Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Mary Walsh Fitzpatrick & Rosemary Queenan, Professional Identity Formation, Leadership and Exploration of Self
Here is an excellent new article on professional identity formation, which focuses on the development of the self: Mary Walsh Fitzpatrick & Rosemary Queenan, Professional Identity Formation, Leadership and Exploration of Self.
The value-neutral approach to legal professionalism that prioritizes the duty to zealously advocate for clients within the bounds of the law, sometimes with disregard for individual values and morals, has resulted in a decoupling of one’s individual values from our understanding of the values of the legal professional. Such detachment of personal from professional values has resulted in a dissonance that impedes professional identity formation by failing to provide students and lawyers with the opportunity to understand how their individual values fit within the framework of professional values. The importance of professional identity formation as a concept that should be given greater focus in legal education is well-supported by the Carnegie Report and a wealth of research stewarded by The Holloran Center at the University at St. Thomas. Such research shows that supporting the growth of professional identity formation increases lawyer effectiveness. There are various stages of professional identity formation in members of the legal profession, the characteristics of which include: an internalized moral code characterized by deep responsibility to others, particularly the client; integrity/honesty; internalized standards of excellence at lawyering skills; ongoing solicitation of feedback and self-reflection; independent professional judgment and counsel to the client; adherence to ethical codes; and public service. Many of these characteristics of professional identity formation are also the focus of the study of leadership, but that discipline offers further insights into how to marry personal and professional values, which, at times, appears lacking in the formation of lawyer professional identity. Experts in leadership, such as Marshall Ganz, have suggested that by exploring our “story of self” — the “challenges we have faced, choices we have made, and what we have learned from the outcomes” — we can communicate our values and inspire others to act.
In this Article, we propose that one way in which law schools can address the disconnect between one’s internal values and the values of the legal profession is to explore established leadership principles, such as emotional intelligence and ethical decision making, in the context of exploring one’s “story of self.” This Article, through a careful description and analysis of “Lawyers as Leaders: The Practice of Leadership,” a course that draws from the study of leadership in business and executive training programs, will explore the ways that the lessons of leadership development, in particular using the story-of-self frame, help improve the formation of professional identity in law students, which serves as a strong foundation upon which such students can further shape and refine their identities throughout their careers. In “Lawyers as Leaders,” we reinforce self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-direction as tools to develop values of fairness, honesty and trust. Through readings, simulations, and group projects centered on teamwork, communication and the exploration of self, students are required to reflect upon and assess their deeply personal values, based upon their individual backgrounds and experiences, and connect those values to the profession and their responsibilities to their colleagues, clients, organizations and society as a whole.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Mentor/Coach: The Most Effective Curriculum to Foster Each Student's Professional Development and Formation by Neil W. Hamilton
Professor Neil Hamilton begins his new article on teaching professional identity to law students with the following sentence: "Law schools must give more attention to fostering each student’s growth toward both ownership of the student’s own continuous development and the relationship skills that clients and legal employers need." In my opinion, this sentence lays out one of the essential goals of a twenty-first century legal education.
In this article Professor Hamilton presents a curriculum for achieving this goal. Here is the abstract to his article:
"Law schools must give more attention to fostering each student’s growth toward both ownership of the student’s own continuous development and the relationship skills that clients and legal employers need. A fast-growing number of law schools (almost a third of all law schools) are moving in this direction and experimenting with required professional development and formation curriculum in the 1L year to respond to concerns about bar passage, post-graduation employment outcomes, and student well-being. Since many disadvantaged students in particular need help to grow toward later stages of both ownership of professional development and relationship skills, law schools considering a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative should give attention to required professional development and formation curriculum as part of the initiative. These skills are also important for initiatives to foster student wellbeing.
Part II of the article outlines the principles supported by empirical research that can guide curriculum development for these new student professional development and formation initiatives. The principles point toward a one-on-one continuous mentoring/coaching model as the most effective curriculum to foster each student’s growth toward later stages of these two foundational learning outcomes. Part II analyzes why combining themes from the mentoring literature and from the coaching literature to create a mentor/coach model makes the most sense to foster growth toward these outcomes. Part III outlines the principles that should inform the mentor/coach interaction with the mentee/coachee students. Part IV provides important considerations in mentor/coach selection and training. Part IV also considers how to minimize the budgetary impact of a continuous mentor/coach model for each student by gradual steps in a long-term strategic plan."
I would like to emphasize one point in the above. Professor Hamilton asserts that such a program would particularly help disadvantaged students. I agree strongly with this statement. Throughout my scholarship on legal education, I have stressed that the innovations in legal education would help students from disadvantaged groups the most. (e.g., here) Instead of complaining how poorly minority students do on the bar, law schools and law professors need to adopt these educational innovations so minority students will do better.
Friday, December 11, 2020
I have long stressed the importance of teaching the cognitive basics in law school. Here is an excellent article on the subject:
Julie Interdonato (Cardozo), The Consummate Legal Education: Teaching Analysis as Doctrine
This paper addresses the necessity and means of developing analysis and its written expression as an independent topic of study throughout students’ law school tenure. “Doctrine,” as it appears in the above title, is defined as the transcendent analytic concepts that underlie the common law, and the modality of their application in the law’s constant evolution. The purpose of presenting analysis in this context is to enhance analytic instruction presently provided in law school, and thereby take students one step further in their education, into the realm of the practicing attorney. In this manner, educators, building on the case law method, maximize students’ sophisticated, lawyerly thinking to the degree the practicing bar demands of recent graduates seated at their desks as new professionals.
Only in the scholastic environment is there the capacity to devote both time and purpose exclusively to detailed, continual, analytic training. In this context, professors assume the role of both teacher and senior partner, at once playing devil’s advocate and sharing their own thought processes as experienced professionals. Instruction necessarily runs concurrently with that of the traditional law school courses, thereby enhancing student aptitude in every area of legal study, and engendering a paradigm of legal education that raises the bar of analytic acumen for future generations.
Over the fall semester that just concluded, I've been blogging about my experience teaching a legal research and writing course via Zoom for the first time due to the pandemic. As I explained in the first of these posts, last spring our LRW department elected to teach the course entirely online as opposed to adopting a hybrid approach where we'd be in a classroom teaching to students who wanted to attend in person while simultaneously broadcasting the lessons to those at home who preferred to attend via Zoom. I also taught one of those hybrid courses this semester too (an upper-level seminar using what our school calls the "BlendFlex" model) but unlike some other schools, the LRW profs here had to teach the course entirely online without the option of being able to broadcast from an actual classroom (due to the demand on classroom space because of social distancing requirements, once our department made the decision to teach the course online, we forfeited the ability to do it from a classroom).
For me, teaching LRW from my office desk without the physicality of a normal classroom presented real challenges given the way I like to teach. By the end of the first class or two, I already knew it wasn't going to work to my satisfaction and that I'd have to make some changes if I wanted the class to be a success. I used this blog to document my journey from not liking Zoom at all at the start of the semester to begrudgingly embracing it by the end. Indeed, in one of my final posts on the topic, I talked about discovering how much I liked Zoom for holding individual students writing conferences and may continue to offer that as an option once we return to "normal" teaching.
I think many of us over the past semester have faced the dilemma of whether to bend our teaching style to fit the constraints and limitations of Zoom, or instead whether we should try to bend Zoom to better fit the way we like to teach. I choose the latter and documented that journey in the posts below. By the end of the semester, I was "OK" with the way things had worked out. My overall impression is that for the most motivated students, they can still learn well via this platform (though I think all of us would much prefer to be in a traditional classroom). The downside I observed is that with less motivated students, or the ones who have more difficulty staying on task, they can more easily get lost and fall behind in a Zoom class. This was reflected in my grades for the semester. In years past, the final grades would typically reflect a relatively even distribution from a few students at the very top, to the majority in the middle, and another small group at the bottom. But this semester, the distribution looks much more like a bimodal one with a larger group of students at both ends while there are few in the middle. Of course one semester is not dispositive and my observations are merely anecdotal but I share them nonetheless.
Insofar as any readers would find the journey I document below either interesting or would gain something from the challenges I faced and tried to overcome in teaching a hands-on, legal skills course via Zoom, I've collected those posts that start with me "hating" Zoom to eventually making my peace with it. They are organized chronologically starting with the beginning of the semester to it's conclusion a few weeks ago. At the very least, it was a good learning experience for me that required me to reflect on nearly everything I was doing in the classroom, more carefully plan each lesson to maximize efficiency and impact, and forced me to stretch as a teacher. I'm sure my teaching will be incrementally better going forward as a result of this experience.
So without further ado, below is a recap of my posts from the semester that just concluded documenting my journey using Zoom for the first time to teach a hands-on legal skills course along with other relevant notes and observations tossed in along the way.
- Caveman teaching in the time of Covid.
- The NYT on how Zoom interferes with student-teacher rapport and strategies for overcoming that.
- Helping 1L law students find study groups during a time of online teaching.
- Making more effective use of samples in an online legal writing course in the time of Covid.
- An Op-Ed from the L.A. Times: Why learning via Zoom is hard and what we can do to make it easier.
- Mind the attentional gap when teaching on Zoom.
- NYT on Covid’s impact on college students.
- A technique (not) for helping students transfer knowledge and the fallacy of common sense.
- Some observations about law student performance in a legal skills course taught via Zoom.
- Some observations about conducting student conferences via Zoom during a pandemic.
- How teaching with Zoom is like “The Hollywood Squares.”
- How I learned to stop worrying and love Zoom: my embrace of online teaching (with pics) – Part 1
- How I learned to stop worrying and love Zoom: my embrace of online teaching (with pics) – Part 2
- How I learned to stop worrying and love Zoom: my embrace of online teaching (with pics) – Part 3
- How I learned to stop worrying and love Zoom: my embrace of online teaching (with pics) – Part 4
- How I learned to stop worrying and love Zoom: my embrace of online teaching (with pics) – Part 5
Stay safe during the break!
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
I have a feeling my co-blogger Scott is going to love this one (it's right up his alley). It's a new article I stumbled across called "The Cognitive Challenges of Effective Teaching" by Professors Stephen L. Chew (Stamford) and William J. Cerbin (U. Wisc.) that pulls together an extensive body of cognitive science research into a nine point framework to guide and inform classroom teaching. It's a really great, one stop primer for any teacher (new or experienced) who's interested in research-based strategies for improving their teaching. I included the abstract below, but essentially the article asserts that there are nine "cognitive challenges" that all teachers face when it comes to helping students learn, identifies each one, provides a practical example to illustrate it, discusses a strategy for dealing with it, and then provides recommendations for further readings for those inclined to take a deeper dive.
More specifically, the nine "cognitive challenges" identified by the authors include:
- Student mental mindset
- Metacognition and self-regulation
- Student fear and mistrust
- Insufficient prior knowledge
- [Student] Misconceptions
- Ineffective learning strategies
- Transfer of learning
- Constraints of selective attention
- Constraints of mental effort and working memory
Among the several ways I found this article especially helpful and practical, was the use of concrete examples that illustrate each "challenge" and how to address them. For instance, on the topic of "misconceptions," the authors note that a challenge many teachers face is to disabuse students of the beliefs that stand in the way of their own learning. The example they use is the student who comes to see the professor after class to complain that "you explain everything using words. I'm more of a visual learner . . . . You need to use more pictures and diagrams in your lectures so people like me can learn better." The authors discuss how these misconceptions about learning styles negatively affect student learning and suggest a practical strategy for addressing it.
I was also struck by the section discussing the significance of student "fear and mistrust" of the professor, how that can be a significant impediment to learning, and strategies for dealing with it. Given that many 1L students complain that their professors are "hiding the ball," (I don't think we are; instead it's the nature of the subject matter and the pedagogy we employ to teach them how to dissect cases), it's got to be one of the biggest "cognitive challenges" we face as legal educators. Yet off the top of my head, I don't recall much law school scholarship on the importance of establishing classroom trust with students (dealing with "fear," yes; but "trust" not so much). Nonetheless, I suspect most of us intuitively understand the significance of fear and mistrust and employ strategies for addressing them.
I was also heartened to read the section on "knowledge transfer" which the authors describe as perhaps the most daunting of the nine "cognitive challenge" we face and the one where we're likely to have the least success. Earlier this semester I was lamenting how discouraged I felt as a teacher after a bright idea I had for improving student knowledge transfer on what should have been a straightforward matter fell completely flat. It made me doubt my career choice and the very purpose of my professional life. But after reading Professors Chew and Cerbin describe knowledge transfer as "the Great White Whale" of classroom pedagogy, I'm able to step back from the ledge and accept that perhaps my life's work hasn't been a total waste after all.
Anyway, here's the abstract:
The authors describe a research-based conceptual framework of how students learn that can guide the design, implementation, and troubleshooting of teaching practice. The framework consists of nine interacting cognitive challenges that teachers need to address to enhance student learning. These challenges include student mental mindset, metacognition and self-regulation, student fear and mistrust, prior knowledge, misconceptions, ineffective learning strategies, transfer of learning, constraints of selective attention, and the constraints of mental effort and working memory. The challenges are described with recommendations on how to address each one. What is effective for one situation may not be effective in others, and no single teaching method will always be optimal for all teachers, students, topics, and educational contexts. The teacher’s task is to manage this complex interaction successfully.
You can download the article here. I suggest that you do.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Constitution: The Darwinian Evolution of a Societal Structure by Fábio Portela Lopes de Almeida. E-Library
The emergence of modern societies organised according to legal constitutions is an evolutionary puzzle. Homo sapiens are the only animal species capable of living in large-scale, cooperative societies whose members are genetically unrelated individuals. But neither sociological nor biological models can adequately explain this unique feature of contemporary human societies. Recently, gene-culture co-evolutionary theory explained the emergence of human institutions, which takes into account the reciprocal influence between culture and innate psychology in the course of human evolution. Relying on this account of contemporary evolutionary theory, this book advances the claim that constitutions are a complex adaptation grounded in both our innate social psychology and specific social institutions. Constitutionalism evolved as a societal adaptation, necessary to provide a unified symbolic moral system expected by human psychology in pluralistic moral societies. More than that, constitutions also structured modern society to deal with the evolutionary pressures coming from the fast-paced changes occurring, among others, in legal and economic systems. This book develops a novel, interdisciplinary perspective about the evolution of law and the role played by constitutions in the emergence of complex contemporary societies.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
President's Message: Abolish the Academic Caste System by Dean Darby Dickerson.
"Any caste system is insidious. But most, if not all, law schools have them. In many schools, the caste system means that many individuals are not recognized appropriately or compensated fairly for their contributions. At some schools, non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty carry a disproportionate share of the teaching and service loads so that others can focus on research."
"But the division of labor is not the true problem. Many individuals in NTT roles are passionate about teaching and serving, even if they also produce or desire to produce scholarship. And in any workplace, people in different positions perform different tasks, even if the tasks are equally important. Instead, the real problems are the inequities in pay, security, and respect—and the harm the caste system inflicts on our academic programs."
"We need to eliminate the caste system—a system meant to divide—from legal education. We need to recognize the similarities in and value of the work we all perform and appreciate, not denigrate, the differences. Raising some up does not diminish the work of others. Instead, it improves the whole of legal education. Because I’ve worked at three schools that have made significant progress in improving status for legal writing professionals, clinicians, academic support specialists, librarians, and staff, I know that abolishing the caste system is both a realistic call for action and one that will benefit our students and the legal profession."
2021 Nova Law School Symposium: “Engaging LRW Students In The ‘New Normal’ – Teaching In A Time Of Crisis”
The deadline for presentation proposals and paper submission abstracts is December 15 for a February 26, 2021 symposium. Here are the details:
Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law and the Nova Law Review seek submissions for its annual Symposium to be held Feb. 26, 2021. During these challenging times, it is important to discuss and examine the underlying political, social, health, technological, and legal issues that impact us all as professors, students, practitioners, and students.
“Engaging LRW Students in the ‘New Normal’ – Teaching in a Time of Crisis” will address both the challenges and opportunities presented by teaching legal research and writing (LRW) in a time of great change. It will examine the various ways LRW pedagogy has been impacted by technology, politics, and contemporary anti-racism initiatives, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on these developments. It will also examine the ways in which these various issues intersect in the LRW classroom and how LRW professors can address them.
The Symposium presents an opportunity for academics, practitioners, and students representing a variety of perspectives to explore these timely and vitally important issues. In particular, we encourage interdisciplinary presentations, but it is not a requirement. Authors and presenters are invited to submit proposals on topics including, but not limited to, the following:
• Effective strategies for Zoom and similar platforms
• Creating teacher and student connections
• Best practices and the future of online LRW pedagogy
• A defense or critique of online learning
• Supporting student and faculty wellness during a pandemic
• The impact of professional status on working conditions
• Maintaining course rigor for students dealing with challenging times
• Incorporating anti-racism initiatives into the LRW classroom
• Supporting cultural humility in the classroom
• Developing an integrated approach to social justice pedagogy
Submissions & Important Dates:
Abstracts Due Dec. 15, 2020
Articles Due Feb. 7, 2021
Symposium Date Feb. 26, 2021
➢ All materials should be submitted to Nova Law Review at firstname.lastname@example.org
PAPERS & PRESENTATIONS
Law Review Published Article: The Nova Law Review will review, edit, and publish submissions in the 2021 Symposium issue. Articles, as well as case studies and abstracts of research in progress, will be considered for the symposium program for presentation purposes. However, only complete articles will be published in the law review. Abstracts for these papers will be due no later than the Dec. 15, 2020 deadline and will be accepted on a rolling basis until that time.
Presentations (Without Publication) based on Abstracts: The Nova Law Review will review and select presentations for the symposium. If you are interested in presenting without submitting a publishable article, an abstract of the presentation must be submitted by the Dec. 15, 2020 deadline and will be accepted on a rolling basis until that time.
NSU LAW’S LEGAL RESEARCH AND WRITING PROGRAM
About NSU Law’s Legal Research and Writing Program: The Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law Legal Research and Writing Program is ranked 2nd in Florida and 18th nationally. The NSU LRW Program is dedicated to offering students a student-centered approach to legal writing instruction that integrates legal analysis with practical skills and professionalism. Recently, Professor Camille Lamar Campbell was awarded the 2020 Legal Writing Institute’s inaugural Influential Teaching Award. The innovative LRW Student Outreach Program was also honored in 2020 with the Florida Bar Group Professionalism Award.
For More Information Please Contact: email@example.com, or the individuals below:
Olympia Duhart, Director of the NSU Law LRW Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Sena, Editor-in-Chief, Nova Law Review, email@example.com
Hunter Scharf, Lead Articles Editor, Nova Law Review, firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Rose, Director of Alumni Relations, email@example.com
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Deborah Jones Merritt has posted an excellent article on the bar exam on the Best Practices for Legal Education Blog: Could We Create a New Bar Exam?.
Here’s just one modest proposal that would significantly improve the validity of the bar exam:
- Maintain the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), which tests knowledge of basic principles of professional conduct, but make the exam open book. No one can wind their way through the dense rules of professional conduct and commentary without previous study, so an open-book exam won’t make the test “too easy.” On the contrary, an open-book exam would encourage new lawyers to check the rules and commentary whenever they face a conduct issue. That’s a habit we want to encourage, not discourage.
- Maintain two performance tests like the ones currently prepared by NCBE, but allow 3 hours (rather than 90 minutes) for each test. Expanding the time frame would make these tests more realistic measures of minimum competence. It might also make grading more reliable because graders would be faced with real-world products produced under realistic time constraints.
- Create a 3-hour research exam that consists of multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions. This exam would test the kind of quick research that lawyers do routinely: What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Ohio? Does a will need witnesses to be valid in Texas? Give candidates access to any online tools they desire to do this research.
- Create a 3-hour, multiple-choice exam that tests (a) basic understanding of U.S. legal processes and sources of law OR (b) a single substantive subject (such as civil procedure, contracts, business law, or family law). If the latter, consider giving candidates a choice of the area in which they wish to test.