H/T to Legal Skills Prof Blog for calling attention to Nikos Harris, The Risks of Technology in the Law Classroom: Why the Next Great Development In Legal Education Might Be Going Low-Tech, 51 UBC L REV 773 (2018). Here’s the abstract:

It is often assumed that technology improves every facet of our lives, including learning in the university classroom. However, there is mounting evidence that traditional lecturing and note-taking techniques may provide the optimal learning environment. Student use of laptops, and professor use of electronic course slides, may actually impair learning in a manner which has particular significance for legal education. This emerging evidence suggests that law professors can make a justifiable decision to bring about a “low tech revolution” in their classrooms. Achieving that revolution is more complicated when it comes to student use of laptops, but there are a number of techniques which can be used to encourage students to consider dusting off a pen and pad of paper.

Gregory W. Bowman has posted The Rise of the Creative Law School, University of Toledo Law Review, Forthcoming. Here’s the abstract:

U.S. legal education is currently experiencing rapid and massive change that is both destabilizing and disconcerting. Across the nation, law schools face enormous challenges and a future filled with programmatic and financial uncertainty. This essay uses the work of urbanist Richard Florida to discuss these challenges and suggest ways to develop paths forward that best benefit law students, the public, and law schools themselves.

H/T Legal Skills Prof Blog.

Dangerous Leaders: How and Why Lawyers Must Be Taught to Lead (Stanford UP, Aug. 21, 2018) by Anthony C. Thompson “exposes the risks and results of leaving lawyers unprepared to lead. It provides law schools, law students, and the legal profession with the leadership tools and models to build a better foundation of leadership acumen. Anthony C. Thompson draws from his twenty years of experience in global executive education for Fortune 100 companies and his experience as a law professor to chart a path forward for better leadership instruction within the legal academy. Using vivid, real-life case studies, Thompson explores catastrophic political, business, and legal failures that have occurred precisely because of a lapse in leadership from those with legal training. He maintains that these practices are chronic leadership failures that could have been avoided. In examining these patterns of failures, it becomes apparent that legal education has fundamentally misread its task.

“Thompson proposes a fundamental rethinking of legal education, based upon intersectional leadership, to prepare lawyers to assume the types of roles that our increasingly fast-paced world requires. Intersectional leadership challenges lawyer leaders to see the world through a different lens and expects a form of inclusion and respect for other perspectives and experiences that will prove critical to maneuvering in a complex environment. Dangerous Leaders imparts invaluable tools and lessons to best equip current and future generations of legal leaders.”

From the abstract for Deborah N. Archer, Political Lawyering for the 21st Century, Denver Law Review (Forthcoming):

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.

H/T beSpacific.

Following up on this LLB report, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission voted 8-5 to reject the proposed transfer of Valparaiso’s law school to Middle Tennessee State University. Nashville Public Radio has the details:

The biggest critics of the transfer came from lawyers and law schools in Memphis and Knoxville, where the state’s only other public law schools are located. Comments generally regarded concerns of a watered down law school market for the state, since Nashville is already home to three law schools — Belmont University, Vanderbilt University and Nashville School of Law. Another school in the city, many said, would take away from other schools’ ability to compete, even if it’s a public option. And with higher education excellence often tied to career attainment outcomes, it would also saturate an already dense legal labor market, they said. MTSU’s transfer of a law school would make it even more difficult for law school graduates to find work.”

H/T to Above the Law for calling attention to the 3-day strike by law students across the country starting today. From The Chronicle:

More than 30 organizations, many of them chapters of the National Lawyers Guild and groups like Democratic Socialists of America, had endorsed the strike as of Tuesday afternoon. Participants hail from at least 12 law schools, including those at American, Emory, and George Washington Universities and the Universities of Miami, Richmond, and Southern California. Law students are also organizing at Duke and Rutgers Universities and the Universities of Denver and North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to the guild, a progressive legal organization.

See the student movement’s website.

From the press release:

The governing boards of Middle Tennessee State University and Valparaiso University have endorsed the transfer of Valparaiso’s law school to the Murfreesboro campus, leaders from both institutions announced Wednesday, Oct. 10.

MTSU’s Board of Trustees approved an agreement outlining the transfer, as well as a recommendation to create a College of Law and establish a Juris Doctor degree, at a special Oct. 10 meeting. The vote followed approval of the document last week by Valparaiso’s Board of Directors.

The proposal now goes to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for consideration.

More than 2,400 law professors signed on to a letter saying that then Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial restraint at a Senate confirmation hearing — behavior that would be disqualifying for any court nominee. From the letter which was published by the New York Times as an opinion piece:

Around the Country Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, to be a judge requires that an individual have “a personality that is evenhanded, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist Paper 78, entitled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

We are law professors who teach, research, and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Thursday, September 28, 2018, the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.

The question at issue was of course painful for anyone. But Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners. Even in his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh described the hearing as partisan, referring to it as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” rather than acknowledging the need for the Senate, faced with new information, to try to understand what had transpired. Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.

In Evolution of law students, law blogs and social media, Kevin O’Keefe, founder of LexBlog which has just launched a network of blogs numbering some 19,000 law bloggers, suggests that law students could be getting help soon in establishing a social media presence. He writes

It’s going to take boots on the ground in the form of knowledgeable and experienced law students at the law schools with the support from the mothership in Seattle – LexBlog.

Westlaw has had student reps, and so has LexNexis [sic]. We’re seeing newer legal tech companies such as casetext with student reps.

LexBlog student reps could be at a law school to help a fellow student spin up for a free professional blog in minutes through the expedited LexBlog system. They could show fellow students the social media to use from Twitter, Facebook, to LinkedIn and how to use these networking tools effectively.

A good idea I think. However on-site law librarians probably would make better LexBlog representatives.

AALS has released a report, Before the JD: Undergraduate Views on Law School, which discusses, among other things, the considerations that might drive college students pursuing advanced degrees to apply to law school over other advanced degree programs, when students first contemplate going to law school, and important sources of information and advice about law school and other advanced degrees to which undergraduates turn.

Some interesting findings include:

  • Students considering law school are also likely to consider a PhD, Masters Degree or MBA instead of a law degree, but are much less likely to consider Medical School
  • Only 15 precent of students considering a graduate degree were considering a law degreee
  • Law was seen as better preparation for a career in politics, government, or public service than other options
  • Compared to other advanced degrees, students are less concerned about time to completion for law degrees, but students are more concerned about work life balance in law than in other fields
  • Debt /cost was slightly less of a concern for a law degree than for other advanced degrees
  • Students interested in law school developed this interest early, often even before attending college
  • Law was not seen as using cutting edge technology as much as other fields

View the Before the JD press release and highlights from the report.

Rosenblatt’s Deans Database “provides information about law school deans. Ever wondered who is the longest serving dean? Which current dean has held the most deanships? What schools a dean attended? Who were the former deans at a particular law school? The RDD is designed to answer these questions and provide information to those who take an interest in law school deanships. This database may be used by law deans, dean search committees, university officials, or members of the public and is available without charge. An attractive feature of the RDD is that it is always current. Unlike printed lists of deans that go out of date when changes occur, the RDD is updated instantly whenever information is inputted to the database.” — Joe

Brian Leiter has been publishing a series of most-cited law faculty by speciality. Here’s what’s been published so far on Leiter’s Law School Reports:

More to come? Check Leiter’s Law School Reports. — Joe

From Gregory C. Sick et al., Scholarly Impact of Law School Faculties in 2018: Updating the Leiter Score Ranking for the Top Third (Aug. 14, 2018):

This updated 2018 study explores the scholarly impact of law faculties, ranking the top third of ABA-accredited law schools. Refined by Brian Leiter, the “Scholarly Impact Score” for a law faculty is calculated from the mean and the median of total law journal citations over the past five years to the work of tenured faculty members. In addition to a school-by-school ranking, we report the mean, median, and weighted score, along with a listing of the tenured law faculty members at each school with the ten highest individual citation counts. The law faculties at Yale, Harvard, Chicago, New York University, and Columbia rank in the top five for Scholarly Impact. The other schools rounding out the top ten are Stanford, the University of California-Berkeley, Duke, Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt. The most dramatic rises in the 2018 Scholarly Impact Ranking were by four schools that climbed 16 ordinal positions: Kansas (to #48), USC (to #23), the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) (to #23), and William & Mary (to #28). In addition, two schools rose by 10 spots: Florida State (to #29) and San Francisco (to #54). Several law faculties achieve a Scholarly Impact Ranking in 2018 well above the law school rankings reported by U.S. News for 2019: Vanderbilt (at #10) repeats its appearance within the top ten for Scholarly Impact, but is ranked lower by U.S. News (at #17). Among the top ranked schools, the University of California-Irvine experiences the greatest incongruity, ranking just outside the top ten (#12) for Scholarly Impact, but holding a U.S. News ranking nine ordinal places lower (at #21). In the Scholarly Impact top 25, George Mason rises slightly (to #19), but remains under-valued in U.S. News (at #41). George Washington stands at #16 in the Scholarly Impact Ranking, while falling just inside the top 25 (at #24) in U.S. News. The most dramatically under-valued law faculty remains the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), which now ranks inside the top 25 (at #23) for Scholarly Impact, while being relegated by U.S. News below the top 100 (at #113)—a difference of 90 ordinal levels.

— Joe

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

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

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