January 25, 2008
I second most everything Doug previously described about working on amicus briefs for the courts. Doug and I have worked together on some of those briefs (sometimes he has been among the amici when I have written briefs, and vice versa), and it has been a wonderful experience.
One benefit I would add to his list is that doing this work publicly lets us serve as role models for our students. In our area of law (federal sentencing), this work made a difference, and the law did change. We allowed students to work with us at each stage, which was a part of their education they will long remember. More importantly, perhaps, it was a public example of the importance pro bono work can have on the larger society. In an even broader sense, it exhibits an expectation of positive change that contrasts sharply with the cynicism that pervades too much of the legal work they are exposed to as summer associates and externs.
In short, amicus work lets us show the students that we are not just lawyers, but lawyers who will sacrifice for principle and who view the law as a vehicle to make society better.
-- Mark Osler
On the Benefits of Class Podcasting
Ken Kristl (Widener) who offers students in his Property I course the opportunity to download podcasts that provide a summary of IL Property doctrine covered in class, explained the benefits of podcasting to fellow Widener faculty members recently. Details (with a link to the podcast about podcasting forthcoming). -- Joe Hodnicki
January 24, 2008
Academic Peer Review: Anonymous Blog Commenting v. Traditional Peer Review
Read more about this experiment in Jeffrey Young's Chronicle article, Blog Comments and Peer Review Go Head to Head to See Which Makes a Book Better. Hat tip to INFO/LAW's Can Crowdsourcing Beat Academic Peer Review? -- Joe Hodnicki
January 23, 2008
The virtues (and vices?) of law professors being friendly with courts
Over the last year or so, I have author or co-authored numerous amicus briefs filed in various federal courts. (Specifically, I have been involved with four Supreme Court amicus briefs and with amicus briefs filed in seven distinct lower federal courts. My latest friendly effort — concerning acquitted conduct sentencing enhancements delivered to the Sixth Circuit last week — can be found here.)
Because I am finding lots of professional rewards (and a few professional detriments) in this work, I thought I worthwhile to reflect publicly on a few virtues and vices I have discovered in being so friendly with courts lately.
Some professional virtues I have experienced from amicus work:
1. Rediscovering the critical importance of facts, building an effective record, and deadlines, all of which are worth emphasizing in the law school classroom (even though professors rarely do).
2. Having various opportunities to put my scholarly ideas into action, which is intellectually satisfying and helps me appreciate the opportunities and challenges for operationalizing scholarly ideas for judges.
3. Working more closely with many terrific practicing lawyers, which has an array of professional fringe benefits (some of which I can share with students and academic colleagues).
Some professional vices I have experienced from recent amicus work:
1. Rediscovering the critical importance of facts, building an effective record, and deadlines; litigating real cases is often harder (and more time-pressured) than making up hypos for class.
2. Having few opportunities to get formal recognition or credit for putting my scholarly ideas into action, which is frustrating because a lot of hard work cannot and will not be rewarded in my professional marketplace.
3. Working less closely, simply because I have less time, with my terrific students and colleagues.
Though I have a lot more to say, I will conclude here by saying that the net gains makes amici work an easy call for tenured academics: I think every tenured academic should try to be involved in some kind of amici work on a regular basis. Sadly, though, I fear the limited ability to recognize and fully credit this kind of service in a tenure file likely means that untenured faculty should be mindful of the potential opportunity costs of investing a lot of time in amici activities.
Posted by DAB
January 22, 2008
Should Law Profs Require Student Blog Participation?
That's the question Adjunct Law Prof Blog editor Mitchell Rubinstein asked after noting that Barry Law School Adjunct Professor Marc John Randazza gives credit for student participation on his blog, The Legal Satyricon. The question has created a mini-dust storm in the blogosphere. Check out the comments to Rubinstein's original post and the following posts and their comments:
- Susan Cartier Liebel's post, Knickers Are Twisting Over Innovative Adjunct Telling Students They MUST Blog on Build a Solo Practice
- Scott Greenfield's post, Adjunct Accused of Misblawgary on Simple Justice
- Randazza's Post
- And Rubinstein's follow-up post on Adjunct Law Prof Blog
-- Joe Hodnicki
January 21, 2008
Welcome to a notable new contributing editor
I am extraordinarily pleased to announce that Judith Welch Wegner, who served as Dean of the University of North Carolina School of Law for a decade, has now joined LSI as a contributing editor. This is a particularly exciting addition for LSI because, as her bio notes, Judith "recently completed a research leave as Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and has been principal investigator on the Foundation's major study on legal education."
The Carnegie Foundation's report, entitled Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law, has been a subject of great interest to the LSI bogging team. Just a few of our reactions and thoughts to the report can be found here and here and here and here and here and here.
I am very much looking forward to anything Judith has to say in this space about the Carnegie report and the initial reactions it has generated within the legal academy. One of the many remarkable features of the report is that only one of the principal authors (namely Judith) is a lawyer. I would be especially interested to hear from Judith about how non-lawyers with a background in education theory and practice reacted to learning about the distinctive ways of law school.
Posted by DAB