Monday, January 23, 2017
According to Law360, that skill is developing business. Excerpts:
Law firms have begun to make clear the value they place on business generation by conducting associate training programs to teach the skill, as well as requiring certain marketing activities as a prerequisite for receiving a bonus, . . . .
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, for example, now requires associates to produce a marketing plan as a prerequisite for receiving a bonus and Jones Day includes in its list of positive criteria for bonus consideration “contributions to client generation or expansion,” . . . ..
The period of time during which associates are handed work by partners without a need to make a contribution of their own has shortened, Ankus says. If they aim to become an equity partner at a profitable law firm, associates are now expected to begin bringing in business within five years of graduating law school, and the trend is only likely to intensify, he says.
You can read more here.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Tax Prof Blog op-ed: Deans Boise & Morriss: Why We Still Support The ABA's Proposed 75% Bar Passage Requirement.
Conclusion: "In short, we think it is reasonable for professional schools that hold out to their students the promise of a legal career to be held to a reasonable standard for graduating students who actually are capable of obtaining the license needed to have that career. That doesn’t detract from the need to teach law students legal doctrine and to “think like lawyers,” or to provide externships, clinics and other opportunities for experiential learning. But it does mean law schools bear a good deal of the responsibility for their graduates’ professional outcomes. We are confident that our colleagues in the legal academy can satisfy that responsibility without turning law schools into three-year bar prep courses."
A comment that Steve Diamond published on the Tax Prof Blog concerning the 75% proposal is also relevant here:
"I think this approach by the deans is unfortunate. We are several years into the cyclical downturn and while many schools have downsized it seems clear that few major curriculum or structural changes are taking place that might better match law school with new economic forces and technological change. There are some exceptions - such as interdisciplinary efforts underway at Stanford (with a new quarter system) and Hastings/UC Santa Cruz.
Certainly the vast majority of law school applicants presume that law school will prepare them to become lawyers. If they can't pass the bar that is not possible. Now it may be that the bar exam itself is the problem but that seems unlikely. More likely the problem is that law school curriculum is no longer adequately preparing students to confront the kinds of problems most lawyers have to help clients solve.
The 75% rule would put pressure on schools to consider serious and creative structural change."
As the readers of this blog probably recognize, Professor Diamond's position is also my position. We need to make structural changes in legal education for the students who are currently going to law school and to prepare them for the 21st century, not the post-WWII world. This can be done. Since the Carnegie Report, there has been a mountain of articles on legal education reform, and many new textbooks that reflect the new learning. Not only will these materials help graduates pass they bar, they will better prepare students for the future. I am not claiming that the new methods will cause all those who apply to law school to graduate and pass the bar, but law schools can do a much better job. This has been done at a few law schools and in other fields, it can be done at all law schools.
Hastings College of Law's former dean and current Distinguished Professor Frank Wu has authored this sober opinion piece for the National Law Journal which posits that the worst is still not behind us when it comes to law schools that will continue to struggle with historically low application numbers and high fixed costs. He has no gems of wisdom to offer because, to borrow a line from the Dr. Dealgood in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, "They're aren't any!" But instead suggests that more law school consolidations like Hamline-William Mitchell and the Rutgers Camden-Newark examples may be in the offing. An excerpt:
OPINION: Regulation demands and rankings pressures mean high fixed costs for law schools.
In legal education, we have become delusional about our prospects. We are paralyzed by a combination of denial and confidence — denial about the nature of the problems and confidence in our own ability to compete.
The public is smarter than professors would prefer to give them credit for. People are avoiding law school. The fact is that the pool of applicants has decreased at an unprecedented rate. Prospective students who would have been rejected outright prior to the recession are being offered scholarships now. Law schools have cut their enrollment, but not enough: at many institutions, the average credentials of those who matriculate are not equivalent to their predecessors.
The individuals who might have considered pursuing a J.D. degree now have good reasons for their decisions not to do so. Their main rationale is the predicted return on investment. There are not enough jobs, and those that are available offer a "return on investment" that does not meet expectations. Whether law schools select those who are averse to risk, people are choosing to keep the money that would pay for tuition.
The collective reaction has exceeded its original cause. Many observers no doubt will cheer any reduction to the ranks of our noble profession. But those who believe in rule of law, including managing partners of law firms who at some point will need to replenish their ranks, might well be concerned that there will not be enough qualified, ethical newcomers who wish to represent others.
The trends have not escaped notice. Mainstream media outlets have followed snarky bloggers in suggesting that legal education is a "long con."
There is no end of suggestions. The American Bar Association and the bars of California and New York, among others, have proposed amendments to requirements for admission to the bar.
The difficulties of reform are not unusual. The problems for the institutions are structural and collective. As such, they resist simple remedies.
. . . .
Continue reading Professor Wu's piece here.
At Above the Law. Practitioner Jeff Bennion gives advice on how to handle the deluge of emails more efficiently. The key advice:
In Outlook, set up “rules” to filter low-priority emails to other folders that you can review later or bulk delete. Setting it up is easy. If you get an email from someone who sends you low-priority emails, say a county bar association, the next time you get an email from that address, just go up to the toolbar and choose to always move emails from that sender to a specified folder.
Thus you don't delete low priority email, but get it out of your inbox and save for another time. For more detailed advice, please click here.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
From the Hollywood Reporter:
Paul McCartney has filed suit in New York against Sony/ATV and is looking to get a declaratory judgment that states he will soon regain his copyright ownership share to a treasured catalog of songs created as a member of The Beatles.
In what could become one of the most important legal battles in the music industry this decade, the iconic songwriter is looking to leverage the termination provisions of the Copyright Act.
In 1976, Congress increased the period that works are under copyright protection, and, in recognition of authors who had signed over their rights to publishers and studios without much bargaining power, allowed such authors 35 years hence to reclaim rights in the latter stages of a copyright term. Artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Prince have used the mere threat of termination to negotiate new deals and better compensation arrangements.
You can read more here—the post also includes a copy of the complaint for a declaratory judgment.
Numerous critics have acclaimed numerous books as the recipient of that title. From Lit Hub, here are 24 frequent nominees:
Scott Fitzgerald,The Great Gatsby
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Don DeLillo, Underworld
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
John Dos Passos, U.S.A.
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
William Faulkner, Light in August
William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!
John Updike, Rabbit, Run
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March
Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Steve Erickson, These Dreams of You
Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
You can read insightful encomiums on each novel by clicking here. Other nominations?
Friday, January 20, 2017
Here’s practical advice on how to “write lean.” From consultant Sue Kostal, at Attorney at Work:
Timed writes. Give yourself 15 minutes to write on a particular topic, fiction or nonfiction. You will quickly find that knowing you have a limited window to write provides a natural structure to your piece.
One-page writes. Similarly, challenge yourself to communicate all you need to convey on a single page.
Clauses and modifiers. Often, these weaken sentences while adding bulk. Are they really necessary?
Widows and orphans. In typesetting, “widows” and “orphans” are snippets of sentences at the beginning or end of a paragraph that are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. (Orphans are left behind, while widows must go on alone.) They are to be avoided at all costs. Once you start in on the task, they are surprisingly easy to cut.
Search and destroy. Search for words you commonly use to determine if you are overusing them.
Track changes. Finally, practice editing your work in “track changes” mode. Having a visual record of how much you’ve been able to cut reinforces the concept that nearly every piece can stand some trimming.
You can read the full advice here.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
An opportunity to publish a "micro-essay" on the legal skills law schools aren't teaching but should
Perspectives is looking for shorter submissions for the next in our series of micro essays (examples). For the micro essays, we want to hear what you (and your students, law clerks or attorneys) have to say about our next micro essay prompt: "Curriculum Gaps: What topics or skills aren't being taught but should be? Ideally, who would teach them and when?" We welcome multiple submissions and will publish the best selections in our Spring issue. Be honest; be creative; let us know what these words provoke or inspire!Submit your micro essay by March 1 to Board Member Amy Stein at Amy.R.Stein@hofstra.edu. For the current issue of Perspectives, archive, Author’s Guide, and other details, please go to: legalsolutions.com/perspectives.
Congratulations to us! According to StatCounter, our blog has received over one-quarter million page hits. Readers delving into our extensive archives have contributed to this number. Putting up new posts every day is a lot of work for us, but apparently provides a good bit of helpful information for our readers. Thanks to you, our readers, for being part of our community.
Acting NY Supreme Court Justice Gerald Lebovits has published a second short piece on drafting wills. This one emphasizes the importance of clarity in drafting. He offers several examples in which poor drafting created unintended ambiguities leading to litigation among aspiring beneficiaries.
You can access the article here at 89 New York State Bar Journal 64 (Jan. 2017).
As we reported last night, the DOE has told Charlotte Law School that it positively, absolutely will not be eligible for federal student loans. Charlotte Law School has issued a lengthy statement concerning this situation. (here) The message states that Charlotte will still open for classes next week. I'm not going to excerpt any of the message because I think you need to read the whole thing.
Meanwhile, two more articles have come out about Charlotte over the last few hours:
Above the Law, Charlotte Law School Pulls Rug Out From Students
I am very troubled about what is happening to the students at Charlotte. Their lives have been in limbo for the past few weeks. At this point, Charlotte may be reopening, but where will the students get the money to pay for it?
To take your minds off this troubling situation, I suggest you check out these two articles, which we discussed earlier this week:
Hillary Burgess, Beyond Learning Objectives: Overview of The Taxonomy of Cognitive Legal Learning Objectives and Outcome Measurements: A Guidebook for Schools and Faculty To Create Strategic Curricular and Course Learning Objectives
Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Law School Fires Dozens of Faculty Excerpts:
"The reeling Charlotte School of Law has fired much of its faculty – a possible response to what’s expected to be a significant drop in enrollment when the school reopens next week, the Observer has learned."
“The massive cuts come less than week before the school is supposed to reopen despite crippling financial problems that threaten to overwhelm it.”
“In a statement sent to Charlotte School of Law’s students Wednesday, a top U.S. Department of Education official said his agency and the law school had previously reached an agreement in principle that would have freed up some of the federal loan money in time for the planned start of classes Monday.
Instead, Charlotte School of Law 'has since rejected what it had previously accepted and has informed the Department that it will not be accepting the conditions set,’ Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said."
"For weeks, school President Chidi Ogene and Dean Jay Conison have been promising students details of alternative loan options to cover tuition and other expenses. Those details still had not been released Wednesday evening. Nor has the schedule of classes for the upcoming semester, students said."
"Thursday, Ogene, Conison and school spokeswoman Victoria Taylor issued an extraordinary statement in which they accused the Department of Education of breaking the law and violating its own rules by cutting off the school’s access to loans."
"Student leader Margaret Kocaj of Charlotte, however, said Thursday that the school continues to hold its remaining students hostage by withholding vital information about finances, classes and now faculty solely to minimize the damage to enrollment."
"The government agency pressed the school 'to be fully transparent about student options under the agreement,' Mitchell said. But education officials grew frustrated with delays by the school that now leave its students with few if any options, a department spokesman said."
"Assuming that the school continues to operate without federal loan money, students may not be eligible for federal loan discharge, according to Mitchell’s email."
"Students told the Observer that no class schedules have been released for the semester scheduled to begin Monday. The newspaper also reports that there have been “rumors” that faculty has been informed of potential layoffs."
"In the wake of the Department of Education’s decision to deny CSL's continuing participation in the federal student loan program on December 19, 2016, the ABA directed CSL to file a teach-out plan. Both federal regulations and rules of the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar require a school’s teach-out plan to provide equitable treatment of students affected by the plan."
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Charlotte Observer, Ed Dept: No federal funds for current — or future— Charlotte Law students.
"The U.S. Department of Education says Charlotte Law students won’t be able to receive federal student aid now — or in the future.
By continuing to operate the for-profit law school jeopardizes the possibility that current students could get a closed school discharge of federally issued student loans."
“We are disappointed for CSL students and remain hopeful that CSL will choose a path that mitigates harm for those impacted by CSL’s misconduct,” U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell wrote in an email Wednesday.
According to Attorney at Work, here are the three biggest trends:
- Security. Collaborating in a secure online environment will become increasingly more desirable as email hacks increase.
- Cloud collaboration. More lawyers will move to the cloud in 2017, with litigators leading the way.
- AI. Advances in artificial intelligence that reduce repetitive day-to-day tasks will increase exponentially in 2017. Technology tools will be designed to take advantage of AI to streamline timekeeping, contract review, due diligence analysis, legal analytics for litigation and more.
- You can read full explanations here. I place these developments in the context of a conversation I recently had with a partner in a major law firm: Some of the older lawyers in the firm dictate with Dragon, because they don’t know how to type. (!)
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Above the Law has the story of an Ohio lawyer who has moved to strike his opponent's complaint due to poor writing, verbosity and run-on sentences. The plaintiff has now struck back with a motion of his own that calls the defendant's accusations "worthless" and argues that his writing style is "perfectly fine." You can judge for yourself by reading the full story here and check out the pleadings at issue here.
Some professors use this format for final exams, and some use it for in-term assessment. All of us who use this format know how challenging it is to write good questions.
Here is a very helpful article: Susan M. Case & Beth E. Donahue, Developing High-Quality Questions for Assessment in Legal Education, 58 Journal of Legal Education 372 (2008). It offers very specific advice, most of which I agree with.
You can access the article here.
This blog has long stressed the importance of including professional identity in the law school curriculum. Developing a professional identity is essential to a young lawyer. Not only should law schools help their students develop professional identities in general, they should include professional identity across the curriculum so that students can handle ethical problems in specific fields. For example, there are many aspects of professional identity that are unique to prosecutors.
Professor Heather Field has written an excellent article that deals with professional identity problems for tax lawyers: Fostering Ethical Professional Identity in Tax: Using the Traditional Tax Classroom.
However, there is a dearth of resources for faculty members who want to leverage their traditional tax classrooms to help future tax lawyers develop their professional identities and learn to exercise professional judgment within the boundaries of the applicable ethical rules. So how can doctrinal faculty members help aspiring tax lawyers develop and implement their professional identities? This article describes exercises for the traditional tax classroom that are intended to (a) enable each student to identify and justify her developing lawyering philosophy, and (b) empower each student to implement her lawyering philosophy in her career. By empowering professors to help their students become more thoughtful, principled tax advisers, this article advances the goal of building a community of ethical tax professionals, both taxpayer-side and government-side, that serves taxpayers well."
Elizabeth Adamo Usman (Belmont), Nurturing the Law Student’s Soul: Why Law Schools Are Still Struggling to Teach Professionalism and How to Do Better in an Age of Consumerism
Nice article on how law school's can help students develop their professional identities:
Elizabeth Adamo Usman (Belmont), Nurturing the Law Student’s Soul: Why Law Schools Are Still Struggling to Teach Professionalism and How to Do Better in an Age of Consumerism, 99 Marq. L. Rev. 1021 (2016).
Abstract: "The pronounced increase over the past few decades of the role of consumerism in higher education in general and in law schools specifically, in which schools and students view themselves, respectively, as consumers and sellers of an educational product, has only been accelerated in recent years with the competition over the declining number of potential entering law students. With no end to this trend in [sight], consumerism appears to have become a part of the reality of legal education.
This Article explores the intersection of consumerism and professionalism in the law school setting with a specific focus on the “Millennial” law student. This Article first explores the contours of what constitutes “professionalism,” concluding that at essence it involves aspirational values of the legal profession. The Article also delineates the unique characteristics of law students from the Millennial generation, focusing on Millennials’ penchant for service and desire for greater meaning through work.
With this background in mind, the Article argues that although, as of yet, Millennial students’ self-conception of themselves as consumers has hindered rather than helped law schools in fulfilling their duty to inculcate legal professionalism, law schools have the ability to change this. By drawing upon the unique characteristics of the Millennial student, law
schools can harness the power of consumerism to give the Millennial student-consumer the greater meaning that she seeks while at the same time inculcating students with the aspirational values of our profession.
To bring about this change, law schools will have to embrace the Humanizing Legal Education Movement and focus on the movement’s central tenant of nurturing not just the mind but also the “soul” of the law student. With the Humanizing Legal Education Movement as the skeletal structure, specific educational mechanisms, namely Mindset Theory, Metacognition, and self-regulated learning, can provide the flesh on the bones that brings this goal to fruition."
Monday, January 16, 2017