Sunday, October 8, 2017

Teaching Law Students How to Become Metacognitive Thinkers: Helping Students Develop Their Mental Apps by Scott Fruehwald

I have just posted a new article on SSRN:

Teaching Law Students How to Become Metacognitive Thinkers: Helping Students Develop Their Mental Apps.


Metacognition is “our awareness of the learning process.” It is “thinking about one’s own thinking.” More specifically, it “includes both knowledge of one’s knowledge, processes, cognitive and affective states, and the ability to consciously and deliberately monitor and regulate one’s knowledge, process, cognitive and affective states.”

Understanding metacognition and how to use metacognitive skills is a major part of becoming a successful learner. Helping law students become metacognitive learners will make them better lawyers and life-long learners. However, most students do not acquire metacognitive skills on their own. Rather, they require a “coach” (a law professor) to develop expertise.

This article shows how law professors can help their students understand metacognition and develop metacognitive skills (their mental apps). Part II of this article discusses metacognition in general, and Part III shows how law professors can help their students develop metacognitive skills. Subjects in Part III include developing metacognitive awareness, teaching metacognition in the classroom, teaching students how to use metacognition while studying, teaching students metacognition in one-on-one meetings, and using formative assessments to develop metacognition.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fall Newsletter of the AALS Teaching Methods Section is Out

Are Law Degrees as Valuable to Minorities as to Caucasians?

According to this study, the answer is no. Here is the abstract:

We estimate the increase in earnings from a law degree relative to a bachelor’s degree for graduates of different race/ethnic groups. Law earnings premiums are higher for whites than for minorities (excluding individuals raised outside the U.S.). The median annual law earnings premium is approximately $41,000 for whites, $34,000 for Asians, $33,000 for blacks, and $28,000 for Hispanics. Law earnings premiums for whites, blacks and Hispanics have trended upward and appear to be gradually converging. Approximately 90 percent of law graduates are white compared to approximately 82 percent of bachelor’s degree holders.

From the conclusion:

After controlling for observable differences, we find that a law degree is associated with approximately an 80 percent increase in earnings for whites and a 60 to 70 percent increase for minorities such as blacks, Asians and Hispanics. The results are similar when looking only at men or only at women.

In addition, whites’ higher percentage premiums are multiplied by higher base earnings than  blacks’ or Hispanics’, such that in dollar terms the gaps are even more noticeable.

You can accesss the study here. Frank McIntyre & Michael Simkovic, Are Law Degrees As Valuable to Minorities? International Review of Law and Economics (forthcoming).


October 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Statistics: Depression among Law Students and Lawyers

Here are statistics provided by the Dave Nee Foundation:

  • Depression among law students is 8-9% prior to matriculation, 27% after one semester, 34% after 2 semesters, and 40% after 3 years.
  • Stress among law students is 96%, compared to 70% in med students and 43% in graduate students.
  • Entering law school, law students have a psychological profile similar to that of the general public. After law school, 20-40% have a psychological dysfunction.
  • Psychological distress, dissatisfaction and substance abuse that begin in law school follow many graduates into practice.

I think most law schools are aware of these problems and try to aid their students. Obviously, their efforts are not enough. Still, I’m not sure what new efforts will change these numbers significantly. Please feel free to comment.

You can read more here.


October 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Writing Advice from William Faulkner

I have never thought of William Faulkner’s writing style as a good model for legal writing. The author of page-length sentences would have a tough time with short plain statements. So I was interested to read a collection of “Twenty Pieces of Writing Advice from William Faulkner” at Lithub. Though the advice focuses primarily on fiction writing, I found some that would benefit legal writers. Here is the best relevant piece. It deals with developing the story of a character:

On the best way to start a novel:

“I would say to get the character in your mind. Once he is in your mind, and he is right, and he’s true, then he does the work himself. All you need to do then is to trot along behind him and put down what he does and what he says. It’s the ingestion and then the gestation. You’ve got to know the character. You’ve got to believe in him. You’ve got to feel that he is alive, and then, of course, you will have to do a certain amount of picking and choosing among the possibilities of his action, so that his actions fit the character which you believe in. After that, the business of putting him down on paper is mechanical. Most of the the writing has got to take place up here before you ever put the pencil to the paper. But the character’s got to be true by your conception and by your experience, and that would include, as we’ve just said, what you’ve read, what you’ve imagined, what you’ve heard, all that going to giving you the gauge to measure this imaginary character by, and once he comes alive and true to you, and he’s important and moving, then it’s not too much trouble to put him down.” (from a 1958 q&a with University of Virginia graduate students)

You can read all twenty pieces of advice here.


October 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From AALS Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession

AALS "Annual Meeting:  Call for proposals.  We had issued a call for proposals to invite submissions of potential panelists to join in our 2018 annual meeting program on January 3, 2018.  We have received a few inquiries and a small number of submissions.  I am not sure whether we have gotten the word out adequately, and am also concerned about disruptions for some colleagues that have stemmed from recent hurricanes.  Accordingly, I have extended the due date for proposals until October 12, 2017.  Please submit proposals to me ([email protected]).  We are particularly eager to recruit a junior colleague to fill out our panel.  Presentations will only be 10 minutes in length, and participants on panels will engage in colloquy with each other and with those attending.  Please consider submitting and joining us on this occasion."

Judith Wegner

(Scott Fruehwald)


October 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Awkward “Alt-Control-Delete”—Why?

From Morning Brew (September 22, 2017):


Quote of the Day

“Control-Alt-Delete is awkward. You came up with that. Why?”

David Rubenstein, co-founder of Carlyle, asking Bill Gates why that become the combo for closing any uncooperative application. Gates said if there was one thing he could change, this was it.


October 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experiential Education at the University of Chicago

I am very happy to see that one of the top law schools has recognized the importance of experiential education.

The Evolution of Experiential Learning by Becky Beaupre Gillespie.


"There are some things a lawyer just has to learn by doing—like drafting an airtight contract or spotting issues in the other side’s document. That’s why the Law School hired telecommunications attorney Joan Neal in 2010, and it’s why she’s stuck to her feedback-heavy approach rather than allowing the size of her Contract Drafting and Review class to swell in response to demand."

“You could have students read about drafting contracts or listen to me talk about drafting contracts all year long, and they’re not necessarily going to be better at doing it,” said Neal.

"This expansion reflects a natural evolution in the Law School’s commitment to helping students connect real-world lawyering to the theories they learn in doctrinal classes—and is one in a series of changes that will broaden students’ options for meeting the American Bar Association’s new experiential learning requirement, which goes into effect this year with the Class of 2019."

“Our job is not just to help them get ready for their first job out of law school, although that’s part of it,” he said [Jeff Leslie]. “Experiential learning gives students the lifelong habits and attitudes that will help them grow and develop and be self-reflective as practitioners in whatever field they go into and whatever they’re doing.”

"She will also teach Advanced Contract Skills, a new experiential class that she’s designing from scratch."

The article contains many other things UC is doing to connect theory to practice.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Calming an Angry Client—or Student

Attorney at Work offers a method for dealing with an angry client. It should work just as well for the angry student:

First, for the first 90 seconds, ignore the client’s words. I know, I know, words are important. Trust me. Ignore the words for the first 90 seconds. If you listen to the words with your usual lawyer ears, you might get triggered and emotional. You might get pissed off. You might become impatient or frustrated. And if any of those things happen to you, you are likely to say the worst thing possible to your client. So, ignore the words.

Second, guess at the emotions the client might be experiencing in that moment. This is a little tricky because we have been trained to be dispassionate and unemotional concerning client problems. Use your own experience and common sense to guess at what the emotional experience of the moment is.

Third, state back the client’s emotional experience with a very short, direct “you” statement, such as “you are angry.” Do not ask a question like “are you angry?” And, do not use an “I” statement, such as “what I hear you saying is that you are angry.” Keep the statement direct and focused on the client.

You can read more here.


October 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Forbes article focusing on law schools, competencies, and skills development

Mary A. Lynch (Best Practices), Forbes article focusing on law schools, competencies and skills development.

"Cohen is urging today’s law students to look to the marketplace for 'efficient, accessible, cost-effective, and just-in-time learning tools available to fill knowledge gaps and to teach new skills.'"

"I don’t disagree that law schools need to transform faster, provide more skill building, emphasize the business context in which lawyers are hired to help, and prepare law students for the team realities of today and tomorrow’s economy. . . .  But his claim that only a “handful” of law schools are savvy on these issues – or as he put it have “yet to read the memo” – made my Irish blood boil."

"I invite you to read the article, see what you think and tell us on this blog about what Cohen missed happening at your school!"

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

C.S. Lewis Reviews The Hobbit (1937)

From Lithub:

“The publishers claim that The Hobbit, though very unlike Alice, resembles it in being the work of a professor at play. A more important truth is that both belong to a very small class of books which have nothing in common save that each admits us to a world of its own—a world that seems to have been going on long before we stumbled into it but which, once found by the right reader, becomes indispensable to him. Its place is with AliceFlatlandPhantastesThe Wind in the Willows.

You can read the rest here.


October 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Santa Clara's new Tech Ed program to focus on training students for tech industry law jobs

Santa Clara University School of Law will be starting a new program next year for students called Tech Ed J.D. which will identity and then train students in the legal tech skills that employers are seeking.  The school anticipates enrolling approximately 50 students in this new skills focused track which will also include 450 hours of relevant practice experience. The school is laying the groundwork now by having a team of tech lawyers and tech company in-house attorneys identify the industry specific skills law grads are lacking and then incorporating that training into the Tech Ed program. Other skills that will be emphasized include developing effective business decision-making, analyzing financial statements and negotiation skills.

From the school's website:

This is not an ordinary certificate program. The Tech Edge J.D. is a significant innovation in law school education. It combines legal, business, and technology education with hands-on skills development and individualized mentorship, while leveraging the school’s location in the Silicon Valley and renowned tech law and intellectual property curriculum. This program reflects the reality of 21st century lawyering; that to be an effective counselor, a lawyer should understand the business and technology challenges of the client.


The Tech Edge J.D. will focus on providing students with an edge over other law school graduates – specifically, the critical skills desired by employers in technology industries. The first cohort of students in the Tech Edge program will be admitted in the Fall semester of 2018.

LegalTech News has additional details about Santa Clara's new program here.


October 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yoda at the U.N.

Too good to pass up department. From Newser (here):

 Royally messed up, they did. A senior education official and others in Saudi Arabia have been fired after a government textbook included a photo of King Faisal seated next to Yoda, everyone's favorite Jedi Master from Star Wars.

The doctored black-and-white photo showing Yoda on King Faisal's right as he signed the United Nations charter in 1945 was accidentally included in a high school social studies book published by the Saudi Ministry of Education, report Reuters and the Telegraph. Though it isn't clear how it came to be included in the book, the photo had been one of several doctored by Saudi artist Abdullah al-Shehri as part of a 2013 series designed to make Arab history more "fun," reports the New York Times.


October 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Smart Glasses that Interact with Alexa

Apple is working on smart glasses that interact with Alexa, so that you can be out of the house and still be in contact with her. From Morning Brew:

They’ll work just like regular glasses, except…well, who are we kidding? They’re nothing like regular glasses. You’ll be able to hear Alexa’s voice without wearing headphones through technology called “bone conduction,” which sounds more painful than it actually is. And Amazon is likely getting rid of the camera and screen that caused performance and privacy issues for Google Glass.

You can read more here.


October 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 1, 2017


I've finally decided to come into the 21st century and join Twitter.  I will concentrate on legal education, professional identity, and cognitive biases.  Maybe a little classical music and art, too.  You can find me at @ScottFruehwald.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Diagramming Sentences in Constitutions, Statutes, and Contracts

Many of us learned how to diagram sentences in middle school. I suspect that most of us who learned this skill have found that it has helped us understand the structure and meaning of sentences in constitutions, statutes, regulations, and judicial opinions.

 In a recent article, law student James Durling explains how to diagram sentences and gives numerous examples of judges using this tool to discern the meaning of sentences in constitutions, statutes, and contracts.

James Durling, Diagramming Interpretation, Yale Journal on Regulation (forthcoming). You can access the article here.


October 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)