Category Archives: Law School News & Views

The law school innovation index

The Law School Innovation Index was launch in November 2017 as a prototype that highlights 38 law school legal-service delivery innovation and technology programs of which the creators were aware as of October 31, 2017. In this prototype, the creators endeavored to build a framework for the index so that they can receive feedback before undertaking adding each of the 200+ U.S. law schools.

The objective of this study are:

  • Create a measure of the extent to which each of the 200+ U.S. law schools prepare students to deliver legal services in the 21st century.
  • Create a taxonomy of law school legal-service delivery innovation and technology programs.
  • Differentiate between programs and courses focused on “legal-service delivery innovation and technology” and those focused on the intersection of law and technology (e.g., “law and [technology] courses”).
  • Raise public awareness of law schools that are educating students about legal-service delivery innovation and technology, including awareness among employers, prospective and current law students, and alumni.
  • Raise prospective and current law students’ awareness of the disciplines and skills needed to be successful in the 21st century.

To have made this prototype list, a law school must offer a course with instruction in at least one of these legal-service delivery disciplines:

  • Business of law.
  • Process improvement.
  • Leadership for lawyers.
  • Project management.
  • Innovative/entrepreneurial lawyering.
  • Computational law.
  • Empirical methods.
  • Data analytics.
  • Technology basics.
  • Applied technology.

Only two law schools teach all 10 disciplines: MSU Law, which is home to LegalRndD, and Chicago-Kent College of Law, home to The Law Lab and the Center for Access to Justice and Technology. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Stanford Law School, Suffolk University Law School, and the University of Miami School of Law topped the index as well.

What do you think? — Joe

A call for legal research instruction in upper-level writing courses

Here’s the abstract for Alyson Drake’s You Can’t Write Without Research: The Role of Research Instruction in the Upper-Level Writing Requirement, 18 Fla. Coastal L. Rev. 167 (2017):

This article examines the role legal research instruction should play in the American Bar Association’s upper-level writing requirement. It argues that, despite the importance that research plays in most types of writing that students do to fill this requirement (student journal notes/comments, seminar papers, independent research papers), there is little-to-no standardized research instruction in and across law schools. Finally, the article proposes four methods that scholarly research instruction can be incorporated into the law school curriculum by utilizing law librarians and suggests why law librarians are best suited for this type of instruction.

— Joe

ABA revokes Arizona Summit’s accreditation

At its meeting on May 10-12, 2018, ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar revoked Arizona Summit’s accreditation. You can read the ABA’s notice announcing its decision to pull accreditation here. The school had been previously placed on probation by the ABA back in March 2017 due to low bar pass rates.

H/T Legal Skills Prof Blog. — Joe

Political lawyering and clinical education

Here’s the abstract for Deborah N. Archer’s Political Lawyering for the 21st Century (2018):

Legal education purports to prepare the next generation of lawyers capable of tackling the urgent and complex social justice challenges of our time. But law schools are failing in that public promise. Clinical education offers the best opportunity to overcome those failings by teaching the skills lawyers need to tackle systemic and interlocking legal and social problems. But too often even clinical education falls short: it adheres to conventional pedagogical methodologies that are overly narrow and, in the end, limit students’ abilities to manage today’s complex racial and social justice issues. This article contends that clinical education needs to embrace and reimagine political lawyering for the 21st century in order to prepare aspiring lawyers to tackle both new and chronic issues of injustice through a broad array of advocacy strategies.

— Joe

Overcoming the legal academy’s resistance to change

Here’s a new article by Peter Gaughan called Facilitating Meaningful Change Within U.S. Law Schools, 16 U.N.H. L. Rev. 243 (2018). From the abstract:

Despite the widely recognized challenges and complaints facing U.S. legal education, very little is understood about how law schools can adapt faster and better. This Article uses institutional theory, behavioral economics, and psychology to explain why change has proven so difficult for U.S. law schools. Next, using institutional entrepreneurship, the Article explains the theoretical steps necessary to overcome the institutional resistance to change. The Article then discusses the characteristics of opportunities that are most likely to better meet the needs of law students while also providing sustainable benefits to the individually innovating law schools. Using management theory, the Article then proposes a seven-step change process model to enable individual law schools to systematically overcome institutional resistance, formulate unique strategies, and actually achieve meaningful change.

— Joe

Lower bar exam scores likely lead to higher rates of malpractice, misconduct, and discipline

From the abstract for Derek T. Muller’s The High Cost of Lowering the Bar (2017):

In this Essay, we present data suggesting that lowering the bar examination passing score will likely increase the amount of malpractice, misconduct, and discipline among California lawyers. Our analysis shows that bar exam score is significantly related to likelihood of State Bar discipline throughout a lawyer’s career. We investigate these claims by collecting data on disciplinary actions and disbarments among California-licensed attorneys. We find support for the assertion that attorneys with lower bar examination performance are more likely to be disciplined and disbarred than those with higher performance.

Although our measures of bar performance only have modest predictive power of subsequent discipline, we project that lowering the cut score would result in the admission of attorneys with a substantially higher probability of State Bar discipline over the course of their careers. But we admit that our analysis is limited due to the imperfect data available to the public. For a precise calculation, we call on the California State Bar to use its internal records on bar scores and discipline outcomes to determine the likely impact of changes to the passing score.

— Joe

Chicago, Virginia and Duke ranked 1, 2 and 3 by Above the Law’s top 50 law schools

From ATL: “For those new to the game, the Above the Law rankings are completely outcomes-driven. We don’t care about LSAT scores or professorial scholarship or the size of the law school library. We use the updated ABA employment stats for the current year. And we limit our published list to the top 50 schools, on the theory that beyond a certain point, regional differences make ordinal lists pretty silly.” Here’s ATL’s 2018 Law School Rankings. Interesting. — Joe

InfiLaw’s Arizona Summit Law School sues ABA

The complaint reportedly alleges abuses of power, denial of due process and unequal treatment and parallels claims in lawsuits by Florida Coastal School of Law and Charlotte School of Law. From the school’s press release:

Summit’s complaint claims the ABA denied the school due process as Summit sought, in good faith, to demonstrate its compliance with accreditation standards. It also alleges selective and disparate application of these standards in conjunction with disregard of material evidence. The complaint alleges further that the ABA targeted Summit under pressure from Department of Education (DOE) officials, who have since left the agency, to act against proprietary schools or risk losing its accreditation authority. These due process claims arise under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and are directly connected to the ABA’s decision to place the school on probation.

H/T to The Faculty Lounge post. — Joe

Frakt on Admissions, Accreditation and the ABA: An Analysis of Recent Law School Lawsuits

Two snips from David Frakt’s Admissions, Accreditation and the ABA: An Analysis of Recent Law School Lawsuits, The Faculty Lounge, May 23, 2018:

Recently, the ABA has been sued by Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley School of Law, and two InfiLaw schools: Florida Coastal School of Law and the defunct Charlotte School of Law. In addition, the ABA was named as a co-defendant along with InfiLaw and Charlotte School of Law in an amended complaint filed in a fraud lawsuit by a former Charlotte law professor and a Charlotte law student. These lawsuits allege that the ABA has failed in its duties as a law school accrediting agency in a variety of ways.

With any luck, these lawsuits will bring about changes to the ABA’s accreditation practices so that the accreditation process is more transparent, consistent and fair for all law schools. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the ABA continues to assertively enforce Standard 501(b) by taking action against other schools … or whether instead, the lawsuits cause the ABA to back off.

Recommended. — Joe

Pay discrimination lawsuit concludes with Univ. of Denver School of Law agreeing to consent decree

The University of Denver School of Law has settled a pay discrimination lawsuit with seven full-time female law profs by way of an EEOC consent decree. The settlement, which includes a $2.66 million monetary award, was announced Thursday. The law profs will receive back pay, compensatory damages and compensation increases stemming from an equal pay lawsuit brought in 2016 by the EEOC. Prior to the suit, the average salary of full-time female professors at the University of Denver School of Law was about $20,000 less than that of full-time male professors. For details, see this ABAJ article. — Joe

Recommendations for fixing law reviews

Here’s the abstract for Barry Friedman, Fixing Law Reviews, 67 Duke L.J. 1297 (2018):

Very few people are happy at present with the law review publishing process, from article submission and selection to editing. Complaints are longstanding; similar ones emerge from faculty and students alike. Yet, change has not occurred. We remain locked in a process in which neither faculty nor students are happy.

This Article recommends wholesale changes to the submission and editing process. The first part details the dysfunctions of the current system, including everything from lack of student capacity to evaluate faculty scholarship—particularly under the gun of the expedite process—to faculty submitting subpar work in light of rigid submission cycles. It then turns to a perverse defense of the current system. In light of technological change, law reviews play a very different function at present than even twenty years ago. Most faculty publish their work on electronic databases prior to submission to law reviews. Law reviews serve as the final resting place of those articles for archival purposes, while ostensibly providing students with a sound pedagogical experience. Even so, the system has huge and unacceptable costs; student editors scramble over one another to accept manuscripts, often wasting time on rejected submissions, while faculty labor with student overediting, all in the service of articles that for the most part are rarely or never cited.

It is time to change the present system, to produce better published scholarship, at lower cost to faculty and students. This ought to include blind submission, elimination of submitting articles to one’s own school, and some form of peer review. Authors should be required to limit submissions, or to accept the first offer they receive. And the editing process should be simplified, as the present system is far too elaborate, and fails to make scholarship the best it can be.

Interesting. — Joe

Measuring law school clinics

Here’s the abstract for Colleen F. Shanahan, et al., Measuring Law School Clinics, 92 Tulane L. Rev. 547 (2018):

Legal education reformers have long argued that law school clinics address two related needs: first, clinics teach students to be lawyers; and second, clinics serve low-income clients. In clinics, so the argument goes, law students working under the close supervision of faculty members learn the requisite skills to be good practitioners and professionals. In turn, clinical law students serve clients with civil and criminal justice needs that would otherwise go unmet.

Though we have these laudable teaching and service goals — and a vast literature describing the role of clinics in both the teaching and service dimensions — we have scant empirical evidence about whether and how clinics achieve these goals. We know from studies that law students value clinics, but do clinics prepare them to be lawyers? We also know from surveys that clinics provide hundreds of thousands of hours of free legal aid in low-income communities, but how well do clinic students serve clients?

These are big questions across a complex field and set of practices that cannot be answered by a single study. Nevertheless, we report here findings from a large data set of cases that shed some light on the teaching-service promise of law school clinics. Analyzing thousands of unemployment insurance cases involving different types of representation, we are able to compare clinical law students’ use of legal procedures and outcomes to those of experienced attorneys in cases in the same court.

We find that clinical law students behave very similarly to practicing attorneys in their use of legal procedures. Their clients also experience very similar case outcomes to clients of practicing attorneys. Though further research is needed on the impact of law school clinics in the teaching and service dimensions, our findings are consistent with claims that law school clinics help prepare students to be practicing lawyers and to serve low-income clients as well as lawyers do.

H/T to Legal Skills Prof Blog. — Joe

What will legal education look like in 2025?

From the abstract for Ian Holloway and Steven Friedland’s The Double Life of Law Schools, 68 Case Western Reserve Law Review ___ (2018):

This Article posits that for the legal education of 2025 to once again thrive, it will have to reframe itself. The drivers of change—particularly the law services marketplace and the changing nature of clients and legal work—will require faculty and administrators to reconsider outcomes, values, and objectives of the enterprise. In many ways, any resulting configuration ought to have more connections with the outside world, becoming more like that of a business or medical school than a liberal arts curriculum, and greater integration of its individual courses. For example, there should be a reinvigorated focus on connections between lawyering, clients, and legal education, including the recognition that most students who attend law school intend to practice some form of law. The education also should connect with new realities—that lawyers today reach solutions collaboratively, often in teams; that lawyers manage projects and utilize a variety of skill sets, all within a service profession requiring expertise in different but specialized knowledge domains; and that access to legal services is still an issue for many persons living in the United States. Given the utilization of these new drivers and the connections illuminated between lawyering and law school, the underlying theory-practice tensions also should shift. In essence, law schools likely will start producing more measurable outcomes—outcomes focusing on transforming novices into nimble experts with multiple skill sets. In 2025, the change in legal education might be significant, but it also needs to be significantly improved, given the volatile nature of the times.

— Joe

Two law schools found to be “significantly out of compliance” with ABA admissions standard

This month the Accreditation Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions informed Golden Gate University School of Law and Duncan School of Law that both schools are “significantly out of compliance” with the ABA’s admissions standards. Read more about it.

— Joe

The 2018 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools

CJ Ryan and Brian L. Frye’s “revealed-preferences” ranking is subjective because its purpose is to ask where prospective law students choose to matriculate. In other words, objective rankings tell students what they should want, but the authors’ subjective ranking asks what students actually want. In The 2018 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools, the authors present a law school ranking based exclusively on the combined scores of the students in a school’s 2017 incoming class. The authors also compare this ranking to their previous ranking, as well as other objective ranking systems, and provide regional rankings of law schools. — Joe

Delisted! Pepperdine Law receives USNWR 2019 Law School Rankings death sentence for data reporting mistake

Instead of reporting its median LSAT score was 160, Pepperdine Law admitted making a reporting mistake because the school had submitted to USNWR a median LSAT score of 162. At 162, Pepperdine would have jumped 13 spots to 59 from 72. The school claims that at 160, Pepperdine would have been ranked 62 or 64. “Would have been,” because US News refused to recalculate the school’s rank and issue a new rankings list prior to the official release of the 2019 Law School Rankings [here]. Instead, Pepperdine received a death sentence because US News removed Pepperdine’s ranking altogether. No law school marketing fodder using the overall Best Law School ranking for Pepperdine Law this year. — Joe

2019 USNWR Law School Rankings Leaked (again)

Above the Law reports that today’s U.S. News rankings leak comes to us courtesy of Mike Spivey of the Spivey Consulting Group, who broke the news. For the past several years, Spivey has obtained the law school rankings ahead of their official publication, and they are always accurate. — Joe

Trump motivating students to attend law school

Over 30 percent of applicants who want to attend law school say that’s because of Trump. The statistic comes from Kaplan Test Prep survey of 500+ pre-law students. The survey was conducted in Dec. 2017 and Feb. 2018. Here’s the press release. — Joe

Who is the most notorious Cooley Law School grad?

My vote goes to Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. According to Wikipedia, he is a Cooley Law grad. I wonder if he has donated $130,000 to the school’s scholarship fund. — Joe

Rostron & Levit update their guide for submitting articles to law reviews

Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals (Jan. 26, 2018) by Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit contains information about submitting articles to law reviews and journals, including the methods for submitting an article, any special formatting requirements, how to contact them to request an expedited review, and how to contact them to withdraw an article from consideration. It covers 202 law reviews. — Joe