Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Not content with ranking educational institutions, U.S. News is now ranking states. Its top state is Massachusetts, followed by New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington. The study relies on 68 metrics organized into seven categories:
- Health Care
- Crime and Corrections
To check on your state, please click here. For what it’s worth.
Mic Network offers 10 books that U.S. Presidents have liked. Both Presidents Obama and Clinton were voracious readers:
Barack Obama has been called the "reader in chief" because of his notable passion for literature. Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison's coming-of-age novel about an African-American boy in search of his identity, has frequently been cited as a favorite of Obama's. He awarded Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Bill Clinton — known as a voracious reader — is said to have revisited Meditations every year or two, according to a 1992 profile in the New York Times. The book, a collection of personal writings by the Roman emperor Marcus Aureilus, is one of several books listed among the favorites of the 43rd president. Other titles include One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
For more information on favorite books of Presidents, please click here.
Monday, February 27, 2017
The school is seeking two candidates for its "practitioner in residence" program - one for its Civil Advocacy Clinic and the other for its Immigrant Justice Clinic - for the 2017-18 academic year. Here are the details:
American University, Washington College of Law is seeking applications for Practitioners-in-Residence for academic year 2017-18 in two of our in-house clinics: Civil Advocacy Clinic and Immigrant Justice Clinic. American University’s in-house, “live-client” Clinical Program, comprising ten (10) in-house clinics and serving approximately 220 students per year, is respected for its leadership in scholarship, development of clinical methodology, contributions to increasing access to justice for under-served clients and breadth of offerings.
The Practitioner-in-Residence Program, created in 1998, is a program designed to train lawyers or entry-level clinicians interested in becoming clinical teachers in the practice and theory of clinical legal education. Many graduates of the Practitioners-in-Residence program (over 25) have gone on to tenure-track teaching positions at other law schools. Practitioners supervise student casework, co-teach weekly clinic seminars and case rounds, and engage in course planning and preparation with the clinic’s tenured faculty. They also teach a course outside of the clinical curriculum. The Practitioner-in-Residence Program provides full-year training in clinical theory and methodology and a writing workshop designed to assist Practitioners in the development of their clinical and doctrinal scholarship.
Minimum qualifications include a JD degree, outstanding academic record, three years’ experience as a lawyer and membership in a state bar. The salary for the position is $90,000. American University is an EEO\AA employer committed to a diverse faculty, staff and student body.
Applications that include a curriculum vitae and cover letter should be submitted online via the InterFolio platform to the following email addresses:
https://apply.interfolio.com/40714 - Practitioner-In-Residence for the Immigrant Justice Clinic
https://apply.interfolio.com/40715 - Practitioner-In-Residence for the Civil Advocacy Clinic
Please contact Brian Cofilll, Faculty Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202-274-4139) if you have any general questions regarding the application process and Professor Robert Dinerstein, Associate Dean for Experiential Education, email@example.com for any other questions about the positions. The positions will remain open until filled.
On the July 2016 bar exam, Syracuse enjoyed an 89% pass rated, behind Columbia, Cornell, and NYU, and better than Fordham, Cardozo, Brooklyn, and Buffalo. At his Law School Reports blog, Brian Leiter shares the explanation of Syracuse Professor Christian Day.
The bottom line: appointing someone dedicated to the bar success effort, readmitting fewer students and requiring poorly performing students to take a set of core courses-- Commercial Transactions, New York Civil Procedure, Business Associations, Constitutional Criminal Procedure—Investigation and Adjudication, Wills and Trusts, Family Law, Evidence, and Foundational Skills for Professional Licensing (a bar prep course taught by faculty or staff that emphasizes exam prep and writing) (graded, not pass/fail).
You can read a fuller explanation here (Feb. 20, 2017).
Sunday, February 26, 2017
From the Texas Bar Journal, here is advice from Dirk Jordan, a veteran solo practitioner. The headings read:
What to Ask Before You Start
Whom will you practice with? Office location Finances Technology
And some final practice tips for when you get started:
- Keep a regular schedule. Be at your desk by 8:30 a.m. You should be available during working hours for clients to contact you. 2. Respond to all calls and emails within 24 hours. Even if you cannot give a response, let contacts know that you received their call or email and will get back to them. No one likes to be ignored. 3. Be courteous and professional with everyone. It will enhance your reputation. 4. Keep a healthy balance (whatever that means to you) between work and life. 5. Be conversant with how to use technology. It will make you more efficient.
You can read the full article here.
Saturday, February 25, 2017
From the Wisconsin Lawyer (excerpts):
The legal services market has not been immune from “uberization.”1 In economic terms, uberize means “to modify a market or economic model by the introduction of a cheap and efficient alternative”2 or “to change the market for a service by introducing a different way of buying or using it, especially using mobile technology.”
Avvo, the world’s largest legal directory, launched Avvo Legal Services, sometimes called the Uber of legal services.5
Avvo Legal Services is “a range of fixed-fee, limited-scope legal services determined by Avvo and fulfilled by local attorneys.”6 The lawyer chooses which services he or she wants to offer on Avvo. A client buys a service, and Avvo sends the lawyer the client’s information. The lawyer calls the client and completes the service. Avvo then sends the lawyer the full legal fee, and as a separate transaction, the lawyer pays Avvo a per-service marketing fee.7
In its letter inviting some Wisconsin lawyers to participate, Avvo provided the following examples of the services and the fees:
“1. Living trust document review / $199 client payment / $50 marketing fee; 2. Commercial lease agreement review / $495 client payment / $150 marketing fee; 3. Create a living trust (couple) / $1095 client payment / $300 marketing fee; 4. Setup commercial lease agreement / $1295 client payment / $225 marketing fee.”
According to Avvo’s website, Avvo Legal Services is available in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.10
Since July 2016, however, three ethics opinions have concluded that lawyers who participate in such a program would violate ethics rules that prohibit fee sharing with nonlawyers and would risk violating several other rules.
You can read the full discussion here
Friday, February 24, 2017
The prestigious New York firm of Cleary Gottlieb has issued a five page memo on how its clients should respond to a social media attack, clearly focusing on a Trump Twitter attack. The advice is very lawyer-like—full or pros and cons, very thoughtful, very measured:
Crisis plans maintained by public companies for other circumstances may provide useful guidance for how to respond to a politician’s social media attack (an “SMA”). However, every type of crisis raises unique concerns and considerations. Many companies should carefully consider the appropriate response to an SMA in advance.
This note is intended to aid public companies for a discussion at the board level concerning SMAs. It covers three main areas that public companies should specially consider: (i) governance, (ii) executive compensation and employment-related issues and (iii) communications, and provides senior legal advisors with an outline of relevant considerations.
While the principal considerations relevant to responding to an SMA will not typically be legal concerns, corporate governance considerations constitute threshold legal issues and employment-related and communications considerations implicate important legal issues.
By issuing the guidelines, the firm indicates how fearful its clients are that the President might single them out. You can read the document for yourself here.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
From the Chronicle of Higher Education online:
Betsy DeVos, the U.S. education secretary, said that university faculty members “ominously” tell college students what to think, according to her prepared remarks for a speech on Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
In the remarks, Ms. DeVos said that college students were also responsible for fighting the “education establishment.”
“The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community,” read the remarks. “But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”
She added that the Department of Education should not control students’ decisions more than they do themselves, per the remarks, saying she wants students, parents, and communities to be in power.
Her remarks show how little she knows about professors and students. Any professor foolish enough to try to indoctrinate students learns that the more you try to push them in one direction, the more they resist and move in the opposite direction.
Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu has been named the new dean of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
From the media release (excerpts):
Landrieu, a 1987 alumna of the law school and an honorary degree recipient, will begin serving as dean and Judge Adrian G. Duplantier Professor of Law of her alma mater in summer 2017.
Landrieu has been a member of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Thomas More Inn of Courts since 1988, and served on the executive committee from 2012 to 2016. Her work as president from 2013 to 2015 helped the Inn achieve the highest ranking in the country, said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Marc Manganaro in a letter to the Loyola community. Judge Landrieu also served a dozen years on the law school’s Visiting Committee, from 2000 to 2012 and currently serves on the committee as emeritus. In 2005, Loyola University New Orleans honored her with an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service.
“It has been my honor to serve in the Louisiana judiciary for the past 16 years,” Landrieu said. “As I take this next step, I am reminded of a core value instilled in me by my parents and the Jesuits: ‘Go where you can best serve.’”
Landrieu served the Louisiana Judicial College as President in 2012 and has served as chair of its New Judges’ Orientation since 2008. She has also served on the operations committee of the LSBA Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, as co-chair of the Department of Children and Family Services External Advisory Committee, as board chair of Covenant House New Orleans, and as a founding board member of the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families. Judge Landrieu has also held key roles on the Louisiana Law Institute Special Committee on Summary Judgment; the Louisiana District Judges Association Executive Committee; and the Pro Bono Project, New Orleans.
Her many achievements include receiving the President’s Award from the Louisiana State Bar Association in 2009; the Pro Bono Project’s Distinguished Jurist Award in 2006; the New Orleans Association of Women Attorneys’ Michaelle Pitard Wynne Professionalism Award in 2013; the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center’s Public Service Award in 2002; the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award and Young Lawyers’ Section Pro Bono Award, both granted in 1998.
You can read more here.
From Academic Impressions, here are four “alternative facts”:
ALTERNATIVE FACT #1 An institution's US News ranking is a good indicator of the educational quality of an institution. Prospective students and their families pay attention to them, and universities should expend as many resources as possible to increase their ranking.
ALTERNATIVE FACT #2 An institution's heavy emphasis on technology infrastructure enhances educational quality.
ALTERNATIVE FACT #3 Offering degree programs in an online environment will significantly increase enrollment and net revenue.
ALTERNATIVE FACT #4 Recovering from an undergraduate enrollment downfall and/or increasing enrollment will return an institution to financial security. (I think this applies to law schools as well.)
For explanations and a statement of real facts, please click here:
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
This article offers an overview of scholarship about legal externship produced over the past three decades, along with suggestions for the direction of future work. Past publications examined externship’s educational value and pedagogic methods as a part of clinical education, surveyed characteristics of externship among law schools nationwide, chronicled the development of specific externship programs, and explored a variety of educational issues, as well as producing texts advocating best practices. Future work may examine the impact of changed ABA Standards and the evolution of legal education generally, including the status of externship faculty. It is hoped that this review helps orient new externship faculty and stimulates new ideas.
In an article in the New York State Bar Association Journal (Feb. 2017), Judge Gerald Lebovits makes the case for integrity and professionalism:
Winning is, rather, about projecting sincerity without vouching for a client’s credibility or the merits of a client’s case. Winning is about delivering on promises without overpromising. Winning is about zealous representation without being a zealot. I learned about advocacy when I no longer wanted or needed to be an advocate. I learned about advocacy when I became a judge. I discovered that winning is about the messenger, not just the message and the media.
You can read more here.
Mark Herrmann: Why It’s Always Your Fault. Nice article. Excerpt:
"In a sense, whenever you write anything, you become responsible for the reader. If the reader doesn’t understand it, it’s your fault — because your task was to convey information to the reader. If the reader doesn’t understand, then you should try again."
Herrmann applies the same principle to other areas of law practice--speaking, client satisfaction, etc.
I chose the above paragraph because it is central to my approach to teaching writing. Communication is the writer's responsibility. If the reader doesn't understand what the writer is trying to communicate, it's the writer's fault. This is especially important in legal writing because an attorney's job is to convince the judge. If the lawyer fails to communicate to the judge, it's the lawyer's fault.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
N. Y. Post: Why we should teach cursive writing to all kids. Excerpts:
But this policy change is actually more beneficial for the students than school officials appear to realize. Learning how to write cursive isn’t just useful for its own sake — as valuable as it is to be able to sign one’s own name.
As the city Department of Education rightly pointed out, “evidence reveals an advantage for handwriting using pen and paper over keyboarding for students in grades 2 to 6 for amount written, rate of word writing, and number of ideas expressed.”
In other words: Kids were better at processing information when doing so by handwriting as opposed to typing. (emphasis added)
In addition, scientific research (and common sense) indicates learning how to write cursive helps the development of motor skills. Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. William Klemm explains, “The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument.”
These benefits apply to writing more generally and cursive specifically, according to Klemm.
A hacker has reportedly obtained access to the computer systems of prominent universities, including Cornell and New York University, and is attempting to sell that illegal access on the Internet, according to a research firm.
In a report published on Wednesday, the firm Recorded Future published new details about the hacker's activities. The hacker, known by the name Rasputin, gained notoriety last November for breaching a U.S. agency responsible for election oversight.
You can read more here.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Sunday, February 19, 2017
At the blog for the Canadian law firm of Aird & Berlis, we find an example of an impossibly non-plain English contract provision and a plain English translation. In addition, we find this set of twelve rules for drafting in Plain English:
- Clear contract writing may not be elegant. However, it should be easy to understand. There are a few simple rules to follow when writing a clear contract: Put in some background information, for context.
- Once you say, “The parties to this contract agree as follows,” you never have to say, “party A agrees” or “the parties agree” again. You have already said that this is their agreement. No need to rub it in. Just say, “Party A will…” or “Party B will…."
- Write in clear indicative sentences: subject-verb-object.
- Use the right words. Keep them simple. Use effective, easy to understand definitions.
- Keep your sentences short. Use more of them instead of stringing them together with conjunctions. Pretend that you are paying for each word, and be stingy.
- Use subordinate clauses only when necessary. Keep them short too.
- Avoid the subjunctive mood. (Or maybe I should say, “Would that you would avoid the subjunctive mood,” or “Oh, that you would avoid the subjunctive mood!”)
- Avoid the passive voice (unless you are trying to be sneaky). “Party A shall be paid on the 15th of each successive month” is better written, “Party B shall pay Party A on the 15th of each month.” If you are trying to be sneaky, shame on you.
- Avoid legalese. If you mean “if,” please don’t say, “in the event that.” Avoid coupling “subject to” and “notwithstanding” because you’ll mess it up. Use one or the other, but lean toward “subject to.”
- Let your contract flow in a logical order. If you want to have indemnities, put them all together in one Article rather than sprinkling them throughout the contract. Put all your warranties and representations together. Put all the provisions for breach and remedies together.
- Use the word processing tools the good Lord gave us. If you use auto-numbering and formatting tools, you can build a better index and have a document that is free of formatting errors.
- Use an easy to read font. And please don’t use multiple fonts. That’s too much like wearing stripes and polka dots at the same time. Or mismatching socks.
You can read more here.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
News.Mic lists three platforms that will keep you abreast of legislation and Congressional committees and Congressional votes. The platforms are:
The Madison Project
For a description of what these platforms offer, please click here.
Friday, February 17, 2017
From the National Jurist preLaw:
AALS conducted a survey in November, and 80 law schools reported that 17,899 law students in the class of 2016 contributed more than 2.2 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education. That’s an average of about 124 hours per student.
Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $23.56 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students' time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $52.2 million.
Let’s say that again: $52.2 million.
And that’s probably on the low side. Several schools indicated that many hours go unreported, or are difficult to track, and actual contributions are likely to be significantly higher. The project also did not include hours contributed by students in law school master degree programs.
You can read more here.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Grover Cleveland's (yes, that's his real name) essential skills guide for new lawyers called Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer has just been republished in an updated edition by West Academic and is available here and here. If you're a legal skills professor, you can request a review copy from West for possible use in the classroom here. Below is the publisher's summary along with an outline of chapter topics (you can read reviews here). There's also a new interview with Grover by the blog Ms. J.D. in which he offers additional tips and advice on everything from networking to how to manage your workload as a new associate.
From the publisher:
The go-to book for new lawyer success at leading firms and schools, Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks contains critical advice new graduates need to thrive. Completely revised and updated, the Second Edition includes vital new information on networking, client service, business development, project management, and many other topics. The goal is simple: To help new lawyers start strong. With an easily readable style, Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks helps new lawyers navigate unwritten rules and stay afloat in a challenging profession. The book contains hundreds of tips with inside information from successful lawyers nationwide. Humorous, real-life examples illustrate the lessons along with checklists to provide comprehensive advice quickly. With employers and clients clamoring for “practice-ready” graduates, the Second Edition’s lessons are more essential than ever.
List of Chapters
- Sink or Swim: The Transition from Law School to Law Practice
- How Well Do You Swim: Your First Evaluation
- Feeding with Fellow Sharks: Getting and Doing Work
- Swimming with Sharks: Building Relationships with Other Lawyers
- Becoming a Pilot Fish: Making Yourself Indispensable with Exceptional Legal Work
- Navigating the Currents: Managing and Building Your Practice
- Shark Supply: Law Firm Economics
- Enjoying the Swim: Managing Your Life
- Taking the Next Plunge: Client Service
- Making and Casting Your Net: Networking and Business Development
- Other Fish in the Sea: Opposing Counsel and the Media
- Swimming like a Pro: Legal Skills in the Real World
- Swimming Away