Louis J. Sirico Jr., a professor of legal writing at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and a longtime member of The Legal’s editorial board, died Dec. 26 of cancer at age 73.
Sirico was a nationally recognized figure in the field of legal writing. He taught courses in Advanced Legal Writing, Property, Land Use Planning, and a legal history course on the drafting of the Constitution and Bill of Rights as a faculty member of Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law since 1981.
Sirico was fondly remembered by his colleagues on the editorial board for both his insight and demeanor.
Peter F. Vaira, a former U.S. attorney and currently special counsel at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores,lauded Sirico for his practical insights when it came to legal theory.
“I always remember him as being practical,” Vaira said. “He did not act like a law professor. He had a very balanced approach to legal issues, especially in issues of professional responsibility.”
“He was especially good at judging the conduct of criminal justice attorneys,” Vaira continued.
Vaira added that Sirico was devoted to his students and took an interest in their success.
Former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Albert Dandridge also worked with Sirico on the editorial board.
Dandridge said he met Sirico through his uncle, a Philadelphia common pleas court judge.
“He was a great guy and a gentleman,” Dandridge said.
Hank Grezlak, ALM’s editor-in-chief of legal brands and themes, was the editor-in-chief of The Legal when Sirico served on the editorial board.
“Lou was a valuable member of The Legal Intelligencer’s editorial board,” Grezlak said. “He was smart, measured, and always had good insight. Sometimes if the discussions got a little heated, his was the calming voice. His sense of timing was impeccable. He had a knack for weighing in with a really pointed observation at the right time. And he had a sly sense of humor. He will be greatly missed.”
According to his Villanova University biography, Sirico was the founding editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Criminal Law and an associate editor of the Texas Law Review. Before joining the university faculty he worked as an attorney with multiple public interest organizations, including the National Public Interest Research Group in Washington, D.C., Fairfield County (Connecticut) Legal Services and the Connecticut Citizens Action Group in Hartford. Sirico was also a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association and Connecticut Bar Association.
Sirico was a recipient of the Thomas Blackwell Award, given by the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors for demonstrating an “outstanding contribution to improve the field of legal writing by demonstrating an ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence; a willingness to help other legal writing educators improve their teaching skills or their legal writing programs; and an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.”
Sirico is survived by his wife of 34 years, Patricia T. Brennan, and their daughters, Laura and Kathleen Sirico, as well as his siblings. A memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the campus of Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
More specifically, the Fall 2018 issue is out now and available online here. Articles in this issue include:
By Professors Lara Freed and Joel Atlas
By Professor Sue Liemer
By Professor Annalee Hickman
By Professor Patrick Barry
(yet another article) By Patrick Barry
By Professor Paul Von Blum
Professor Virginia A. Neisler
Professor Amany Awad
Professor Kim D. Chanbonpin
Indeed, we encourage you to download and read the entire issue cover-to-cover.
Monday, January 28, 2019
From the ABA: "HOD Res 105: Rejected--Change in bar passage standard requiring 75% who sit for bar to pass it in 2 years; issue goes back to legal ed Council."
Despite the fact that the House of Delegates has rejected the proposal twice, I think it is likely that the Council will enact it.
Update 5:32: "The vote on Resolution 105, the
#legaled #barexam passage resolution, fails 88-334. The resolution goes back to the Section Council and that body has the power to implement without coming before the House again."
Since Watergate, law schools have required their students to take classes in which they learn the rules of ethical legal conduct. But, is this enough? Will law school graduates act ethically just by knowing the ethical rules?
Aristotle thought there were two types of virtues: intellectual virtues and moral virtues. Intellectual virtue is excellence in the knowledge of virtue. Moral virtue is the ability to act in a virtuous way. Teaching students rules helps them excel in intellectual virtue, but only a few law schools have classes that help students excel in moral virtue--excellence in action. Helping students develop their professional identities helps them develop moral virtue.
I used the word "develop" in the last sentence because schools can't teach moral virtue, but they can help their students develop it. How is this done?
For Aristotle, the first step in developing moral virtue is to find a virtuous role model. What characteristics does that virtuous person possess? After identifying those characteristics, the student practices them. At first, this will seem very unnatural for the student. But, with practice, the characteristic will become habit--it will become internalized. Thus, the student will have attained practical wisdom--the knowledge and ability to act in a virtuous way.
I hope you can see why law schools need to have professional identity classes. Students can develop moral virtue in practice, but it will be much easier for them if they have a "coach" in law school to guide them along.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Developing a more pedagogically powerful and professionally authentic first-year learning experience
That's the topic addressed in a new article by Professor Jennifer Spreng (Saint Mary's) entitled Suppose The Class Began The Day The Case Walked in The Door: Accepting Standard 314's Invitation To Imagine A More Powerful, Professionally Authentic First-Year Learning Experience and available at 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 421 (2018). From the introduction:
It is the first day of the first term of the first year. The professor announces: a new client has an initial consult in two weeks. The class needs to prepare.So, meet Lee Taylor!Uh, no ... not the picture of the woman in the wedding dress. That's not Lee. That is an ad from Southern Living magazine for the fictional blockbuster prescription diet drug, Aspire. Lee is a forty-something mother whose doctor prescribed Aspire to help her “lose that extra twenty pounds” before her daughter's wedding.Lee lost the weight but she did not attend the wedding. She was recovering from a heart attack brought on by mitral valve damage. A disturbing New England Journal of Medicine article published photographs of other long-term Aspire patients' heart valves. All had valve damage that looked just like Lee's. Nothing in Aspire's label, package, insert, or patient medication guide indicates it causes heart valve damage.The class starts with a high-level overview of torts with cases about liability arising from defective drugs and moves onto personal jurisdiction. Students “join” four-member law firms. “Plaintiffs' firms” interview Lee and begin preparing a draft complaint. “Defendants' firms” negotiate a joint defense agreement.Identifying the proper defendants is not easy. The leading American pharmaceutical company, Kimberly-Robb, Inc. manufactures Aspire but purchases the active ingredient, optimiscin, from “Andorran Pharmaceutical Group,” four corporations located in the tiny European Principality of Andorra. Did Kimberly-Robb know of any defects in optimiscin? What about the doctor who prescribed it? Or Lee Taylor's family pharmacist?Time passes, and students think more deeply. If Lee's pharmacist knew Aspire was dangerous, did he have had a duty to warn her? What evidence would show that Aspire causes heart valve damage? Can a drug manufacturer rely on the doctor's prescription decision to protect it from liability for failure to warn if the manufacturer is advertising the drug directly to consumers? Does an American court even have jurisdiction to enter a judgment against a shadowy corporate group from a country many students have never even heard of?The litigation requires that students create oral and written products to demonstrate their developing intellectual and professional capacities. As the year progresses, students draft pleadings, follow rules of service, conduct discovery, and make and respond to written motions. They gather “trial notebooks” or portfolios some will use in internships and job searching.Welcome to Introduction to Civil Litigation, an innovative, ten-credit, first-year, year-long course prototype integrating Torts, Civil Procedure and the “Taylor v. Andorran Pharmaceutical Laboratoires” litigation simulation. Anchoring substantial instruction in a practice-based simulation is not unknown even in first-year, doctrinal law school courses, but it is still unusual. Yet this respected form of authentic instruction and assessment may be on its way to a law school near you.The American Bar Association's 2014-15 revised Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools made three major changes in the requirements for a school's program of education. First, the new Standards evaluate schools based on students' success in achieving desired “learning outcomes.” Second, the Standards prioritize preparation for the practice of law. Finally, new Standard 314 mandates that law schools assess student learning prior to the end of a course, when such “formative assessment” may help improve their learning. Because formative assessment helps students acquire the knowledge and capacities needed to demonstrate their competence at the desired learning outcomes, a school's program of formative assessment is at the heart of the instructional process in an outcomes-based curriculum.This article argues that in context, Standard 314 invites faculty to imagine a more pedagogically powerful and professionally authentic first-year learning experience, perhaps anchoring substantial instruction in a program of authentic formative assessment such as the Taylor v. Andorran Pharmaceuticals Laboratoires litigation simulation. Part II describes types of assessment, when assessment supports learning, and why authentic assessment enhances a curriculum to achieve practice-preparation learning outcomes. Part III tracks and explains the emergence of professional practice and formative assessment in the ABA's accreditation standards. Part IV explores how Introduction to Civil Litigation anchors substantial first-year instruction in an authentic program of formative assessment, Taylor v. Andorran Pharmaceutical Laboratoires. Part V discusses what taking this no-longer-imaginary model from “experimental” to “established” might look like. The article concludes that faculties should RSVP “yes” to the ABA's invitation and commit to provide such a first-year curriculum model.
Friday, January 25, 2019
Next week, the ABA House of Delegates will again consider a revised standard that requires at least 75 percent of a school’s graduates to pass the bar within two years of graduation or risk losing accreditation. The House of Delegates has rejected this rule before, but the ABA Council could enacted the rule even if it is rejected again.
There has been a great deal of criticism of the proposal on the ground that it might adversely affect law schools with large numbers of minority students. The Best Practices for Legal Education blog has written the following:
Amongst the issues the letters raise about the proposed change are the following:
"1. There is incomplete data about how it will affect HBCU’s and other law schools with significant enrollment of people of color;
2. It fails to account for state bar exam cut score differences and differences in state bar exam pass rates;
3. It may result in even greater reliance on LSAT scores in the admissions process despite studies showing the scores’ limited predictive value for academic or bar exam success at many schools and despite warnings from the LSAC about how to use the scores properly in the admissions process;
4. It may negatively impact schools willing to take a chance on students who are poor standardized test takers but who will be excellent lawyers and leaders if given the opportunity to attend law school and the coaching necessary to pass the bar exam;
5. It does not consider the effect of transfer students on bar pass rates for schools that admit students who otherwise would not be admitted to law school, who perform well, and who then transfer to other institutions;
6. It eliminates some important aspects of the current Standard that take into account varying state pass rates, a school’s mission, the transfer issue, and the fact that improving bar passage is a complex and nuanced issue that requires study and experimentation [something currently underway at many schools];
7. Now is not the right time for change given current studies about the validity of the bar exam as a licensing method and work being done to explore law licensing assessments that better measure who will be a competent attorney."
These are legitimate concerns. The question, however, is why many law schools did nothing to improve legal education to help minority students when bar exam scores started to decline several years ago. In 2007, Best Practices and The Carnegie Report demonstrated in great detail that law schools were not providing a quality education to their students. Since then many scholars have reiterated these concerns. For example, I wrote an article showing how law schools could help minorities do better in law school. How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Groups Succeed in Law School, 1 Texas A & M Law Review 83 (2013). Professor Louis Schulze put similar ideas into practice at FIU, and his school has scored highest on the Florida bar exam again, again, and again. (here)
All law schools must do their part to increase the diversity of the legal profession. However, they should not be able to do this by admitting unprepared students, then doing nothing to help them become effective attorneys. It does nothing for minorities if law schools graduate them without the tools to be competent attorneys. It does nothing to help disadvantaged communities for law schools to graduate students who will hurt those communities more than help them. The present situation is turning out attorneys who cannot earn enough money to pay off their crushing law school debt.
I urge the House of Delegates to enact the proposal. As I noted, many law schools have ignored the call for legal education reform for over ten years. We can't wait any longer. Do your part, or lose your accreditation.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
There are several studies comparing screen reading with reading hardcopy that attempt to assess differences, insofar as they exist, in comprehension, retention, speed, etc. A new study published in the Journal of Research in Reading (January 2019) has now compiled and analyzed these studies in an article called Reading From Paper Compared to Screens: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis by Professor Virginia Clinton (U. North Dakota, Department of Educational Foundations and Research). From the abstract:
Given the increasing popularity of reading from screens, it is not surprising that numerous studies have been conducted comparing reading from paper and electronic sources. The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to consolidate the findings on reading performance, reading times and calibration of performance (metacognition) between reading text from paper compared to screens. Methods: A systematic literature search of reports of studies comparing reading from paper and screens was conducted in seven databases. Additional studies were identified by contacting researchers who have published on the topic, by a backwards search of the references of found reports and by a snowball search of reports citing what was initially found. Only studies that were experiments with random assignment and with participants who had fundamental reading skills and disseminated between 2008 and 2018 were included. Twenty-nine reports with 33 identified studies met inclusion criteria experimentally comparing reading performance (k = 33; n = 2,799), reading time (k = 14; n = 1,233) and/or calibration (k = 11; n = 698) from paper and screens. Results: Based on random effects models, reading from screens had a negative effect on reading performance relative to paper (g = −.25). Based on moderator analyses, this may have been limited to expository texts (g = −.32) as there was no difference with narrative texts (g = −.04). The findings were similar when analysing literal and inferential reading performance separately (g = −.33 and g = −.26, respectively). No reliable differences were found for reading time (g =.08). Readers had better calibrated (more accurate) judgement of their performance from paper compared to screens (g =.20). Conclusions: Readers may be more efficient and aware of their performance when reading from paper compared to screens.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Call for proposals for the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer 2019 Conference: "Teaching Today's Law Students"
Proposals to present at the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning summer conference in June are due February 15. Here are the details:
CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer Conference
“Teaching Today’s Law Students”
June 3-5, 2019
Washburn University School of Law
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law professors and administrators are reaching today’s law students. With the ever-changing and heterogeneous nature of law students, this topic has taken on increased urgency for professors thinking about effective teaching strategies.
The conference theme is intentionally broad and is designed to encompass a wide variety of topics – neuroscientific approaches to effective teaching; generational research about current law students; effective use of technology in the classroom; teaching first-generation college students; classroom behavior in the current political climate; academic approaches to less prepared students; fostering qualities such as growth mindset, resilience, and emotional intelligence in students; or techniques for providing effective formative feedback to students.
Accordingly, the Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.
To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:
- The title of the workshop;
- The name, address, telephone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
- A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods; and
- A description of the techniques the presenter will use to engage workshop participants and make the workshop interactive.
The proposal deadline is February 15, 2019. Submit proposals via email to Professor Emily Grant, Co-Director, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, at email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
A new study finds that pure online courses are not as effective as those that incorporate a face-to-face instructional component
This new study by researchers at George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development and the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute should be of interest to law schools who are either already providing limited online course offerings or contemplating a move like the recent one by Syracuse University College of Law by offering a fully online J.D. program. The study, called Does Online Education Live Up To Its Promise? A Look At The Evidence And Implications For Federal Policy, finds that, among the ways online education at the college level has failed to meet expectations: 1. It has failed to improve affordability; 2. it does not represent a good return on investment for students; 3. students, particularly underprepared and disadvantaged ones, underperform and experience poor learning outcomes; and 4. it has led to increasing gaps in educational success across socioeconomic groups. The key to success with online education, the study's authors concluded, is that it must incorporate opportunities for face-to-face interaction between instructors and students (i.e., the so-called "hybrid" model of online education). Here's an excerpt from the executive summary of the study:
Today, almost one-third of college students take courses online, with no in-person component. Half of these students are enrolled in exclusively online programs, while the remaining take at least one, but not all of their courses, online. This form of delivery is particularly prevalent in the for-profit sector: for profit colleges enroll just 6 percent of all students, but 13 percent of students taking courses online and 24 percent of fully-online students.
However, more than a decade after Congress allowed online colleges full access to federal student aid programs, and despite a subsequent explosion in their enrollment, a growing and powerful body of evidence suggests that online learning is far from the hoped-for silver bullet. Online education has failed to reduce costs and improve outcomes for students. Faculty, academic leaders, the public, and employers continue to perceive online degrees less favorably than traditional degrees.
In a range of environments, the gaps in student success across socioeconomic groups are larger in online than in classroom courses. Students without strong academic backgrounds are less likely to persist in fully online courses than in courses that involve personal contact with faculty and other students and when they do persist, they have weaker outcomes. Not surprisingly, students with more extensive exposure to technology and with strong time management and self-directed learning skills are more likely than others to adapt to online learning where students can do the work on their own schedules. There is considerable danger that moving vulnerable students online will widen attainment gaps rather than solving the seemingly intractable problem of unequal educational opportunity.
Technology can add to the learning experience when it supplements, rather than replaces, face-to-face interaction. The outcomes of hybrid models employing this approach do not mirror the problems that emerge in fully online courses. But high quality courses are expensive to produce and maintain. It is inexpensive to post lectures online for large numbers of students to access, but high-quality courses with meaningful interaction among students and between students and faculty are not money savers.
A key theme emerging from the literature is the critical importance of student-faculty interaction in online settings. Researchers, as well as both proponents and skeptics of online education, emphasize the need to design online courses that facilitate robust interactions as an essential component for improving the quality of learning and student outcomes and satisfaction. Lack of sufficient interaction between students and faculty is likely online education’s Achilles’ heel. Both evidence about the cognitive components of learning and research on differences in outcomes in different types of courses confirm the central role of meaningful personal interaction between the instructor, who is the subject-matter expert, and the student.
. . . .
Our review of the evidence demonstrates that:
- Online education is the fastest-growing segment of higher education and its growth is overrepresented in the for-profit sector.
- A wide range of audiences and stakeholders—including faculty and academic leaders, employers and the general public—are skeptical about the quality and value of online education, which they view as inferior to face-to-face education.
- Students in online education, and in particular underprepared and disadvantaged students, underperform and on average, experience poor outcomes. Gaps in educational attainment across socioeconomic groups are even larger in online than in traditional coursework.
- Online education has failed to improve affordability, frequently costs more, and does not produce a positive return on investment.
- Regular and substantive student-instructor interactivity is a key determinant of quality in online education; it leads to improved student satisfaction, learning, and outcomes.
- Online students desire greater student-instructor interaction and the online education community is also calling for a stronger focus on such interactivity to address a widely recognized shortcoming of current online offerings.
. . . .
Friday, January 18, 2019
This is a new article by Professor Suzanne Weise (West Virginia) entitled Defining The Role of Clinical Law Students, Medical-Legal Partnerships, And Pro Bono Lawyers: Confronting the Opioid Crisis in Family Court and available at 13 Tenn. J. L. & Pol'y 377 (2018). From the introduction:
Opioid addiction fractures entire families and leaves children orphaned by overdoses. There is no stereotypical family of an opioid addict. The abuse of prescription opioids over the last two decades has grown to epidemic proportions reaching every corner of society while crossing gender, racial, ethnic, class, and geographical lines. As a distraught mother who lost her daughter to a prescribed opioid overdose observed, “Could be you, could be me.” Opioid addiction is a chronic disease requiring long-term treatment. Medical specialists in addiction have observed, “Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”Nowhere has the impact of the opioid epidemic been clearer than in West Virginia. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia had the highest percentage of drug overdose deaths in 2016. Adults aged twenty-five to fifty-four had the highest percentage of drug overdose deaths, which in many cases likely left children deprived of a parent. According to the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, eighty-three percent of the children in foster care placed in West Virginia are there because of drug problems within the family. These adverse experiences increase the children's risks of substance abuse and have an enormous impact on their development. In addition to exposure to substance abuse, the Center for Disease Control recognizes other childhood experiences that may adversely impact child and adolescent development: (1) emotional abuse, (2) physical abuse, (3) incarceration of a household member, (4) emotional neglect, (5) physical neglect, (6) divorced or separated parents, (7) domestic violence, (8) depression or mental illness of a family household member, and (9) sexual abuse.
Because of the risks associated with adverse childhood experiences (“ACEs”), some states have enacted statutes acknowledging the impact such experiences have on “the development of the brain and other major body systems.” Recent legislation proposed in the United States House of Representatives recognized that adverse childhood experiences can lead to opioid abuse. Legislation proposed in Tennessee sought to address “the adequacy of resources to assist children and youth impacted by the opioid epidemic and adverse childhood experiences.” An early version of a bill recently passed by the Vermont Legislature found that “[w]hile much is yet to be learned about the specific developmental pathways and predictor variables of opioid addiction, programs that reflect the needs of people who have suffered from traumatic experiences must be part of any comprehensive strategy to attack the opioid epidemic.” A hearing of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee of the United States Senate recently focused on the opioid epidemic's impact on children. Hearing testimony addressed infants experiencing neonatal abstinence syndrome and children of opioid-afflicted families now in foster care, as well as the remedial actions that need to be taken on the federal, state, and local levels.Going forward, efforts to address the opioid epidemic must necessarily occur on numerous fronts. For example, family treatment drug courts have been established throughout the United States to ensure that parents immersed in the child welfare system because of substance abuse issues receive treatment and are reunified with their children. The responsibility of family drug treatment courts is to address abuse and neglect issues by treating underlying drug addictions in collaboration with child welfare and substance abuse professionals.
However, in many states, family courts possess limited jurisdiction, and collaborations with substance abuse professionals are rare. Indeed, a family court may have authority to order drug testing of parents where there is credible evidence of substance abuse and also may order a parent to undergo and complete a drug treatment program as a condition precedent to being allowed to regain custody of her children or to have (or increase) visitation with her children. But, typically the parent ordered to undergo drug treatment is left to her own devices in seeking a treatment program and finding the means to pay for it. Given these challenges, this article focuses primarily on the evolving roles of family law school clinics, medical-legal partnerships, and the availability of pro bono lawyers where opioid-affected families are entangled in cases litigated in a family court system.
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Thanks to our friend Professor Rob Hudson up north in Canada for sending us this article from the Canadian Lawyer Magazine that describes some of the similarities and differences between the experiences of law and med students. It's for those readers interested in drawing inspiration and ideas from the professional training programs used in other fields like medicine and business to help improve law school training.
It's gavels and gowns versus scalpels and scrubs. It’s Harvey Specter versus Dr. McDreamy. It’s an english degree versus a biology major. On the surface, law and medicine seem like they’d attract starkly different students, but there is overlap. Both in terms of academics (bioethics comes to mind) and daily work (rapidly synthesizing information while interacting with clients or patients). So how does a kid fresh out of undergrad decide whether to write the LSATs or the MCATs?
Some U.S. universities such as Stanford, Duke and Vanderbilt offer joint JD/MD programs. But in Canada, legal and medical training are only available separately. So it’s more likely these students’ interests have evolved, rather than being set on overlapping specialties like medical ethics, palliative care and intellectual property law from the get-go.
Adam Shehata, a third-year medical student at the University of Toronto, actually began his career as a pilot and a flight instructor. But five years in, he found it was tough to advance in the aviation industry, and he applied to both law and medical schools. He didn’t get into medical school, but went to Osgoode Hall, after which he articled with a management-side labour and employment firm.
“One of the things I was thinking about when I was in law was I miss the immediacy of flying and of teaching people,” Shehata says. “I wanted a career that had the service of law. I wanted something that had the immediacy and technical component of aviation, the teamwork aspect of that. And to me, medicine was right in there.”
So Shehata took one more chance and re-applied to medical schools, and was accepted at the University of Toronto.
When he was interviewing for associate positions, “I had to choose between staying on Bay Street and getting paid a decent salary and maybe paying off the law school debt, and going further into debt with U of T Medicine,” he says. “[Medical school] had been a dream of mine for quite a while and probably wasn't going to come around again any time soon, so [my wife and I] said yes, this would be something we would do.”
. . . .
“Without a doubt, medical school was far more memorization,” Shehata notes. “It's just the nature of medicine. Especially in emergency situations, it's required to have certain information at your fingertips.”
Law school, on the other hand, requires much more analytical work.
“You're taught to think critically: Why is this the way it is? What is the current state of the law, but also what could it be?” Shehata says. “You are the future lawyers and law professors and judges and politicians, and may potentially have the opportunity to change the law.”
But while Shehata enjoyed his clinic work and an “unparalleled” mediation intensive, most of his legal education was academic and theory-driven.
“I think that's been one of the criticisms of law school in general: we graduate great appellate lawyers and the practice of law is left up to other training areas like articling.”
For its part, medical school is much more hands-on, with students working in hospitals beginning in their third year, and continuing for years after graduation.
Nevertheless, legal and medical training have more in common than anxiety-inducing debt loads. Both involve significant interaction with the public, whether as clients or as patients, and the ability to read people is a transferable skill.
“In medicine, you learn how to talk to people,” Joseph notes. “If someone comes to the emergency department, you have to be able to adapt to all their particular circumstances, otherwise you won't have their trust and that seriously impairs your ability to help that person.”
He adds this kind of interpersonal skill is also useful in law to understand the reasons behind a client’s decision, strategy and motivation.
With a medical degree and half of a law degree under his belt, Joseph’s advice to those debating between the two professions is to take some time to discover what you really want.
. . . .
Hat tip to Rob Hudson.
Lighting A Fire: The Power of Intrinsic Motivation in Online Teaching by Margaret Ryznar and Yvonne Dutton
Lighting A Fire: The Power of Intrinsic Motivation in Online Teaching by Margaret Ryznar and Yvonne Dutton.
"Motivation is important to success in many endeavors, and the field of education is no exception. The literature establishes that students who are motivated to learn enjoy more success in their courses and master course content and skills better than students who lack such motivation. But what causes one student to be more motivated than another? This Article addresses this question in the context of law students, focusing in particular on how teachers can increase student “intrinsic” motivation through interesting and engaging course content, as well as regular and consistent formative assessments and feedback. It surveys the literature on motivating students to learn, contributing original empirical data from student surveys and focus groups. Analysis of that data supports the literature on intrinsic motivation, showing that interesting and engaging course content and regular assessments and feedback motivate students to learn and master course content and skills. Indeed, our data collected from over 300 law students shows that students want professors to provide them with intrinsic motivators in their courses. Specifically, student comments evidence that students crave interesting and engaging course content, as well as opportunities for assessment and feedback. We share those comments and suggest techniques to help law professors design online courses that will motivate students and ensure they are engaged and learning course content."
Monday, January 14, 2019
Disruptive Leadership in Legal Education by Nicholas A. Mirkay and Palma Joy Strand.
Disruptive leaders who reorient institutional culture, Walker observed, necessarily “embrace conflict, are ruthlessly direct, and intellectually irreverent.” Theoretically there is a “gradual way to renovate a proud old institution,” but change rarely unfolds that way. Rather, “[h]istory shows that it usually comes down to one determined individual—someone who bursts through the door swinging a 7-iron.”
"Legal education is ripe for disruption because the legal profession and law itself are ripe for disruption. The crisis in legal education reflects an increasing mismatch between the limited services that law and lawyers provide and vast and acute societal needs for legal services."
Saturday, January 12, 2019
Consider forwarding this HuffPost article to your students:
And the huge late fees that companies like Amazon, Barnes & Noble College and Follett charge may actually be illegal.
George Washington University graduate Alison Oksner learned her lesson. After she failed to return a rented textbook on time to Amazon, Oksner said she was fined $87.61.
That was more than she earned in a week as a resident dormitory adviser. All told, she spent $118.24 in rental and late fees — more than if she had bought the book new.
In theory, that might have been fair: When Oksner rented the book, she agreed to pay an additional fee if she returned it late. But in practice, consumer advocates argue, what happened to her — and to thousands of other students on college campuses across the country — could be against the law.
Even in the digital age, textbook rentals — which can run much less than the price of new or used books — are a big business. About 30 percent of college students are projected to rent at least one textbook this year, according to McKinsey & Co.
About 10 percent of the students who rent a textbook will fail to return it on time, according to spokespeople for Barnes & Noble College and the college textbook program at Shakespeare & Co. Bookseller. That’s where the big retailers get them: Most of these companies — including Amazon, Barnes & Noble College and Follett Higher Education Group — don’t charge late fees on a per-day or per-week basis. Instead, they levy a flat percentage no matter how late the materials are returned.
They are simply preying on students, who as a group can ill afford to pay excessive fees.Arthur Levy, a consumer class action attorney.
That kind of late fee may violate a basic premise of contract law, which holds that when someone breaches a contract — say, by returning a book late — they can’t be forced to pay penalties higher than the actual damage they caused. That suggests retailers can’t seek compensation that exceeds the value of what they actually lost from the late return of their books.
“They’re exploiting late fees as a profit center,” said Arthur Levy, a San Francisco consumer class action attorney. “A flat late fee is not based on any reasonable calculation of the rental company’s loss from having a book returned late. They are simply preying on students, who as a group can ill afford to pay excessive fees.”
Amazon said the company strives to provide students with affordable textbook options and offers them a 15-day extension on their rental deadlines — for an additional fee.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
A memorial service for our departed colleague Professor Lou Sirico will be held today, Friday, January 11, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST at the St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the campus of Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA. You can view a live stream of the funeral mass here.
And below is another beautiful tribute to Lou that appeared in Thursday's The Legal Intelligencer:
Louis J. Sirico Jr., a professor of legal writing at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and a longtime member of The Legal's editorial board, died Dec. 26 of cancer at age 73.
"[B]ehavioral scientists at Michigan State University believe the risky decision-making taking place among excessive internet users is on par with drug addicts and compulsive gamblers."
"“I believe that social media has tremendous benefits for individuals, but there’s also a dark side when people can’t pull themselves away,” Meshi says. “We need to better understand this drive so we can determine if excessive social-media use should be considered an addiction.”
Thanks to Professor Beth Edinger for alerting me that the NALP last month eliminated the traditional December 1st "rule" prohibiting employers from recruiting 1L law students prior to that date. Further, the NALP eliminated the rule prohibiting law school career services offices from engaging 1L's prior to October 15. Instead, recruiting season is now wide open meaning employers can start soliciting 1L students as early in the semester as they wish though the NALP urges employers to use good judgment by "scheduling recruitment activities to minimize interference with students' academic work and exam periods" and "exercising particular sensitivity during the first semester of law school [by] . . . respecting individual law school guidelines surrounding 1L recruitment." You can read the full NALP memorandum sent to law schools back on December 12 here which describes the organization's new "Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process."
Here is NALP's explanation as to why it eliminated the December 1 restriction on employer recruitment activities (as well as the October 15 limitation on career services engagement with 1Ls):
The Board made these changes in accord with its fiduciary duty to the association and to support
flexibility and encourage innovation. The Board believes that modifying our guidelines to encourage
broader experimentation provides a path to meaningful positive change in entry-level recruiting. The
Principles provide guidance to help member organizations think strategically in formulating their own
creative recruiting policies.
The new Principles are the culmination of the work of several Boards, task forces, and work
groups. They are informed by prior work that highlighted recruiting methods in other industries,
technological advancements in interviewing and candidate assessment, and member feedback over
many years. The Principles provide guidance that all members — schools and employers — can use
to formulate their own ethical recruiting practices. The Board also believes that this new guidance
document is responsive to a current market in which different kinds of employers, both public and
private, are recruiting law students.
Apparently some schools are considering whether, for example, to accelerate the deadlines on first semester legal writing assignments so that 1L students can have their writing samples ready to go much earlier than before. Indeed, that's how the NALP policy change was brought to my attention - by way of a colleague asking whether my school was going to make such changes to our legal writing curriculum - the answer is, so far, "no."
You can read the full NALP policy changes related to employer recruitment of law students here including the elimination of the previous requirement that job offers remain open for 28 days to allow students enough time to weigh competing offers. Employers are now obligated to merely give students a "reasonable amount of time" to weigh their options.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Despite ferocious job growth in the overall economy during the month of December in which 312,000 jobs were added, the legal sector ended the year on a negative note by dropping 600 total jobs according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS also revised its job loss report for November 2018 by decreasing the number of jobs lost from the original figure of 2,400 to only 1,300 jobs lost. In light of that revised figure, it means the number of legal sectors jobs, a category that includes not only lawyers but also other legal professionals like paralegals, legal secretaries and limited license legal technicians, remained essentially unchanged in 2018 compared to the previous year. According to BLS, the legal sector ended 2018 with a total of 1,136,700 people employed in the legal services industry, which is approximately 400 less jobs than the previous December. You can read the year-end BLS report here (scroll down to "Professional and business services - Legal services") and an article from The American Lawyer here which also summarizes the data.
Monday, January 7, 2019
Incoming AALS President, Vicki Jackson, said in an interview with Law.com that "[the state of legal education is excellent." This is an extremely naive statement, which demonstrates complete ignorance of the state of legal education. AALS has done a disservice to its members, law professors, and law students by electing someone who is so out of touch with the current state of legal education.
Here is Professor Jackson's complete statement:
"Q: What is the state of legal education today? It seems like a year of transition.
On the whole, I think the state of legal education is excellent. I want to talk about two aspects. First, we have thankfully seen rising interest. The applicant pool rose something like 8 percent, and enrollment rose something like 3 percent. These are both, I think, very good figures. Schools are proceeding in a prudent way in responding to that interest.
My second point is about the tremendous state of innovation, public service, and pro bono work that is going on in law schools across the country. This phenomenon is not limited to any one segment of institutions of legal education in this country. I see a wealth of innovation and commitment to pro bono work that reflects the immense change that legal education has undergone since I was in law school, which was the mid-1970s."
We have written a great deal about the state of legal education on this blog since its inception. I will reiterate a few key points.
1. Bar passage rates have been falling for the last few years, and they are dismal at many law schools. David Frakt has made the following points about recent California bar exam results:
"The report found that between 20-50% of the decline in bar exam performance could be attributed to lower entrance credentials. The authors of the report could not account for the other 50-80%."
"Final law school GPA was the single most important predictor of performance followed by LSAT score. In other words, LSAT scores do have a strong and statistically significant correlation with bar passage. And of course, LSAT scores were the best pre-law school indicator available to law schools of likely bar passage success."
"As the LSAT score dropped, the bar pass rate dropped. . ."
"The report dramatically underscores the drop in the caliber of students admitted to law schools between 2010 (when most of the 2013 bar takers started law school) and 2014 (when most of the 2017 first-time bar takers matriculated)"
"First-time takers – July 2018 pass rate LSAT profile entering class of 2015
Whittier: 16 of 61 - 26% 150/148/146
LaVerne: 17 of 50 - 34% 150/147/144
Thomas Jefferson: 20 of 79 - 25% 148/144/141
Golden Gate: 19 of 56 - 34% 151/148/145"
I think you can get the idea from the above. Law schools are admitting more and more applicants with low credentials because the lack of quality legal jobs and the poor reputation that legal education has received over the last ten years sends quality applicants into other professions.
2. The situation is even worse for minorities. In recent years, law schools have been trumpeting themselves as the path to opportunity for minority and low-income students. However, the bar passage rates and job opportunities have been even worse for these groups. Law schools do not help social justice by admitting students who will probably not pass the bar or get quality jobs, especially considering the ruinous debt that these students incur by attending law school.
In addition, most of the law schools that admit minority and low-income students do little or nothing to help these students once they are in law school. There are lots of teaching techniques to help students from disadvantages groups. How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School
3. High tuition is putting law graduates into deep debt. Law school tuition has skyrocketed over the last two decades, and there is no sign this trend is ending. Even students with high paying jobs are limited by crushing debt, which makes it difficult to get married, buy a house, or buy a car. Professor Jackson talks about the importance of public service, but how are law school graduates supposed to go into public service jobs when they have heavy debt.
4. Are most law schools in good financial shape? Aren't many just getting by? Aren't even a few high ranking law schools having financial problems, as evidenced by recent lay offs?
5. Does Professor Jackson understand that most law teaching is still based on 19th-century ideas? There have been great advances in teaching methods over the last 20 years. Yet, while some law schools have adopted these innovations, most law schools have made changes only at the edges. ( I discuss these innovations in detail in How to Grow A Lawyer: A Guide for Law Schools, Law Professors, and Law Students and many, many others have written about better teaching approaches in legal education.) What would happen if scientists said that what we did in the 19th century is good enough for today?
Legal education has been in a state of crisis for over a decade, and it desperately needs strong leadership to make the necessary changes. Someone who buries her head in the sand cannot provide that leadership.
P.S. The recent rise in law school applications is due to the anti-Trump bump and not anything law schools have done.
Sunday, January 6, 2019
This article from Wired notes that despite the seeming certainty of predictions that digital technology would have by now revolutionized books by incorporating all kinds of gee-whiz interactive features, so far it hasn't happened. Digital books haven't changed much at all since their introduction more than 15 years ago. And they still haven't supplanted the demand for traditional books which remains strong for the same reason that the design hasn't changed since Gutenberg's invention; the book blends form and function so perfectly that it nearly defies improvement. According to Wired, however, what has changed is the publishing industry itself and the ease with which an author can get her work into print. Here's an excerpt from the article:
The future book was meant to be interactive, moving, alive. Its pages were supposed to be lush with whirling doodads, responsive, hands-on. The old paperback Zork choose-your-own-adventures were just the start. The Future Book would change depending on where you were, how you were feeling. It would incorporate your very environment into its story—the name of the coffee shop you were sitting at, your best friend’s birthday. It would be sly, maybe a little creepy. Definitely programmable. Ulysses would extend indefinitely in any direction you wanted to explore; just tap and some unique, mega-mind-blowing sui generis path of Joycean machine-learned words would wend itself out before your very eyes.
Prognostications about how technology would affect the form of paper books have been with us for centuries. Each new medium was poised to deform or murder the book: newspapers, photography, radio, movies, television, videogames, the internet.
Some viewed the intersection of books and technology more positively: In 1945, Vannevar Bush wrote in The Atlantic: “Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.”
Researcher Alan Kay created a cardboard prototype of a tablet-like device in 1968. He called it the "Dynabook," saying, “We created a new kind of medium for boosting human thought, for amplifying human intellectual endeavor. We thought it could be as significant as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press 500 years ago.”
In the 1990s, Future Bookism hit a kind of beautiful fever pitch. We were so close. Brown University professor Robert Coover, in a 1992 New York Times op-ed titled “The End of Books,” wrote of the future of writing: “Fluidity, contingency, indeterminacy, plurality, discontinuity are the hypertext buzzwords of the day, and they seem to be fast becoming principles, in the same way that relativity not so long ago displaced the falling apple.” And then, more broadly: “The print medium is a doomed and outdated technology, a mere curiosity of bygone days destined soon to be consigned forever to those dusty unattended museums we now call libraries.”
. . . .
[M]y Kindle Oasis—one of the most svelte, elegant, and expensive digital book containers you can buy in 2018—is about as interactive as a potato . . . .
Physical books today look like physical books of last century. And digital books of today look, feel, and function almost identically to digital books of 10 years ago, when the Kindle launched. The biggest change is that many of Amazon’s competitors have gone belly up or shrunken to irrelevancy. The digital reading and digital book startup ecosystem that briefly emerged in the early 2010s has shriveled to a nubbin.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Friday, January 4, 2019