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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Today's AALS Annual Meeting Highlights

AALSToday's highlights at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans:

Hot Topic Program: Transparency Revisited: New Data, New Directions (8:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m.) (Hilton, Grand Ballroom D, First Floor):

  • Ben Trachtenberg (Missouri) (moderator)
  • Deborah J. Merritt (Ohio State)
  • Scott F. Norberg (Deputy Consultant, ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar)
  • Jerome M. Organ (U. St. Thomas)
  • Jeffrey E. Stake (Indiana)

Over the last two years, pressure has mounted for law schools to disclose more detailed employment statistics. High-profile incidents also generated concern about inaccurate - and even intentionally falsified - admissions data released by law schools. These events led most law schools to embrace a new era of transparency, one in which they attempt to publish more accurate and extensive statistics.

Recent events, however, have demonstrated that transparency creates as many issues as it resolves. Should the ABA audit statistics published by law schools? How should new ABA rules be interpreted and enforced? Should the AALS publish best practices for schools to follow? Does (or should) publishing misleading data violate legal ethics rules? Do law schools have an obligation to move beyond existing data and gather longitudinal information about the success of their graduates? As schools attempt to tap new applicant pools (such as foreign students, second-career, and dual-degree candidates), what information should they provide to those prospective students? What information should accompany scholarship offers? Should NALP, the ABA, or individual law schools publish job outcomes differentiated by race, gender, age, and/or disability status? And how might new disclosures actually affect the behavior of prospective law students—what information matters to applicants? 

Joint Program of Sections on Aging and the Law and Trusts and Estates:  Trusts and Estates, and an Aging Population: What We Need to Know and Teach (10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.) (Hilton, Belle Chasse, Third Floor):

  • Susan E. Cancelosi (Wayne State) (co-moderator)
  • Nina A. Kohn (Syracuse) (co-moderator)
  • Barry Kozak (John Marshall) (co-moderator)
  • William P. LaPiana (New York Law School) (co-moderaor)
  • Lenore S. Davis (Law Offices of Lenore S. Davis, New York)
  • Lawrence A. Frolik (Pittsburgh)
  • Richard L. Kaplan (Illinois)
  • Katherine C. Pearson (Penn State)
  • Michael L. Perlin (New York Law School)
  • Mary F. Radford (Georgia State)
  • Robert Whitman (Connecticut) (speaker from Call for Papers)

While many aspects of an estate and trust practice harmonize with an elder law practice, the fit is not always perfect: there are some distinct legal, practical, and ethical issues about which attorneys from the two disciplines often have conflicting views. In many law schools, where classes in both areas are offered as electives, the professors who teach one of the topics never talks to the professors who teach the other, and students are often left wondering how to reconcile the different planning, litigation, and counseling strategies taught in each class. This joint session is designed to help teachers in one area better understand the other so that all of us can improve our syllabi, forms of instruction, selection of guest instructors, and methods of assessment to better reflect the skill set needed by future attorneys. The first panel will look at mental capacity issues and conflicts between typical provisions of estate and trust documents and elder law documents. The second panel will explore conflicts of interest faced by family members who are beneficiaries named in trust and estate documents and are also agents, guardians or conservators under documents such as durable powers of attorney and as court appointed fiduciaries. The third panel will highlight some emerging conflicts with trust protector clauses in trust and estate documents with the needs of the grantor while still alive and possibly in need of expensive long term care management.

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