the curriculum. The conference workshop sessions will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at Emory University School of Law.
Conference Content: Sessions will address the following topics:
Why Assess: Empirical Data on How it Helps Students Learn
Games as Formative Assessments in the Classroom
Formative Assessment with Team-Based Learning
Creating Multiple Choice Questions and Ways to Using Them as Formative Assessment
Coordinating Formative Assessment Across the Curriculum
Conference Faculty: Workshops will be taught by experienced faculty: Andrea Curcio (GSU Law), Lindsey Gustafson (UALR Bowen), Michael Hunter-Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Heidi Holland (Gonzaga) and Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga)
Who Should Attend: This conference is for all law faculty and administrators. By the end of the conference, attendees will have concrete and practical knowledge about formative assessment and complying with Standard 314 to take back to their colleagues and institutions.
Registration Information: The registration fee is $225 for the first registrant from each law school. We are offering a discounted fee of $200 for each subsequent registrant from the same school, so that schools may be able to send multiple attendees. Registration is here: https://emorylaw.wufoo.com/forms/institute-for-law-teaching-learning-conference/
Accommodations: A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees has been reserved at the Emory Conference Center Hotel for $159/night; at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown, Decatur for $99/night; and at the Decatur Holiday Inn for $159/night. Reservation phone numbers are : Emory Conference Center Hotel: 1-800-933-6679; Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Decatur: www.marriott.com or 1-404-371-0204; Holiday Inn Hotel Decatur 1-888-HOLIDAY.
At the National Jurist, Hillary Mantis spotlights three alternative careers:
- Web design and technical support for law firms:
- Post-election jobs in federal government: A few positions I often see listed on government websites are contract administrator, policy analyst and compliance analyst. For those in D.C., there will be new openings for staff members on the Hill, as new positions are occupied in Congress and the Senate. This may mean that there are more internships available in both the D.C. and regional offices as well.
- Non-legal professional positions in law firms: Legal recruiting, legal marketing and professional development departments often hire lawyers as administrators. It’s the best of both worlds in some ways. You can work in a law firm and work with top lawyers, but not have to deal with billable hours.
You can read more here.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Martindale-Nolo surveyed over 300 clients about their firms’ marketing initiatives. Here are the main findings:
- The majority of consumers are now finding attorneys online.
- Over 60% of attorneys surveyed said lead generation and other online mediums are their best performing forms of advertising.
- Social media is becoming a more important strategy than search engine marketing.
- More than 70% of attorneys say they follow-up on leads within 15 minutes to 1 hour.
- More firms are using text to communicate with prospects than in 2015.
You can access the study here. Please note that Martindale-Nolo is a lead generation service.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Despite Google’s spectacular failure with Google glasses, Apple is considering building a better mousetrap (glasses).
Apple Inc. is weighing an expansion into digital glasses, a risky but potentially lucrative area of wearable computing, according to people familiar with the matter.
While still in an exploration phase, the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and may use augmented reality, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a secret project.
Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added.
If Apple proceeds, don’t expect to see the product on the virtual shelf before 2018. You can read more here at Bloomberg.
From Law School Transparency:
Listen on iTunes, LSTRadio.com, or on our partner websites, which include Above the Law, American Lawyer/The Careerist, Bloomberg Big Law Business, Diversity Lab, The Girls Guide to Law School, Hire an Esquire, The Lawyerist, and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Thank you to our roundtable sponsors for hosting wonderful events that will be made available via podcast each week.
- Wake Forest University
- Elon University School of Law
- University of Denver Sturm College of Law
- The John Marshall Law School
- Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Without a doubt, one of the most important "practice skills" for every lawyer to possess is good judgment. Personally, I've always been a bit skeptical about whether or not legal educators are even capable of imparting good judgment to law students during the relatively short three years of a traditional law school curriculum. We can certainly make some headway towards that goal by incorporating practice simulation exercises into our courses including everything from drafting legal documents, mock negotiations to having students represent real clients in the context of clinical experiences. The problem, in part, is that developing good judgment takes years as well as exposure to a great diversity of experiences that we may not be capable of replicating in law school. Nonetheless, I just came across this older article only recently posted to SSRN (here) in which Professor Mark Aaronson of Hastings argues that clinical education in particular can indeed teach law students the kind of good judgment they'll need to succeed in practice. From the abstract (the full cite is: Mark Aaronson, We Ask You to Consider: Learning About Practical Judgment in Lawyering, 4 Clinical L. Rev. 247 (1988)):
When I need a good lawyer, I look for someone who is knowledgeable and conscientious and has integrity, but above all I want someone with good judgment. Though it is not that clear what we precisely mean when we talk about sound lawyering judgment, few would dispute its desirability and potential importance. Many are apt to question whether judgment can be taught in law school or any school. Nonetheless, I want to suggest that implicit in much of what we are doing in clinical legal education is trying to find ways to help law students exercise better judgment in their practices than they might otherwise on their own, both under our supervision and in the future.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
From the Wisconsin Lawyer (Oct. 2016):
- Choose a clean font.
- Avoid capitals and underlining.
- Keep it short and simple.
- Use more white space.
- Provide an easy-to-read table of contents.
- Provide frequent headers.
- Use one space between sentences.
- Use hyperlinks.
- Make smart use of visuals.
- Use topic sentences, and know where to put them.
- Break up information.
- Provide introductions and summaries.
The article is Laura Lavey & Charles Baruch, E-Filing: How to Craft Effective Motions and Briefs in the Digital Era. You can access it here.
A happy holiday to all! Here is a video showing some of the giant balloons that will grace the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
And here is the Mayflower Compact (in modern English). The male pilgrims signed the document after arriving in the New World:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.
You can read more here.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Here’s how Edward Winslow described the first Thanksgiving feast in a letter to a friend:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
So venison was a major ingredient, as well as fowl, but that likely included pheasants, geese, and duck. Turkeys are a possibility, but were not a common food in that time. Pilgrims grew onions and herbs. Cranberries and currants would have been growing wild in the area, and watercress may have still been available if the hard frosts had held off, but there’s no record of them having been served. In fact, the meal was probably quite meat-heavy.
Likewise, walnuts, chestnuts, and beechnuts were abundant, as were sunchokes. Shellfish were common, so they probably played a part, as did beans, pumpkins, squashes, and corn (served in the form of bread or porridge), thanks to the Wampanoags.
You can read more here at New England.com