Monday, July 31, 2017
Three scholars writing on the Law School Cafe think there already is one.
A Better Bar Exam—Look to Upper Canada? by Eileen Kaufman, Andi Curcio, & Carol Chomsky.
"For years, the response to critiques of the bar exam has been, in effect: “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do if we want a psychometrically defensible exam.” The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), which governs the law licensing process for the province of Ontario, developed a licensing exam that calls that defense into question."
"The LSUC uses a 7-hour multiple-choice test consisting of 220 to 240 multiple-choice questions to test a wide range of competencies. For barristers (the litigating branch of the profession), that includes ethical and professional responsibilities; knowledge of the law; establishing and maintaining the lawyer-client relationship; problem/issue Identification, analysis, and assessment; alternative dispute resolution; litigation process; and practice management issues. A 2004 report explains how the LSUC identified key competencies and developed a licensing test based upon them.
Unlike the US exams, the LSUC exam is open-book, so it tests the ability to find and process relevant information rather than the ability to memorize rules. Most important, it tests a wider range of lawyering competencies than US exams, and it does so in the context of how lawyers address real client problems rather than as abstract analytical problems."
From USA Today:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he has issued subpoenas Wednesday to begin investigating the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts, a student-debt creditor group whose collection practices have been criticized for allegedly shoddy paperwork.
The attorney general’s action follows a scathing report by the New York Times earlier this week that chronicled attempts by the National Collegiate's trusts to sue and collect debts from student loan borrowers allegedly without having the paperwork that proves the trusts own the debts. The subpoenas seek to collect information on the lawsuits filed by the National Collegiate's trusts, including loan titles.
You can read more here.
The American Lawyer has released its list of the top twenty law firms. It measured revenue per lawyer, pro bono work, associate satisfaction, diversity, and the number of female equity partners.
The top three firms are Munger, Tolles & Olson, Ropes and Gray, and Paul, Weis, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison. For a breakdown of the scores and the rest of the list, please click here.
From Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers:
"It has become ETL Conference tradition to kick off the first day with a series of Ignite presentations. Presenters have 6 minutes, 20 slides, and 18 seconds per slide to share their projects, successes, and innovative ideas with a room full of legal educators and employers. In past years, presenters—and attendees—have been mostly from Consortium Schools. This year, all registrants are welcome—and in that spirit, we are also inviting any registrant to give an Ignite presentation!"
"If you are interested in giving an Ignite at this year’s ETL Conference, please send an email with your name, full contact information, and proposed presentation topic to me at Caitlin.Anderson@du.edu by August 9.
All Ignite presenters must also register for the conference. Our early bird rate ends after July 31, so sign up now!"
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Advice on flipping the classroom from my colleague Michele Pistone at Best Practices for Legal Education (July 14, 2017) (abridged):
- What topics do you want to flip?
Before you begin, identify the topics that you typically cover for which the flipped classroom model would make the most sense in the course.
2. You don’t have to produce all of the videos.
Don’t be reluctant to assign video content produced by other professors Visit legaledweb.com for a collection of videos prepared by leading law faculty.
3.Begin with planning what will be “flipped in” rather than what will be flipped out.
Plan what you want to do with the additional face-to-face time with students that blended learning will afford. This is the point of having a flipped classroom. For example, consider adding new activities into the classroom (such as interviewing, negotiation or drafting exercises) that hone practical lawyering skills and competencies.
4.Produce chunked, short video content
Research shows that effective videos do not exceed 5-8 minutes in length, and some are even shorter.
5. Hold the students responsible for watching the videos.
Start each class with an assumption that the students watched the video. That will create an expectation for the group. Start the class by expanding on the videos lessons and assigning activities/discussions that ask students to use the theories learned from the videos actively through role plays, simulations, small group work or Socratic dialogue.
You can read more here.
Professors Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit of UMKC have posted to SSRN their latest, annual update to their definitive guide on submitting articles to law reviews and journals. In case you didn't already know, their article provides detailed information on which journals are no longer accepting articles, which ones still are, their preferred submission procedure (i.e. e-mail, ExpressO, Scholastica, or regular mail), lists of specialty law reviews, special formatting requirements, etc.
If you're going to be submitting an article for publication in the near future, you should read this article. Check it out here.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
From the ABAJournal blog:
F. Lee Bailey is broke and working as a consultant above the hair salon of his girlfriend.
The Washington Post has that summary of Bailey’s life, gleaned from a profile in Town & Country magazine. Bailey was one of the lawyers on O.J. Simpson’s defense team in 1995 when the former National Football League superstar was acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Bailey, 83, was disbarred for his handling of stock owned by a drug-smuggler client and filed for bankruptcy in 2016. He filed for bankruptcy again in June to create a payment plan for debts he couldn’t discharge in last year’s bankruptcy, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News reported.
Today, he lives with hairstylist Debbie Elliott, his girlfriend of seven years, and runs a consulting business above the salon in Yarmouth, Maine.
The consulting business is called Bailey & Elliott. The business website says services include advice on starting a new company and raising funds, evaluating corporate operations, and troubleshooting problems. Guidance on polygraph testing is also offered.
You can read more here.
Friday, July 28, 2017
Law firm fills "skills gap" left by law schools by sending summer associates to "business boot camp"
This story from the Pennsylvania based The Legal Intelligencer discusses a program implemented by the firm Montgomery McCracken to fill a "skills gap" left by law schools in training students how to develop new business and cross-sell the firm's other services. Several years ago, the legal press reported on a few white-shoe Wall Street law firms that were sending their associates to business school to better service clients by helping these associates understand the business perspectives of their clients through training in finance, economics and other basic business courses (here, here and here). But this new program seems to have a slightly different focus, i.e. helping new lawyers developing the skills needed to develop a book of business for their firm. The Legal Intelligencer explains further:
Mara Smith, an aspiring lawyer who just took the bar exam, said her summer associate experience set her apart from classmates. But it wasn't the legal work that did so.
"Everybody at every law school knows how to write a memo, knows how to do basic research, knows how to file a motion," said Smith, a graduate of Drexel University's Thomas R. Kline School of Law. "It's that exposure to the business development portion of it that I think shocks a lot of people when they get into firms."
Smith was part of the first class of summer associates at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads to complete a business development project, where they learn how to reach new clients and cross-sell their firm's services. The program was in its second year this summer.
The firm wanted a way to impress upon young lawyers the importance of business development and networking, said Michael Epstein, chair of its hiring committee, and "the sooner, the better." The marketing department and librarians played a major role in shaping the program, he said.
Each summer associate is assigned to a potential client to research thoroughly—their business model, leadership, outside counsel, prospective legal needs and who at Montgomery McCracken could fulfill those needs.
"At the conclusion of the research, we knew these companies, their litigation histories, deal flow, law firms they were using, key board members, who general counsel were," Epstein said. "It certainly led to follow-up meetings and follow-up discussions internally and externally."
You can read the entire story here.
A D.C. Bar task force is proposing relaxing admissions standards for graduates of non-ABA accredited schools. (“relaxing” is my editorial interpretation):
Under existing D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 46 governing admission to the D.C. Bar, graduates from non-ABA approved law schools — a category that includes graduates of foreign law schools may qualify for admission to the D.C. Bar by first completing 26 additional credit hours of education at an ABA-approved law school. The additional credit hours must be in subjects tested on the Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”).
The Global Legal Practice Task Force proposes amendments to Rule 46 that would: (1) reduce the number of credit hours to satisfy the additional education requirement from 26 hours to 24 hours; (2) change the subject matter requirement to 12 credit hours from a list of specific courses described in Rule 46 and 12 credit hours in elective courses; and (3) allow any amount of the additional education requirement to be completed by distance education that the law school would certify as complying with ABA distance education standards.
All of the proposed changes would apply to graduates from non-ABA approved law schools, which comprise both American and foreign law schools, regardless of the path they choose to seek admission to the D.C. Bar — whether by: (1) admission based on examination in this jurisdiction (Rule 46(c)(4)); (2) admission by transfer of a UBE score attained in another jurisdiction (Rule 46(d)(3)(D)); or (3) admission without Examination of Members of the Bar of Other Jurisdictions (Rule 46(e)(3)(B)(i)).
However, the Task Force is proposing no change to the rule for admission for members of the bar of other jurisdictions who are in good standing of the bar of any state or territory of the United States for at least five years. (Rule 46(e)(3)(A)).
You can access the full report here.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Deadline extended to submit proposals for Southern Clinical Conference/Call for works-in-progress or incubator ideas
The following is a message from the legal clinic listserv:
2017 Southern Clinical Conference -- Deadline for proposals extended to August 14th and Call for Works in Progress and Incubator Ideas
DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS EXTENDED TO AUGUST 14th
The Planning Committee for the 2017 Southern Clinical Conference has extended the deadline for submitting proposals for concurrent sessions to August 14th. The conference will be hosted at LSU and begin the morning of Friday, October 20th and will end in the afternoon on October 21st. The theme of this year’s conference is “Back to Our Roots: Renewing the Social Justice Mission of Clinics and Externships.” Conference information can be found at http://www.law.lsu.edu/scc/ and proposals can be submitted online at http://www.law.lsu.edu/scc/request-for-proposal/ .
CALL FOR SCHOLARLY WORKS-IN-PROGRESS AND INCUBATOR IDEAS
The Works in Progress (WIP) committee for the 2017 Southern Clinical Conference is now accepting proposals for works-in-progress or incubator ideas.
If you wish to be considered for a works-in-progress or incubator session, please submit your proposal by email to Lauren Aronson (firstname.lastname@example.org). You will receive a confirmation of receipt within 48 hours of submission – if you do not receive confirmation, please follow up! Further, we are seeking discussants who will read and comment on the works-in-progress or incubator ideas.
If you want to propose a work-in-progress by email:
• Please put “SC WIP [Lastname]” as the subject line
• Please submit an abstract of no more than one page, with a title.
If you want to propose an incubator (for a scholarly or litigation/advocacy project) by email:
• Please put “SC Inc [Lastname]” as the subject line
• Please submit a description of no more than one paragraph, with a title.
If you would be willing to be a discussant:
• If you wish to serve as a discussant, please put “SC Discussant” as the subject line and email us by August 14 with a list of your areas of expertise.
The deadline for submissions is Monday, August 14 at 5pm (CST). We anticipate WIP or incubator proposals will be accepted by Monday, August 21.
We look forward to receiving your submissions!
From the Associated Press:
A Northern California judge is losing his job after swiping two art deco-style business card holders from a judges' dinner in San Francisco.
The Commission on Judicial Performances announced Monday its censure of Judge Michael S. Williams of Napa County. Williams also agreed to resign effective in December.
Williams was attending a dinner hosted by a matrimonial lawyers association in March 2016 when he took two cardholders in the art deco decor of The City Club of San Francisco. They were each worth about $30 to $50.
The commission says Williams returned the cardholders after being informed that he was caught on video.
The judge apologetically attributed his actions to an “unexplainable impulse.”
You can access the news release of California’s Commission on Judicial Performance here.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Some Legal Writing professors may be searching for a good topic for student assignments. One possibility is a problem asking whether an advertising claim is mere puffery or false advertising.
At the Venable blog, we find an extensive posting on the issue, complete with brief discussions of cases.
You can access the posting here.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Maybe not. Professor Joe Kimble has studied fifteen years’ worth of Michigan Supreme court cases to assess the results of decisions based on textualist analysis. Here is the abstract:
This article reviews and codes 96 cases overruled by the Michigan Supreme Court during 15 years. Those overrulings, made by justices who are textualists, show a strong ideological tilt toward conservative results. Along the way, the article discusses plain meaning (or plain language) in interpretation, definitions of ambiguity, the use of dictionaries, and the surplusage canon. The article concludes that, in practice, textualism is not nearly as objective and politically neutral as it professes to be.
In practice, textualism has devolved into a vehicle for ideological
judging—disguised as deference to the legislature. The numbers in
Michigan, though, blow its cover: 81 cases overruled, and civil plaintiffs
and criminal defendants lost in more than 90% of them.
Maybe you've got a good teaching idea that you'd like to write-up and share with a like-minded audience or perhaps you're working on a longer, law review-type article that won't get into print for a while but you could spin-off a shorter piece from it and get it published this fall. Or perhaps you've only got time this summer to write a "micro-essay" or you'd like to try your hand at writing a book review. Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, a Thomson-Reuters publication, is actively seeking articles, "micro-essays," and book reviews (not of textbooks published for the field but more general interest books that are readers might not know about but are pertinent to their classroom work). Here are the details on how to get published in a periodical that reaches close to 5,000 readers including LRW profs, librarians, legal writing specialists and judges:
CALL FOR MICRO-ESSAYS:
In addition to publishing traditional length articles, Perspectives (check out the latest issue here) recently began publishing “micro-essays” of 100 words or less. Future issues of Perspectives will feature new micro-essay topics. The topic for the up-coming issue to be published later this year is: "Best Database?: What is your desert island database, legal or non-legal?”Please consider submitting a micro-essay on your “desert island database” by the Fall deadline of October 1, 2017. We welcome multiple submissions from a single author and will publish the best selections in the next issue. Be creative; be provocative; let us know what advice the latest micro essay topic inspires you to recommend to our readership. You can submit your micro essay(s) by October 1 to Board Members Beth Edinger at email@example.com, James Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org or any current Board member listed on the masthead. To see the current issue of Perspectives, an archive of past issues, the Author’s Guide, and other details, please go to: legalsolutions.com/perspectives.
Perspectives is a journal for law librarians, law professors, and everyone else who is intrigued by the challenge of teaching legal research and writing. In three electronic publications each year (fall, winter, and spring), Perspectives provides a forum for exploring a broad array of teaching theories, techniques, and tools. Readers and authors include:
- new and experienced law librarians and law professors;
- practicing attorneys who help associates to develop as researchers and writers or who serve as adjunct faculty at law schools; and
- writing specialists at law schools, law firms, courts, and other legal institutions.
Submissions from authors are due August 15 for the fall issue. Perspectives articles tend to be short, typically between 1,500 and 5,000 words (between two and eight double-spaced pages). The articles generally examine how teachers can best help law students, young lawyers, and others learn to research and write efficiently, enjoyably, and effectively. The articles do so, moreover, in a relaxed, lightly footnoted, and highly readable prose—more like that of many bar association publications than that of traditional academic journals. Most articles focus on a practical issue, task, or topic, for example:
- the use of wikis as a teaching and learning tool;
- game-based teaching techniques;
- clinicians’ insights for research and writing professors;
- student engagement with appellate advocacy assignments;
- incorporation of frequent student-to-faculty feedback;
- collaborations between research and writing instructors; and
- creating and managing online courses.
In addition, regular columns address curricular design, teachable moments, technology for teaching, thorny research matters, and experts’ writing tips. Members of the Perspectives editorial board manage these columns. The editors are experts in teaching research and writing in law firms, libraries, and law schools. They have discretion to edit articles, including by shortening them to conform to available space, and the editors are available to advise prospective authors.
You can submit your article(s) by August 15 to Board Members Beth Edinger at email@example.com, James Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org or any current Board member listed on the masthead. To see the current issue of Perspectives, an archive of past issues, the Author’s Guide, and other details, please go to: legalsolutions.com/perspectives.
I have frequently advocated that law students need to change their study habits in light of research by educators. (e.g., here) I have argued that self-testing, retrieval, spaced studying, elaboration, interleaving, and problem-solving work better than rereading and rote memorization. Now, a law teacher and a cognitive psychologist have done an empirical study of law school learning techniques, and they have come to the same conclusion.
Smarter Law Study Habits: An Empirical Analysis of Law Learning Strategies and Relationship with Law GPA by Jennifer M. Cooper & Regan A. R. Gurung.
"Non-empirical law school study advice that emphasizes reading and briefing cases, memorizing rules, and outlining without frequent self-testing and formative self-assessment is contrary to cognitive science and leads to a “law school learning trap.” Law students fall into a “law school learning trap” by focusing on memorization of cases and rules for "class prep," putting off practice application of the law as "exam prep." Law students and legal educators misjudge the power of testing as a learning tool, instead relying on non-empirical, anecdotal resources to guide law student study methods.
Empirical research from a Law Student Study Habit Survey shows that practice application of the law through self-testing, self-quizzing, and elaborative strategies positively correlates with academic success in law school, while reading and briefing cases, weak critical reading skills, and rote memorization of rules without practice applying the law negatively correlates with academic success in law school.
Both legal educators and law students need to incorporate testing and formative assessment as a study and learning strategy to learn each new topic, not just exam prep. Self-testing and formative assessment are not only critical for success in law school, but help students develop successful learning strategies for the bar exam and as lifelong learners in law practice."
Considering this study and the wealth of research by general education scholars, it is clear that law schools must teach their students new study habits. This can be done in a one-hour session on orientation with supplemental reading assignments. Such effort will greatly improve law students' ability to remember, understand, and use legal knowledge.
Monday, July 24, 2017
To all our loyal readers, a brief apology for my absence from blogging the past few months. Long story short, I was working as a visiting professor in the law department at the U.S. Air Force Academy, an absolutely tremendous experience that I may blog about down the road (Suffice it to say for now, the Air Force Cadets are incredibly impressive people to say the least). But the workload and schedule this past spring really whomped me good (I may blog about that later too). That coupled with making the transition back to Florida from Colorado after being away for a year and, frankly, just needing a break from the daily blogging grind led me to take an unscheduled, temporary break. But now I'm back and I apologize to anyone who sent me tips, messages and other announcements for the blog that weren't attended to - now that I'm back in blogging mode again and you can count on me again.
For my first entry in a bit, I wanted to mention a new book on good writing that I heard Fareed Zakaria mention back in May on his Sunday CNN "360" show (If you didn't know already, Mr. Zakaria makes a weekly book recommendation as part of his closing remarks). This one is titled "Do I Make Myself Clear: Why Writing Well Matters" by Sir Harold Evans, a British newspaper editor who in 2001 was voted by British journalists as the "all-time greatest British newspaper editor" and, later, in 2004 was knighted by the Queen. Based on that, I think it's fair to say that Sir Evans knows a thing or two about clear writing. Here are some of the accolades about "Do I Make Myself Clear" (which is now on the NYT Bestseller list) collected by Amazon:
"Mr. Evans's skills are on display on nearly every page of "Do I Make Myself Clear? Why Writing Well Matters." Writing a book about writing well can be hazardous for the author-reviewing one is risky, too-but in this case at least the author and his readers have nothing to fear."
―Edward Kosner, Wall Street Journal
"Have you heard of Harold Evans? Sir Harold Evans? Of course you have. He is one of the greatest and most garlanded editors alive....As a master editor and distinguished author, Evans is well qualified to instruct us on how to write well. But can he delight us in the process? After reading this book, I can affirm the answer is yes."―Jim Holt, New York Times Book Review
"A writing manual so smart and incisive that it could surely benefit anyone-journalist, student, business executive, legislator-who has ever tried to craft an English sentence and fallen short."―Malcolm Jones, Daily Beast
"Going well beyond the typical style guide's proscriptions against the passive voice, clich?, and so on, this polemic on writing takes the view that "the oppressive opaqueness" of much contemporary prose "is a moral issue."―New Yorker
"Evans's book offers plenty of practical advice for those seeking to improve their writing skills, with a 10-point checklist to encourage a clear approach."―Financial Times
And if anyone is interested in publishing a book review of "Do I Make Myself Clear" in Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing - please get in touch with me.