Thursday, November 29, 2018
Questions surrounding how much AI is going to replace work traditionally done by lawyers is a hot issue these days. A new Forbes article makes an argument I've seen elsewhere that, paradoxically, as AI replaces human capital in some respects, the importance of uniquely human workplace skills like creative thinking, "people skills" and similar "soft skills" will actually become more important and be more highly prized by employers. Author George Anders makes the same pitch in his recent book You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a "Useless" Liberal Arts Education. Here an excerpt from the new Forbes article:
Artificial intelligence and machine learning aren't going to wipe out jobs on a wholesale basis anytime soon. But the technologies are going to dramatically transform the tasks associated with many jobs, for both white-collar professional and firstline workers. In many ways, AI will reduce mundane or repetitive tasks, while also helping to elevate and increase the scope of many jobs.
For top-level decision makers and entrepreneurs, success will be defined by their ability to marshal the forces of AI and digital technologies to realign and build faster and cheaper ways to deliver products and services to customers. For technology professionals, opportunities will abound in building and maintaining these systems.
For support-style functions, the future is muddier. There will be a realignment of skills and priorities, and many jobs -- ranging from accountants to HR managers to administrative assistants -- will be recast in ways that are not quite foreseeable today.
Some envision a somewhat bleak picture for the people in the corporate middle. Igor Perisic, chief data officer at LinkedIn, Corporation, foresees a bright future for tech jobs -- positions such as "software engineers and data analysts, along with technical skills such as cloud computing, mobile application development, software testing and AI, are on the rise in most industries and across all regions." However, many corporate support jobs fall into the highly “automatable” category, such as administrative assistants, customer service representatives, accountants and electrical/mechanical technicians.
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Continue reading here.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
The Voice of San Diego website has published a report summarizing the growing challenges facing Thomas Jefferson School of Law (we reported earlier that the school had made the decision to not enroll students for its spring semester though it is unclear whether that portends deeper problems). These include only 30% of its students passing the most recent California bar exam, a shrinking student body, financial difficulties, and accreditation worries. Here's an excerpt from the Voice's story:
The school has dramatically downsized its campus and taken on far smaller incoming classes as part of its effort to prevent the loss of its national accreditation.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law has been in near-constant turmoil since taking on significant debt to build a new $90 million facility in the East Village amid the financial recession last decade.
Paying off the bonds for the upscale building during a period when consumer interest in law school precipitously dropped proved difficult, resulting in persistent financial woes.
The San Diego institution’s graduates have also struggled to pass the bar exam and secure legal jobs, generating unflattering headlines that have made it challenging to attract new students who could reverse those trends.
Last year, the bad news got worse: The American Bar Association placed Thomas Jefferson on probation and warned that a rapid overhaul was needed for the school to maintain its national accreditation.
In hopes of forestalling the loss of the ABA’s blessing, the school has in recent months drastically reduced the size of its student body and physical footprint.
Its efforts to right the ship are continuing amid a change in leadership prompted by its dean departing abruptly last month after slightly more than a year at the helm.
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Continue reading here.
Earlier this week, I mentioned a new important article on teaching:
Fifty Ways to Promote Teaching and Learning by Gerald Hess, Michael Hunter Schwartz & Nancy Levit. Today, I will examine this article in greater depth.
The authors divide their suggestions into six topics: institutional and administrative support for teaching, adjunct professor support, infuse innovation in class, feedback from students, collaborations with colleagues, and self-assessment, reflection, and personal development as a teacher.
I. Faculty Hiring, Evaluation, and Compensation Policies.
The authors suggestions include hire good teachers, value teaching in promotion and tenure decisions, provide teaching mentors, fund attendance at conferences, etc. Most of these seem so obvious that one might wonder why the authors needed to mention them. However, the reality is that most law schools have not adopted these items. Being potential scholars is the most important criterion for hiring at most law schools, and law schools emphasize scholarship throughout a professor's career. Yet the principal reason for law schools is to turn out lawyers. Consequently, teaching ability should be as important as scholarly ability in the hiring, support, and development of law professors. The authors' suggestions go a long way to achieving this balance.
I would like to emphasize that good law teachers need to to be expert teachers, not just subject matter experts.
II. Adjunct Faculty Support.
Most law schools have a significant number of courses taught by adjuncts. Yet most law schools give little support to adjuncts, who are providing their students with a significant part of their educations. The authors have several suggestions on better helping adjuncts, such as offering training and mentors.
III. Infuse Innovation in Class.
We live in an age of innovation. Yet most law schools have not adopted the innovations proposed by education scholars. Among the innovations discussed by the authors is keeping the students' attention, playing games with students, etc.
IV. Feedback from Students.
Students know more about how their teachers are doing than the administration. (However, beware cognitive biases in evaluations.) As the authors point out, administrators can do much more with student feedback than they currently are.
V. Collaboration with Colleagues.
The authors have many suggestions for this one. I especially like "create a culture of conversation about teaching."
VI. Self-Assessment, Reflection, and Development.
The authors stress that self-assessment is important for teachers, but I wonder how many law professors actually self-assess their teaching. In any case, the authors have several excellent suggestions for doing so.
The authors conclude,
"The core idea is creating a culture of learning about teaching and continuous improvement of all faculty members as teachers. In other words, the more faculty colleagues think and talk about teaching and learning, the more institutional policy encourages faculty to grow as teachers, the more likely it is that the law school’s culture for teaching excellence will grow. That cultural shift can then feed on itself."
Our students today need for law schools to adopt better approaches to teaching and learning. This is not to degrade scholarship's importance for law professors. However, teaching and scholarship should be equally important for law schools, especially considering that students are paying tuition to become effective lawyers. Articles like the present one create many roads to better teaching. It is time that more law schools use them.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
National Jurist Magazine has compiled a list of the top schools for learning how to use technology to tackle legal problems. The magazine ranked schools based on the breadth of their legal technology course offerings including the number and types of courses each school offered; whether the schools offered a clinic, externship or lab involving legal technology; whether they offer a certificate in technology law or, alternatively, an LL.M.; and whether they have technology journals and student groups. Only 30 schools made National Jurist's list and that list follows starting with the top ranked school:
1 Suffolk University
2 UC Berkeley School of Law
3 Arizona State University
4 Santa Clara Law
5 University of Colorado
6 Emory University School of Law
7 Brooklyn Law School
8 New York Law School
9 University of Miami
10 Fordham Law School
11 Harvard Law School
12 University of Minnesota
13 Notre Dame Law School
14 UC Hastings
15 University of Missouri - KC
16 University of Dayton
17 Washington University
18 Columbia Law School
19 Stanford Law School
20 Ohio State University
21 Chicago-Kent College of Law
22 John Marshall (Chicago)
23 NYU School of Law
24 University of Pennsylvania
25 University of Washington
26 Vanderbilt Law School
27 NKU Chase
28 Georgetown University
29 Loyola University New Orleans
30 Michigan State University
You can read the companion story from National Jurist here which provides more detail about its ranking methodology.
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Three leading legal education scholars have posted an important paper on teaching and learning on SSRN. This article is likely to become a seminal article in legal education.
Fifty Ways to Promote Teaching and Learning by Gerald Hess, Michael Hunter Schwartz & Nancy Levit.
"Fifty Ways is a collection of faculty development ideas to support and improve legal education. The ideas fall into five categories: institutional and administrative support for teaching, adjunct professor support, feedback from students, collaborations with colleagues, and self-assessment, reflection, and personal development as a teacher."
From the Introduction:
"In 1999, the Journal of Legal Education published an important article for law schools seeking to improve the quality and quantity of faculty scholarly output, James Lindgren’s Fifty Ways to Promote Scholarship. Professor Lindgren detailed numerous ideas for improving scholarship and the intellectual life of a law school, reporting that at least one law school saw marked improvement in scholarly output after implementing a significant number of the ideas.
This article addresses the other side of the coin, teaching. Most law schools make claims about the high-quality instruction students will receive. And we believe that all law school faculties and nearly all individual law professors aspire to excellence in the classroom. This article focuses on the efforts law schools and professors can make to fulfill that aspiration."
"We believe that a law school that implements many of these ideas will significantly expand its approach to developing teaching excellence and those changes will improve students’ learning. Implementing these ideas can also change law professors’ experiences as teachers. Growing as teachers can enhance professors’ passion and enthusiasm, which, in turn, will further enhance their effectiveness. Implementing some of the ideas in this article can produce the opposite of a vicious circle (a joyous circle?), creating a culture of continuous improvement."
We will have more comments on this very important article in a few days.
I have often advocated that law schools need to go beyond teaching the ethical rules and help students develop their professional identities. Civility is an important part of a lawyer's professional identity. Here is an important new article on teaching civility to law students.
A Lesson in Civility by David Grenardo.
"The inherent importance of civility in the legal profession necessitates teaching civility by law schools. This Article demonstrates how civility applies to advocacy and the practice of law, the efficiency of our justice system, lawyer well-being, obtaining a job and professional identity formation, and public confidence in the legal system. The Article can assist courts, attorneys, and professors in understanding civility and its significance. Most critically, this Article provides a turnkey lesson plan for law schools on civility that professors can employ in a variety of classes, including, among others, Professional Responsibility, Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law. Teaching law students the importance of how to interact civilly with others, particularly opposing counsel, can help a law student enjoy a long and satisfying legal career while avoiding the negative consequences of incivility, which can inhibit and stain an attorney’s career."
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Among the innovations pioneered by the law schools profiled in this Legal Tech News piece are the development by Cornell students of legal aid apps, Harvard's Caselaw Access Project and BYU's student-led initiative to reduce tenant evictions. Read about these innovations and others here at legaltechnews.com:
Who said the law curriculum can’t be innovative?
Over the past several years, a number of law schools have answered the call to become more technology-savvy and forward-thinking, introducing topics like data security, e-discovery, and even the blockchain and artificial intelligence into their class offerings. This new focus extends outside the immediate classroom as well, with law schools looking to hold events like hackathons and change the nature of legal research, access to justice and more.
The fall semester of 2018 has been no different. Here’s a selection of a few ways we around the Law.com network have found law schools to be innovative in the past few months. And there are surely more initiatives happening both this semester and in the future to teach the next generation of lawyers that the law need not be stagnant.
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Continue reading here.
Thursday, November 22, 2018
The legal profession and the trillion-dollar global industry are undergoing a transformation. The seminal elements of legal practice—differentiated expertise, experience, skills, and judgment—remain largely unchanged. The delivery of legal services is a different story altogether. New business models, tools, processes, and resources are reconfiguring the industry, providing legal consumers with improved access and elevated customer satisfaction from new delivery sources. Law is entering the age of the consumer and bidding adieu to the guild that enshrined lawyers and the myth of legal exceptionalism. That’s good news for prospective and existing legal consumers.
The news is challenging for law schools, most of whom seem impervious to marketplace changes that are reshaping what it means to be a lawyer and how and for whom they will work. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), a branch of the Department of Education, rebuked the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2016 for its lax law school oversight and poor “student outcomes.” Paul LeBlanc, a NACIQI member, concluded that the ABA was “out of touch with the profession.”
Law schools have made some strides during the past few years-- experiential learning, legal technology, entrepreneurship, legal innovation, and project management courses, are becoming standard fare. A far bigger—and more important step would be for the legal Academy to forge alignment with the marketplace. That would be a “win-win-win” for students, law schools, and legal providers/consumers. Students would be exposed to the “real world” and the skills, opportunities, and direction it is taking. The Academy would acquire context, use-cases, and an understanding of consumer challenges and needs—a strong foundation from which to remodel legal education and training, address the "skills gap," as well as to improve “student outcomes.” Legal providers/consumers would benefit from a talent pool better prepared to provide solutions to the warp-speed pace and complex challenges of business.
What Does It Mean To “Think like A Lawyer” Now?
Law schools have long focused on training students how to “think like a lawyer.” Their curricula were designed to: (1) hone critical thinking; (2) teach doctrinal law using the Socratic method; (3) provide “legal” writing techniques and fluency in the “language of law”; (4) advance oral advocacy and presentation skills; (4) encourage risk-aversion and mistake avoidance; (5) refine issue identification and “what ifs;” and (6) teach legal ethics. Practice skills were usually acquired post-graduation/ licensure by client-subsidized on-the-job-training.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Main Line Health suggests ways to practice gratitude. Here are the headlines:
Keep a gratitude journal: Keep a handwritten (or digital!) journal of the things or people you’re grateful for, or log a good thing that happened to you every day.
Say thank you:
Make time for what and who you love:
You can read more here.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
If you're already familiar with the Mueller & Oppenheimer article reporting on the advantages of handwriting class notes versus taking them on a laptop, there may not be much new here. But if not, please read away. From the National Jurist Magazine. Note-Taking: Goodbye Laptop, Hello Pencil.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Here are the details:
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATION
Apply To: apply.interfolio.com/57532
Duquesne University School of Law invites applications for the position of Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Education for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. The successful candidate will be appointed to a 12-month, renewable, 405(c), non-tenure-track, assistant clinical professor position. It is anticipated that the successful candidate will create, direct, teach, and serve as the supervising attorney with respect to two law school clinics, one in the day and one in the evening; however, this is subject to negotiation if other administrative tasks are assumed. The clinic(s) must be eligible for IOLTA funding, i.e., must concern civil, rather than criminal, law (see https://www.paiolta.org/grants/eligibility-applications/), and at least one clinic must be transactional.
Minimum requirements include a J.D. degree and admission to the practice of law in Pennsylvania. The selected candidate must have superior academic credentials, excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal skills, strong organizational skills, and the ability to work with a wide range of constituents. Previous teaching experience is required with previous clinical
teaching and scholarship related to clinical teaching desired. The position will begin in August 2019.
Duquesne University is committed to attracting, retaining, and developing a diverse faculty that reflects contemporary society, serves our academic mission and enriches our campus community. As a charter member of the Ohio, Western PA and West Virginia Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), we encourage applications from members of underrepresented groups and support dual-career couples. Motivated by its Catholic and Spiritan identity, Duquesne values equality of opportunity both as an educational institution and as an employer.
Founded in 1878 by its sponsoring religious community, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Duquesne University is Catholic in mission and ecumenical in spirit. Its Mission Statement commits the University to “serving God by serving students.” Applicants for this position should describe how they might support and contribute to this mission. We especially encourage applications from racial minorities, women, and others who would enrich the diversity of our academic community.
Duquesne University uses Interfolio to collect all Division of Academic Affairs faculty and administrative job applications electronically. The application should consist of a detailed letter of interest, a complete current curriculum vitae, and contact information for three references. References will not be contacted until the final stages of the selection process. Review of applicants will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Please submit your application documents to: apply.interfolio.com/57532. Please direct any questions about this opportunity to Associate Dean Steven Baicker McKee, Chair, Faculty Recruiting Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duquesne University was founded in 1878 by its sponsoring religious community, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Duquesne University is Catholic in mission and ecumenical in spirit. Motivated by its Catholic identity, Duquesne values equality of opportunity both as an educational institution and as an employer.
The position will stay open until filled; however, the application period will close no later than January 1, 2019.
Silencing Discipline in Legal Education by Lucy A. Jewel.
"In current times, the production of critical legal knowledge has become constrained by a neoliberal education mindset that emphasizes economic performance and measured outcomes over critical thought. In this essay, I argue that academic freedom, in the sense of being free to speak, write, and teach critical knowledge, both in the intellectual sense and in the law practice sense, is being eroded. And, I urge my critically minded colleagues that are traditional law scholars (tenure-track or tenured) to consider the circumstances of law teachers who currently do not have the protections of tenure but who generate valuable knowledge, particularly in the realm of teaching critical common-law analysis and lawyering skills. Together, we should oppose further encroachments of neoliberal rationality into legal education. This is a matter of reform, but it is also a matter of protecting our voice."
Saturday, November 17, 2018
Many law schools actively recruit international students seeking a J.D. and some of those matriculants have helped to fill the seats left vacant by the great law school recession of 2011-2016. However, this report from NBC News finds that for the second year in a row, the number of foreign students enrolling at U.S. universities is down 6.6% compared to last year, and the 2016-17 academic year represented a 3.3% drop from the previous year as well. I bet you can guess why.
Here are more details courtesy of NBCnews.com:
New enrollments for the 2017-18 school year slumped 6.6 percent compared with the previous year.
WASHINGTON — The number of international students entering U.S. colleges and universities has fallen for the second year in a row, a nonprofit group said on Tuesday, amid efforts by the Trump administration to tighten restrictions on foreigners studying in the United States.
New enrollments for the 2017-18 school year slumped 6.6 percent compared with the previous year, according to an annual survey released by the Institute of International Education. That follows a 3.3 percent decline in new international students tallied in the 2016-17 academic year.
A strong dollar has made U.S. college tuition relatively more expensive, Canadian and European universities are competing fiercely for the same students and headlines about mass shootings also may have deterred some students, said Allan Goodman, president of IIE.
"Everything matters from safety, to cost, to perhaps perceptions of visa policy," Goodman said. "We're not hearing that students feel they can't come here. We're hearing that they have choices. We're hearing that there's competition from other countries."
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Continue reading here.
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Here's an interesting, as well as counterintuitive, study from three research psychologists who found that contrary to the popular belief that collaborating with other groups enhances performance, it may instead lower it. The study is called Silence is Golden: The Effect of Verbalization on Group Performance and can be found at Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(6), 939 (2018). Here's the abstract:
Contrary to the popular belief that collaboration brings better problem solutions, empirical studies have revealed that interacting groups often performed worse than noninteracting “nominal” groups. Past studies mainly examined how overhearing others’ ideas impacts group performance. This study investigated the impact of another essential but overlooked group communicative process—verbalizing ideas to others—on group performance. Participants (N = 156) solved 20 verbal puzzles either alone quietly, alone thinking-aloud, or in verbalizing pairs. Participants in the same working-alone condition were randomly paired to form nominal pairs and their pooled performance was treated as nominal group performance. Relative to the quiet nominal group, the performance of the thinking-aloud nominal and interacting groups were impaired to similar extents. These two groups also demonstrated a similar limited capacity to expand the search scope. The equivalency of the interacting and thinking-aloud nominal group results suggest that verbalization is a key factor in groups’ inferior performance.
"The Risks of Technology in the Law Classroom: Why the Next Great Development in Legal Education Might be Going Low-Tech"
This is a new article by Professor Nikos Harris of the Peter A. Allard School of Law in British Columbia in which he argues, as the title suggests, that research on learning science supports a low-tech approach to classroom teaching in law school. I was very pleased to discover that Professor Harris cites my Digital Caveman article several times in support of his premise (thank you!). You can find Professor Harris' article at 51:3 UBC L REV 773 (2018) and on SSRN here. From the abstract;
It is often assumed that technology improves every facet of our lives, including learning in the university classroom. However, there is mounting evidence that traditional lecturing and note-taking techniques may provide the optimal learning environment. Student use of laptops, and professor use of electronic course slides, may actually impair learning in a manner which has particular significance for legal education. This emerging evidence suggests that law professors can make a justifiable decision to bring about a "low tech revolution" in their classrooms. Achieving that revolution is more complicated when it comes to student use of laptops, but there are a number of techniques which can be used to encourage students to consider dusting off a pen and pad of paper.
Hat tip to Professor Sue Liemer.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
The Princeton Review has released its 2019 list of the best law schools and the Business Insider has compiled from that list the Top 10 schools for career prospects based on student surveys and law school reported data including median starting salaries and bar pass rates. Below is the list starting with the No. 1 ranked school for landing a top paying legal job:
- New York University
- Columbia University
- University of Chicago
- University of Virginia
- U. Penn.
- Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
- University of Michigan
- U. California, Berkeley
Check out the accompanying story from BI here.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Survey of U.K. and International law firms finds lawyers are lacking in key IT and technology skills
The poll identifies the need to improve skills training at all levels within law firms.
Law firms are failing to make the most of new technology and need to improve information technology skills across the board in order to do so, according to a survey conducted by Legal Week Intelligence.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the poll of 50 senior lawyers and IT directors at U.K. and international firms said firms were falling short when it came to exploiting new technology, while 85 percent said IT skills needed improving.
Less than half of the respondents, 44 percent, said their firms were deploying artificial intelligence.
The findings are contained in a report commissioned by legal technology company Fulcrum GT from the research arm of Law.com’s U.K. affiliate Legal Week.
“Being tech-savvy rather than being an expert is the key point,” Allen & Overy managing partner Andrew Ballheimer states in the report, which is written by freelance journalist and writer Dominic Carman.
“Firms that do well invest a lot of time in training these systems,” adds professor Richard Susskind, a leading author and consultant. “Firms that are disappointed just take them out of the box and expect immediate competitive advantage.”
The findings come as leading in-house legal departments are placing more pressure on law firms to improve their technology.
Monday, November 12, 2018
The Rise of the Creative Law School by Gregory W. Bowman (Dean, West Virginia). Abstract:
"U.S. legal education is currently experiencing rapid and massive change that is both destabilizing and disconcerting. Across the nation, law schools face enormous challenges and a future filled with programmatic and financial uncertainty. This essay uses the work of urbanist Richard Florida to discuss these challenges and suggest ways to develop paths forward that best benefit law students, the public, and law schools themselves. "
"In short, the law professor who time-travels across the very short distance from the year 2000 to today is in for a fairly jarring market shock—in many ways much more so than the law professor who time-travels from the 1950s to the year 2000."
"When I think of the world of law teaching in 2004—when I proudly entered the legal academy—and I compare that world to today, I find the contrast stunning. Moreover, my journey is not unique: it is a journey many of us in legal education have made. While we made the journey one day and one year at a time, I nonetheless wager that to many of us it sometimes feels like an uneasily sudden shift. It often does to me."
"Law schools that wish to remain highly relevant in the future need to become more innovative in both the substance and delivery of their programming."
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Harvard Law School has been assiduously scanning millions of judicial opinions for the past 5 years in preparation for opening a free-to-the-public, massive online database of more than 6.5 million cases spanning 360 years of U.S. caselaw. The endeavor is known as the Caselaw Access Project and it's goal is to expand public access to U.S. law by making available for free all published U.S. court decisions in a digitized, consistent format. The CAP includes an application program interface, called CAPAPI, which allows users to access the database's metadata (as the website explains, this is primarily intended for software developers to access caselaw programmatically, whether to run their own analysis or build tools for other users), conduct full-text searches, or search for individual cases.
- CAP includes all official, book-published United States case law — every volume designated as an official report of decisions by a court within the United States.
- Our scope includes all state courts, federal courts, and territorial courts for American Samoa, Dakota Territory, Guam, Native American Courts, Navajo Nation, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Our earliest case is from 1658, and our most recent cases are from 2018.
- Each volume has been converted into structured, case-level data broken out by majority and dissenting opinion, with human-checked metadata for party names, docket number, citation, and date.
- We also plan to share (but have not yet published) page images and page-level OCR data for all volumes.
- New cases as they are published. We currently include volumes published through June, 2018, and may or may not include additional volumes in the future.
- Cases not designated as officially published, such as most lower court decisions.
- Non-published trial documents such as party filings, orders, and exhibits.
- Parallel versions of cases from regional reporters, unless those cases were designated by a court as official.
- Cases officially published in digital form, such as recent cases from Illinois and Arkansas.
- Cases published after 1922 do not include headnotes.
Check out the CAP website an all its features here.