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May 5, 2007

Should law schools be developing legal wikis?

Thanks to law.com, Robert Ambrogi's new piece, entitled "Legal Wikis Are Bound to Wow You," can be accessed here.  The article provides links to lots of legal wiki, and gets me thinking about whether law schools and law professors ought to actively embrace wikis for all sorts of collaborative legal projects.  Here is a snippet from the article that provides some background:

The key word in these experiments is collaboration and the engine driving them is a type of Web site known as a wiki, from the Hawaiian word for fast. A wiki allows any Web page visitor to easily add, remove or edit content. 

Editing can be done quickly from within a browser and without any special knowledge of authoring formats. A wiki's simplicity and ease of use make it an ideal tool for group projects. The first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, was written in 1994.  But it wasn't until recently that wikis saw broader use. No doubt, a driving force has been the best-known wiki -- the collaboratively written encyclopedia Wikipedia. Neither are wikis new to the legal profession.

Denver lawyer John DeBruyn has been experimenting with wikis as a tool for lawyer-to-lawyer collaboration since at least 1997. But in the legal world, as elsewhere, wikis have become more widely used in the last year or two.

I could readily imagine having a class project centered about building a wiki (my death penalty class blog this past semester has some wiki-like facets).  I also would readily approve a student independent study project that was wiki-centric, and I certainly could see student organizations and law reviews working on wikis as an integral part of their activities.

Posted by DAB.

May 5, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 4, 2007

How Cross-Disciplinary Training May Improve the Quality of Legal Education

Seth Freeman has deposited Bridging the Gaps: How Cross-Disciplinary Training With MBAs Can Improve Professional Education, Prepare Students for Private Practice, and Enhance University Life in SSRN. Here's the abstract:

What can law schools do to address the criticisms in the Carnegie Foundation's January 2007 report on legal education? That report found that law schools are not teaching students how to be competent lawyers. One particularly promising answer is cross-disciplinary training with MBAs, which leading law schools such as NYU, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard have embraced in recent years. In this article, I explore the value of such courses, and discuss a cross-disciplinary course that I successfully debuted in the Fall of 2006 at NYU entitled, "Negotiating Complex Transactions with Executives and Lawyers." More generally, I argue that cross-disciplinary courses offer special advantages for students, schools, universities, and employers, and deserve much more emphasis in professional training and higher education.

-- Joe Hodnicki

May 4, 2007 in Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 3, 2007

LSAC Research Grant Proposals for Empirical Research on Legal Training and Legal Practice Due by Sept. 1

Proposals for empirical research on legal training and legal practice for the Law School Admission Council's Research Grant Program are due by September 1, 2007.

Contact: Lillian Worthington, Law School Admission Council, P.O. Box 40, Newtown, Pa. 18940-0040
Phone: (215) 968-1198
Fax: (215) 968-1169,
Email: lworthington@LSAC.org
Website: http://members.lsacnet.org/

-- Joe Hodnicki

May 3, 2007 in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 2, 2007

Bias in Evaluations

A new study finds racial bias in calling fouls on the basketball court in the NBA. Here is the NY Times characterization:
A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through 2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players. Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, found a corresponding bias in which black officials called fouls more frequently against white players, though that tendency was not as strong.
The NY Times quotes Yale Law Professor Ian Ayres (author of the brilliant book Pervasive Prejudice) on the study:
“I would be more surprised if it didn’t exist,” Mr. Ayres said of an implicit association bias in the N.B.A. “There’s a growing consensus that a large proportion of racialized decisions is not driven by any conscious race discrimination, but that it is often just driven by unconscious, or subconscious, attitudes. When you force people to make snap decisions, they often can’t keep themselves from subconsciously treating blacks different than whites, men different from women.”

Note that this study seems to reveal discrimination even conducted in the most public of settings--with high definition video cameras recording all movements amidst the scrutiny of millions of, often highly expert, independent fans.

Law professors, of course, are not immune to societal biases. Thankfully, most law school grading is conducted through blind-graded exams. Yet, there are a significant number of assessments that are not performed without knowledge of the student's identity. These include: seminars, legal practice courses, independent studies, and student participation components of grades.

What can be done to ameliorate the potential problem? I expect that education is an important component of the response. We should understand our own potentials for bias and seek to weed it out.

Anupam Chander

May 2, 2007 in Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 1, 2007

Georgetown Launches Center for the Study of the Legal Profession

National Law Journal is reporting that Georgetown University Law Center has established the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession, which will promote scholarship on complexities of legal careers. Directed by Georgetown law professors Milton Regan and Jeffrey Bauman, the center will serve as a resource for trends and developments in the profession. -- Joe Hodnicki

May 1, 2007 in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 30, 2007

Teaching New Teachers: From Book Selection to Final Exam

Howard Katz (Charlotte) and Kevin Oneill (Cleveland State) have deposited Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching: A Primer for New Teachers in SSRN. The author's believe their article is the first to provide "detailed and comprehensive advice on how to teach a law school course — from choosing a book and designing a syllabus to orchestrating the classroom experience to creating and grading the final exam." -- Joe Hodnicki

April 30, 2007 in Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack