Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On Structure In Writing

When I teach Scholarly Writing, I discuss structure heavily -- much like David Brooks. Brooks says, "I tell college students that by the time they sit down at the keyboard to write their essays, they should be at least 80 percent done. That’s because 'writing' is mostly gathering and structuring ideas."

There are many ways to structure an essay or an article, and no one way is correct, which can be overwhelming for some. However, as an instructor, if you give students a few ideas for structure, they will generally find their way.

For example, here is Brooks's approach:
"For what it’s worth, I structure geographically. I organize my notes into different piles on the rug in my living room. Each pile represents a different paragraph in my column. The piles can stretch on for 10 feet to 16 feet, even for a mere 806-word newspaper piece. When 'writing,' I just pick up a pile, synthesize the notes into a paragraph, set them aside and move on to the next pile. If the piece isn’t working, I don’t try to repair; I start from scratch with the same topic but an entirely new structure."

As part of Brooks's Sidney Awards this year, he praises an article called "Structure" from the longtime New Yorker writer John McPhee. "For one long article, McPhee organized his notecards on a 32-square-foot piece of plywood. [McPhee] also describes the common tension between chronology and theme (Brooks's advice: go with chronology). [McPhee's] structures are brilliant, but they far too complex for most of us. The key thing is he lets you see how a really fine writer thinks about the core problem of writing, which takes place before the actual writing."

For instructors, the takeaway is that you should emphasize to your students that they should take the time to think and organize their papers before beginning to write. This means that procrastination cannot be king. A student cannot fully develop her ideas and write a substantial article in a matter of a few days (like many students wish they could). This may mean that an instructor needs to evaluate progress early and often.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Law Libraries Are Here To Stay

Thanks to Law Librarians for posting about this recent paper uploaded to SSRN: Legal Education in Crisis, and Why Law Libraries are Doomed.

From the abstract: 
The dual crises facing legal education—the economic crisis affecting both the job market and the pool of law school applicants, and the crisis of confidence in the ability of law schools and the ABA accreditation process to meet the needs of lawyers or society at large—have undermined the case for not only the autonomy, but the very existence, of law school libraries as we have known them. Legal education in the United States is about to undergo a long-term contraction, and law libraries will be among the first to go. A few law schools may abandon the traditional law library completely. Some law schools will see their libraries whittled away bit by bit as they attempt to answer “the Yirka Question” in the face of shrinking resources, reexamined priorities, and university centralization. What choices individual schools make will largely be driven by how they play the status game.

I don't doubt that some law schools value their law libraries more than others, with some libraries comprised of little more the minimum required to meet current ABA accreditation standards. If we get rid of the law library and water our available material down to just the nuts and bolts required to practice, we are, in essence, creating an educational environment that makes law school merely a vocational school.  

Law schools shouldn't abandon their law libraries in the name of austerity. Lawyers, judges, and legal scholars, alike, need access to the broad material currently found in most law libraries. It's not enough to just rely on the legal databases. As stated previously, of the 2 million unique volumes in law libraries, only 15% of those materials have been digitized for electronic use. This leaves 85% only available in print. That is a lot of valuable content to abandon.

With the entire legal system made up of legal precedent, we cannot abandon the very material that gives us the foresight and creativity needed to tackle some of our toughest issues.

Friday, December 20, 2013

An Online/Face-to-Face Law School Hybrid

InsideHigherEd reported on a new hybrid program at William Mitchell College of Law. The Law School "has received approval from the American Bar Association to launch a part-time J.D. program that blends face-to-face instruction with online courses. Although the hybrid program marks the first of its kind, experts are split on whether it marks an experiment or a turning point for how legal education is delivered in the U.S."

"The [new] four-year part-time program, meant for students whose location or work commitments prevent them for pursuing a legal education full-time, will mix recorded lectures and quizzes with video conferences and online discussion forums when it launches in January 2015. Students will also be required to complete externships and attend weeklong on-campus simulations at the end of each semester to practice their legal skills."

"Institutions that seek [ABA] accreditation need to tailor their programs to a set of standards that have been in effect since 2002. The program itself needs to consist of at least 83 credits -- Mitchell’s hybrid program clears that hurdle exactly -- but no more than 12 can be granted from pure distance education. Of the remaining credits, one-third of the coursework can also be completed remotely. As an added twist, programs can offer only four credits of distance learning per semester."

"To receive approval for its hybrid program, Mitchell submitted a variance request that exempts the program from the requirements -- under certain conditions. The college must enroll no more than 96 students per year, assess the program on an annual basis and report its findings to the ABA. The college also had to waive its right to confidentiality to help other law schools learn from its experiences."

"If the experiments prove successful, however, they could guide the ABA to revise its own standards."

For some, this might be seen as a step in the right direction for legal education. There are schools that currently operate online without ABA accreditation and others are starting to dabble in online LL.M. programs. The ABA seems to be open to this type of innovations, and the real test will be when the students from William Mitchell graduate. In the meantime, it's great that this experiment is not confidential so all other law schools can learn from it.

Librarians may also want to start learning the online legal research instruction ropes to offer instruction to these folks because it appears that online instruction will become more prevalent as the years go by.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lawyers Get Better With Age

In my early 20's, my friends and I would ruminate over the things that we had to accomplish by age 26. Why 26? 

At age 20: Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and cofounded Microsoft, and Sir Isaac Newton began developing a new branch of mathematics.

At age 21: Thomas Alva Edison created his first invention, an electric vote recorder, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Inc., and Alfred Tennyson published his first poetry.

At age 22: Inventor Samuel Colt patented the Colt six-shooter revolver, and Cyrus Hall McCormick invented the McCormick reaper, which allowed one man to do the work of five

At age 23: T. S. Eliot wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” John Keats penned “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” and Truman Capote published his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms.

At age 24: Johannes Kepler defended the Copernican theory and described the structure of the solar system.

At age 25: Orson Welles conscripted, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane, Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly alone across the Atlantic, New York farmhand Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, John Wesley began planting the seeds for Methodism at Oxford, and Alexander the Great became the King of Persia.

At age 26: Albert Einstein published five major research papers in a German physics journal, fundamentally changing man’s view of the universe and leading to such inventions as television and the atomic bomb, Benjamin Franklin published the first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, and Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy.

With lists like this, my friends and I were certain that if we didn't accomplish something equally as large by age 26, we were forever doomed to mediocrity. (Oh the problems of 20-somethings).

But when I ran across this article in the ABA Journal, I somehow felt better about the whole thing. 

"In the fields of math, science and lyric poetry, large creative breakthroughs are more likely to occur in younger individuals, according to Harvard cognition and education professor Howard Gardner. But in fields like like law and psychoanalysis, “you need a much longer lead time, and so your best work is likely to occur in the latter years,” Gardner tells the Washington Post in a story reprinted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune."

This coupled with the finding that the longer you practice, the happier you are means that I don't have to be in such a rush!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

NLJ's Notable Supreme Court Books Of 2013

The National Law Journal released a list of notable Supreme Court books of 2013.

A sampling of the books:
Two justices published books in 2013 - Sotomayor’s intimate and inspiring memoir, My Beloved World, and retired justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s wide-ranging collection of court anecdotes, Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court.

For informed studies of the Roberts Court, try Marcia Coyle’s The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution and Mark Tushnet’s In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court.

Two books issued in 2013 take authoritative looks at recent Supreme Court cases. Adam Liptak’s instant e-book To Have and Uphold: The Supreme Court and the Battle for Same-Sex Marriage is excellent, as is Josh Blackman’s Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare. Other books about the Affordable Care Act litigation are forthcoming or out, including one by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) titled Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare: A Conservative Critique of The Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling.

Garrett Epps’ American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution makes a close reading of the U.S. Constitution fun. Clark Neily III’s Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government reframes the debate over judicial activism. For the junior members of the family, a new edition of The U.S. Supreme Court Coloring and Activity Book, updated to include Justice Kagan, is just out.

There was a lot of fodder from the Court for 2013. I can't wait to see what 2014 brings!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Problem With Link Rot

More people are recognizing the issues with link rot that law librarians have known for at least 10 years. The ABA Journal reported on the link rot phenomena and how it is degrading legal research.

As noted, "[t]he World Wide Web is filled with dead ends: hyperlinks that point to webpages that have become permanently unavailable. It’s a phenomenon known as 'link rot.' With the continued growth of the Internet, the amount of such rot has been accelerating, studies have shown, imperiling citation references in academic research and case law. For practicing lawyers, link rot is making it harder to find examples of legal precedent." One judge has gone so far as to say that it is undermining stare decisis.

And this is a continuing problem because "[a]ccording to the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group, a collaborative archiving program, the average life span of a webpage is between 44 and 75 days. The CDPG [also] notes that important legal materials are increasingly being 'digitally born' and distributed online rather than published on paper, resulting in a 'troubling trend' of transient legal information."

It's becoming much more commonplace for lawyers and judges to cite directly to Internet sites. "When links were first introduced into opinions, they were superfluous—icing on the cake. Over time, that’s really changed. More and more what’s being cited, as an example or as a source of something, may live only online and not as a part of a formal knowledge system.”

So how do we fix the problem? "If lawyers are citing Web information, attach an appendix with the version of the website they’re referring to. If a judge is writing an opinion and citing to a source online, they should capture that at the time and not just assume the link and what it points to will be the same two years later when someone goes to look at it.”

Not only should lawyers and judges attach appendices, "[t]he growing prevalence of Web references prompted the Judicial Conference of the United States to provide guidelines for judges on citing and maintaining Internet sources and hyperlinks in opinions. Suggestions include downloading cited Internet resources, and including them with opinions and in the court’s electronic case file system. The Supreme Court retains a print copy of Internet citations in the clerk of court’s case file, but that offers limited accessibility."

Printing web pages and attaching them to case information is one step (that shows that print is still very stable). Going further, the Harvard Library Innovation Lab members "are trying to combat link and reference rot by building a permanent home for legal citations to online sources. They have created a coalition of more than 30 law libraries to preserve Web links through a database called Perma.cc."

As this issue becomes common knowledge, there will no doubt be steps to reverse the trend.

Image Info: http://zutheskunk.deviantart.com/art/404-File-Not-Found-sign-331186867

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Decline In Female Associates For Fourth Straight Year

The National Law Journal is reporting on the continued decline of female associates since the recession. "The percentage of women associates at law firms fell for the fourth straight year, even as the percentage of minority associates continued to rise. This year, women accounted for 44.79 percent of associates, down from 45.66 percent at their peak in 2009. By contrast, the percentage of minority associates rose from 8.36 percent in 2009 to 20.93 percent in 2013."

Although the decline may seem slight, the author notes that it is a red flag because the associates will feed the partner pool one day. "While the percentage of women partners, small as it is, has continued to grow each year, sustained incremental growth in the future is at risk if the percentage of women associates continues to inch downwards."

The legal profession needs to figure out why more women are foregoing the associate track. "It could be because some women are deciding not to pursue law firm careers, given increased attention to how demanding those jobs are and because the path to partnership has narrowed." Other have commented that the decline in law school attendees is to blame.

In 2010, I decided to forego the associate track in favor of an academic career. I realized that law firm life might not be for me, and the inherent adversarial nature and cutthroat competition that often accompanies this life was something that I did not want to deal with for an extended period of time.

Law firms need to consider more work-life-balance measures to bring women in. It's important to have diversity in the legal profession to truly represent the needs of a more diversified nation.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Boolean Still Better Than Natural Language Searching

I love this post by Joshua Auriemma about legal research on the databases (in particular WestlawNext). I first saw the post mentioned on Law Librarians, and it's about a topic that I am rather passionate about, so I thought I would re-post here.

Auriemma discusses the difference in legal research when using boolean searching (terms and connectors) versus natural language in WestlawNext.

"I often wonder whether the Googleification of legal research isn’t a terrible thing for the profession (at least in this stage of the technology’s development). In law school, I was a master of Boolean searching. I thought about my research question, figured out which words probably appeared closest to other words, and crafted a narrow and specific search. Somehow, when I became an appellate attorney and had access to WestlawNext through my firm, all of that training went out the window. I got into the habit of assuming the algorithm was better than I was at crafting a search, but the truth is that right now, they’re not. Consider this: if a natural language search was as effective as a keyword search, it would be superfluous to pay an attorney for legal research."

This is true of most law students today. We (the law librarians) take the time to teach the research process using boolean searching because it is still the most precise way to search -- thus saving time and money. With boolean searching, the researcher has control over what the database retrieves instead of leaving it up to the database's algorithm to determine what is useful. But this generation of law students is used to natural language searching on Google, so it is hard to get them to understand the benefits of boolean searching on the databases.

As Auriemma put it, they're putting a lot of stock into an algorithm they can't see -- meaning we do not know why certain results show up with natural language because the algorithms are not made public.

He goes on to say "that as it stands right now natural language searching is not a replacement for a well-crafted Boolean search. And that’s a disconcerting revelation because out of my previous three law clerks, not a single one was well-versed in Boolean searching."

As a legal research expert, I still only use natural language if my boolean searching does not retrieve the results that I am looking for, which doesn't happen very often. When law students come and ask complex reference questions, they often think it is magic that I am able to retrieve relevant results so quickly with boolean searching when they have spent hours trying to sift through natural language results. It's not magic, it just takes practice.

For more information on boolean searching, Auriemma will teach an introduction to Boolean searching webinar for Fastcase about once a month (to start again in January). If you’re interested in picking up the basics, like Fastcase's Facebook page so that you are the first to know the dates for the 2014 year.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ABA To Mandate More Practical Skills Training?

The National Law Journal is reporting that the ABA is reconsidering its plan to require six credits of real-world training in law school. "Now the council is agreeing to seek public comment on an alternative proposal to bump the requirement to 15 credits of clinics, simulation courses or externships."

"The ABA has been updating its accreditation standards since 2008. The existing standards mandate that students take just one credit of experiential learning. The standards committee initially proposed increasing that to three credits, which CLEA called a 'shockingly insignificant amount of skills training.'"

"The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) has been pushing the 15-credit plan since July. The organization argues that the law lags behind medicine, dentistry and other professions when it come to real-world training.Under CLEA’s proposed 15-hour mandate, students would take at least one class involving a live client. The council’s tentative proposal would not require students to take a clinic or live-client course."

“Fifteen credits is the equivalent of a semester of classes. Spending one semester out of three years is completely consistent with what other professions do.”

The more practical training, the better. I am still surprised that the ABA is just now getting around to upping the number of practical-training hours in light of the MacCrate Report from the early 1990's. I am proud of my school for being a very early adopter of practical legal education. And it appears that, now, all of the other schools are trying to catch up.

Monday, December 9, 2013

NLRB v. Noel Canning Gets Help From ConSource's Digital Library

There is a digital library that is making the life of the lawyers in the SCOTUS case, NLRB v. Noel Canning, much easier. "As they prepare briefs in the landmark case, The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource), along with its pro bono SCOTUSource project at Harvard Law School, is researching and digitizing a range of documents specifically related to Noel Canning.

"The upcoming U.S. Supreme Court argument over the president's power to make recess appointments has sent lawyers and researchers hunting through centuries-old documents for historical evidence to prove just how broad or narrow the power is. As the case nears the argument date of Jan. 13, a main focus of the briefing is the early meaning of the Constitution's recess-appointment clause, which gives the president 'power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.'"

"We had to do a significant amount of historical research," said Jones Day partner Noel Francisco, who represents Noel Canning. "Particularly for cases like this one, where founding-era history is important, online resources are of enormous value to lawyers and judges alike." He cited a ConSource document in his main brief. By assisting the parties on both sides in cases like Noel Canning, the project aims to help the court get 'the full narrative of the history behind a constitutional issue.' We want to get at the parts of the story that may not be told because they are in documents sitting in the basement of some archive."

"ConSource's next project sounds like an originalist's dream: working with the Library Company of Philadelphia to digitize materials from the library that the framers used during the constitutional convention. 'We might find some annotations from the founders in the margins.' Imagine what the justices would do with those."

This is both an originalist's dream and an archivist's dream. To digitize and make accessible these founding-era documents is extraordinary. I can't wait to play with the ConSource database to see the other documents that are available.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Death Of The Casebook

The Law Dean's blog recently asked if the casebook is still a necessary tool for law school. With the costs skyrocketing, and each new edition containing only marginal differences, is it really in the students' best interests to continue to require a casebook for class?

From the blog:
"It is 2013, and I (I. Richard Gershon) decided not to use a casebook when I taught Wills and Estates this semester. The casebook I had used for over two decades had come out in yet another new edition, which had a price tag of around $200. The difference between the newest edition and the older editions was pretty marginal.  The authors added some new cases and moved some old materials to different parts of the book. I could have used an older edition, and supplemented my own materials to reduce student costs, but I decided to create and post my own materials on TWEN, instead.

When you consider that a student will take approximately 20 [closer to 30 at my law school!] classes in law school, and that casebooks cost around $200 each, doesn’t it make sense to move away from using casebooks for our classes?

Alternatively, doesn’t it make sense to use freely available materials from a source like CALI?  CALI has been a leader in this effort with their eLangdell initiative."

Dean Gershon has some very good points -- especially considering that most of the cases used in casebooks are in the public domain and freely available. While it does take time to upload the material and create commentary, a professor can tailor the material specifically to his or her class, and the students will appreciate the substantial savings (to the tune of $5,000).

This looks like a win-win situation for all involved.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Print Book Is Still Popular

Contrary to popular belief, the print book is still alive and well and popular with the younger generation. According to the NYTimes Bits Blog, "a study released this week by Voxburner, a United Kingdom-based research firm that tracks how youth consume media, suggests that most British teenagers and young adults aged 16 to 24-years-old prefer physical books over e-books."

Not only is print still popular among the young, "some recent reports have found that the tactile feeling of paper can also create a much more immersive learning experience for readers. Why? Several scientists believe it is neurological."

And "a research report published earlier this year in the International Journal of Education Research found that students in school who read text on printed paper scored significantly higher in reading comprehension tests than students who read the same text in digital forms."

While many have commented on the end of the print book in favor of digital "according to an October report by the Book Industry Study Group, which monitors the publishing industry, the sales of e-books have slowed over the past year and currently comprise about 30 percent of all books sold."

It appears that the general population is starting to realize what librarians have known all along -- that the print book is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Law Schools Face 'White Flight'

Am Law Daily (sub req'd) recently ran an article about white flight at the nation's law schools.

"Most of the 8,651-student net decline in law school enrollments between 2010 and 2012 is attributable to white male law students going unreplaced. White women account for another big chunk of the decline. In fact, of the 7,776 fewer 1Ls entering law school over that two-year period, 6,528 (84 percent) fit into the 'White/Caucasian' ethnic category. For a profession sensitive about a dearth of women and minorities, the idea that white men—and, to a lesser degree. white women—are losing interest in law school might be welcomed as a sign that the legal profession is poised to become more ethnically diverse."

But the author points out that it's not necessarily good news because there is a"decline in graduates from elite, 'feeder' universities applying to law school. At the same time, recent law school applicants tend to have lower LSAT scores than their predecessors. Both of these observations fit into a developing narrative that highly intelligent and affluent college graduates are forgoing law school."

I take issue with the author stating that highly intelligent people are forgoing law school. The author even admits that LSAT scores are tied to socioeconomic factors, and that, among other things, makes the LSAT a poor judge of intelligence. In fact, the author states, "a law degree has long been considered a positional good that privileged people purchase to get ahead of everyone else. Indeed, it was created to exclude minority groups."

We need broader representation of minorities in the legal profession, especially as our citizenry becomes more diverse. And, newsflash, there are some people who go to law school for more than prestige and money. I think it shows real character to continue with a dream to practice law in the face of all of the criticism.

"And just where are white college graduates fleeing to? Maybe the record number of applications to medical schools this year has something to do with it."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Who Wrote The Bluebook?

NYTimes had an interesting letter to the editor regarding The Bluebook:

To the Editor:

“The Bluebook” is the iconic citation manual that dominates legal writing. Kenji Yoshino reviews Richard A. Posner’s book “Reflections on Judging” (Nov. 10), which notes that the Bluebook was created by the future judge Henry Friendly or the future Harvard dean Erwin Griswold when they were students at Harvard Law School in 1926.

The Yale Law Library, however, has in its rare-book collection a pamphlet titled “Abbreviations and Form of Citation,” issued by The Yale Law Journal in 1921; our copy appears to be the only one in existence. A comparison of the 1921 Yale pamphlet with the 1926 first edition of the Bluebook shows that the Bluebook took most of its content, often word for word, from Yale’s product. Some may say that originating the ­hypercomplicated Bluebook should not be a source of pride, but The Yale Law Journal ur-Bluebook consisted of only 15 tiny pages. The version that has developed under the leadership of the Harvard Law Review currently consists of over 500 large pages, and users may need software such as the pioneering CorrectCite to help them navigate its mysteries.


The writer is an associate librarian and a lecturer in legal research at Yale Law School.

And now we know.

Image info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Bluebook_18th_ed_Cover.gif

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guide To The Essential Thanksgiving

In my last post before the Thanksgiving holiday, I will share the recipes that I would follow if I were making my own feast. Here is the NYTimes Essential Thanksgiving.

And here is a piece on leftovers for breakfast.

For law school staff, rest easy during the holiday break. For those students studying for impending exams, take some time to enjoy your weekend. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Should Law Schools Offer Bar Exam Prep Courses?

There has been a recent call for law schools to add bar prep courses to the curriculum in the third year. Greedy Associates noted that it might help fix the problem with the disparity in minority test taker passage rates.

As the blog noted, this "one significant barrier to diversity, divergent pass rates between minority and nonminority test takers, could be addressed with additional attention to the bar exam during school. This would have the side-benefit of making oft-criticized as superfluous third-year actually useful, rather than another year of casebooks and theoretical jurisprudence."

But this may not be a one-size-fits-all solution as "Elie Mystal, at Above the Law, points out that the proposal: while it may be useful for lower-tier schools, which have trouble producing grads that can pass the bar exam, for schools with high pass rates, the idea provides no value at all to those students, other than saving them from paying for a post-grad bar prep course (a minor expense in comparison to law school tuition)."

The law school where I work currently has three courses for bar prep that are offered in the third year -- one that is for credit, one that is free and no credit, and a three-day intensive essay writing workshop. The statistics show that the students who partake in all three of these course offerings fair well on the Michigan bar exam.

It may be a worthwhile effort for law schools to partner with proprietary post-grad bar prep courses to make it a part of the law school curriculum -- especially for student like me who could not afford the cost of a post-grad bar prep course.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Print Law Review Subscriptions Continue To Decline

LLB posted about a new law review metrics paper uploaded to SSRN called The Increasingly Lengthy Long Run of the Law Reviews: Law Review Business 2012 -- Circulation and Production.

The paper is the usual metrics paper on the decrease of print law review subscriptions. Interestingly, in the abstract, the authors question law reviews that "report relatively low paid circulation numbers to the U.S. Postal Service (which appear only in tiny-type government forms buried in the rarely read front- or back-matter of the reporting law review), but then tout higher sales numbers in promotional sections of their websites."

It's a trend that calls for more attention. It makes sense that the overall sales of print law reviews are continuing to diminish, especially since law reviews are increasingly making their content available for free online. But I like the idea of open access for law reviews, and the increase of online content is a good thing. And professors are paid a salary to produce the content in the law review, so it's not much of a revenue loss at about $40 a pop for an annual subscription.

We do need to consider other revenue streams for law reviews, though. If the subscription money dries up, law reviews may need to charge more in royalty fees for access to content on the databases (WEXIS). The problem, there, is that the databases do not leave much room to bargain. I think that in most cases, it's a take-it-or-leave-it scenario. Other law reviews are charging for their online content, but that doesn't comport with open access considerations unless the author is free to upload to other databases like SSRN.

One thing is certain, as HeinOnline continues to digitize law reviews, more and more libraries will forego their print subscriptions in favor of digital access. And libraries, generally, make up the largest group of law review subscribers. Law reviews need to start considering a time in the very near future when print subscriptions are canceled in total.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Online Companions & Social Media Presence For Law Reviews

@ninarose15 recently tweeted about a blog written by Steve Klepper regarding how Twitter can save law reviews.

According to Steve, here are seven things Penn Law Review is doing right:

1. It has an online companion with online-only articles, which are citable and will appear on Westlaw. If your law review doesn’t have such a companion, it needs one. I’m talking to you, American University Law Review (@AmULRev). (Sorry, Miles! I did have the decency to tell you personally.)

2. It recently ditched the pun-based title, “PENNumbras,” in favor of the descriptive “University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online.” I’m talking to you, Connecticut Law Review (@ConnLRev) CONNtemplations. (Sorry, from someone who grew up in the Hartford suburbs.)

3. It has its own Twitter feed (@PennLawReview) separate from the Law School’s Twitter feed. I’m talking to you, Maryland Law Review. (Sorry for biting a hand that fed me.)

4. It regularly uses that Twitter feed. I’m talking to you, Virginia Law Review (@VirginiaLawRev), with a total of 6 tweets. (Sorry to my alma mater, though I point out that Mr. Jefferson would have dominated Twitter had it then existed.)

5. There is a separate tweet, with link, to announce each new print or online article. I’m talking to you, Texas Law Review (@TexasLRev), which tweets a single link to announce each new issue. (Sorry for messing with Texas.) Such a single link incorrectly assumes that online readers are interested that a new issue of a particular law review has arrived. Article-specific tweets are the ones most likely to draw a click and re-tweet, leading to dissemination beyond your alumni base.

6. The tweets fit within the 140-character limit and are not cut-off mid-word or mid-sentence. I’m talking to you, California Law Review (@CalifLRev). (Sorry bec….) Use pithy “click bait” – like, for instance, this post’s hyperbolic title.

7. When it held its recent symposium, “Federal Rules at 75,” it tastefully posted a few pictures or announcements. Hundreds of live tweets can cause a reader to click “Unfollow,”never to return. If you want to do a play-by-play, you can set up a separate Twitter feed for your symposium.

These are all wonderful ideas for law reviews, but it can be hard to get a student organization and the school to come together on burgeoning ideas to keep law review relevant. The law reviews that are doing these things are on the right track, and thank you to Steve Klepper for publicizing the good things.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Attorney, Age 92, Still Practicing After Graduating Law School At 16

In a feel good piece for the day, Jerome Offutt, age 92, graduated law school at age 16 and is still practicing today.

From the ABA Journal
"When Jerome Offutt graduated from law school in 1937 at the age of 19 he was too young to practice law in his home state of Maryland.

Once a child prodigy, Offutt is still achieving much at an unusual age—he’s 96 and still practicing law.

Tuition was only $200 a year when Offutt began law school at the age of 16. He worked at a Safeway to help pay his way.

Offutt says he worked as an “office boy” in a law office after graduating and began his own law practice at the age of 21. He was elected to Maryland’s House of Delegates at the age of 25 and served for three years. He currently practices law in Frederick County, Md.

Today, Offutt begins his day by lifting weights for 30 minutes and then walking for one or two miles."

At age 30, it might be easy for me to say I want to work forever, but this man is living proof it is possible in this profession. The key is to stay happy and fulfilled, which generally happens the longer you practice. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Will Top Universities Close Law Schools?

There was an interesting post on the Law Deans blog yesterday comparing the current law school bubble to the dental school bubble in the 1980's.

From the blog
"Law schools are not the first profession to suffer declining enrollments, and a changing profession. Dental schools experienced a similar decline over 2 decades ago. As a result of a shrinking job market, dental school applications dropped at an alarming rate. Accordingly, some universities decided to close their dental schools. A 1987 article in the New York Times reported:

Georgetown University's 86-year-old dental school has no first-year students this fall. Over the next three years the Washington school will be gradually shut down, unless students and faculty members win a lawsuit to block the move. Georgetown, formerly the nation's largest private dental school, decided to close after a Price Waterhouse study found that the school would have a $3.6 million deficit by 1992. In Atlanta, Emory University's dental school will be graduating its last class of dentists this spring, then converting itself into a postdoctoral and research institution… Many of the 57 other dental schools in the United States have cut back the size of their classes, unable to attract enough qualified applicants. According to the American Association of Dental Schools, applications have dropped by almost two-thirds since 1975. The academic quality of the applicants has declined, too. High Tuition and Debt And dental schools face other problems: Tuition that tops $15,000 a year at some private dental schools discourages many applicants, as does the fact that the average private dental school graduate has educational debts of $51,000."

The blog goes on to explain that these were dental programs at highly ranked institutions, and the institutions closed their dental schools because the schools were not attracting the type of students that the institutions wanted. The schools did not want the dental school students to "dumb down" the rest of the university. 

The Law Deans blog is basically saying that the smart kids won't go after a law degree in this economic climate. And the prestigious schools will not want to admit less qualified students just to fill seats. Therefore, the university may just choose to shut down the law school program -- especially if the law school is running a deficit. 

"The assumption seems to be that it will most likely be fourth-tier schools that will close, if law schools close. Based on what happened to dental schools in an almost identical atmosphere, I am not sure that assumption is correct."

It's a sad day when the legal profession loses some of the best and brightest. I think that there may be something to this hypothesis, however. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Will Mobile Be King For Legal Research?

LLB reported on "Raymond Blijd, Project Manager, Online Innovation, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory, [who] admits that designing a legal research interface for the small screen remains a challenge but he predicts the era of desktop-based legal research is coming to a close. His prediction is based on desktop usage studies and consumer purchasing trends for IT equipment. Once document creation moves to the small screen, so will legal research according to Blijd in his Intelligent Solutions Blog post The Death of Legal Research on Desktop."

From Blijd's blog:
"While Health and especially Finance went full throttle in mobile, driven respectively by pure need and speed, other business markets have been slower to adopt. Yet, this anxious stance does not reflect reality: PC shipments will only be 20.6% of the total market of smart connected devices. Tablets are forecast to overtake PC sales entirely this Christmas. By 2017,total traditional PC devices are expected to drop to 13%, while tablets and smartphones will contribute 16.5% and 70.5% respectively to the overall market. Those that cling towards a PC oriented design strategy will face extinction just as the operating system and software needed to run it."

I happened to read this blog post right before I went in for a meeting with our Westlaw rep. So naturally, I had to ask if Westlaw sees a time when mobile will be king. The rep said that mobile will not replace the PC interface anytime in the near future, as the PC interface is still much more sophisticated than the mobile interface, and she said that she doesn't see that changing anytime soon.

I think the answer may be different for different sectors of the legal profession, however. For those lawyers who are running between courthouses with their smartphone as their only means of legal research, they will probably continue to increase their reliance on their mobile devices.

For the legal academic, I think that the PC will be favored for research for years to come. Reading long court cases or law review articles on a small screen is not much fun at all.

But I think that law librarians should be adept at both kinds of interfaces: mobile to teach the future attorneys and PC for their own research, as well as that of their faculty.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Online Legal Research Instruction

Please see the RIPS Law Librarian blog for a post I wrote about online legal research instruction.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, The Google Books Scanning Project Is Deemed Fair Use!

In a victory for librarians everywhere, LLB reports that "Judge Denny Chin ruled today in favor Google in the book scanning case.  The ruling is consistent with the results in the Georgia State electronic reserve case and the HathiTrust case in particular."

According to LLB, Judge Chin used the established fair use factors to make his determination:

  • Purpose and character of the use (factor one):  Google’s use is “highly” transformative in that the word index helps readers, scholars, researchers, and other to find books.  Moreover, the manipulation of electronic text can help researchers discover historical trends in how words are used.  Google’s for-profit status is of slight concern because of the important educational purpose served by Google Books.  Factor one favors Google.
  •  Nature of copyrighted work (factor two):  The majority of books scanned are non-fiction.  Though fiction deserves greater protection, all scanned books were published and available to the public.  In any event, both parties in the case agree that the second factor is not determinative.
  • Amount and substantiality of the portion used (factor three):  Google scans the entire book.  Courts have held, however, that copying the entire work can be fair use in some circumstances.  Judge Chin notes that the key to Google Books is its ability to offer full-text search.  Google tightly controls and limits the display as snippets in response to a search.  Factor three weighs slightly against a finding of fair use.
  • Effect of use upon potential market or value (factor four):  The Authors Guild argued that Google Books would act as a market replacement for books.  Alternatively, a searcher can use multiple word searches to construct a book out of snippets.  Google enhances the book market as each display links to sources where the book can be purchased.  As such, it provides a way for authors to get noticed.  As for the snippet to books argument, someone would have to have a copy of the book in order to construct a copy from the online display.  In any event, this would not be possible as Google has blacklisted some snippets as never displayable.    The fourth factor weighs strongly in favor of finding fair use.

Judge Chin went on to say, "[i]t has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books."

I use Google Books a lot to help my law journals. During the cite-checking process, the law journal students often find that a citation is wrong, and it can be all but impossible to find the correct quotation in a book without reading the entire book. Now we no longer have to worry about that. Thank you to Google Books for your transformative use of the world's information. Please continue to do good with it. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Elitism In Law Faculty Hiring

LLBInsideHigherEd are reporting about a study of law school faculty hiring practices that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Empirical Studies.

"The authors studied hiring practices for the 2007-8 academic year. The pattern of hiring appears that schools from all tiers would rather hire graduates from first tier institutions as faculty than lower ranked schools. In fact, the articles states 'nearly half of the new professors hired by accredited last schools in 2008 graduated from only three law schools, those of Harvard, Stanford and Yale Universities.'"

Wow! That's a lot of professors from only three schools. It reminds me of the representation of law schools by SCOTUS justices.

"The implication InsideHigherEd draws is that these hiring practices belie a movement to teach practical skills in a changing curriculum when new faculty members are drawn from programs that emphasize theory."

That's a good point. Although if the new faculty members graduated from schools that emphasize theory and then went on to legal careers for the hands-on training, it's not really much of a problem. It is a little jarring that this level of elitism still persists given that we have over 200 ABA accredited law schools in this country and nearly half of new hires only come from the three schools.

Here's to more diversity in the legal academe!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gender Bias In BigLaw

An ABA Journal article reported on survey results of new partners and noted that "[a] greater percentage of female lawyers had a longer path to partnership than their male counterparts. The American Lawyer survey found that about 80 percent of the male lawyers surveyed made partner within a decade, compared to 66 percent of the women."

Other survey findings:

• Only 78 percent of new female partners said they felt adequately prepared for the job, compared to 90 percent of men.

• Only 83 percent of new female partners said they had been asked to lead a team on a matter, compared to 93 percent of men.

• Thirty percent of new female partners who weren't satisfied with some aspect of partnership cited gender bias as a reason. Twenty-eight percent cited cronyism.

We've come a long way in terms of gender equality in the law, but study after study shows that there is still gender bias in our largest firms. "In the U.S. only 15% of partners in law firms are women, and they earn less than their male counterparts."

Here is an interesting video from the NYTimes discussing the expectations of young female attorneys and their views 12 years later. Many of the findings in the survey seem to correspond with the real-life expectations and results of female attorneys hired into BigLaw.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Library Consortiums - The Wave Of The Future

There was a wonderful article at The Chronicle of Higher Education discussing the use of library consortiums to save money and space.

"Talk of digital revolutions and bookless libraries notwithstanding, academic libraries around the country are feeling the squeeze as legacy collections outgrow shelves, and shelves give way to learning commons and shared study areas. Those twin pressure points—too many print books plus new demands on library real estate—have spurred academic libraries to try a set of state and regional experiments to free up library space to suit modern learning styles and still make sure that somebody, somewhere, hangs onto books that make up part of the intellectual record, even if those books haven't circulated in years."

But how do libraries decide which books to deselect? According to the author of the CHE article, "they should draw on solid data—on persuasive and detailed analyses of what's in a collection and how it's used and whether those books are available somewhere else." Some libraries have "settled on three criteria: titles that were published or acquired before 2005, that appeared in at least three collections, and that had circulated three or fewer times since 1999."

It's been a slow movement toward digitization and de-duplicating, but "[m]ass-digitization projects, notably the creation of the HathiTrust digital repository with its nearly 11 million volumes, have also encouraged libraries to act. If electronic copies of monographs exist, that takes some pressure off libraries to have print copies of them close by. (About 3.5 million of the digitized works in the HathiTrust are in the public domain, according to the repository)."

Nearly every academic library is facing space and money constraints, and regional consortiums are a great idea. But it can be a challenge to consider another library when building or weeding a collection. There has to be a strong foundation of trust. There can also be issues of access to resources. If only one or two copies of a print monograph are saved for archival purposes, the libraries that house the monograph may not be willing to lend it through interlibrary loan or other because there is a risk that if a patron or library loses the book, it will be lost forever.

As libraries continue to change and evolve, I suspect that we will see many more consortiums pop up. Our job as librarians is to work out the kinks to archive our intellectual record.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Reform Idea - Let 3Ls Receive Pay During Externships

An ABA Journal article proposed a program to let 3Ls earn credit while getting paid for their externships and not paying the law school tuition. This sounds like a pretty sound idea.

Currently, under the ABA Standards, law students cannot be financially compensated for earning credits. The thinking being that the law school credit is compensation for the work performed. However, most law schools require their law students to pay tuition for the credits, so the students are paying to essentially work for free. 

This might be okay in better economic times if the students are receiving a true academic experience while on the job. But it's hard to determine the quality of the on-the-job training that many law students receive at their externships. If they are not getting a quality education during their externships but must still pay tuition, then it becomes that the students are paying thousands of dollars to work for free.

An executive at Cisco, Mark Chandler, proposed the following reform: 
1. Third-year law students who want practical experience should be able to receive academic credit for working—for pay—in a law firm, company legal department or court. The difference from today’s externships, for which full credit is granted, is simply receipt of compensation, which requires a change in the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools Interpretation 305-3 (PDF). One can suppose that the proscription on compensation for externs is based on the premise that employers will be willing to provide a more academically based experience if the work is performed without compensation. But there’s no empirical basis to support that, and the standards require extensive oversight of externships in any case. Unlike today’s externships, the law students would also not pay tuition to the law school, thereby cutting their costs by one-third.

2. Law schools must provide externs with academic support, going beyond the ABA oversight rules, to ensure real legal work is being performed, and supplementary required readings to provide context. This work could also give rise to academic credit. An effective program could provide the necessary checks that the work is genuine practical experience, on the order of the clinics that many schools run today.

3. The employer should also be allowed to cover the tuition the school would otherwise receive. The ABA rule change must accommodate the ability of the employer to make this payment so that law schools can continue their faculty work and research programs.

Cisco is even implementing a version of these suggestions while still fitting within the current ABA Standards. According to Chandler, "[Cisco's] hope is the students emerge with a semester’s less debt and some savings from the internship salary. More importantly, they should have gained practical skills and experience that will serve them well regardless of the law practice after they graduate. And the law school will not suffer a degradation of resources to continue academic programs, support faculty research and meet other needs.

Again, this sounds like a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Law Firm Associate Residency Programs

The ABAJournal reported on a new model of associate training that some big name law firms are testing.

"One option being tried by Greenberg Traurig is a new residency program for associates who aren’t recruited in traditional on-campus interviews. The positions last for a year and pay less, but new lawyers in the program can spend up to a third of their billable hours in training. At the end of the trial period, the residency associates may have to leave the firm, may become a regular associate, or may become a 'practice group attorney,' a new position for nonshareholder lawyers."

"Another firm, Duval & Stachenfeld, began its “Opportunity Associate Program” 11 years ago. Associates in this program are paid $70,000 during a nine-month probationary period. If they do well, they become either a 'principal associate' on the partnership track or they join the 'alternative track program.'"

This just might be the way to go. As the old model of learning theory in law school and getting hands-on mentoring at a law firm fades, these residency programs could make up the difference in learning. As law schools continue to provide more practical training and increasingly require a clinical requirement to graduate,  law students are starting to graduate with the necessary skills that law firms have criticized were previously lacking. This type of residency program at law firms will help to build upon the skills that are taught in law school and provide the necessary training to practice law. This means that new and recent graduates will be more practice ready than ever.

The residency programs would also alleviate the issue with unpaid interns. Many firms hire unpaid interns, but I suspect that many of these interns do not get the requisite training that is required of an unpaid position. With these training programs, the residency associate would get paid a decent salary, get substantial training, and "law firms could [even] 'sweeten the deal' with loan repayment assistance."

Sounds like a winning situation all around.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Librarian As Top Resource Every Graduate Student Should Use

It was refreshing to see GRADHACKER recently list a librarian as the top resource of the 5 campus resources every graduate student should use. As a bonus resource, GRADHACKER also listed the local library as another great resource.

From the blog:

1. Librarian
One of the best pieces of advice I received as a student was "Take your librarian out to coffee at least once a semester." Universities hire full-time librarians assigned to the major subject areas. These librarians are particularly knowledgeable of rare documents, collections, and uncatalogued resources waiting to be processed. Additionally they have the ability to order books, journals, maps, data, and other resources graduate students may need.

2. Writing Center

3. Gym

4. Professional Services: Tax, Legal, and Dental Services

5. Student Government and Graduate Student Union

Bonus: Your Local Library
Although not situated on campus, your local library is another important resource that many of us fail to use. While the university has most of the books I need, the local county library offers digital subscriptions to popular monthly magazines that can be downloaded on a computer or tablet. 

It's great to take advantage of the 'free' resources that come with being a member of a large institution or the community -- especially as a graduate student who may be short on funds. Maybe I am a bit bias, but I, too, think that a librarian is a great resource that many students fail to fully utilize. On some levels, it wasn't until I became a librarian that I realized how valuable we can be. That might go back to one of the criticisms of the profession as a whole. Librarians are often criticized for not fully promoting their value and what exactly it is that they do. 

Students -- come and see us, and we'll show you what we can do. Especially if you are doing specialized research or delving into scholarship.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Twitter For Legal Research

Law Librarians reported on Patrick M. Ellis, a 3L who is an associate editor of the Michigan State Law Review and is currently working on a paper discussing the viability of Twitter as a legitimate legal research resource.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Law Schools Still Need Law Libraries

There was a recent post on the new Law Dean's Blog discussing the role of the academic law library.

Dean I. Richard Gershon (formerly of Charleston School of Law, currently of the University of Mississippi School of Law) noted that some law schools are resorting to laying off faculty and staff in an effort to control budgets. The gist of his post is that the focus should not be on the faculty and staff but rather the law library (this is part I of a multi-part series on evolving law schools).

According to Gershon, "the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools require that libraries have adequate space and resources," and the standards create a "collection plan [that adds] greatly to the annual expenses of many law school budgets, without truly enhancing the education of the students, or the scholarly productivity of the faculty. In plain terms, [according to Gershon] we buy or subscribe to a whole bunch of stuff that we will never use." Gershon goes on to further state, "when we purchase print materials, we have to find a place to shelve those materials. The result is that we have established beautiful book museums, when our students and faculty rarely use those materials, and the legal profession moved away from print a decade ago."

There are many reasons beyond the ABA standards that law libraries collect the way that they do. There are ownership considerations whereby many electronic resources only allow licensing rather than content ownership, which means that the content availability is tenuous. Also, the legal publishing field has not kept pace with the supposed abandonment of print resources. As stated previously, of the 2 million unique volumes in law libraries, only 15% of those materials have been digitized for electronic use. This leaves 85% only available in print. That is a lot of valuable content to abandon. 

There are also different considerations for standalone law schools. Without the support of a large undergraduate research library, standalone law schools are left to acquire the materials for their curriculum all alone. As one law librarian commented, "libraries’ collection development policies are based primarily on curricular emphases and support for faculty members' current research needs." 

I visited the Charleston School of Law library once, and I was amazed by its small size. There was a very small core collection with a large emphasis on the legal databases. Maybe the students at Charleston would use the materials if they had access to them. I even had a student-friend from CSL who would call me for access to other resources to write a scholarly article. And if you follow in Charleston's footsteps, you're leaving it up to the legal databases to decide what content will be available and when. 

As lawyers, we are taught to be a prudent bunch. To merely decide that we should not collect print resources because no one uses them is not the answer. Instead, we need to find a way to inspire students and faculty to use the resources. Law librarians need to instruct and promote our resources and the overall value of the library.

Monday, November 4, 2013

July 2013 Michigan Bar Exam Results By School

From the State Bar of Michigan's blog, The Michigan Board of Law examiners released its complete list of pre-appeals statistics for the July 2013 exam, and 60 percent of exam-takers passed. More precisely, 1,007 people took the exam, and 600 passed, while 407 failed.

A breakdown of pass-fail rates by law school was included.

Thomas M. Cooley: 43 percent passed, 57 percent failed. (145 passed)

Michigan State University: 74 percent passed, 26 percent failed. (110 passed)

University of Detroit Mercy: 52 percent passed, 48 percent failed. (67 passed)

University of Michigan: 94 percent passed, 6 percent failed. (31 passed)

Wayne State University: 67 percent passed, 33 percent failed. (99 passed)

University of Toledo: 65 percent passed, 35 percent failed. (11 passed)

Others: 72 percent passed, 28 percent failed.

Friday, November 1, 2013

LSAT Takers Down 45% From 2009

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported on the continued decrease in the number of LSAT test takers. "The number of law school admission tests administered in October is down nearly 11% from the previous year, according to new data from the Law School Admission Council."

"It’s the fewest number of October test takers since 1998 and the second-lowest figure going back to the 1980s."

"The number of test takers peaked four years ago and has been on the decline ever since. The total for June and October is down 38% from four years ago. And the October total alone is 45% below the 2009 peak."

So we've seen these numbers before in the late 1980's. The problem is that there has also been a substantial number of law schools opened since that time. The figure reads that 65 new law schools have opened since 1970. I'd say the number is closer to 30 law schools since 1987. 

So the ultimate challenge will be to spread the lower number of applicants across more law schools. Things will also depend on how the law schools have operated in a time of drastic growth as compared to the fast, sweeping decline that has occurred. If the schools remained financially strong and efficient during peak times, they should be able to weather this storm -- hopefully with innovative reform

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Michigan Bar Exam Passage Rate Up From 2012

Although we are still waiting on the official breakdown of passage rate by school, the State Bar of Michigan Blog reports that five hundred thirty eight certified passers successfully navigated July's bar exam.

That number is up 13.5 percent from last year's certified passer list.

Happy Halloween!

For the man who launched a thousand Halloween costumes, let's pay tribute to David Bowie's reading list.

David Bowie's top 100 must-read books

The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby (2008)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (2007)
The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard (2007)
Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage (2007)
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters (2002)
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens (2001)
Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler (1997)
A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes (1997)
The Insult, Rupert Thomson (1996)
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon (1995)
The Bird Artist, Howard Norman (1994)
Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard (1993)
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C Danto (1992)
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia (1990)
David Bomberg, Richard Cork (1988)
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick (1986)
The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin (1986)
Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd (1985)
Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey (1984)
Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter (1984)
Money, Martin Amis (1984)
White Noise, Don DeLillo (1984)
Flaubert's Parrot, Julian Barnes (1984)
The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White (1984)
A People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn (1980)
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole (1980)
Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester (1980)
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler (1980)
Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess (1980)
Raw, a "graphix magazine" (1980-91)
Viz, magazine (1979 –)
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (1979)
Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz (1978)
In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan (1978)
Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed Malcolm Cowley (1977)
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes (1976)
Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders (1975)
Mystery Train, Greil Marcus (1975)
Selected Poems, Frank O'Hara (1974)
Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich (1972)
n Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner (1971) Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky (1971)
The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillett(1970)
The Quest for Christa T, Christa Wolf (1968)
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn (1968)
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg (1967)
Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr (1966)
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (1965)
City of Night, John Rechy (1965)
Herzog, Saul Bellow (1964)
Puckoon, Spike Milligan (1963)
The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford (1963)
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea, Yukio Mishima (1963)
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin (1963)
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1962)
Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell (1962)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark (1961)
Private Eye, magazine (1961 –)
On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding (1961)
Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage (1961)
Strange People, Frank Edwards (1961)
The Divided Self, RD Laing (1960)
All the Emperor's Horses, David Kidd (1960)
Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse (1959)
The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1958)
On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1957)
The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard (1957)
Room at the Top, John Braine (1957)
A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno (1956)
The Outsider, Colin Wilson (1956)
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell (1949)
The Street, Ann Petry (1946)
Black Boy, Richard Wright (1945)

State Fines For Texting While Driving

I'd wager that most people have sent a quick text while driving or have been the remote texter who texts a friend while the friend is driving. While these acts are common, it is obviously risky, and the various states are trying to discourage texting while driving with steep fines.

Lifehacker posted the following map of the states with each state's fine for texting while driving:

"Alaska has the strongest penalty: Up to $10,000 and a year in prison for the first offense. California has the smallest minimium fine—only $20 per offense. Four states: Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and South Carolina, have no bans or penalties for texting while driving whatsoever. The national median is $100, and many states scale the dollar amounts and penalties up from there."

These are fines for driving while texting, and New Jersey recently upped the ante when "a New Jersey appeals court held that a remote texter can be held liable to third parties for injuries caused when the distracted driver has an accident. However, that is only true if the individual sending the texts from another location knew they were being viewed by the recipient as he or she was driving."

Just don't do it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Free Online Training For Librarians

Check out LibraryScienceList! From the website: "LibraryScienceList is a hip library science social community for librarians around the world. We are a truly global site for librarians. Our site is run by data and editorial geeks with a community of diverse librarians. Our aim is to showcase creative editorial around the field of librarianship."

Melissa Steele posted a list of free online training websites for librarians earlier this year. Because, as she noted, "the training never ends. There are always new skills to learn and new abilities to master, and that’s why so many librarians continue to utilize online courses to boost their overall knowledge."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The July 2013 Michigan Bar Exam Results

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners just released the results for the July 2013 Michigan bar exam.

The results can be found at the Michigan Board of Law Examiners website.

A Law Librarian's Degrees

Hiringlibrarians ran a post about an analysis of law librarians who work at top-50 institutions (U.S. News) and the rank of their degree-granting institutions. Here's a citation to the results: Ahlbrand, A. & Johnson, M. (2012). Degree pedigree: Assessing the effect of degree-granting institutions’ ranks on prospective employment at academic law libraries. Law Library Journal, 104(4), 553-68.

The authors compared the ranks of where librarians acquired their library science and law degrees to the rank of the school at which they were employed. The authors used U.S. News and World Report rankings as the measure since those rankings are most prevalent today

The methodology for the study consisted of the authors recording each librarian’s employing law school and its current rank; the attended law school and its current rank; the attended library science program and its current rank; and the years each degree was attained, if available. The initial data analysis was performed on both the intended sample of librarians working at top-fifty law schools and a random sample drawn from all U.S. law schools by calculating frequency statistics. Then a few chi-square analyses were done to compare the groups of data in different categories.

The study showed that, to attain a position at a top-fifty ranked law school, one should strive to attend a top-ten ranked library science program. The analysis revealed that those working at top-fifty ranked law schools were more likely to have attended highly ranked library science programs than those in the random sample of all law schools.

There was no significant difference between the rank of law schools attended for librarians in the top-fifty and random samples. But more closely comparing librarians working at top-twenty-five and top-ten law schools, the data did reveal a difference in law school educational patterns: librarians working at top-ten law schools were much more likely to have attended highly ranked law schools than those working at law schools ranked in the top twenty-five.

Knowing this fairly recent information from 2012, if one were to apply to a top 50 law school for a law librarian position, should she follow the advice from this Chronicle of Higher Education article and ask in advance if the hiring committee has any particular concerns about her?

The very example the article from CHE gives is: "If you have spent much or all of your career at elite institutions and are a candidate at a nonelite college, you can expect people on the hiring committee to wonder about your ability—and your desire—to make the transition. You will have to make an extra effort to dispel the notion that you are not only from an elite institution but also an elitist."

I wonder if a law librarian candidate should bring a discussion of her degree-granting institutions to the forefront and let the hiring committee know that she realizes that the hiring committee may have questions about the candidate's degree-granting institutions? Or does that seem presumptuous? And should it be done in a cover letter or only once a potential candidate has been asked to interview? Cover letters are tricky things. Trying to set yourself apart on paper can be a challenge.

It feels awkward to bring up any negative information, especially when these seem to be obvious questions. I also do not feel that the degree-granting institution's reputation is always the best way to judge a potential candidate. But depending on the hiring committee, taking a few risks might be worth it to set yourself apart from the rest of the run-of-the-mill crowd.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New England School Of Law Rumored To Cut 14 Faculty

The TaxProfBlog is reporting on a rumored new measure at the New England School of Law to eliminate 14 fulltime faculty positions by August 1, 2014. 

According to information at TaxProfBlog: "Depending on how one counts, this is about 35-40% of the regular faculty. The School's entering class was up in 2012, but was down in 2013 and by some accounts the School has an endowment of $80,000,000. Faculty have been told by Dean John O'Brien that these 14 positions will be eliminated according to the School's needs, regardless of tenure or seniority. An incentive plan has been offered to senior faculty and certain clinical faculty, but those who don't take it have been threatened with termination. Their decisions must be final by the end of the Fall term. Those who still do not comply or were not offered the plan, were told that if they remain, their workload during the next academic year will move from 2 to as much as 4 courses per semester and that they will be required to be at their desks from 9 to 5 each day of the work week or an equivalent time period if they are teaching evening classes."

I bet that many law schools across the country are taking similar measures. The schools are likely utilizing the regular faculty to teach classes that were once taught by adjuncts in better times. This means a higher per term teaching load for the regular faculty. As for the 40 hour workweek, some may think that this is a gesture of good faith by the law school to show that the faculty are working hard -- something that has been recently criticized. 

When looking at the news sources on this information, it appears that the law faculty are taking the brunt of the criticism. It's gone so far as having an ABA Council recommend the elimination of tenure requirements.

At this point, only time will tell what the future holds for all law schools as the various administrations continue to react to the drop in enrollment. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy Open Access Week!

Open Access Week runs from October 21 - October 27, 2013. Although we are nearing the end of this "holiday," it is an important event that celebrates the ideals that inform society. 

From the website: "'Open Access' to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole."

In addition, "Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year. Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to take action to keep this momentum moving forward."

I am a huge fan of open access to keep scholarship broad and accessible. Although I will not go so far as to become a martyr to the cause, I will continue to promote the value of open access in the scholarly community any chance that I get.

By art designer at PLoS, I converted a pdf into svg (http://www.plos.org/) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Repository Of Law Review Publication Agreements

Here is a great new resource that I first noticed over at Law Librarians -- The PrawfsBlawg has compiled a number of law review publication agreements.You can find the whole spreadsheet of the compiled law review publication agreements here.

As noted, "[i]t might be useful for folks to have access to law reviews' publication agreements, whether to help with negotiations, compare copyright provisions, or whatever. [PrawfsBlawg] has begun a spreadsheet with links to such agreements that are available on the web. If you are aware of other such links, please add them in the comments to the [PrawfsBlawg] post or email [PrawfsBlawg] directly, slawsky *at* law *dot* uci *dot* edu," and the agreements will be added to the spreadsheet.

PrawfsBlawg is interested in links to any law review publication agreements, whether main journal, secondary journal, peer-reviewed, or student reviewed.

I have a forthcoming article coming out titled, How Law Librarians Can Assist with Law Journal Publication Agreements. In the article, I talk about the necessity of looking at other law journals' publication agreements as samples when journals are updating their own. One of the key considerations in law review publication agreements, today, is open access. It is a great idea to keep open access in mind and allow authors to retain the right to distribute their articles at places like SSRN.

Open access will inevitably create a wider readership base because the articles will generally be discoverable through Google searches. In this day and age, when many researchers are relying primarily on convenient resources on Google, it is a great idea to broaden the current scholarship available and help prevent the very narrow scholarship that might otherwise be churned out.

Thanks to PrawfsBlawg for taking the initiative to start this great repository of which we can all benefit!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Law Schools Dabble In Online LL.M. Programs

A National Law Journal article notes that there are three law schools that have taken the plunge into online LL.M. degree programs -- USC Gould School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, and Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

"Florida Coastal School of Law was the first to offer an online LL.M. in U.S. law in 2010. Washington University in St. Louis School of Law followed suit in 2012, effective at the start of 2013. Administrators initially expected to enroll about 20 students, but 51 are participating. In a further bid to break out of the pack, USC’s online program will offer students the opportunity to concurrently earn a certificate in entertainment law or business law at no added cost."

This makes sense as online degree programs gain traction and also because "LL.M. tuition has become something of a lifeline for some law schools as J.D. enrollments plummeted during the past three years. [LL.M. programs] face little oversight from the ABA and law schools are not required to report the incoming academic credentials of students or their employment outcomes. Thus law schools like LL.M. programs because they do not affect rankings.

And LL.M. programs are financially appealing to law schools. "Most foreign students pay full tuition, which can run as high as $70,000. Plus, LL.M programs generally don’t require many new faculty members, since students often take open seats in J.D. classes already on offer. As with the program at Washington University, tuition for USC’s online LL.M. will be the same per credit as for the residential program—for a total cost of about $42,000."

Not only do LL.M. programs face little oversight and are a smart financial option, they are also the only degree program where enrollment has significantly increased since 2000. "The total number of non-J.D. students—of which foreign-trained LL.M. candidates comprise the single largest group—increased by 52 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to the American Bar Association. By contrast, J.D. enrollment grew by just 1 percent during that same period."

I suspect that it is only a matter of time before all law schools jump on the bandwagon. These law schools are smart to be the first to adopt these online LL.M. programs because there is currently little competition.

However, I do think that online programs should not cost as much as face-to-face. Online students have to purchase their own hardware/software, and they are not using the physical infrastructure of the campus. I think that this should be taken into account with pricing. Otherwise, the online idea is a sound one. There are simple platforms, such as Blackboard, that facilitate lectures and discussion, which is the heart of any LL.M. program today. And many prospective LL.M. students would be dissuaded to uproot their lives to attend a traditional program. On paper, it seems to work. We'll see if this type of innovation transfers to the JD program, as well.