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Showing posts from November, 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.

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 mino…

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…

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 (@V…

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 thi…

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&#…

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 t…

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 a…

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 …

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 th…

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 …

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 re…

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 …

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 unive…

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.

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 furt…

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.

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 acr…