Monday, June 30, 2014

Penn State Will Operate Two Law Schools - One Theoretical, One Practical

The ABA Journal reported on recent developments for Penn State law schools. 

"The school announced that Penn State has gotten approval from the American Bar Association to operate two separately accredited law schools, starting with students admitted in the fall of 2015."

"Although they will still function under the Dickinson School of Law umbrella, one institution will be called Penn State Law at University Park and the other will be known as Dickinson Law in Carlisle. Each will have a separate dean, its own faculty and an individualized focus."

It sounds as if one will be a traditional law school education while the other will focus on practical training.

The University Park law school will be a traditional legal education that takes advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunities provided by being on Penn State's main campus. "Meanwhile the Carlisle law school will focus on specialized government and health care programs that benefit from its proximity to the state capital and Washington, D.C., as well as Penn State Hershey Medical Center. They are intended to produce 'practice-ready lawyers, so you have all the thinking and practical skills to hit the ground on day one.'"

If there are any law librarians interested in the opportunity to work at these institutions, there are currently two positions open:

Scholarly Communications and Faculty Services Librarian

Emerging Technology and Digital Research Librarian

Friday, June 27, 2014

eBook Price Gouging & The Preference For Print

Many academic libraries are transitioning from traditional print to eBooks because we assume that our patrons prefer to access material electronically. We are dealing with the Google generation after all.

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article that showcased the perils of relying on eBooks. "In mid-May, the Boston Library Consortium, which represents 17 academic libraries in New England, received an abrupt and unsettling phone call from ebrary, an e-book library owned by the aggregator ProQuest. A company representative said 11 academic publishers, including major players like Taylor & Francis and Oxford University Press, would be raising the cost of short-term e-book loans effective June 1. In some cases the increase would be as much as 300 percent."

The publishers said that the pricing model was in beta, and it was deemed to be unsustainable. "At issue is a short-term loan model for e-book purchasing that has been tested over the past two years. It allows libraries to offer large catalogs but pay for only those books that are actually used—and not to pay full price until books have been used several times." We call this patron-driven acquisitions.

How does it work? "Each time a client checks out one of the e-books in these 'demand-driven acquisition pools,' the libraries pay a portion of the title’s list price—from 10 to 80 percent, depending on the length of the loan and the publisher’s rate. After a certain number of loans—publishers say the number can be as low as two, theoretically, or high as 25—the library automatically buys the title at full price."

Generally, even though a library eventually pays the full price after a certain number of checkouts, the library never actually owns the title like a print book. The library merely licenses the title, so after the agreed upon number of checkouts is up, the library has to purchase the title again for future checkouts.

Another issue is the "'restrictive licensing agreements' that prevent e-books from being shared among libraries the way hard copies pass through Interlibrary Loan." This has been called an 'existential threat' to the 'ecosystem of sharing.'" And I would add preserving/archiving, as well.

And although we suspect that eBooks will continue to rise in popularity, the Wall Street Journal noted that "[o]f the people in the U.S. who use the Internet, 46% say they still only read books that are printed, according to data from Harris Interactive that was charted by Statista. Another 16% say they read more printed books than e-books." And The Chronicle of Higher Education noted anecdotal evidence that scholars still prefer print books, too.

If publishers are not willing to play nice with libraries regarding eBooks, maybe libraries should continue to purchase the print version for now. Print allows libraries to buy a copy and lend it into perpetuity without restriction because the library owns the print book versus merely licensing an eBook.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Slate Says Now Is The Time to Go To Law School

It's no secret that there has been a lot of negative commentary in recent years about attending law school. Commenters says it costs too much , and there are too many attorneys and not enough jobs

Slate ran an article yesterday that argues the opposite - now may be the perfect time to go to law school. 

"Thanks to the historic enrollment crash that has shrunk law school classes during the past few years, it means that graduates might soon be looking at a shockingly strong job market."

In addition, grads "found more jobs overall than in 2012. And as the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this week, big law firms—the kinds offering those fat, six-figure salaries that law schools like to advertise—continued to pick up their recruiting." 

Slate broke down the numbers:
"In the fall of 2013, 39,700 students enrolled in law school. Given that about 10 percent of each law school class generally drops out, we should expect no more than 36,000 to reach commencement. In comparison, 46,776 law students graduated in 2013. So we’re talking about a potential 23 percent plunge."

For the 2013 class, "[a]mong all graduates who reported their job status, 32,775 found full-time, long-term work, meaning the job lasted at least a year. Of those jobs, 26,337 required passing the bar, meaning they were typical legal jobs. An additional 4,714 were in fields that technically did not require law degrees, but where employers preferred to hire J.D.s anyway. Finally, 1,724 were in jobs completely unrelated to law, which sounds bad, but the reality is that a certain number of graduates always do something unconnected to their degree."

The Slate article estimates that those numbers hold. "In that case, we can expect that about 91 percent of the class of 2016 will find long-term, full-time work, compared with about 72 percent last year. About 73 percent would be in full-time, long-term legal jobs, compared with 58 percent last year. Essentially, employment rates would look similar to those in 2007, when the mid-2000s legal hiring wave crested. That year, about 92 percent of graduates were employed, and 76.9 percent obtained legal jobs (including part-time and short-term)." 

While the employment outlook is better, salaries have declined. For 2013 grads who went to work at law firms, the median salary was just $95,000, compared with $125,000 in 2008

For those of you who have always dreamed of being a lawyer, now just may be the perfect time to go. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FBI's Glossary Of Internet Slang

The ABA Journal reported on the FBI's creation of a glossary of Internet slang. The glossary is composed of 83 pages and was released to the public after a FOIA request.

MuckRock posted the guide under the heading 'Twitter shorthand,' but the Washington Post says many of the terms are rarely used. ALOTBSOL (always look on the bright side of life) has been tweeted fewer than 500 times in eight years of Twitter’s existence, for example. The story lists 18 others, including these:

• BOGSAT (bunch of guys sitting around talking), 144 tweets

• DILLIGAD (does it look like I give a damn?), 289 tweets

• ITYWIMWYBMAD (if I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink?), 250 tweets

• BTDTGTTSAWIO (been there, done that, got the T-shirt and wore it out), 47 tweets

Although the copy of the glossary that was released in nearly illegible, this may be a more reputable source of Internet slang than Urban Dictionary, which courts have used to define Internet slang.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CataLaw For Legal Research On The Internet

Scribes had another great legal research tip this morning:

CataLaw describes itself as "the catalog of catalogs of worldwide law on the Internet. It aids legal research by arranging all indexes of law and government into a uniform, universal, and unique metaindex."

"The user can select a topic (e.g., banking law, immigration law), a region (e.g., Africa, Pacific, U.S. Courts, U.S. State, and Local), or an extra (e.g., Legal Periodicals), and then run Google searches."

Additional information from Cornell Law Library notes that "Catalaw is an index of 80 of the 'major catalogs' of law and government available on the Internet based in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The sites are canvassed and the information from each is included in Catalaw."

"Using Catalaw is not intuitive, especially for the first-time user. The site strongly urges the first- time user to visit an overview page. Be sure to follow this recommendation, otherwise you may quickly find yourself somewhere between being frustrated and hopelessly lost. Although the arrangement could be improved, this is an interesting site worth a close examination."

*Caveat: it was brought to my attention that the material is dated.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Law Students Beware: Make All Proper Disclosures

InsideHigherEd and the ABA Journal recently reported that a Northwestern Law School student was expelled for not disclosing his felon status to the law school prior to admittance.

From InsideHigherEd:
Northwestern University's law school this spring expelled a student -- months from graduation -- who is a felon who has been convicted for falsely impersonating a lawyer, The Chicago Tribune reported. The student who was kicked out then sued the university, although a settlement appears to have been reached. Northwestern faulted the student for failing to disclose his past, and said that he was an "undesirable" candidate to become a lawyer. The would-be lawyer disputes the charges from his past, but he also argues that Northwestern never asked him about his criminal history.

From the ABA Journal:
The student was convicted of of operating a law firm without a license. In 2012, he applied to and was accepted at Northwestern Law School’s master of laws program geared toward international lawyers. But when Northwestern discovered Celis’ criminal history in March, just a few months before graduation, the school booted him out.

Celis sued, arguing the school never asked about criminal convictions. Northwestern’s response to Celis’ suit didn’t dispute that it failed to ask about criminal convictions for the LL.M. program. The school’s lawyers said Celis should have known the criminal history was relevant. The school does ask about criminal history in applicants for its J.D. program, according to evidence presented in the case.

The moral of the story is to disclose all criminal convictions regardless of whether the law schools asks. I am sure that Northwestern Law School learned its lesson during litigation, and it will not ask LL.M. students to disclose criminal convictions.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Law Prof Argues Law School Kills Brain Cells

The ABA Journal recently reported on a law review article where a law professor argues that the stress of law school and law practice takes a tremendous toll on cognitive capacity.

According to University of Denver law professor Debra Austin, "stress can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, depression, substance abuse and suicide. What’s more, neuroscience now shows that this level of stress also diminishes cognitive capacity."

Austin argues that "law schools should look to perks offered by innovative companies such as Google, Whole Foods Market and Cisco systems. Research shows that perks such as onsite gyms, work/life balance programs, stress management classes, mindfulness training, and nutrition coaching promote cognitive health and produce vibrant workplaces and thriving employees."

But most law schools are working under tight budgets these days, and perks cost money. The best thing that law students can do is to take matters into their own hands. Law students should exercise more, get more sleep, and engage in contemplative practices such as a mindfulness and meditation. "'Replacing less healthful activities such as cocktail hour, playing video games, or watching television could yield the time law students and lawyers require to optimize cognitive performance,' Austin says."

These are important concepts to keep in mind for a long, healthy career in the legal field. Attorneys are known to rank as the unhappiest in terms of job satisfaction. And remember to follow these tips to keep happy and healthy.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

State Bar of Michigan Seeking Comments

The Task Force on the Role of the State Bar of Michigan's Report to the Michigan Supreme Court is currently being reviewed by the State Bar's Board of Commissioners. The Report was initiated by SB 74, which would change the membership of the State Bar of Michigan from mandatory to voluntary.

The work group wants input from the State Bar of Michigan membership and wants the membership to know:

1) That the Court also wants membership input and will accept comments until August 4;

2) That the workgroup will be reviewing the report to decide what our comments, thoughts, and recommendations to the Court may be;

3) That the workgroup wants to obtain member comments about the report as soon as possible, but no later than July 15 so they and the Board of Commissioners can consider the comments in their decision making. Specifically please comment upon:

The limits placed on advocacy by a more rigorous Keller process that is intended to "go beyond the safeguards imposed on any of the mandatory state bars that engage in legislative advocacy." (Pages 8-9 TF report);

The review panel of seven people that would have exclusive responsibility to decide whether a matter is or is not Keller permissible and also requires that five of the seven review panel members agree (pages 7-8 TF report);

The elimination from the Rules Concerning the State Bar that strikes from existing Rule 1 "… and in promoting the interests of the legal profession in this State." (Page 6 TF report);

The suggested changes to the Representative Assembly and Board of Commissioner governance which includes eliminating language in Rule 6 Sec 1—"The Representative Assembly is the final policy-making body of the State Bar." (Page 16 TF report);

The suggested changes to the advocacy activities of the Sections (pages 13-14 TF report);

The suggested changes to the Bar's involvement in the disciplinary process giving the Bar input in the appointment of AGC and ADB members and directors; (pages 15-16 TF report);

The suggested changes that require a formal Keller analysis of justice initiative programs (page 14 TF report);

To those who have supported a mandatory bar—indicate whether you would support a mandatory bar if the Task Force's recommendations were adopted by the Court;

Any other comments, observations or recommendations you have.

E-mail your response to Brian Einhorn, and Don Rockwell

Also be sure to send your comments to the Court by August 4, 2014.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Long Live The Print Book!

Slate ran an article about the transition to a book-less library and what it means for the heart of the academic institution. Colby College in Maine moved "170,000 of its books to storage, to make room for sumptuous new administrative offices." This prompted the author of the article to ask if this still counts as a library?

In response to the move, concerned faculty wrote an impassioned open letter stating that the library is "no longer 'a place for reflection and deep thought, research and scholarship,' but rather merely 'a waiting room' sans books and a reference librarian, and surrounded by temples to the new gods of the American university?"

"The Colby case is but one example of a widespread move to re-appropriate library space in the age of digitization. From the University of Nebraska to the University of Edinburgh, from the University of Nevada–Las Vegas to Kent State, knowledge repositories the world over may soon have to change their names, because the liber will be increasingly hard to come by."

This is bottom-dollar thinking, and "[w]e must also save the stacks because books are the best—perhaps the only—bastions of contemplative intellectual space in the world."

"Some studies show, for now, that online reading creates worse readers—that there is no replacement (yet) for the wonder of browsing" a book collection. These "intangibles are both vitally important to the university experience and irreplaceable digitally—for now."

A lot of the problem is that "[students] have to be forced to research in books [even if the book is the "best" resource on a particular topic]. Professional scholars, on the other hand, already know how to perform a sophisticated search (or to ask a librarian for assistance), and can often have books pulled and delivered, so even we rarely walk into the stacks."

As the library continues to be underused in today's academic climate and "more of the books disappear from college libraries, the people in charge of funding those libraries will be more tempted to co-opt that space for events that bring in revenue, or entice students for the wrong reasons: food courts. gaming lounges."

Not only is the scholarly feeling and contemplative heart of the academic institution at stake, "[t]here’s also the small matter that you only have to buy a book once; digital resources are licensed, and their prices increase every year."

As the author of the Slate article put it, "SAVE OUR STACKS!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Law Schools Pay Judges A Pretty Penny To Teach

The National Law Journal recently reported that "[l]aw schools paid federal appeals judges anywhere from several thousand dollars for a lecture to nearly $278,000 for full-semester teaching in 2012 — at once buying prestige and giving students a direct line to some of the judiciary's top legal minds."

In total, law schools paid judges nearly $2M dollars to teach in 2012. "The NLJ reviewed 257 financial reports released in late 2013 and this year. Together, the judges earned nearly $2 million for teaching and lecturing as they navigated a thicket of ethics rules that restrict activity off the bench."

"Under federal law, active judges were barred from earning more than $26,955 off the bench during 2012, with exceptions for outside income such as retirement pay and publishing royalties. Senior judges, on the other hand, who usually carry lighter dockets, no longer face the earnings cap in most instances. Federal appellate judges earned $184,500 in salary in 2012. Senior judges earn the same amount as active judges if they maintain a certain workload. If they don't, at a minimum they get the same salary as the year they took senior status."

Why are law schools willing to pay this hefty sum? "Judges are 'cost-effective' hires, said Tracey George, a professor at Vanderbilt Law School. Skills that make a good judge often carry over to the classroom, she said, and law schools see returns if students build relationships that lead to clerkships and jobs. 'Judges are appealing because not only do they have the special expertise … they have status,' she said."

This is a good deal for the school and for the judges if the judges are actively teaching the students, as well.

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Repayment Caps On Student Loans

The ABA Journal recently reported that "President Barack Obama has signed an executive order expanding a 2010 law that capped student-loan repayments for newer government-backed loans at 10 percent of the borrower’s monthly income."

Obama cited "his own experience with law school loans paid off just 10 years ago. The goal is to implement the expansion in December 2015, after new rules are drafted."

Under the current rule "the 10 percent cap, part of the Pay as You Earn program, is not available to those with older loans. Monthly payments are based on a sliding scale, and any remaining balance is forgiven after 20 years of payments, or 10 years for those in public service jobs. Pay as You Earn is more generous in its loan caps than a different Income Based Repayment program that currently applies to all borrowers with federal student loans. IBR caps payments at 15 percent of discretionary income."

As Obama said, the problem is that "higher education has never been more important, it’s also never been more expensive. Over the last three decades, the average tuition at a public university has more than tripled. At the same time, the typical family’s income has gone up just 16 percent."

"The expansion of Pay as You Earn is good news for law students and grad students who take on the most debt."

Friday, June 13, 2014

ABA Will Not Allow Paid Externships

The ABA Journal recently reported on the outcome of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar council's comprehensive review of law school accreditation standards.

"The council approved five of the six remaining proposed changes in the standards. The only proposed change in the standards the council didn’t approve was one that would have eliminated the current prohibition against granting academic credit to a student for participating in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation."

Why would the council continue with the prohibition? "[A] majority of the council sided with critics of the proposed change, who fear that allowing students to be paid for a field placement program for which they receive academic credit would undermine the academic focus of the experience."

"All of the proposed changes in the standards—along with a host of others approved by the council in March—will be reviewed by the ABA House of Delegates at the association’s 2014 annual meeting in Boston in August. The House can either concur with a proposed change or refer it back to the council for reconsideration, with a statement setting forth its reasons for the referral. But it can only do so twice, and the council has the final say on any changes in the standards."

As I stated before, this might be okay if 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 and must still pay tuition, then it becomes that the students are paying thousands of dollars to work for free.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Appeals Court Rules HathiTrust Fair Use

Law Librarians posted about the recent HathiTrust decision from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which "upheld the ruling in Authors Guild v.HathiTrust, deciding that providing a full text search database and providing access to works for people with print disabilities is fair use."

The Second Circuit's summary states, in part, "[w]e ... hold that the doctrine of 'fair use' allows [HathiTrust] to create a full‐text searchable database of copyrighted works and to  provide those works in formats accessible to those with disabilities, and that the claims predicated upon the Orphan Works Project are not ripe for adjudication."

As Law Librarians noted, The American Library Association issued a statement on the case:

"Today, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in Authors Guild v.HathiTrust, deciding that providing a full text search database and providing access to works for people with print disabilities is fair use. The court also ruled that the Authors Guild lacked standing, and therefore could not assert infringement claims against the HathiTrust. The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), of which the American Library Association (ALA) is a member, filed an amicus brief in support of the HathiTrust.

This decision affirms that libraries can engage in mass digitization to improve the discovery of works and provide full access to those works to students with print disabilities enrolled at the respective HathiTrust institutions.

The general public can search the database using keywords and locate titles held in 80 member institutions. Full text access to the underlying works is allowed only for students with print disabilities enrolled at the University of Michigan and certified as disabled by a qualified expert. Students with print disabilities are blind or have a handicap that prevents them from reading printed text. Because of the full conversion of the texts to digital format that is accessible, these students can use adaptive technologies, such as text-to-speech, to read."

Monday, June 9, 2014

DOJ Mandates Changes To Mental Health Care Questions For Attorney Licensing

The ABA Journal reported that "[t]he U.S. Department of Justice said that states may examine applicants' prior behavior, but not their mental health status, when determining whether to admit them as practicing lawyers."

According to the article, "[t]he Justice Department has given 'a pretty clear statement that it violates federal law to inquire into mental health diagnosis and treatment, rather than conduct, during the attorney licensing process."

"As part of the application process, prospective attorneys fill out forms provided by the NCBE, including an application with 28 questions intended to help discern character and fitness to practice law. The conference estimates that about half of the country's states use NCBE forms, either for all their applicants or for a class of candidates, such as those from out of state."

There were three questions at issue "in the NCBE forms that asked about the status of an applicant's mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, and whether applicants have emotional or mental disorders that, if left untreated, could affect their ability to practice law. Applicants who have responded affirmatively to particular questions about their mental health were then asked to provide additional information, including treatment records."

Since the DOJ's statement was released, the NCBE has said that "[t]he question that asked whether the applicant had been diagnosed or treated for 'bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, paranoia or any other psychotic disorder' within the past five years is being retired. The new question asks whether the applicant has within the past five years exhibited any conduct or behavior that could call into question the applicant's ability to practice law "in a competent, ethical and professional manner."

This is a step in the right direction because we do not want prospective lawyers to fail to get mental health treatment because they are afraid that it might affect character and fitness.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Art Of The Law Review Article Title

There is a subtle art to the law review article title. An author needs the title to capture the essence of the article, as well as the student-editor's attention.

As a researcher, I often run title searches in a law reviews database to search for articles on a particular topic, so it might be a good idea for authors to use their main keywords in the title of their articles if they want their articles to be more accessible.

The ABA Journal recently posted an article about Katz puns used in law review article titles:

• Is The Court Allergic To Katz? Problems Posed By New Methods Of Electronic Surveillance To The 'Reasonable-Expectation-Of-Privacy' Test

United States v. Jones: Does Katz Still Have Nine Lives?

• Herding Katz: GPS Tracking And Society’s Expectations Of Privacy In The 21st Century

And I recently ran across another Katz pun doing Fourth Amendment research:

Katz On A Hot Tin Roof: The Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy Doctrine Is Rudderless In The Digital Age, Unless Congress Resets The Privacy Bar

The last title is a mouthful, and I would suggest that the writer try to shorten the title. But these titles are generally successful in that they use the name of the foundational case on point and use the major keywords that get to the essence of the article.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Estate Planning In The Digital Age

What happens to all of our downloaded music, books, and other media when we die? JDSupra weighed in, and the answer currently seems to be that the information dies with us.

"Estate-planning is surely far from the minds of the majority of us when we log into iTunes to buy a copy of the latest catchy song from the radio. While we accumulate ever-larger collections of digital media (books, movies, TV shows and music), most of us have never bothered to consider what happens to our electronic treasures once we’re gone. The answer, sadly, is that most of it will expire with us."

It comes down to the rights that you agree to when you download the digital content. "[T]he rights you have over digital content are not the same as the rights you have over physical copies of the same material. Each time you click 'Buy' you’re actually only purchasing a license to use the digital file. The problem is that two of the electronic giants, Apple and Amazon, only grant 'nontransferable' rights to use this content. This means it cannot be passed along to others."

As JDSupra points out, "[t]he issue isn’t a minor one as ... the U.S. spend nearly $30 each month (so $360 per year) on electronic books, movies and music files. This number is set to continue a stratospheric rise as Apple alone has sold upwards of 300 million iPods and more than 84 million iPads."

Like most laws dealing with emerging technology, "[t]he troubles with such digital content have yet to make their way through the courts. Experts agree that the law is woefully out of date when it comes to such novel problems and it will take years to catch up with the assets people own today."

The "simple" answer may be to reform and update existing intellectual property law.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Law School Financing & For-Profit Institutions

Early last month, the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog posted about a new task force created by the American Bar Association - The Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education.

As reported, "[t]he creation of this task force comes four months after another ABA task force completed its work. The earlier one, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, examined more broadly the ailments of the American legal education system, including the rising costs of tuition and student debt levels. That task force said the system of financing legal education must be 're-engineered,' faulting law schools for raising tuition and then offering substantial discounts to students with higher grades and test scores, whose academic credentials can help boost law schools in annual rankings. The practice, it said, ends up loading the students with the weakest credentials with the most debt."

The ABA has directed members of the new Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education "to study the cost of legal education for students, the financing of law schools, student loans and educational debt. The ABA said the group will also scrutinize law schools’ use of merit scholarships."

I wonder if the new task force will take aim at for-profit institutions akin to what is happening at the undergraduate level. The argument at the undergraduate level is that for-profit institutions are eligible to receive federal monies and turn a profit but are not sufficiently preparing students for employment and leaving them with loads of debt.

According to the NYTimes, "there are six for-profit law schools in the country, and InfiLaw owns three of them: Arizona Summit Law School, Charlotte School of Law and Florida Coastal School of Law."

During the hearing over the sale of Charleston School of Law to Infilaw, "it was revealed that the five owners had taken out $25 million in profits over the last few years and had received a $6 million advance to buy out two of the owners as well as an unknown amount for renting space to the law school."

"How was the money made? It appears to be off the students. Exact profits for Charleston’s owners are not public, but filings with the commission disclosed that Charleston’s cost per student was $20,995 in 2011. Tuition that year was roughly $35,000. If you take the cost per student as Charleston’s total cost, that means that Charleston’s owners made about $14,000 for each student. These are estimates, of course, and any scholarship money would have to be subtracted. In 2012, roughly half the student body received a median scholarship of $6,000."

Or maybe the new ABA task force will rely on the notion of caveat emptor. As the NYtimes article stated, "[t]he point is really to make sure that students know the costs and benefits before they matriculate so they can make a sound judgment about whether to attend. In other words, if InfiLaw or Charleston cannot provide an education that helps students obtain jobs, then presumably students will know and not attend. That is really what legal education these days is about at the regional law schools...."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Starting A Solo Practice - Then And Now

Barry Seidel, a solo practitioner, recently posted about how starting a solo practice has changed in the last thirty years on Solo Practice University.

Some of the Seidel's observations were:

Then (30 years ago): It was feasible to be in general practice.

Now: Almost nobody would recommend setting out to be a general practitioner. These days, clients expect and demand a certain level of expertise for their particular type of case.

Then: You built your practice by "word of mouth" and networking, and maybe some small level of advertising.

Now: Any lawyer can have a "presence" and be found by new clients, just by having a decent website, moderately participating in social media, and by blogging.

Then: There no cell phones (we carried change to call from Court), no emails, and no faxes, very few lawyers even had word processing.

Now: Lawyers, especially the older more “established” ones, are often behind the times on technology, and marketing, and use of the internet and social media. Being ahead of them is a huge advantage.

Then: There were certain things you had to have. A nice office, furniture, phones, faxes, books, nice stationery, file cabinets, phone answering, and a host of other things that no longer exist.

Now: I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a nice office, or that appearances don’t count. I’m just saying it is possible, and sometimes better, to start a practice without all these things (see this post on using a virtual office).

Things have changed a lot in the last thirty years, and it's good that older attorneys recognize these changes for what they are. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and new attorneys who want to start solos need to understand the changes when accepting advice from older solo practitioners.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Do You Really Know How To Use Google?

Most of us would probably consider ourselves sufficient Google users. We can type in a few keywords and usually find a result we intended.

But the expert researcher in me likes to refine and control my searches for optimal results. There are many Google tricks that aid in this, and HuffingtonPost recently posted a few: 

1. To get a quick definition, type "define:" followed by the word you want and Google will take you straight to the definition

2. For exact phrases, put your search phrase inside quotation marks.

3. To find alternative results, put the worm-like tilde (~) in front of the search term for which you would like related results.

4. To exclude certain words, after you enter your desired search terms, add a minus sign (-) followed by the words you want excluded.

5. For ranges, type in your term. Then separate the lowest and highest prices you're willing to pay with two periods (..). This trick also works for dates, if you're, say, looking for a news article published during a certain time.

6. To only search one site, type "site:" followed by the URL of the website you'd like to search. Then add your search terms.

7. If you aren't sure of search terms, enter your search terms using asterisks as stand-ins for the unknowns. Google will fill in the blanks with possibilities.

8. To search for a certain file type, enter your search terms followed by "filetype:PPT."

9.  For a timer, type "set timer for" into the search bar and a Google timer will appear as the first result. Enter the time you want in hours, minutes or seconds and start the timer. Google will start beeping at you when your time runs out.

10. You can type in an equation and Google will give you the answer on its calculator.

11. To convert currency, type in the name of the currency you currently own, add "to" and then type in the name of the currency you need to get.

12. To find gifs, go to Google Images. Click "Search tools" and then "Type." Then check off "Animated."

13. For a title search, type "intitle:" then the term you want. This will ensure the specified term is in the title of all the webpages in your results.

Check out the full HuffingtonPost article for nice illustrations. 

Attribution: By Google Inc (Google product logos) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons