Thursday, August 31, 2017
Below are the results of The Vault's annual survey ranking the best law firms to work for based on associates' feedback. The Vault's ranking is system is based on survey results that assess several factors deemed important to associates including: overall satisfaction (25%); firm culture (10%); hours (10%); compensation (10%); substantive work (10%); business outlook (5%); career outlook (5%); associate/partner relations (5%); transparency (5%); formal and informal training (5%); pro bono (5%); and overall diversity (5%). The top 10 firms are listed below. Check out the full rankings that rate the top 25 firms, including how each one ranked on the individual criteria, at The Vault website here.
- Paul Hastings LLP
- Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
- O'Melveny & Myers LLP
- Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
- Ropes & Gray LLP
- Proskauer Rose LLP
- Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
- Thompson & Knight LLP
- Foley Hoag LLP
- Dunn & Crutcher LLP
This article is a bit more than elementary. It explains grammar terminology in a bit more detail than usually. More significantly, it offers examples from cases where choices in words made a difference in outcome.
Martha M. Ertman, Developing Professional Skills: Secured Transactions (Introduction)
"The Introduction to Developing Professional Skills: Secured Transactions (West Academic, forthcoming Nov. 2017) – paired with the Introduction to the Teacher’s Manual – give a sense of these ten modular exercises in contract drafting. Designed to supplement a commercial law course with ABA-required transition-to-practice credits, the ten exercises have students negotiate and draft the documents for a financed sale of a hardware store: a promissory note, financing statement, and security agreement. For 3-credit courses, the book also includes exercises for a personal guaranty, perfecting a security interest in motor vehicles and fixtures, complying with professional ethics in a transactional context, and compiling a portfolio with a cover letter to the client."
This is exactly the type of text that law students need to become practice-ready attorneys. Students who draft documents in a course have better knowledge and understanding of the principles of that course because drafting is active learning. They also develop more pathways to access their knowledge.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
In 2015, McSweeney’s created a bingo card for faculty meetings so that you could check off each cliché as it came up.
Now the Chronicle of Higher Education has updated the card. You can learn about it here and find a link to a printable version of the card. Something to keep you entertained.
Professor Barry Friedman has written a thoughtful article articulating what’s wrong with law reviews and especially the process for reviewing and editing submissions. I think most of us who write are well aware of the problems; he especially faults the rigid submission cycle.
What is the most interesting is his survey of law review editors regarding their perceptions and practices. He presents these results in a set of helpful charts at the end of the article.
You can access the article here.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Dealing with Causes as Well as Symptoms of Law Students’ and Lawyers’ Lack of Well-Being by John Lande
"The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being just issued its report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change."
"It’s a thoughtful, constructive effort to address problems that lawyers face in practice and to promote their well-being. It deals with serious issues including substance abuse, mental health problems, and suicide. It includes recommendations for better education, fostering collegiality and civility, enhancing lawyers’ sense of control, mentoring, and systematic monitoring colleagues’ well-being, among many others. It addresses legal education, recommending adjustment of the admissions process to promote well-being, detection and assistance of students experiencing problems, addressing of issues of well-being in professional responsibility courses, and provision of onsite counselors, among other things."
"I believe that many students’ and lawyers’ problems are caused by law school and legal practice. To the extent that’s so, treating the symptoms will not fundamentally deal with the systemic causes of the problems. Rather, significant changes in the nature of legal education and practice – not merely dealing with the symptoms – would be necessary to prevent many of these problems from arising."
"It is not clear what causes law students’ distress. Theorists have suggested various features of legal education may be causal factors including ‘overvaluing theoretical scholarship and undervaluing the teaching function, employing generally unsound teaching and testing methods, and emphasizing abstract theory rather than providing practical training.’ In particular, some things causing distress may include an intimidating Socratic teaching method, novelty of the subject matter, ambiguity of the law, heavy work load, competition, lack of grades in most courses until the end of the semester, feelings of isolation, de-emphasizing personal relationships, ignoring emotional reactions, and reluctance to get help."
"As I wrote in connection with the Stone Soup Project, students may do better if they feel that their studies are relevant to professional goals — and fun."
"Some scholars argue that legal education trains students to ignore their own values, which undermines their self-confidence. For example, Dean Edward Rubin argues that lawyers experience ‘ethical stress’ where 'lawyers [and law students] are required to be insincere, to speak words they themselves do not necessarily believe.'" [As I have argued before, this is why law schools need to include professional identity training.]
"If law school faculty and administrators want to take serious action to prevent law students’ mental health problems and lack of well-being, they should conduct a careful examination of features of their programs that unnecessarily contribute to these problems."
Job opening for clinical legal writing faculty member at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Here are the details courtesy of Professor Anne Ralph at Ohio State:
Ohio State University Moritz College of Law invites applications for a clinical-track faculty member to teach in its first-year legal research, analysis, and writing program, to begin in the 2018-2019 academic year.
The new faculty member will be part of the College’s team of clinical-track faculty, law librarians, and tenure-track faculty who teach in Moritz’s nationally recognized legal writing program. The faculty member will teach two sections of a two-credit legal writing class in the Fall Semester and two sections of a three-credit legal writing class in the Spring Semester. Enrollment in each class is expected to be no more than 20 students.
The position is a nontenure-track position with security reasonably similar to tenure, as provided by ABA Standard 405(c). Professors appointed to this clinical track shall have a law degree and relevant practice and occupational experience in their areas of expertise and strong potential in all relevant areas of clinical or skills teaching, such as: supervising students in a skills classroom setting; classroom teaching; conforming to the ethical standards of applicable codes of professional responsibility; engaging in public service; expanding understanding of the law through preparation of written materials; and maintaining knowledge in the faculty member’s areas of expertise.
Annual salary range is $74,500 – $76,500, based on a nine-month renewable contract. The clinical faculty member 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 clinical faculty member will be eligible for promotion to a long-term renewable contract of 3 to 5 years that permits removal only for cause or financial exigency. The nine-month nature of the position brings with it eligibility for supplemental summer salary for research or other relevant contributions to the College, if the faculty member is interested. All Moritz College of Law clinical-track faculty also receive a full research and professional development budget. The College would consider lateral appointments (at the Associate Clinical Professor level) only for candidates with significant law school teaching experience.
A resume, references, and cover letter should be submitted to Professor Steven Huefner, Chair, Clinical Legal Writing Faculty Search Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be reviewed beginning September 1, 2017, and will be accepted until the position is filled; preference will be given to applications received before September 15, 2017. [NB: The College also is separately accepting applications for a tenure-track faculty member in several areas, including legal writing. For additional information on the tenure-track position, please see the College’s AALS job posting or contact Professor Daniel Tokaji, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, at email@example.com.]
The Moritz College of Law recognizes that excellence in legal education as well as in our legal system, institutions, workplaces and communities is enriched by a diverse faculty, staff and student body. The Ohio State University is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, or protected veteran status.
That’s the finding of a new study. From Time:
In a new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel wanted to find out whether including smileys in work emails actually has an effect on the message. ":)" really does make an impression, they found out—but not the friendly feeling an email writer may intend.
Instead, reading a happy face in the text of a work email made people think that the sender was less competent if the same message did not contain the emoticon, the researchers found. Even though smiles communicate warmth and competence in person, a smiley could make the reader less likely to share as much information in their reply.
Monday, August 28, 2017
From ABC News:
President Donald Trump is leaning toward ending a U.S. immigration policy the Obama administration started for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, according to multiple sources.
The president's decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, could be announced as early as next week, one source said.
Trump has to make a decision before Sept. 5 when the 10-plus state attorneys general, led by Texas A.G. Ken Paxton, said they'd sue the Trump administration to end it and force the administration’s hand. Trump has to decide whether to defend the program or not, thereby ending it.
Though an announcement is likely next week, a senior administration official urged caution, noting that the president's thinking could always change. . . . .
The most recent DACA numbers from March 31 show 787,580 initial grants of DACA and 799,077 renewals since the inception of the program in 2012. Those who qualified for DACA had to prove they came to the United States before age 16, were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, lived here for at least five years continuously, attend or graduated from high school or college and have no criminal convictions.
Life gets difficult when the internet posts your name and photo (and home address), thinking that you were marching in a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. From The Scientist:
It was a case of mistaken identity of Internet-size proportions. Last Saturday afternoon, just around the time that Heather Heyer, a counter-protester to the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, lost her life to a Nazi sympathizer who plowed his car through a crowd, Kyle Quinn returned a call from an unknown number on his cell phone.
A member of the university relations office at the University of Arkansas, where Quinn runs a biomedical engineering lab, was on the other end of the line. She informed him that he had been identified as one of the white nationalist marchers—photographed with tiki torch and red Arkansas Engineering t-shirt—in Charlottesville the night before.
“I was just shocked,” Quinn tells The Scientist. “I didn’t really know how bad things were going to get.”
You can read the rest of the story here. It could happen to any of us.
Law Firms Are Beginning to Adopt Telecommuting Policies
From Crain’s Chicago Business:
Telecommuting has been around long enough in corporate America for the trend to hit a backlash. Meanwhile, law firms, ever slow to change, have continued to rely on individual lawyers to work out arrangements with supervisors, rather than crafting affirmative policies that endorse the practice. The newly launched programs, mostly aimed at junior lawyers, provide a tool to recruit and retain top-quality attorneys in a profession that demands long hours. The benefit adds little to a law firm's expenses, which is a plus as the country's largest firms absorb a near-universal $20,000 raise for new lawyers.
You can read more here. I would caution new lawyer that if you want to advance in your firm, you need to be seen around the office—face time. Also, it’s hard to develop a book of new clients if you are working from home.
Here is an excellent article about teaching research in transactional courses . In fact, it has a lot of good advice about teaching transactional classes in general.
Lori D. Johnson, Jeanne Frazier Price and Eric H. Franklin, Research Instruction and Resources in the Transactional Skills Classroom: Approaches to Incorporating Research Instruction into Transactional Skills Courses.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
When it comes to the spring semester oral arguments that nearly all 1L students complete as part of their first year LRW course, I always tell them that a key aspect of oral persuasion is that they need to believe the arguments they're making to the court. It's not enough to merely go through the motions, you have to communicate with your voice and body language that you thoroughly, passionately believe in the righteousness of your position. In short, if you want to be believed, you need to believe it yourself.
This short video (below) published by the New York Times compares several examples of President Trumpenstein's speaking style when he's reading from a teleprompter versus making extemporaneous comments. You tell me - which versions sound like he's reading a hostage statement under duress versus speaking in a manner that reveals his true feelings and thoughts? This might make a good in-class video that illustrates for students how a speaking style that lacks passion and authenticity undercuts the credibility of the underlying message. Which versions do you believe?
From what I read, often colleges conduct their proceedings with insufficient regard to the need to legally train the decision makers and from a lack of understanding of what due process and basic notions of sufficient evidence require. The final determinations may be correct or incorrect, but the important and question is whether they can withstand a court battle. I think schools need to involve lawyers. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Over the past six years, more students who believe they were falsely accused of sexual assault have sued colleges. And even though those students seldom win in the courts, the costs for colleges to fend them off are adding up.
United Educators, a risk-management and insurance firm, reviewed dozens of cases from 2011 to 2015 in which colleges filed claims with the company involving accused students and eventually suffered financial losses. Most of the cases were lawsuits or "demand letters," another form of legal action. On average, United Educators and colleges ended up paying $187,000 per case.
In 40 percent of the cases, institutions were out more than $200,000. On one occasion, a legal fight cost a college $1 million. (Those figures include the expense of hiring lawyers as well as settlement payments and other costs associated with resolving a case.)
You can read more here.
The Department of Education has issued an informative document giving straightforward advice to the (former) Charlotte Law students:
This fact sheet provides you with important information about your options now that your school has closed, including: · obtaining your academic transcripts; · understanding if your state offers a tuition recovery fund; · determining if you qualify for a discharge of your federal student loan(s); · knowing the steps in the loan discharge process; · transferring your credits to another school; and · contacting your loan servicer.
You can read the full fact sheet here.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
In the July-August 2017 issue of the New York State Bar Association Journal, Judge Gerald Lebovits gives us exercises in editing for nominalizations, legalese, cowardly qualifiers, and modifiers—plus suggested answers.
You can access the article here.
Friday, August 25, 2017
It is a common practice for esteemed lawyers to ghostwrite briefs in opposition to cert. From the National Law Journal:
Top U.S. Supreme Court advocates are not known for hiding their talents. But some of them hide their names, in a little-known but long-standing practice that has gotten renewed attention and criticism this summer.
We’re talking about lawyers leaving their names off a “brief in opposition”—the brief that is filed by appellees to urge the high court not to grant certiorari in a case they won below. These briefs generally counter the cert petition by arguing that there is no circuit split or that the case is unimportant or a poor vehicle for resolving the issue that the petition raises.
To underscore their “move along, nothing to look at here” assertions, top Supreme Court advocates who write these briefs in opposition sometimes omit their names from the brief, instead listing the lawyer who handled the case below as the counsel of record. The rationale is that if justices or their clerks see “big name” lawyers on the brief, they may think that in fact the case is important, will be well-argued, and should be granted review—a result that would be against the client’s interest.
According to a reporter’s survey of prominent lawyers, there is nothing unethical about the practice. You can read more here.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
According to one study, most lawyers are satisfied with their careers. Here is the result of an empirical study:
The 2008 economic recession had a seismic impact on the legal profession. This Article is the first to empirically assess whether the recession has made law an unsatisfying career.
Relying on survey data from over 11,000 active members of the State Bar of Texas, we find that only 13.5% of all attorneys and 11.5% of full-time attorneys are dissatisfied with their careers. Newer attorneys report greater career dissatisfaction than more experienced attorneys, yet they too are largely satisfied.
We also determine using logistic regression that three factors are highly predictive of lawyers’ career dissatisfaction: 1) comparatively low incomes; 2) working in private practice as opposed to in government or in a non-profit/public interest setting; and 3) law firm employment in a non-partnership role. Law school debt and lower class rank have only minor effects on career dissatisfaction whereas race, gender, years of practice experience, practice area, and firm size have no independent effects.
You can access the article here. Milan Markovic & Gabrielle Plickert, Attorney Dissatisfaction is the New Normal.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
From Inside Higher Ed:
Harvard Law School announced in March that it would start to accept the Graduate Record Examination for admissions, not just the traditionally required Law School Admission Test. At the time, only one other law school -- the University of Arizona's -- had such a policy. Many wondered if the move by Harvard, given its stature in legal education, would prompt others to follow.
That question may have been answered Monday, when the law schools of both Georgetown and Northwestern Universities announced that they too would now accept the GRE, a test from the Educational Testing Service. Both Georgetown and Northwestern are highly regarded law schools and have no shortage of applicants.
Will the ABA stand for this innovation? Are we about to see the domino effect? You can read more here.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Let me recommend, William Eskridge’s Interpreting Law: A Primer on How to Read Statutes and the Constitution (here)
“Interpreting Law” is an accessible introduction to statutory and constitutional interpretation by the nation’s leading legislation scholar. This concise treatise not only identifies the primary “canons” or precepts that guide interpretation, but demonstrates how they operate and interact, as a matter of both practice and evolving aspiration.
Unlike earlier academic treatises, which rummage through a potpourri of often arcane Supreme Court decisions, Professor Eskridge’s new book focuses on a statute prohibiting “vehicles” in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House. Each chapter engages the law student and the experienced practitioner to consider the application of the statute and its statutory and institutional context to a wide and often delightful array of situations. As the preface by Justice John Paul Stevens suggests, the reader will emerge from this book with a deeply enriched understanding of―and excitement about―legal interpretation.
I find the book comprehensive and easy to read.