Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dean Chemerinsky on Professional Identity Development

I have long been an advocate for law schools making professional identity development a major part of their curriculum.  Unfortunately, only a few law schools have done this, despite the fact that the Carnegie Report emphasized its importance over ten years ago.

The Center for Legal Profession at Harvard Law School has devoted an entire issue of The Practice to lawyers' professional identity.  (here)  It includes an interesting interview with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on including professional identity training in the first-year year curriculum.

Rethinking the First-Year Curriculum

He writes,

at UC Irvine "We decided to construct the first-year curriculum around methods of analysis. It is based on the realization that common-law analysis is different from statutory analysis, which is different than constitutional analysis, and international analysis is different from other types of law. And so, the idea was that every first-year student would take a course on common-law analysis in contracts and common-law analysis in torts, a course on statutory analysis, where we would use criminal law as the vehicle, a course on procedural analysis, a course on constitutional analysis, and a course on international legal analysis. We also decided that we wanted to have a significant component of the first year focus on lawyering skills, so we devoted six units each semester to lawyering skills."

He continues,

"Then we decided that we wanted a first-year course on the legal profession. Ideally, it was to be two units each semester for the year-long course, though sometimes it was one semester for four credits. And it was meant to really teach students about the profession they were joining. It was going to cover the basics of the rules of professional conduct, but it also was about the sociology of the profession. It was some about the economics of the profession. It was also going to have a significant component of speakers’ panels—about one out of every four classes was a panel of speakers on different practice settings. The goal was to give students a much richer sense of the various career options within the legal profession. "

He adds, "I have taught professional responsibility in a number of different contexts. I think it’s important that students think about the profession and think about professional responsibility before they become substantially socialized into it. Moreover, because we expect students to be involved in lawyering from early on in their career, they really do need to know the basic rules of ethics very early on. The course really worked at Irvine."

I would add that the most important part of professional identity training is teaching students to reflect.  Reflection helps students internalize values.

(Scott Fruehwald

May 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Martindale survey of solos and small firm lawyers finds 73% would choose law again as a career

The findings in this first annual Martindale survey of solo practitioners and small firm lawyers may come as a surprise to some. For instance, among the 7,800 lawyers who participated in the survey, the average annual salary last year was $198K (the survey defines "small" firm attorney as anyone working for a firm with 21 or less lawyers). Moreover, the survey reports that fully 73% of those responding say they would choose law again as a career if they had to do it all over again. For me, anyway, the survey results fly in the face of other reports we often see describing high rates of job dissatisfaction, depression, substance abuse, etc. as well as the impression that many have, I think, that many solos struggle financially especially in rural areas and overly saturated  markets like California, Florida, Texas and New York. The ABA Journal has an executive summary of the survey results here but you can download the entire report yourself here (it requires submitting a short online request to Martindale).


May 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Practical Simulations in Large Required Courses (Evidence)

Using Practical Simulations in Large Required Courses (Evidence) by Christian Sundquist.

"I have found that integrating experiential learning opportunities in class have led to significantly improved learning outcomes for students. Students are simply more engaged, more energized, and more passionate about learning when they are asked to apply the legal doctrine and theory they have learned in class to practical scenarios. The difficulty, of course, has been providing opportunities for students in LARGE classes to practically apply the material in a meaningful way, without detracting from the breadth of the lesson plan."

"Last Fall was different. While my class size was still fairly large (at around 45 students or so), I decided to provide ALL students with the opportunity to apply the law and policy they learned in class through a series of 'practicums' focusing on high-profile cases."

"The results of my “experiment” were generally quite positive. Similar to my other courses, I felt as a greater percentage of the class had a stronger understanding of core legal concepts following the practicums (such as hearsay, character evidence, and relevance). I believe my students were excited to take part in the practicums, and appreciated going through a novel way of learning the material (beyond the normal class discussion, student questioning, and working through problem sets). A number of my students commented during and after class that they were more practical learners, and that the exercises helped them finally understand evidentiary concepts that hitherto had been eluding them!"

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Reminder - there's still time to register for the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning's summer conference

This year's edition of this annual conference is schedule for June 18 - 20 in beautiful Spokane, Washington. The conference will focus on the use of technology in the law school classroom and organizers have put together an absolutely boffo line-up of interactive presentations for your attendance pleasure on a variety of important including how to make more effective use of PowerPoints in class, using polling software in class, learning about the metadata in your documents, using Google docs for peer editing, the use of blog posts for student assessment, using technology for negotiations, and so much more!  Indeed, the conference will even feature a speaker providing participants with an overview on how to coordinate your institution’s technology!   

The conference is limited to 100 participants to keep it relatively intimate and though there are still a few spots available for registrants, you need to act now!  Don't delay, register today!

Here's where and how you can do so (as well as get all the details on lodging, meals, activities and even a wine-tasting(!).


May 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Leadership of Self: Each Student Taking Ownership Over Continuous Professional Development/Self-Directed Learning by Neil W. Hamilton

Here is an important new article on professional identity and self-directed learners:

Leadership of Self: Each Student Taking Ownership Over Continuous Professional Development/Self-Directed Learning by Neil W. Hamilton.

"This article focuses on leadership of self and a commitment to continuous professional development as a foundational sub-competency of leadership. Scholarship on self-directed learning and self-regulated learning provides substantial insight into this foundational sub-competency. The article explores how a student’s commitment to continuous professional development demonstrates the competencies of initiative and ownership that legal employers want.

The article analyzes how a shift of responsibility for driving the educational process from the teacher (the faculty and staff) to the learners would be extremely beneficial to the students, faculty and staff, legal employers, clients, and the legal system. The final section of the article analyzes what we know about effective curriculum to foster each student’s growth to later stages of a commitment to continuous professional development. Schools that lead in implementing these steps will differentiate themselves in terms of outcomes for students."

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

New article on the differences between commercial legal research databases

This recent article by Professor Peter A. Hook (Wayne State) and Kurt R. Mattson (President of Union Legal Research) called "Surprising Differences: An Empirical Analysis of LexisNexis and West Headnotes in the Written Opinions of the 2009 Supreme Court Term" can be found at 109 Law. Libr. J. 557 (2017) and picks up on a theme explored by Susan Nevelow Mart's (Colorado) well-reviewed article called "The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal {Re}Search."  From the introduction to this new one by Hook and Mattson:

Headnotes are important. They continue to be one of the main ways that legal researchers engage with the massive body of case law in the United States to marshal arguments for legal advocacy, advising, and scholarship. As one publisher-supplied component of the rule of law in the United States, they contribute to the stability, social justice, and economic growth of the country by making case law usable. Headnotes are vendor-described, atomistic statements of discrete concepts of law found in judicial opinions. They are supplied by two competing legal publishers (and vendors of their online legal platforms)--LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters (formally Thomson/West, formally West Publishing, and hereinafter West). They are not primary source content but important finding aids to the primary source content that are judicial opinions. However, the two publishers show surprising differences in how they assign headnotes, as illustrated by an empirical review of the headnotes assigned to the written opinions of the 2009 Term of the United States Supreme Court. The differences between the two vendors are found in (1) the number of headnotes assigned to each case, and (2) the identification of opinion language that merits a headnote.


May 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Comprehensive Approach to Law School Access Admissions by Jeffrey J. Minetti

A Comprehensive Approach to Law School Access Admissions by Jeffrey J. Minetti.

"This article makes two contributions to this important symposium. First, it provides a theoretical framework for building an Access Admission Program. Second, it gives the framework flesh, color, and voice through a description of the Access Admission Program at Seattle University School of Law."

The article includes an excellent summary of the neurobiology of learning.

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What School Had the Highest Overall Pass Rate on the February Virginia Bar Exam?

Regent at 81.82%.  UVA was next at 75%.  Appalachian was last with a dismal 44.44%.

Why did a small law school like Regent score the highest?  Maybe it was because they emphasize experiential education and professional identity training.  Naw, it must just be a one time fluke.  Wait, wait.  They also had the highest overall passing rate on the July 2017 exam.  What do you know; maybe the new approaches to legal education do work.

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Was Mueller's Appointment as Special Counsel Unconstitutional under the Appointments Clause?

Yes, according to Professor Steven Calabresi in an article in the Hill.  However, this answer to this question is not as clear as Professor Calabresi claims.  After having reread the key Supreme Court cases on this issue, I conclude that Mueller's appointment was constitutional.

Professor Calabresi writes, "I’ve explained in previous writings why Robert Mueller’s appointment is unconstitutional under Chief Justice Rehnquist’s majority opinion in Morrison v. Olson. The basic problem is that Mueller is more powerful and famous than are any of the 96 U.S. attorneys, but unlike them he was never nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

In this investigation, Mueller is not acting like an assistant U.S. attorney who is an inferior officer. He is instead acting like a U.S. attorney, who is a principal officer and who must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate."

Elsewhere he has elaborated,"At issue is the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which provides that “principal officers” must be appointed by the president with the Senate’s consent. Rehnquist wrote that independent counsel Alexia Morrison qualified as an “inferior officer,” not subject to the appointment process, because her office was “limited in jurisdiction” to “certain federal officials suspected of certain serious federal crimes.”

Mr. Mueller, in contrast, is investigating a large number of people and has already charged defendants with many different kinds of crimes, including—as in Mr. Manafort’s case—ones unrelated to any collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia. That’s too much power for an inferior officer to have. Only a principal officer, such as a U.S. attorney, can behave the way Mr. Mueller is behaving. Mr. Mueller is much more powerful today than any of the 96 U.S. attorneys. He is behaving like a principal officer."

He added, "The unconstitutionality of Mueller’s appointment renders everything he has done since May 17, 2017, unconstitutional as well."  "When an official uses government power in an unconstitutional way, anything that results from it is subject to the exclusionary rule and is not admissible in court."

The Appointments Clause of Article II of the Constitution reads as follows:

Continue reading

May 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Number of AI companies catering to legal field grows 65% from last year

Bob Ambrogi's Law Sites blog has the story noting that established players like TR (i.e., Westlaw) and Lexis have either jumped into the AI game or will be rolling out new products shortly. It raises the question - at what point do we start exposing students to AI training in law school? More from Law Sites:

Number of AI Companies in Legal Grows 65% In Last Year


The number of artificial intelligence companies catering to the legal field has grown by 65 percent in the last year, from 40 to 66.


This finding is from the In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyer’s Guide 2018, published today by the contract review automation company LawGeex.


The increase in AI companies includes a number of “agile and well-funded startups,” says the guide, but also a number of established players that are joining the field, such as LexisNexis with its Lexis Answers and Bloomberg Law with its Points of Law.

. . . . 


My instinct is to be highly skeptical of a purported buyers’ guide that is written and published by a company that competes within that market. But this guide actually appears to be entirely neutral, giving LawGeex no greater billing than any other listed company. The entries for all the listed companies appear fair and many include comments from actual users.

 . . . . 


[But the] listing of AI companies is not complete. Most notably, it omits Thomson Reuters, whose Westlaw, with its natural-language processing, was one of the earliest AI products in legal. Thomson Reuters Labs and, within it, the Center for Cognitive Computing, are major initiatives devoted to the study of AI and data science. Just in January, TR rolled out an AI-powered product for data privacy law.


In addition, there are a number of small legal tech startups that are using AI but that are not included on this list.

. . . .

 Continue reading here.


May 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Einstein's Definition of Insanity Applied to Law Schools

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."  Although a number of sources doubt that Einstein ever said this, the force of the quote remains valid.  Unfortunately, many law schools are suffering from this type of insanity.

Here is the latest news from the TaxProf Blog:

California Bar Exam Pass Rate Sinks To All-Time Low: 27.3%

"Only a quarter of applicants passed the California bar exam in its most recent sitting, the State Bar of California announced this week, a record low for the test that lawyers must successfully complete to practice in the state. The pass rate for the February exam sank to just 27.3 percent, about 7 percentage points lower than last year and the first time since 1986 that it has fallen below 30 percent. The previous low, according to a summary of results since 1951, came in the spring of 1983, when 27.7 percent of applicants passed."

Here is the insanity:  Year after year, many law schools admit students with lower and lower indicators.  They also do little to help these students succeed in law school, such as adopting new approaches to legal education.  Yet they are surprised by their declining pass rates.

As I have said many, many times here, the only way to fix this is by either

1) raising law school admittance standards or

2) significantly changing how law schools teach their students.

Of course, the best answer is a combination of both.

It is grossly unethical to keep admitting students who will not pass the bar.  Even students who pass the bar are often shouldered with enormous debt.  If law schools are going to continue to operate, they must change their teaching methods.  (Yes, I know I sound like a broken record, but things must change.)

(Scott Fruehwald)

This is what Elie Mystal said on Above the Law: "Only 27% of test takers passed the February 2018 administration of the California bar exam. I hope clients everywhere appreciate that California is trying to keep them safe from people who probably shouldn’t have gotten into law school in the first place."



May 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Eli Wald, The Contextual Problem of Law Schools

Eli Wald, The Contextual Problem of Law Schools.


Law schools have a contextual problem. They teach law universally, ignoring context. Through a traditional curriculum that has changed relatively little in over a century, law schools advance a universal approach to professionalism and professional identity preparing law students to enter a homogenous legal profession in which lawyers practice law performing similar tasks in similar practice settings representing similar clients. Except that unlike legal education, the practice of law has grown immensely complex and diverse over time. Far from universal, law practice and lawyers have become richly contextual. Context now matters in the practice of law: client identity, lawyer identity, tasks, subject matters and status inform and shape what lawyers do and their exercise of professional judgment. Law schools’ disregard of context thus constitutes a significant problem as it misleads students and fails to adequately prepare them for the practice of law.

The mismatch between law practice and legal education requires a contextual approach. This Article argues that law schools can and should systematically introduce contextual insights into their curriculum and culture, including their approaches to professional ideology and socializing law students into the practice of law, addressing questions of justice as an integral part of legal education, exposing students to the complex problems of insufficient access to legal services and some of their possible solutions, and offering rich accounts of competing conceptions of lawyers’ professional identities and their interaction with equally rich visions of personal identities.

A contextual approach to legal education is neither a dream nor an academic aspiration. Rather, it is well-grounded in the past, present and future of legal education. As the Article shows, Realist reforms to traditional legal education included experimentation with contextual insights. At present, law schools feature a rich and diverse commitment to context outside of their main curricular core, in clinics, skills classes, trial advocacy courses, simulations, required professional development classes, externships and experiential offerings. A contextual approach calls for learning from this rich periphery and bringing its contextual insights into the doctrinal and cultural core of legal education.

Law schools’ contextual problem, the growing mismatch between the practice of law and legal education, must be addressed. A contextual approach to legal education holds the key to closing the gap and allowing law schools to better serve their students, the legal profession and the public while also addressing the much talked about practice ready crisis and the (neglected) challenges of insufficient attention to justice and to access to legal services.

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Recent survey of law firms finds optimism is high about business prospects

Together with the recent news that the number of LSAT test-takers increased dramatically from the previous year, this is similarly optimistic news. In a survey conducted last month by a legal software company called Aderant (and reported by The American Lawyer) of 138 legal professionals worldwide (though the respondents skewed heavily toward BigLaw), the majority said business is better this year compared to last.  That optimistic outlook increased along with the firm size of the respondents. An excerpt:

 Law Firm Optimism Up as Pressures Remain on Rates, Cybersecurity: Survey

A new survey of business-side professionals at law firms showed that optimism is high in the industry, while innovation is increasingly important to the largest firms.


Legal industry professionals say prospects for their future legal business look bright, but cite pricing pressures and cybersecurity as the biggest challenges their firms face, according to a new survey released Wednesday.


The second “Business of Law and Legal Technology” survey, by the legal software company Aderant, indicated that law firm professionals have a rosy view of their potential business. More than half of the survey’s respondents—some 57 percent—reported that business was “better” or “much better” at their law firms than it was over the prior year.


 And that optimism grows along with law firm size. More than 70 percent of the respondents from firms with greater than 500 lawyers viewed their business prospects this year as better or much better than last year, Aderant said.

“The larger the firm, the more likely the respondent was to say business is better,” Aderant said in its report. “More to the point, there’s noticeable tick up in optimism among firms with 501 or more lawyers.”


The survey, conducted March 16 to April 16, was based on responses from 138 legal industry professionals worldwide, according to Aderant. The vast majority were not practicing lawyers, but were drawn from a group that includes executive staffers as well as finance, accounting, information technology and other law firm business professionals. Most came from larger firms, with more than 60 percent of respondents hailing from firms with 100 or more lawyers and a quarter coming from firms with at least 500 lawyers.

. . . . 

Continue reading The American Lawyer story here and the Aderant survey results here.


May 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A New Article on Professional Identity Development by Susan L. Brooks

Fostering Wholehearted Lawyers: Practical Guidance for Supporting Law Students' Professional Identity Formation by Susan L. Brooks.

"According to William Sullivan, lead author of the Carnegie Report, we are building a professional identity “social movement.” Evidence of this movement would include the symposium for which I have prepared these remarks—a gathering of faculty, staff, administrators, and students from a wide number of U.S. law schools committed to teaching toward and assessing students’ professional identity formation—and the larger body of work it represents. The University of St. Thomas School of Law and its Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership, host and sponsor of this gathering, is emblematic of this movement. Further evidence includes work produced and supported through the Association of American Law Schools, the membership organization for the legal academy in the U.S. Other key groups, such as the American Bar Association, are also spearheading initiatives that share a similar set of objectives around reshaping the culture of the legal profession toward a greater emphasis on well-being. These groups are focusing on a broader set of values—beyond those enunciated in our professional rules—including empathy, compassion, mutual connection, cross-cultural awareness and engagement, and social justice.

In this essay, I reflect on the past twenty-five years and set out a number of core principles and practices gleaned from this movement thus far. My main message is twofold: first, as legal educators, all of us can participate in this professional identity social movement if we are willing to approach our work as a humanistic enterprise and become more intentional about our teaching; and second, we can begin by adopting and modeling effective communication principles and practices to support law students’ professional identity formation inside and outside of our classrooms."

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 18, 2018

The number of LSAT test-takers during the 2018-17 cycle increased 18.1% from the previous year

The total number of LSAT test-takers from June 2017 to the most recent administration of the exam in February 2018 was 129,165 which reflects an 18.1% overall increase over the same period of time last year. It also reflects the largest percentage increase from the previous year since the 2001-02 test-taking cycle.  Is this the result of the so-called Trump-bump?  You can check out the historical raw data on the number of annual LSAT test-takers going back to 1987-88 here at the LSAC website. The TaxProf blog also has a reprint of the pertinent LSAC data here.


May 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

“Mixing It Up: Interweaving Lecture/Lesson and Retrieval Practice for Better Test Results.” by Pam Armstrong

Two of the keys to better study habits are interweaving and retrieval practice [self-testing].  Here is an article on these techniques:

“Mixing It Up: Interweaving Lecture/Lesson and Retrieval Practice for Better Test Results.” by Pam Armstrong.

"A colleague recently shared a blog entry given to secondary school students on better studying. The blog encouraged students to engage with the material and practice retrieval as part of learning– not quite labeling this active learning. That entry aimed at high-schoolers is grounded in the idea, supported by studies, that most students in high school and college spend most of their “study” time re-reading and re-highlighting material. The re-reading and highlighting give students the “illusion” of having mastered the material” instead of better enabling students to actually learn material. This entry is a brief pitch for still more varied and active studying through retrieval practice and some optimism that some secondary schools are encouraging more practice learning of their students thereby better equipping them to be our students."

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Some Thoughts on The Fixed Mindset

As most of you know, some students suffer from the "fixed mindset"--the notion that intelligence is fixed and that nothing can be done to overcome this.  Those who suffer from this malady usually fail in school because they see no reason to work hard.  However, scientists have debunked the fixed mindset.  Instead, they think that intelligence is fluid.  It can be improved with hard work using the proper methods.

Commentary on the fixed and growth mindsets usually focuses on the poor performing students.  However, it can also exert a pernicious effect on highly performing students.  Students who succeed with little effort believe that this is due to their innate intelligence (the fixed mindset).  Thus, they don't tackle tasks that require hard work.  Also, when they don't succeed at something, they don't see their lack of effort as the problem, but rather something else, such as a poorly designed test or a poor teacher.  I hope you see that teachers need to help students with this type of fixed mindset as much as they do the other type.  Any type of fixed mindset is an impediment to learning.

Related to this is the notion that learning can only take place in the classroom.  This notion is an impediment to self-regulated learning.  Learning can take place anywhere, at anytime.  We also must help our students develop the attitude that they need to become self-regulated learners.

The best book on the growth mindset is by Carol Dweek.  My books, Think Like a Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals, A Companion to Torts: How to Think Like a Torts Lawyer, and Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer, are intended to help law students become self-regulated learners.

(Scott Fruehwald)








May 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inside Higher Ed, Professor Bans Laptops, Sees Grades Rise

We have discussed several studies that have shown the impediments to learning of using laptops in the classroom.  First, the availability of the internet tempts students to direct their attention to somewhere other than the class.  Second, studies have shown that students who take notes by hand remember more than students who use laptops.  I have observed that students who take notes by laptop sometimes treat taking notes as taking dictation rather than a method to understand.  A professor at Ohio State brings all of the above together:

Inside Higher Ed, Professor Bans Laptops, Sees Grades Rise.

"Trevon Logan, a professor of economics at Ohio State, posted on Twitter this week that he had banned all electronics from his courses, with positive results."

Logan, who enacted the ban this semester, reported that student performance had improved significantly in midterms compared with previous years. “Results were significant — average scores were about half a standard deviation higher than previous offerings,” he said.

(Scott Fruehwald

May 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

ABA House of Delegates set to vote in August on eliminating LSAT requirement

But commentators say that even if the ABA votes to eliminate the mandatory use of the LSAT for admission purposes, most schools will continue to rely on it anyway. For one thing, LSAT scores tend to be a good predictor of bar passage rates (here and here) and thus is an important metric to take into account for any school concerned about the ABA's proposed plan to tighten bar passage rates required to maintain accreditation. has the story:

Vote to Toss LSAT Mandate for Law Schools Slated for August

Despite the proposed change, most law schools will continue to use the LSAT in admissions even if the ABA's House of Delegates in August signs off on eliminating the LSAT's required use, experts said.


A proposal to drop the requirement that law schools use the LSAT in admissions is heading to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in August for final approval.


The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on May 11 narrowly voted to push the controversial proposal forward, and a day later decided to fast track its implementation by placing it on the House of Delegates agenda during the association’s annual meeting in Chicago later this summer.


Should the house sign off, law schools would be free to use the GRE, other standardized tests, or no admission test at all, although opting to use no test would trigger extra scrutiny from the ABA as to whether schools are admitting unqualified students.


The Law School Admission Council (LSAC)—which administers the LSAT and has warned that eliminating its required use would hurt applicants and schools—likely won’t mount a campaign to sway ABA delegates to vote against the proposal in August, said LSAC president Kellye Testy in an interview Monday. But in light of Friday’s close 9-8 vote, the testing organization will continue to educate people on what it views as the benefits of its law school-specific admissions exam, she said. The LSAC has argued that its test is an important consumer protection for potential students to gauge their likelihood of succeeding on campus before investing their time and money in a law degree.


“Right now, we’re in a listening mode to hear how the schools, deans and admission deans are feeling about the decision,” Testy said. “I’m hearing from a lot of deans and other participants in legal education that they are wanting to really think this through now that they see where the council is—especially when they saw how close the vote was.”


Marc Miller, dean at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, welcomed the ABA council’s decision to do away with the long-standing LSAT mandate. Arizona in 2016 became the first law school to use the GRE in admissions, and now accepts approximately 10 percent of its U.S. students with such scores.


“It is so darned hard to reform either the profession or the educational system that supports it,” Miller said on Monday. “This is really exciting and neat and not where I thought the process of starting with the GRE would end up.”


Eliminating the LSAT requirement will open the door for law schools to experiment with different ways to admit students, Miller added. Arizona is already thinking about how the proposal could allow the school to admit students in the university’s groundbreaking undergraduate law degree program, in which undergraduates are taught by the law school faculty. And 17 schools currently allow or soon will allow applicants to provide either GRE scores or LSAT scores. They have cited the desire to attract more students with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds in accepting GRE scores. The GRE is also more accessible because it is administered throughout the year, as opposed to the LSAT’s six annual administrations.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


May 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Important Article on Outcome Assessment

Marie Summerlin Hamm, Benjamin V. Madison & Ryan P. Murnane (Regent), The Rubric Meets the Road in Law Schools: Program Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes as a Fundamental Way for Law Schools to Improve and Fulfill Their Respective Missions


This Article thoroughly explores the implications of the American Bar Association’s new standards requiring law schools to adopt Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) and to develop sound methods to assess objectively whether graduates of a given law school are meeting that school’s stated PLOs. The Article offers a summary of assessment as part of higher education in Europe before the establishment of the United States. The Article further discusses the evolution of PLOs in American education and the methods used not only to assess outcomes but also by which accrediting bodies verify schools’ assessments. The Article then describes the process that Regent University Law School developed in the process of evaluating two of its PLOs — ones that articulate the law schools expectation that graduates of the J.D. program will have attained competency in legal analysis, communication, and writing. As we turn to our particular effort at assessment, the Article reviews best practices in assessment. Moreover, the Article describes each step the Law School took in curriculum mapping, determining courses in which assessment would be appropriate, and development of rubrics for assessment. The Article describes some of the less-than-obvious issues that law schools can run into in performing assessments. For instance, our school learned that it was essential that the persons assessing competence have a common understanding of what that would look like in a student’s work product. Finally, the Article describes the triangulated, direct assessments that resulted in findings that students were competent in the PLOs in question. Finally, the Article suggests how the Law School had — even before completing the initial assessments — began developing an assessment plan for other PLOs and moving forward on assessment of other PLOs.

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)