Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Call For Proposals: Inequality Of Wealth, Race, And Class, Equality Of Opportunity

St. Thomas (MN)The University of St. Thomas (MN) Journal of Law and Public Policy is hosting a symposium on March 27, 2020, entitled “Inequality of Wealth, Race, and Class, Equality of Opportunity.” Topics include “Student Loans;” “Social Mobility;” “Housing;” and “The Public Good.”

Please submit proposals of 250 to 500 words to Professor Charles J. Reid, Jr, by November 15, 2019. We shall notify those who have submitted successful proposals shortly after that date. Successful submissions can expect a modest honorarium. Successful submissions will be published in our Journal of Law and Public Policy. The deadline for final drafts is July, 2020.

For those who wish to present in person on March 27, in addition to the honorarium, we shall cover travel costs, food and lodging.

October 17, 2019 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Problems Of Measuring Scholarly Impact (‘Stuff’)

Following up on last week's post, The U.S. News Citation Ranking Is A 'Rigged Metrics Game' That 'Imperils Legal Academia':  LawProfBlawg (Anonymous Professor, Top 100 Law School), The Problems Of Measuring Scholarly Impact (‘Stuff’):

If we’re seeking to adopt some measure to assess scholarly impact, there are serious caveats that need to be addressed before we begin.

Professor Robert Anderson at Pepperdine Law School (place from which I wouldn’t mind a job offer — HINT) [How can we make you an offer (or measure your scholarly impact or teaching effectiveness) if we don't know who you are?] asked me a series of questions on Twitter, all of which are important.

If you don’t know Professor Anderson, you should.  His Twitter feed is a discussion of scholarly impact, and things related to problems of measurement and hierarchies in academia.  I’ve found his tweets cause me to think.  I blame him for this blog post.

His tweet that got me to thinking was this one:  “My pal @lawprofblawg has got some points here, but I think at some point s/he has got to get a little more concrete with an alternative. Is the status quo working? Why would citation-based metrics be worse? Should law schools evaluate scholarship at all? How should hiring work?”

All good questions.  There was some discussion in that thread about the fact that we ought to have some measure of stuff.  In fact, we already do when we hire people to join the faculty, when they go up for tenure, and even (to varying degrees of noneffectiveness) when we review them post-tenure.  They are imperfect, filled with biases, and are often deployed in an arbitrary fashion.  Sometimes they are hardly metrics at all.

Nonetheless, Professor Anderson is correct: I am in favor of having some metrics.  However, the current metrics aren’t working.   My coauthor and I have explained the biases and entry barriers facing certain potential entrants into legal academia.  Eric Segall and Adam Feldman have explained that there is severe concentration in the legal academy, focused on only a handful of schools that produce the bulk of law professors.  While in the academy, barriers block advancement.  And those barriers are reflected, in my opinion, in current citation and scholarly impact measurements seeking to measure stuff.

But if we’re seeking to adopt some measure, whether it is a global standard that could ultimately replace U.S. News or just a standard at one’s own law school, I think there are serious caveats that need to be addressed before we begin to measure stuff.  When I have seen these issues raised before, I have seen them too quickly dismissed.  So let’s try again.

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October 16, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Gig Academy

Adrianna Kezar (USC), Tom DePaola (USC) & Daniel Scott (USC), The Gig Academy: Mapping Labor in the Neoliberal University (Johns Hopkins University Press 2019):

Gig AcademyOver the past two decades, higher education employment has undergone a radical transformation with faculty becoming contingent, staff being outsourced, and postdocs and graduate students becoming a larger share of the workforce. For example, the faculty has shifted from one composed mostly of tenure-track, full-time employees to one made up of contingent, part-time teachers. Non-tenure-track instructors now make up 70 percent of college faculty. Their pay for teaching eight courses averages $22,400 a year—less than the annual salary of most fast-food workers.

In The Gig Academy, Adrianna Kezar, Tom DePaola, and Daniel T. Scott assess the impact of this disturbing workforce development. Providing an overarching framework that takes the concept of the gig economy and applies it to the university workforce, this book scrutinizes labor restructuring across both academic and nonacademic spheres. By synthesizing these employment trends, the book reveals the magnitude of the problem for individual workers across all institutional types and job categories while illustrating the damaging effects of these changes on student outcomes, campus community, and institutional effectiveness. A pointed critique of contemporary neoliberalism, the book also includes an analysis of the growing divide between employees and administrators.

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October 15, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, And Equality On Campus

Ulrich Baer (Vice Provost, NYU), What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, and Equality on Campus (Oxford University Press 2019):

What Snowflakes Get RightAngry debates about polarizing speakers have roiled college campuses. Conservatives accuse universities of muzzling unpopular opinions, betraying their values of open inquiry; students sympathetic to the left openly advocate against completely unregulated speech, asking for "safe spaces" and protection against visiting speakers and even curricula they feel disrespects them. Some even call these students "snowflakes"-too fragile to be exposed to opinions and ideas that challenge their worldviews. How might universities resolve these debates about free speech, which pit their students' welfare against the university's commitment to free inquiry and open debate?

Ulrich Baer here provides a new way of looking at this dilemma. He explains how the current dichotomy is false and is not really about the feelings of offended students, or protecting an open marketplace of ideas. Rather, what is really at stake is our democracy's commitment to equality, and the university's critical role as an arbiter of truth. He shows how and why free speech has become the rallying cry that forges an otherwise uneasy alliance of liberals and ultra-conservatives, and why this First Amendment absolutism is untenable in law and society in general. He draws on law, philosophy, and his extensive experience as a university administrator to show that the lens of equality can resolve this impasse, and can allow the university to serve as a model for democracy that upholds both truth and equality as its founding principles.

New York Times op-ed:  What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech, by Ulrich Baer (Vice Provost, NYU)

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October 15, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Sad History Of American Business Schools

Steven Conn (Miami University), Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools (Cornell University Press 2019):

NothingDo business schools actually make good on their promises of "innovative," "outside-the-box" thinking to train business leaders who will put society ahead of money-making? Do they help society by making better business leaders? No, they don't, Steven Conn asserts, and what's more they never have.

In throwing down a gauntlet on the business of business schools, Conn's Nothing Succeeds Like Failure examines the frictions, conflicts, and contradictions at the heart of these enterprises and details the way business schools have failed to resolve them. Beginning with founding of the Wharton School in 1881, Conn measures these schools' aspirations against their actual accomplishments and tells the full and disappointing history of missed opportunities, unmet aspirations, and educational mistakes. Conn then poses a set of crucial questions about the role and function of American business schools. The results aren't pretty.

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October 10, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Law School Course On Presidential Impeachment

Gregory S. Crespi (SMU), Developing a Law School Course on Presidential Impeachment, 72 SMU L. Rev. F. 41 (2019):

This short essay discusses my motivation for and the process that I went through over the past two years developing a law school course on presidential impeachment and related topics. I recommend that those law school faculty members who may have only a modest constitutional law background, but who feel as I do that more sustained discussion of the questions that would be presented by an attempt to remove President Trump from office through impeachment is called for, consider also developing and offering such a course.

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October 9, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Meet the Researchers Fighting Back Against Rogue Peer Reviewers And ‘Citation Cartels’

Following up on my previous post, The Network Of Law Reviews: Citation Cartels, Scientific Communities, And Journal Rankings:  Chronicle of Higher Education, Meet the Researchers Fighting Back Against Rogue Peer Reviewers and ‘Citation Cartels’:

Eric A. Fong’s manuscript had been conditionally accepted. The editor said Fong needed to ensure it conformed with the journal’s style and to shorten it to meet the word limit. That was easy enough. But the third condition gave Fong pause.

He’d cited only one source from the journal he’d submitted the article to. The editor wrote in an email that that was “unacceptable,” and told him to “please add at least five more.”

Adding citations to articles in the same journal, as the editor had requested, would inflate the journal’s impact factor, which often dictates a journal’s importance. It’s a phenomenon some scholars call “coercive citation,” but Fong, then an assistant professor of management at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, had never heard that term.

Still, he felt what he was being asked to do was wrong. And yet publishing this paper would be an important part of his case for tenure. Conflicted, Fong printed out the email and headed to Allen Wilhite’s office. Wilhite, Fong’s mentor and an economics professor, was stunned. Most of their colleagues were, too. A few, though, said they had received a similar request from an editor.

Coercive citation has drawn increased attention in recent years. Last month two researchers at the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier published a study, titled “When Peer Reviewers Go Rogue,” that examined the citation patterns of nearly 55,000 reviewers for its journals. They found that 433 of those reviewers — less than 1 percent — consistently had their own work cited in papers they reviewed. ...

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October 8, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Racial And Gender Inclusion In Clinical Law Faculty

Deborah Archer (NYU), Caitlin Barry (Villanova), G.S. Hans (Vanderbilt), Derrick Howard (Valparaiso), Alexis Karteron (Rutgers), Shobha Mahadev (Northwestern) & Jeffrey Selbin (UC-Berkeley), The Diversity Imperative Revisited: Racial and Gender Inclusion in Clinical Law Faculty, 26 Clinical L. Rev. 127 (2019):

The demographics of clinical law faculties matter. As Professor Jon Dubin persuasively argued nearly twenty years ago in his article Faculty Diversity as a Clinical Legal Education Imperative [51 Hastings L.J. 445 (2000)], clinical faculty of color entering the legal academy in the 1980s and 1990s expanded the communities served by law school clinics and the lawyering methods used to serve clients in significant ways that enriched legal education and the profession. They also broadened clinical scholarship to include deconstructions and reconstructions of clinical teaching, offered crucial role modeling and mentorship to students of color, and helped to elevate cross-cultural communication and multiracial collaboration as core lawyering skills.

Professor Dubin catalogued these contributions while pointing to data that showed that clinical faculties remained overwhelmingly White, and he urged law schools to recognize the urgency of diversifying clinical faculty. While there has been some research and scholarship devoted to the gender composition of clinical faculties, to our knowledge, there has been no substantive reexamination of the importance of racial composition since Professor Dubin’s article in 2000, nor any examination of clinical faculty diversity beyond race, ethnicity, and binary gender.

The Clinical Legal Education Association created the Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion to draw attention to the crisis of diversity among clinical faculties, and to urge law schools to take proactive steps to remedy this longstanding failure. This Essay from the Committee assesses what progress has been made since Professor Dubin’s intervention and interrogates historical trends in the racial and gender composition of clinical faculty from 1980 to 2017, using existing data.

We found that there has been limited progress on racial and ethnic inclusion in clinical law faculties. While the total percentage of people of color has grown from 10% to 21%, the inclusion of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous faculty has been largely stagnant. Black clinical faculty members reached 7% of all clinical faculty in 1999 and have never exceeded that percentage. Latinx clinical faculty representation, at 5%, is the same as it was in 1981. Indigenous faculty have never constituted even 1%. Overall, White faculty continue to hold nearly 8 out of 10 clinical faculty positions.

Figure 1

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October 2, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 30, 2019

New Harvard Study: 'The Dangers of Fluent Lectures' — How Smooth-Talking Professors Lull Students Into Thinking They've Learned More Than They Actually Have

Inside Higher Ed, 'The Dangers of Fluent Lectures': How Smooth-Talking Professors Lull Students Into Thinking They've Learned More Than They Actually Have:

Students who engage in active learning learn more — but feel like they learn less — than peers in more lecture-oriented classrooms. That's in part because active learning is harder than more passive learning, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Measuring Actual Learning Versus Feeling of Learning in Response to Being Actively Engaged in the Classroom). Based on their findings, the researchers encourage faculty members to intervene and correct what they call students' "misperception" about how they learn. ...

The study, involving Harvard University undergraduates in large, introductory physics classes, compared students' self reports about what they'd learned with what they'd actually learned, as determined by a multiple choice tests. Students were taught using exactly the same course materials -- a key control that many other studies comparing active versus passive learning have failed to establish. But one group learned via active instruction methods for a week at the end of the semester and the other learned via lectures from experienced and well-regarded instructors. ...

At the end of the course, students were given both "feeling of learning" and "tests of learning" assessments (the latter consisted of two, low-stakes quizzes with 12 multiple choice questions each). All of the "feeling" responses showed a consistent student preference for the passive lecture environment while scores on the learning tests -- on statics and fluids -- were significantly higher in the active classroom.


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September 30, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Symposium: Law Schools In The 21st Century

Duquesne Law SchoolSymposium, Behind the Classroom: An Examination of Law Schools in the 21st Century, 57 Duq. L. Rev. 1-118 (2019):

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September 28, 2019 in Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Reflections On Elitism After The Closing Of A Clinic: Justice, Pedagogy And Scholarship

Jennifer Lee Koh (UC-Irvine), Reflections on Elitism After the Closing of a Clinic: Justice, Pedagogy and Scholarship, 26 Clinical L. Rev. 263 (2019):

Western State Logo (2019)In this Essay, I reflect upon my experience directing the Immigration Clinic at Western State College of Law for nearly a decade, including my decision to close the Clinic after financial crisis put the law school’s ability to continue operating in serious jeopardy in the Spring of 2019. The Essay focuses on the themes of pedagogy and the viability of non-elite law schools, teaching and doing social justice in the clinical context, and the integration of theory, doctrine and practice in legal scholarship. By memorializing a portion of the Clinic’s work, the Essay seeks to give voice to stories that might otherwise go unheard during a time of institutional crisis.

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September 26, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 'Pink Ghetto' Pipeline: Challenges And Opportunities For Women In Legal Education

Renee Nicole Allen (St. John's), Alicia Jackson (Florida A&M) & DeShun Harris (Memphis), The 'Pink Ghetto' Pipeline: Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Legal Education, 96 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 525 (2019):

The demographics of law schools are changing and women make up the majority of law students. Yet, the demographics of many law faculties do not reflect these changing demographics with more men occupying faculty seats. In legal education, women predominately occupy skills positions, including legal writing, clinic, academic success, bar preparation, or library. According to a 2010 Association of American Law Schools survey, the percentage of female lecturers and instructors is so high that those positions are stereotypically female.The term coined for positions typically held by women is “pink ghetto.” According to the Department of Labor, pink-collar-worker describes jobs and career areas historically considered “women’s work,” and included on the list is teaching. However, in legal education, tenured and higher-ranked positions are held primarily by men, while women often enter legal education through non-tenured and non-faculty skills-based teaching pipelines. In a number of these positions, women experience challenges like poor pay, heavy workloads, and lower status such as by contract, nontenure, or at will. While many may view this as a challenge, looking at these positions solely as a “pink ghetto” diminishes the many contributions women have made to legal education through the skills faculty pipelines. Conversely, we miss the opportunity to examine how legal education has changed and how women have accepted the challenge of being on the front line of educating this new generation of learners while enthusiastically adopting the American Bar Association’s new standards for assessment and student learning.

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September 26, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Identity Politics Is Failing Women In Legal Academia

Sahar F. Aziz (Rutgers), Identity Politics Is Failing Women in Legal Academia, 69 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2019): 

Journal of Legal Education (2018)Two universal truths about patriarchy: it’s global and it’s tenacious. As women in legal academia, we are not shielded from the consequences of this reality.

Starting from this premise, my contribution to this important (yet perennial) discussion on gender (in)equity in legal academia is framed around three points. First, formalistic identity politics grounded in immutable characteristics is failing our generation of women (and women of color in particular) in the legal profession, including in the academy. Second, women who have managed to overcome the hurdles imposed by patriarchy to reach official leadership positions are as subject to institutional capture and conflicts of interest as their male counterparts. Third, the politics of civility in law schools is a patriarchal tool deployed to constrain women’s ability and willingness to radically reform existing systems of inequality.

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September 26, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Symposium: Mindfulness And Well-Being In Law Schools And The Legal Profession

Symposium, Mindfulness and Well-Being in Law Schools and the Legal Profession, 48 Sw. L. Rev. 199-412 (2019):

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September 24, 2019 in Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

How Excel's Automatic Data Formatting Can Cause Errors In Published Research

Washington Post, An Alarming Number of Scientific Papers Contain Excel Errors:

ExcelA surprisingly high number of scientific papers in the field of genetics contain errors introduced by Microsoft Excel, according to an analysis recently published in the journal Genome Biology.

A team of Australian researchers analyzed nearly 3,600 genetics papers published in a number of leading scientific journals — like Nature, Science and PLoS One. As is common practice in the field, these papers all came with supplementary files containing lists of genes used in the research.

The Australian researchers found that roughly 1 in 5 of these papers included errors in their gene lists that were due to Excel automatically converting gene names to things like calendar dates or random numbers. ...

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September 22, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, September 20, 2019

Using Exam Wrappers To Foster Self-Assessment Skills In Law Students

Sarah Schendel (Suffolk), What You Don't Know (Can Hurt You): Using Exam Wrappers to Foster Self-Assessment Skills in Law Students, 39 Pace L. Rev. ___ (2019):

“Where did I go wrong?”

When we fail it’s tempting to forget it and move on. However, reflecting on poor performance and figuring out how to proceed is critical to being a successful student and lawyer. Unfortunately, when students receive a disappointing grade they often lack the ability to understand what went wrong and how to change.

Creating self-regulated learners who can identify what they don't know and make a plan to improve is key to helping students succeed. In order to do so – and in order to produce ethical, productive lawyers – law schools should place a greater emphasis on fostering the skill of self-assessment among students.

I propose exam wrappers as an effective and adaptable tool to strengthen law students’ self-assessment skills.

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September 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Junior Scholars Advance ‘One Funeral At A Time’

Inside Higher Ed, Scientific Advancement, ‘1 Funeral at a Time’:

The life sciences benefit from death — the death of star researchers. So concludes a recently published paper in American Economic Review [Pierre Azoulay (MIT), Christian Fons-Rosen (UC-Merced) & Joshua S. Graff Zivin (UC-San Diego), Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?, 109 Am. Econ. Rev. 2889 (2019)].

But co-author Pierre Azoulay, professor of management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, warns, tongue in cheek, that it’s not an implicit invitation to plot against life sciences luminaries. Instead, Azoulay said in a recent interview, it’s a reason for journal editors and funding agencies to think even harder about who they’re supporting, and why. ...

[I]n the “circle of academic life,” Azoulay said, superstars may “overstay their welcome at the top of their fields.” So “we should probably think a little bit more systematically about this, and open up our practices in the realms of funding and publishing in ways that create more entry points — and make it faster for new ideas to challenge old ones.” ...

Azoulay and his co-authors examined the relationship between the relatively early or sudden deaths of 452 eminent scientists between 1975 and 2003 and the subsequent “vitality” of the field, measured in publication rates and flow of federal funding. ...

Following the deaths of star scientists, subfields saw an 8.6 percent increase in articles published by those scientists who had not previously collaborated with the late luminaries. Those papers were disproportionately likely to be highly cited. All effects are compared to control subfields, which are associated with superstars who did not die. The effects were more pronounced for those who were previously "outsiders" to the subfields.


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September 11, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Hatfield Presents Professionally Responsible Artificial Intelligence Today In England

Michael Hatfield (University of Washington) presents Professionally Responsible Artificial Intelligence at the 28th Annual Tax Research Network Conference today at the University of Central Lancashire, England:

HatfieldMichael (2017)As artificial intelligence (AI) developers produce more applications for professional use, how will we determine when the use is professionally responsible? One way to answer the question is to determine whether the AI augments the professional’s intelligence or whether it is used as a substitute for it. To augment the professional’s intelligence would be to make it greater, that is, to increase and improve the professional’s expertise. But a professional who substitutes artificial intelligence for his or her own puts both the professional role and the client at risk. The problem is developing guidance that encourages professionals to use AI when it can reliably improve expertise but discourages substitution that undermines expertise.

This Article proposes a solution, using tax professionals as a case study. There are several reasons tax professionals provide a good case study, including that tax practice has a long history of computerization and that AI is already being developed for tax professionals. Tax professionals, including not only lawyers but certified public accountants are directly regulated by the Internal Revenue Service, in addition to their regulation by professional bodies.

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September 10, 2019 in Colloquia, Legal Ed Scholarship, Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Relationship Between Law School Coursework And Bar Exam Outcomes

Robert R. Kuehn (Washington University) & David R. Moss (Wayne State), A Study of the Relationship between Law School Coursework and Bar Exam Outcomes, 68 J.Legal Educ. ___ (2019):

The recent decline in bar exam passage rates has triggered speculation that the decline is being driven by law students taking more experiential courses and fewer bar-subject courses. These concerns arose in the absence of any empirical study linking certain coursework to bar exam failure.

This article addresses speculation about the relationship between law school coursework and bar exam outcomes. It reports the results of a large-scale study of the courses of over 3800 graduates from two law schools and the relationship between their experiential and bar-subject coursework and bar exam outcomes over a ten-year period.

KM 1

At both schools, the number of experiential courses or credits taken by a student did not correlate with bar passage, positively or negatively.

KM 3

Enrollment in bar courses correlated positively with passage, but the correlation was modest and significant only for students whose class rank placed them at heightened risk of bar failure. Even for those students, the marginal benefit of additional bar-related courses was not statistically significant once the student had taken approximately the average number of bar courses at that school.

KM 5

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September 10, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, September 9, 2019

2018 James P. White Lecture on Legal Education: The Leadership Council On Legal Diversity — Realizing The Vision

Robert J. Grey, Jr. (President, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity), 2018 James P. White Lecture on Legal Education: The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity: Realizing the Vision, 52 Ind. L. Rev. 95 (2019):

In its first ten years, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) has grown, and grown rapidly, to a membership of more than 300 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners. These individuals represent the top ranks of leadership in the legal profession. They have each made a personal commitment to the next generation of leaders in the law to build a profession that is as diverse as the nation it serves. Theirs is a compelling vision, but one that they understand will not be realized quickly. Clear-eyed about the challenges, they are committed to action and determined to see results that are profound and lasting.

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September 9, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

How To Give A Great Job Talk

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  How to Give an Excellent STEM Job Talk, by Russ E. Carpenter (Stanford) & R. Parrish Waters (University of Mary Washington):

For Ph.D.s on the job market in the sciences, no element of the hiring process is more important for making or breaking your prospects than the job talk.

At some point in the 2019-20 hiring season — once you’ve made the long journey from application packet to Skype interview to campus visit — you will have to deliver a job talk. It will play a large part in determining the next decade or more of your career.

Yes, other aspects of the campus interview — the one-on-ones, the dinners with professors, the lunches with students, the meetings with administrators — will influence the ultimate decision about whether you are hired. But the job talk is where you can really shine — or very publicly fail. It is where you are given the stage to showcase your lecturing abilities, convey who you are and what you do, and, importantly, demonstrate how you could contribute to the department and the institution.

Given the impact of this segment of the interview, you would think that less-than-stellar job talks were a rare find. Sadly, far too many applicants find themselves in the midst of a cringeworthy monologue, full of disconnected experiments and overly complex graphs with no central theme or story. Worse yet are the applicants who never realize that at all, as their audience struggles to follow along (and mentally moves the candidates into the "no" pile).

In short, regardless of the number of lines on your CV, a poor job talk is the quickest way to sink your chances of landing the position. But, dear reader, you already know that — as we’re not the first to stress the importance of the job talk. A quick search turns up articles stressing practical (a checklist of what to include), professional (know your audience), and obvious (practice, practice, practice) advice.

Here, rather than repackage those tips, we stress points that we see as fundamental to a good job talk.

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September 5, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lipshaw: Lawyering Somewhere Between Computation And The Will To Act

Jeffrey M. Lipshaw (Suffolk), Lawyering Somewhere Between Computation and the Will to Act: A Digital Age Reflection:

This is a reflection on machine and human contributions to lawyering in the digital age. Increasingly capable machines can already unleash massive processing power on vast stores of discovery and research data to assess relevancies and, at times, to predict legal outcomes. At the same time, there is wide acceptance, at least among legal academics, of the conclusions from behavioral psychology that slow, deliberative “System 2” thinking (perhaps replicated computationally) needs to control the heuristics and biases to which fast, intuitive “System 1” thinking is prone. Together, those trends portend computational deliberation – artificial intelligence or machine learning – substituting for human thinking in more and more of a lawyer’s professional functions.

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September 5, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Online Law School Classes Deliver Results For Law Students

Yvonne Dutton, Margaret Ryznar & Kayleigh Long (Indiana-Indianapolis), Assessing Asynchronous Online Learning in Law Schools: Students Say Online Classes Deliver, 96 Denv. L. Rev. 493 (2019):

This is the first article to provide empirical data on the effectiveness of distance education in law schools since the ABA this summer approved increasing the total number of credits that law students could earn through online classes from 15 to 30. Our data, composed of law student surveys and focus groups, reveal not only the success of distance education in their experience, but also the methods that are most effective for them.

Margaret Ryznar, Insights on Online Teaching:

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September 3, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Delgado: Metamorphosis — A Minority Law Professor's Life

Richard Delgado (Alabama), Metamorphosis: A Minority Professor's Life, 53 UC-Davis L. Rev. Online 1 (2019):

This article is a dark, semi-autobiographical takeoff on a famous novel by Franz Kafka. I use the predicament of Gregor, the central character in The Metamorphosis, as a thematic metaphor to explain a series of events in the life of an outwardly successful man of color teaching law. It proceeds in a series of 37 short vignettes told in the course of a bedside conversation in which my young firebrand Rodrigo turns tables on his usual foil and straight man, “the Professor,” and asks him a few questions about his life and career. Until now, the two had focused on the young man’s ideas and prospects. In an expansive mood, with nothing better to do, the Professor spills the beans. What emerges is a tragicomic description of a middle-aged academic who has come to realize, with a shock, that he is undergoing a jaw-dropping transformation.

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August 29, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

When Does Big Law Work?

Abraham J. B. Cable (UC-Hastings), When Does Big Law Work?, 102 Marq. L. Rev. 875 (2019):

Law firms have grown from hundreds of lawyers to thousands of lawyers, and the conventional wisdom is that this trend fuels dissatisfaction among lawyers. This Article scrutinizes that conventional wisdom based on interviews with lawyers who joined large firms through law-firm mergers. These lawyers offer a valuable perspective on firm size because they made abrupt changes from small to large firms. Though some interviewees echoed the conventional wisdom, others suggested that larger firm size has limited or even positive effects on professional satisfaction.

In one counter-narrative, large law firms are relatively diffuse organizations that have limited influence over individual lawyers. In another counter-narrative, large law firms helpfully insulate lawyers from the business risks of smaller firms. I offer a framework to explain these varied experiences. The framework highlights the importance of seniority, practice-area compatibility, local office attributes, and the manner and rate offirm growth. These new perspectives can inform future research and improve advice to law students and lawyers.

August 28, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Re-Envisioning Law Student Scholarship

Emily Zimmerman (Drexel), Re-Envisioning Law Student Scholarship, 68 Cath. U. L. Rev. ___ (2019):

As law schools face more pressure to prepare students for law practice, develop learning outcomes, and assess the extent to which students are meeting those outcomes, the time is ripe to consider the role of law student scholarship in the program of legal education. This article suggests that we should think more intentionally about how law students’ engagement in scholarship can promote their professional development. In so doing, we should recognize that legal scholarship plays a different role for law students than it does for law professors. Rather than trying to replicate law professors’ relationship with scholarship, the pedagogy of scholarship should focus more intentionally on the value of scholarship for law students—most of whom will not become law professors. This article suggests that much of the value of scholarship for law students lies in process, rather than product. Accordingly, the article suggests that we should focus more on the process of creating scholarship in and of itself, rather than thinking of process largely as a means to the end of students’ creation of a traditional scholarly paper.

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August 28, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Henderson Reviews American Law Firms In Transition: Trends, Threats, And Strategies

William Henderson (Indiana), Book Review (reviewing Randall Kiser, American Law Firms in Transition: Trends, Threats, and Strategies (ABA Aug. 9, 2019)):

KiserWhen it comes to empirical research on lawyers, we’re all lightweights compared to Randall Kiser. Over the last decade, Kiser has authored books on lawyer decision making in the context of litigation, Beyond Right and Wrong (2010), the mindset and work habits of trial lawyers who consistently outperform their peers, How Leading Lawyers Think (2011), and an empirically grounded analysis of the skills and behaviors needed to build a successful legal career, Soft Skills for the Effective Lawyer (2017).

Now comes Kiser’s treatment of U.S. law firms, American Law Firms In Transition: Trends, Threats, and Strategies (2019). I doubt any law firm leader could read this book and conclude that Kiser got it wrong.

The portion of the book that is primarily diagnostic (chapters 1-4) includes a detailed analysis of law firm demographics (we’re getting older), hiring practices (invalid, unreliable, underspecified), clients (they’re insourcing and innovating ahead of firms), strategy (preoccupation with firm size and lateral hiring rather than excellence; obsession with premium rates, which props open the door for new entrants), fragility (collapses are commonplace), and the normalization of all things short term (among other things, highly toxic to the next generation of lawyers).

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August 27, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Law Teaching And Academic Perfectionism

Nancy Ehrenreich (Denver), When Professors Get in Their Own Way: Law Teaching and Academic Perfectionism, 68 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2019):

This article recounts how the author recovered from disillusionment and decreasing effectiveness as a law professor by diagnosing and overcoming her academic perfectionism. Perfectionism is the self-defeating tendency to have unrealistic goals and expectations of oneself. For many, it can cause loss of confidence, frustration with others, and, eventually, worsening performance. In short, perfectionism can lead a law professor to get in her own way, taking things students say personally and failing to recognize the pedagogical (and emotional) needs of the class. Focusing on the author’s experience teaching large, 1L courses, the article describes how letting go of the desire to impress or entertain students can lead to a more confident, comfortable, and effective approach to teaching.

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August 24, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Abstract 'Spin': Nearly Half Of All Scholars Exaggerate Their Papers' Findings

Inside Higher Ed, Abstract ‘Spin’:

We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. But we shouldn’t be judging academic studies by their abstracts, either, according to a new paper in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine [Evaluation of Spin in Abstracts of Papers in Psychiatry and Psychology Journals]. The study — which found exaggerated claims in more than half of paper abstracts analyzed — pertains to psychology and psychiatry research. It notes that “spin” is troublesome in those fields because it can impact clinical care decisions. But the authors say that this kind of exaggeration happens in other fields, too.

“Researchers are encouraged to conduct studies and report findings according to the highest ethical standards,” the paper says, meaning “reporting results completely, in accordance with a protocol that outlines primary and secondary endpoints and prespecified subgroups and statistical analyses.”

Yet authors are free to choose “how to report or interpret study results.” And in an abstract, in particular, they may include “only the results they want to highlight or the conclusions they wish to draw.” ...

How often did articles’ abstracts exaggerate the actual findings? More than half the time, or 56 percent. Spin happened in 2 percent of titles, 21 percent of abstract results sections and 49 percent of abstract conclusion sections. Fifteen percent of abstracts had spin in both their results and conclusion sections.

In a word: spin. ...

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August 22, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Women Are Less Likely To Get Tenure The More They Coauthor

Heather Sarsons (Chicago; "This paper is intentionally solo-authored."), Gender Differences in Recognition for Group Work:

How is credit for group work allocated when individual contributions are not perfectly observed? Do demographic traits like gender influence the allocation of credit? Using data from academic economists’ CVs, I test whether coauthored and solo-authored publications matter differently for tenure for men and women. Because coauthors are listed alphabetically in economics, coauthored papers do not provide specific information about each contributor’s skills or ability. Solo-authored papers, on the other hand, provide a relatively clear signal of ability. I find that men are tenured at roughly the same rate regardless of whether they coauthor or solo-author. Women, however, become less likely to receive tenure the more they coauthor. The result is most pronounced for women coauthoring with men and less pronounced among women who coauthor with other women. I contrast economics with sociology, a discipline in which coauthors are listed in order of contribution, and find that when contributions are made clear, men and women receive equal credit for coauthored papers.

Gender 1

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August 21, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A New Growth Vision For Legal Education, Part III: The Path Forward — Being Both Human And Digital

Following up on my previous posts:

Hilary G. Escajeda (Denver), Legal Education: A New Growth Vision. Part III — The Path Forward: Being Both Human And Digital, 97 Neb. L. Rev. 1020 (2019):

In the decades ahead, innovative and status quo-breaking law schools will leverage and combine multidisciplinary, multigenerational human expertise with digital platform and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to create vibrant legal education ecosystems. These combinations will deliver market-valued knowledge and skill transfer and development services that are high-quality, cost-effective, omnichannel, pedagogically sound, data-validated, personalized, on-demand or just-in-time, and multi-format (e.g., hybrid, HyFlex, digitalfirst, digital-live, etc.).

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August 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Student Evaluations Are Unreliable And Biased Against Female Professors

London School of Economics and Public Policy, Student Evaluations of Teaching Are Not Only Unreliable, They Are Significantly Biased Against Female Instructors:

A series of studies across countries and disciplines in higher education confirm that student evaluations of teaching (SET) are significantly correlated with instructor gender, with students regularly rating female instructors lower than male peers. Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark [Student Evaluations of Teaching (Mostly) Do Not Measure Teaching Effectiveness] argue the findings warrant serious attention in light of increasing pressure on universities to measure teaching effectiveness. Given the unreliability of the metric and the harmful impact these evaluations can have, universities should think carefully on the role of such evaluations in decision-making.


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August 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Morals And Mentors: What The First American Law Schools Can Teach Us About Developing Law Students' Professional Identity

Benjamin V. Madison (Regent) & Larry O. Natt Gantt, II (Regent), Morals and Mentors: What the First American Law Schools Can Teach Us About Developing Law Students' Professional Identity, 31 Regent U. L. Rev. 161 (2019):

This article examines what the first American law schools can teach current legal educators about how best to develop law students’ professional identity. Drawing upon the seminal reports of Educating Lawyers and Best Practices for Legal Education, the article underscores legal educators’ responsibility to cultivate our students’ professional identity and instill in them the key normative values of the profession. Turning to the lessons we can learn from early American law schools, the article then discusses how legal educators in America, from colonial times through the late nineteenth century, sought to teach aspiring lawyers both legal analysis and the study of — and reflection on — ethical and moral principles underlying the law.

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August 18, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

How Popular Discontent Is Reshaping Higher Education Law

Ben Trachtenberg (Missouri), The People v. Their Universities: How Popular Discontent Is Reshaping Higher Education Law, 106 Ky. L.J. ___ (2020):

Surveys taken since 2015 reveal that Americans exhibit stark partisan divisions in their opinions about colleges and universities, with recent shifts in attitudes driving changes to higher education law. In recent years, Democrats have become slightly more positive about higher education. Concurrently, Republicans have become extremely more negative, and a majority of Republicans now tells pollsters that colleges and universities have an overall negative effect on the country.

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August 15, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Social Media And Professional Norms For Lawyers, Judges, And Law Professors

Agnieszka McPeak (Duquesne), The Internet Made Me Do It: Reconciling Social Media and Professional Norms for Lawyers, Judges, and Law Professors, 55 Idaho L. Rev. 205 (2019):

Social media platforms operate under their own social order. Design decisions and policies set by platforms steer user behavior. Additionally, members of online communities set informal expectations that form a unique set of norms. These social media norms—like oversharing, disinhibition, and anonymity—become common online, even though similar conduct might be shunned in the real world.

For lawyers, judges, and law professors, a different set of norms apply to both their online and offline conduct. Legal ethics rules, codes of judicial conduct, workplace policies, and general professionalism expectations dictate behavior for legal professionals. Collectively, these professional norms set a higher bar—one that fundamentally clashes with ever-evolving social media norms. This conflict between social media and professional norms must be reconciled in order for lawyers, judges, and law professors to avoid online missteps.

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August 15, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Fostering And Assessing Law Student Teamwork And Team Leadership Skills

Neil W. Hamilton (St. Thomas), Fostering and Assessing Law Student Teamwork and Team Leadership Skills, 47 Hofstra L. Rev. ___ (2019):

Skills of teamwork and team leadership are foundational for many types of law practice, but how much instruction, supervised experience, assessment, and guided reflection on these two skills did each reader as a law student receive? Law schools’ formal curricula, in the author’s experience, historically have not given much attention to the development of these skills. There also has been little legal scholarship on how most effectively to foster law students’ growth toward later stages of teamwork and team leadership. Legal education must do better.

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August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sander: Are Law Schools Engines Of Inequality?

Richard H. Sander (UCLA), Are Law Schools Engines of Inequality?, 48 J.L. & Educ. 243 (2019):

In Robin Hood in Reverse, Professor Aaron Taylor examined an important problem: how the cycle of rising law school tuition and expanding merit scholarships damages the pipeline of opportunity for aspiring lawyers and reinforces the social "eliteness" of legal education. Taylor directs the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), which gathers data on the experiences of thousands of law students each year, and he is in a good position to shed light on the important problems he examines. He advanced some bold claims which deserve careful consideration. Professor Taylor has generously shared with me the LSSSE data he used in his analysis. Working with these and other data, I evaluate Taylor's arguments and analyze what we can reliably say about how law school scholarship programs have evolved and how they function today.

My main conclusions are these:

(1) Taylor views the powers that be in legal education as seeking to maintain the legal profession as a preserve for socially privileged whites; he sees the reliance on the LS AT as a central mechanism for replicating the social exclusiveness of the profession. In contrast, I see law schools as increasingly focused on the rankings arms race, which has produced a variety of specific behaviors unhealthy for the legal academy as a whole.

(2) Taylor treats "race" and "class" almost interchangeably; in his view, law school policies are unfair to racial minorities and low-SES students in very similar ways. As I show, however, law school policies break out in dramatically different ways depending on whether we use a "race" lens or a "class" lens. We cannot understand these policies without recognizing this distinction.

(3) Although Taylor's conclusions are sweeping, his LSSSE data cover only the past few years, and his quantitative analysis relies primarily on crosstabulations. I bring in historical data from the 1990s and use regression analysis to isolate how specific factors operate when we control for other relevant variables. Both of these steps greatly enhance our understanding of the underlying patterns.

(4) Many of Taylor's conclusions go beyond what his data actually show. And it is striking how many gaps exist in the LSSSE data, compared to other databases on legal education generated in the 1990s and early 2000s. I try to distinguish (a) what we can reasonably infer from contemporary data from (b) what we can only make guesses about, pending the development of better sources.

In the final section of the paper, I build on these insights to attempt a general diagnosis of what ails our current policies, and to suggest steps we might take to fix things.

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August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Learning To Love Pro Bono: A Practical Recipe For Engaging Law Students

Alissa Gomez (Houston), Learning to Love Pro Bono: A Practical Recipe for Engaging Law Students:

In April 2019, our Lawyering Skills & Strategies Department at the University of Houston Law Center brought together law students, faculty, practitioners, and UH law librarians, to help low-income clients across Texas using the virtual legal advice platform provided by the ABA’s Free Legal Answers website. Launched in September 2016, Free Legal Answers allows members of the public who income-qualify to post civil legal questions to a secure website and have those questions answered by a licensed attorney in their state. Pairing law students with practitioners, faculty, and law librarians, we were able to answer several real-time client questions, in the span of less than three hours, on issues ranging from family law and landlord-tenant to consumer disputes. The experience brought legal research and writing to life for our law students, and helped remind everyone about the importance of pro bono service to our profession.

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August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Game Theory Model Of Law Faculties: Turnover Helps Curb Antisocial Faculty Behavior

Shi-Ling Hsu (Florida State), Cooperation and Turnover in Law Faculties: A Game-Theoretic Model and Empirical Study, 102 Marq. L. Rev. 1 (2018):

A standard account of group cooperation would predict that group stability would bring about greater cooperation, because repeat-play games would allow for sanctions and rewards. In an academic unit such as a department or a law faculty, one might thus expect that faculty stability would bring about greater cooperation.

However, academic units are not like most other groups. Tenured professors face only limited sanctions for failing to cooperate, for engaging in unproductive conflict, or for shirking. This article argues counter-intuitively that within limits, some level of faculty turnover may enhance cooperation. Certainly, excessive and persistent loss of faculty is demoralizing, and reduces the number of individuals among which administrative work can be spread. But for less dire losses, faculty turnover may play the disciplining role that academic units are deprived of by the tenure system.

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August 13, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Co-Authoring Legal Scholarship With Students

Richard A. Bales (Ohio Northern) & Stephen F. Befort (Minnesota), Running the Race Together: Co-Authoring Legal Scholarship with Students, 27 Persp. 4 (2019):

The two co-authors of this essay collectively have co-authored more than seventy law review articles or other scholarly publications with students. The vast majority of these are published in law reviews other than those at our home institutions. We’re not legal writing professors, but we are professors who work a lot with students to improve their writing. One of the ways we do that is by encouraging them to publish the papers they write for our courses and by working with them one-on-one to polish their drafts. We’ve learned some key lessons from that experience about improving student writing that we think might be helpful to any law school professors who work with students to improve their writing including LRW professors, law school writing specialists, and doctrinal professors.

This essay describes how we co-author with students; the myriad benefits such co-authoring offers to us, our students, the academy, and the bar generally; and a few speed bumps we have run into along the way.

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August 13, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Has College Gotten Too Easy?

The Atlantic, Has College Gotten Too Easy?:

AtlanticWhen Jeff Denning, an economist at Brigham Young University, started looking closely at the data on college-completion rates, he was a bit perplexed by what, exactly, was driving this uptick. He and some of his BYU colleagues noticed that a range of indicators from those two decades pointed in the direction of lower, not higher, graduation rates: More historically underrepresented groups of students (who tend to have lower graduation rates) were enrolling, students appeared to be studying less and spending more time working outside of school, and student-to-faculty ratios weren’t decreasing. “We started thinking, What could possibly explain this increase?” Denning told me. “Because we were stuck with not being able to explain anything.”

Stuck, that is, until they started looking at what was happening with students’ GPAs. Despite the aforementioned trends among the college-going population, students were, on average, earning higher grades in their first year of college. “[GPAs are] going up, and as best we can tell, there’s not a good reason that they’re going up, in terms of student behavior or preparation or anything like that,” Denning said.

If grades are improving but there’s no reason to think that students have become better students, an interesting possibility is raised: The unassuming, academic way Denning puts it in a recent paper (co-authored with his BYU colleague Eric Eide and Merrill Warnick, an incoming Stanford doctoral student) is that “standards for degree receipt” may have changed. A less measured way of saying what that implies: College may have gotten easier.

Jeffrey T. Denning, Eric R. Eide & Merrill Warnick (BYU), Why Have College Completion Rates Increased?:

College completion rates declined from the 1970s to the 1990s. We document that this trend has reversed—since the 1990s, college completion rates have increased.

Figure 2

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August 10, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, August 9, 2019

New Technology, The Death Of The BigLaw Monopoly, And The Evolution Of The Computer Professional

Michael Guihot (Queensland), New Technology, the Death of the BigLaw Monopoly, and the Evolution of the Computer Professional:

Much has been written recently about new technology disrupting the traditional law firm model of providing legal services. Susskind and Susskind predicted the failure of professions, including the legal profession, due in large part to the external pressure of disruptive technology. However, concentrating blame on the technology is misguided; it blames the tool used to disrupt rather than the root causes of the disruption. In short, computers do not kill lawyers.

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August 9, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Mindful Engagement And Relational Lawyering

Susan L. Brooks (Drexel), Mindful Engagement and Relational Lawyering, 48 Sw. L. Rev. ___ (2019):

Mindful engagement is a relational approach to mindfulness, and a mindful approach to being relational, in law and in life. It is about cultivating habits of mind and practices that can inform a wholehearted approach to lawyering, which means bringing our emotional and bodily awareness as well as our analytical minds fully into our work. Mindful engagement contemplates the interconnection and integration of engagement with oneself, with others interactively, and with communities and larger social institutions and systems.

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August 8, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School As A Consumer Product

Debra Moss Vollweiler (Nova), Law School as a Consumer Product: Beat 'em or Join 'em?:

With rising costs, pressure on performance metrics and competitive high-profile rankings, law schools are more than ever before being judged on a consumer satisfaction basis by both students and the public. While this perception has been growing over the past two decades, it has reached a crisis point in legal education. When students have their choice of educational institutions, they may act like consumers, and choose to spend their money based on metrics that satisfy them as buyers. This consumer mindset not only impacts admissions, but also can play out in the retention of students. The loss of students transferring out can take a serious toll on a law school, including potential detriments in bar passage, productive classrooms, the loss of future high performing alumni, and the cost of replacing the tuition generation. Schools are thus pressured to address the consumer issue.

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August 8, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Why Are Seemingly Satisfied Female Lawyers Running For The Exits?

Joni Hersch (Vanderbilt) & Erin E. Meyers (Vanderbilt), Why Are Seemingly Satisfied Female Lawyers Running for the Exits? Resolving the Paradox Using National Data, 102 Marq. L. Rev. 915 (2019):

Despite the fact that women are leaving the practice of law at alarmingly high rates, most previous research finds no evidence of gender differences in job satisfaction among lawyers. This Article uses nationally representative data from the 2015 National Survey of College Graduates to examine gender differences in lawyers' job satisfaction, and finds that any apparent similarity of job satisfaction between genders likely arises from dissatisfied female JDs sorting out of the legal profession at higher rates than their male counterparts, leaving behind the most satisfied women.

Lawyer Satisfaction

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August 6, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Anderson: Citation Engagement v. One-Off Citations

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Citation Engagement Counts - The Case of Corporate Law Scholars:

Citation counts (and other types of citation-based metrics) are increasing in importance in the legal academy. Some people like the objectivity of these measures and others lament their failure to capture important non-quantifiable aspects of scholarly influence.

One of the most influential citation count rankings in the legal academy is the Sisk-Leiter approach that Greg Sisk updates every three years. Last fall when the new Sisk et al. citation count study came out I proposed a small change to the Sisk-Leiter method that would attempt to measure engagement, defined as citing a particular article more than once. This was designed to address the "throwaway" citation problem that critics of citation counts have raised — that some papers may receive a large number of perfunctory "one off" citations that are less meaningful as a measure of scholarly influence.

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August 6, 2019 in Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 5, 2019

Kronman: The Downside of Diversity: Assault On American Excellence

Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘Elite Schools Are National Treasures. Their Elitism Is What Makes Them Such.’:

KronmanSince stepping down from his 10-year tenure as dean of Yale Law School, Anthony T. Kronman has been thinking a lot about the larger purposes of a humanities education. He’s addressed the topic in two books, Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life (Yale, 2007) and Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan (Yale, 2016), this last a 1,000-page exploration of his personal theology that draws on thinkers from antiquity to Freud to Rawls. (Kronman earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and spent some time undergoing psychoanalysis.) As Joshua Rothman put it in The New Yorker, Kronman "suspects that he might have found the meaning of life."

His most recent book, The Assault on American Excellence, will be published by Free Press in August. It’s a crisply argued jeremiad about what Kronman sees as the wrong turn taken by elite universities in recent years. Under the guise of concerns for inclusion and a misplaced egalitarianism, Kronman argues, universities have abandoned what should be their core commitments to reasoned argumentation and, more controversially, to the development of an "aristocratic ethos."

I met with Kronman in his office at the Yale Law School to talk about democracy and aristocracy, campus debates over free speech, affirmative action, and what he calls "the conversational ideal." ...

Much of your argument depends on the tension between democratic and aristocratic values. Colleges — and you’re really talking about elite colleges, here — ought to preserve, you say, "an aristocratic ethos in an otherwise democratic culture."

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August 5, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Characteristics Of Lawyers Who Are Subject To Complaints And Misconduct Findings: Older Males In Smaller Non-Urban Law Firms

Tara Sklar (Arizona), Yamna Taouk (Melbourne), David Studdert (Stanford), Matthew Spittal (Melbourne),  Ron Paterson (Health and Disability Commissioner) & Marie Bismark (Melbourne), Characteristics of Lawyers Who Are Subject to Complaints and Misconduct Findings, 16 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 318 (2019):

Regulators of the legal profession are charged with protecting the public by ensuring lawyers are fit to practice law. However, their approach tends to be reactive and case based, focusing on the resolution of individual complaints. Regulators generally do not seek to identify patterns and trends across their broader caseloads and the legal profession as a whole. Using administrative data routinely collected by the main regulator of the legal profession in Victoria, Australia, we characterized complaints lodged between 2005 and 2015 and the lawyers against whom they were made. We also analyzed risk factors for complaints and misconduct findings. We found the odds of being subject to a complaint were higher among lawyers who were male, older, had trust account authority and whose practices were smaller, in non-urban locations, and incorporated. A deeper understanding of these risk factors could support efforts to improve professional standards and reform regulatory practices.

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August 5, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Fall 2019 Law Review Article Submission Guide

SubmissionsNancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Fall 2019 submission season covering 203 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-52) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 53-59) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

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August 4, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 2, 2019

Learning Theory And The Law: Spaced Retrieval And The Law School Curriculum

Brian Sites (Barry), Learning Theory and the Law: Spaced Retrieval and the Law School Curriculum, 43 Law & Psychol. Rev. 99 (2019):

Over one hundred years of learning theory endorse a core learning method and its component parts, and studies in a variety of disciplines and settings have repeatedly verified their supremacy as learning tools. Yet law schools largely make no use of them. One of the schools that does, however, reported a 19.2% increase in bar passage among students using it; and another law school cited it as a pivotal component of its multiple top bar scores in a state with a dozen law schools (many of which have similar or higher predictors).s Yet the typical law school curriculum ignores it, the traditional law classroom makes little use of it, and innumerable law students-who often do not know about or use the theory-are led instead down the opposite path by professors. This article advocates for changing these mistakes.

The learning tool at issue is spaced retrieval. Studies have shown that spaced retrieval and its component parts, spaced repetition and retrieval theory, lead to better, more durable learning. Their value has been established in a variety of educational settings ranging from middle school to medical school, and from the study of mathemtics to Monet. Further, reported improvements exceed a letter grade increase. What student wouldn't desire a letter grade improvement in learning mastery (even if the curve prevented an actual letter grade increase)? What law school wouldn't want to see something in the range of a ten percent increase in bar exam scores?

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August 2, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)