Wednesday, May 17, 2017
At the Christensen Institute, Michael Horn has published a paper in which he reports on how some non-elite law schools are innovating to provide more and better services and to keep afloat financially.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Good Grief Department. From the National Law Journal (May 15, 2017):
David Stras once wrote that U.S. Supreme Court justices should not have term limits. Instead, he said they should be incentivized to leave when they get old, through “golden parachute” pensions and a heavier workload, including being forced to hear cases around the country by “riding the circuits.”
Stras, 42, is currently an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and before that was a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School whose extensive research focused on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary in general.
Soon, Stras may be able to continue his scholarly scrutiny from the inside
President Donald Trump announced plans to nominate Stras to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on May 8. If the Senate confirms Stras, his perch on the circuit court could be a stepping stone to the high court. Stras was one of the 20 judges on the lists Trump touted as possible Supreme Court nominees before the November election.
Nearly two-thirds of recent law school graduates believe that law schools should raise their admissions standards.
But, some of these grads may very well have been admitted under the academic standards they want tightened.
This surprising statistic comes from a recent survey conducted by Kaplan Bar Review. The survey also indicated that law school graduates feel underwater in debt and are split on the merits of online learning.
Over the past several years, law schools experienced saw smaller applicant pools and falling enrollment. To fill classroom seats, many law schools admitted students with lower LSAT scores and GPAs. Lowering academic standards generally raised overall enrollment rates, bar passage rates also declined.
You can read more here.
Monday, May 15, 2017
The answer seems to be yes. From Bloomberg:
Fired employees never quite recover to the same level of well-being, a measure that includes mental health, self-esteem and satisfaction with life, according to data provided to Bloomberg this week from a review of more than 4,000 research papers.
Losing a job can be a sharp blow, one that causes a bigger drop in life satisfaction than being widowed or getting divorced, according to the review conducted by the University of East Anglia and the What Works Center for Wellbeing, an independent body set up by the U.K. government.
Extroverts and church-goers handle the situation better.
You can read more here.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
In the Michigan Law Review, Linda Greenhouse has published the results of her study of the 2015-16 Supreme Court term. Here is a capsule view of her findings:
Categories of Books Cited
Treatises and practice manuals 51
Primary sources, historical 27
History and political science 17
Primary sources, modern 3
( Excluded from this review are per curiam opinions, as well as concurrences and dissents to those opinions).
You can read the full study here. It has lots more information.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
“It’s kind of an amazing story of neuroscience,” Henry W. Mahncke, a neuroscientist and the CEO of Posit Science in San Francisco, said in a phone interview. “The brain is not fogged or slowed down by being a mom. The brain is optimizing itself to take care of the baby.”
You can read more here.
From the ABAJournal online:
A federal judge didn’t abuse his discretion when he imposed a $500 fine on an assistant public defender who refused to give a yes-or-no answer.
The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld the fine imposed on William Hermesmeyer, the Houston Chronicle reports. The appeals court’s unpublished May 2 opinion is here (PDF).
U.S. District Judge John McBryde had demanded a yes-or-no answer after he asked Hermesmeyer to clarify his objections to a potential sentence. Hermesmeyer gave a one-sentence answer and, when pressed for more, replied, “Just what I said.”
Instead, applicants can get credentialed by passing an exam. Forbes columnist Mark Cohen explains and offers his opinion:
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory body that oversees the legal profession in England and Wales, has enacted a major overhaul of legal training and solicitor licensure to take effect in 2020.
Gone is the requirement solicitors must acquire a law degree for practice. In its place is a competency-based examination offering different paths to becoming a solicitor. The exam will not spell the end of traditional legal education in the UK—no doubt many aspiring solicitors will opt for some form of traditional legal study.
But the exam’s emphasis on competency based learning and its experiential requirements will undoubtedly serve to update outdated legal curricula, reduce law student debt, and better serve the public by ensuring new entrants to the profession have core competency and a modicum of practical experience.
You can read more here. Is this innovation on the horizon for U.S. applicants? I doubt it.
Nearly two-thirds of all test-takers failed the exam. (here)
"According to a press release from the State Bar of California, the overall passage rate for the February 2017 exam was 34.5 percent, while the passage rate for first-time takers was 39 percent. The passage rate for retakers was a shockingly low 33 percent. . . . In February 2015, the overall passage rate was 39.5 percent, and the passage rate for first-time takers was 47.4 percent. . . . In February 2016, the overall passage rate was 35.7 percent, and the passage rate for first-time takers was 45 percent."
Friday, May 12, 2017
From the New York State Board of Bar Examiners, here are the results from the February 2017 bar exam:
Pro Bono Scholars 86%
All ABA Graduates –First-Time Takers 71%
New York ABA Schools –First-Time Takers 69%
Out-of-State ABA Schools –First-Time Takers 71%
Foreign-Educated –First-Time Takers 46%
All First-Time Takers 61%
All ABA Graduates (first-time takers & repeaters) 52%
All Foreign-Educated (first-time takers & repeaters) 34%
All Candidates (first-time takers & repeaters) 44%
Pro bono scholars are 3Ls who are allowed to take the bar in their third year in return for devoting their last semester of study to performing pro bono service for the poor through an approved clinical or externship program.
You can read more here.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
The funds to pay the salaries for new lawyers in Big Law has to come from somewhere. JDJournal suggests these sources:
Instead, the money is going to come from the middle zone in which the majority of BigLaw attorneys operate. Firms might lay off associates or even engage in a mass layoff. They might reduce the number of non-equity partners or counsel-level positions, or reduce the compensation of non-equity partners or counsels. They might even reduce the profits of less-important partners or shrink the size of the partnership altogether, so fewer (more important) partners can keep the same level of profits as before.
What this means for associates is that they may enjoy short-term benefits from huge salary raises, but in the long-run, those very salary increases are likely to make their jobs less secure, the legal market less stable, and their chances at making partner less likely.
You can read more here.
This one isn't downloadable, but I am mentioning it here because it is a good model for legal texts for the 21st Century.
Contracts: A Modern Coursebook by Benjamin A. Templin (Aspen 2017).
"This file contain two sample chapters from a new law school casebook titled Contracts: A Modern Coursebook. This casebook is part of a growing trend to modernize the way in which law students are taught, and it is different from the traditional casebook. With most casebooks, students learn the law by extracting the rules out of the case and then organizing the rules into an outline. Although effective, the traditional method is inefficient and can be misleading since no single case can properly summarize the complexity of the law.
The modern approach is more similar to the way attorneys actually learn the law. Students first read an explanation of the rules—a summary that illustrates the scope and parameters of the law. After students have a foundation in understanding the rules, they then read the cases. The real worth of reading cases is to learn how courts reason through a legal problem. If students understand the rule before reading the case, they can focus more on learning how to think like a lawyer.
The book has the following structure to incorporate modern pedagogy to encourage active learning and increase student engagement:
Learning Objectives: Each chapter starts with concise statements of what students are expected to know and be able to do after completing the materials.
Explanations of the Law: A clear explanation of the rules helps students build mastery of the law before reading the cases. Within this explanation, sections are some recurring elements including:
Rule Statements. The primary rules are presented in a box, making it easier to refer back to the rule as students read the explanations.
Examples. Rules are illustrated with examples, providing guidance on different outcomes given a certain set of facts.
Case Illustrations. Cases pertinent to the rule at issue are presented as short synopses.
Test Yourself. Questions are embedded within the explanation section so that you can test your understanding of the principles. The answers are contained in the appendix.
Case Law: The Case Law section contains a mix of classic contracts cases as well as more timely and topical cases that illustrate the principles discussed in the chapter. Each case contains questions that act as prompts to help students understand the court's reasoning.
Key Concepts: The key concepts needed to achieve the learning objectives are listed near the end of the chapter. This allows students to check their understanding of the material before moving onto the Problem Solving and Analysis section.
Problem Solving and Analysis: The Problem Solving and Analysis section provide an opportunity to build critical thinking skills through a series of thought-provoking hypotheticals that are typically based on real-world scenarios. These problems also let students assess whether they have achieved the learning objectives defined at the beginning of the chapter."
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Podia and Pens: Dismantling the Two-Track System for Legal Research and Writing Faculty by Kristen Konrad Tiscione & Amy Vorenberg
Podia and Pens: Dismantling the Two-Track System for Legal Research and Writing Faculty by Kristen Konrad Tiscione & Amy Vorenberg. (not available for download)
"At the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting, a panel was convened under this title to discuss whether separate tracks and lower status for legal research and writing (LRW) faculty make sense given the current demand for legal educators to better train students for practice. The participants included law professors, an associate dean, and a federal judge. Each panelist was asked to respond to questions about the “two-track” system — a shorthand phrase for the two tracks of employment at many law schools whereby full-time LRW faculty are treated differently than tenured and tenure-track faculty. The panelists represented differing views on the topic. This article grows out of the conversation, information, and ideas that emerged.
Under increasing economic pressure to attract law students, law schools have begun to market their “practice ready” programs aggressively. Legal research and writing, as well as other skills programs, are typically featured in marketing materials and on websites. However, even as they are prominently represented in marketing efforts, LRW faculty continue to be underrepresented as full faculty members and suffer as a result, in terms of lesser job status and lower salary. The vast majority of legal research and writing faculty are women, many with similar credentials, practical experience, and teaching loads as male faculty. However, female law faculty compensation, as a whole, is significantly less than males, and their status is usually less secure."
Some entertainment and maybe insight into pop culture: From the Telegraph:
In April, a 16-year-old from Nevada named Carter Wilkinson sent a speculative tweet to the Wendy's fast food chain asking for free chicken nuggets.
Just two months later, he has become the author of the world's most retweeted tweet, seeing his demand for nuggets shared more than 3.4 million times.
His tweet, which simply read "HELP ME. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS" overtook the previous record, Ellen DeGeneres' famous selfie taken backstage at the Oscars in 2014.
You can read more here.
The Hollywood Reporter has listed the 100 top “power lawyers” in Hollywood circles. It introduces its list this way:
Extortion. Messy divorces. Nine-figure deals with Chinese media conglomerates. It's been a busy year for Hollywood's power attorneys, who once again gather in THR's pages for the magazine's annual Power Lawyers issue. The men and women on this list handle a range of cases, from simple talent contracts to complex corporate mergers that take months to iron out, but they all have things in common. They all love working in the entertainment industry. They all play a vital role in keeping Hollywood's wheels turning. They're all at the very top of their field. And — judging from THR's survey — they all drink too much coffee (an average of 5.5 cups a day, if calculations include the guy who claimed to down 97 cups).
Below, the Power Lawyers of 2017 discuss their biggest cases, reveal their private political beliefs (only 14 percent think Donald Trump will get impeached) and answer the age-old question, "Which superhero would you most want to represent?"
To access the list, which includes bios, please click here.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Former dean Jennifer Bard of the University of Cincinnati College of Law settled with the school after suing the school for being placed on administrative leave.
Jennifer Bard sued the University of Cincinnati College of Law after being placed on administrative leave by Interim Provost Peter Landgren. The law school dean experienced problems with members of the law faculty when she proposed budget cuts, resulting in Landgren placing her on administrative leave.
She claims she was improperly reprimanded. The settlement will require her to resign as dean in exchange for two years of academic pay at her dean salary of $300,000.
You can read more here.
American poet and clinical psychologist Hala Alyan offers these seven pieces of advice
I. You are different
Take what makes you different and tell that story. The people who need to read it will resonate and those that don’t, well, they weren’t going to sit next to you in the cafeteria anyway.
II. Community helps.
III. Writing is work.
IV. You are going to hear NO a lot.
V.Self-doubt is part of the process.
VI.Fear and bravery a different sides of the same coin
Every sentence about courage begins with fear. If you do something you’re not afraid of, it doesn’t count as brave. It might be reckless or spontaneous or illegal, but it’s not courage.
VII. Books will remind you who you are.
You can read more on each of these seven pieces of advice here.
Monday, May 8, 2017
Off topic, maybe on topic: As some of you know, in 1995, I went into cardiac arrest and came within minutes of dying or becoming a vegetable. Fortunately, the firefighters in Minneapolis were able to revive me. Shortly after I returned to Philadelphia, I spent four months in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant. The transplant proved successful, and I continue to work full time. To be clear, I was not responsible for my condition; I was the victim of a sarcoid from some external source.
Fortunately, because Villanova provided me with good health insurance, my bill was $15. Without that coverage, it would have been far, far more—as I recall, three-quarters of one million dollars (I know that hospitals inflate the numbers, but the amount would still have been huge). Every year, I undergo expensive testing. Again, I have good coverage and have a small co-pay.
If I had not had coverage, the hospital might have arranged for me to pay some affordable amount each month, or it might have told me that the doctors could monitor and keep me “tuned up” so that I could last another five years. Because I was married with two small children, I wanted to stay alive.
If today I needed to buy coverage under the proposed health care plan, I would end up in a high risk pool and would have to pay an exorbitant rate. Of course, there are people like me who do not have the coverage I have and would have to find the money to buy health insurance or go without it and die.
It is heartless to deny coverage to those with serious preexisting conditions or to expect them to pay much more than they can afford.