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August 27, 2011

Modeling Discourse

Our first year students are in residence here at St. Thomas, a week before everyone else, and are undergoing an intensive orientation.

As part of that orientation, I participated in a fascinating exercise:  I debated one of my primary adversaries on an important sentencing issue, in order to model civil discourse for these new students. 

The subject was the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for juveniles.  I am against this sentence in all cases, while my opponent, Jeanne Bishop, is a proponent of its use in appropriate instances.  Her view is informed, in part, by the deaths of her pregant sister and brother-in-law, who were shot by a 16-year-old and is now serving that sentence.  In 2009, I testified in Congress opposite her sister, Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins.

To get a taste of the debate, you can hear an NPR report here, and see a television report here.


-- Mark Osler

August 27, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2011

Diversity in Deans: A Workshop at Seattle U. School of Law

Seattle University School of Law through its Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, University of Washington School of Law, and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), offer this biennial workshop to encourage and assist members of underrepresented groups to pursue deanships and other university and law school leadership positions. The workshop will help you

This workshop is suggested not only for those considering deaning, but also for those who are planning an upcoming dean search and for those who work closely with the dean, including associate deans.

Anupam Chander

August 26, 2011 in Diversity, Law School Management | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2011

"Clinical Professors' Professional Responsibility: Preparing Law Students to Embrace Pro Bono"

The title of this post is the title of this new piece by Professor Douglas Colbert, which is now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This article begins by examining the current crisis in the U.S. legal system where approximately three out of four low- and middle-income litigants are denied access to counsel's representation when faced with the loss of essential rights -- a home, child custody, liberty and deportation -- and where most lawyers decline to fulfill their ethical responsibility of pro bono service to those who cannot afford private counsel.  The article traces the evolving ethical standards of a lawyer's professional responsibility that today views every attorney as a public citizen having a special responsibility to the quality of justice.

The author suggests that law professors assume a critical role in law students' decision to embrace or reject its pro bono ethical obligation.  The author focuses on clinical faculty and suggests that its leadership within the academy will be crucial to bridge colleagues' world of theory and doctrine, and to connect with practicing lawyers.  He illustrates clinical faculty's unique opportunity to incorporate the Model Rules of Professional Conduct by referring to the law reform and individual representation work that his clinical students perform.  The author concludes by declaring clinical education presents an ideal opportunity for teaching students to appreciate their professional responsibility to promote access to justice and to embrace pro bono service as an integral element of a lawyer's professional life.

The reality discussed in this piece that "three out of four low- and middle-income litigants lack access to counsel when faced with the loss of essential right" shines an important light on the reality(?) discussed in this recent post that law school are now apparently graduating far too many persons each year given the limited number of new legal jobs that develop each year.  Though there may not be a large number of new legal jobs to sustain all the new lawyers coming into the market, there remains no shortage of serious (and mostly unmet) legal needs in US society.  (I plan to say more on this topic soon, in part because it is this reality that draws me to the view that law students truly interest in practicing law should feel more "scammed" by "career services" departments than by the law school as a whole.)

Posted by DAB

August 25, 2011 in Legal profession realities and developments, Service -- legal profession, Teaching -- pedagogy, The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 24, 2011

Given modern labor realities, should law schools admit fewer students? Fail more out?

Applicants-Enroll 2010

If nothing else, this new blog authored by (once anonymous) LawProf called "Inside the Law School Scam" has generated some useful discussion throughout the law professor blogosphere about the current realities of law school and legal employment.  And the take-away data I found most notable and important in this context comes from this (under-reported?) New York Times piece from two months ago indicating that US law school each and every year are now graduating roughly two new lawyers for every one new legal job.  (Kudos to Brian Tamanaha for spotlighting these important data (and for the chart reprinted here) via this post at Balkinization titled "The Coming Crunch for Law Schools.")  

In light of this current significant over-supply of junior lawyers seeking jobs in legal fields with only half the opennings needed for full employment (a market problem which has arguably been going on now for numerous years), it is unsurprising that now only the most highly-ranked students and highly-ranked schools are still able to easily find acceptable legal employment and in turn have the resources need to pay off large accumulated student debt.  And, now with a glut of tens of thousands of recent law school grads who are unemployed or underemployed and yet still likely to keep seeking legal opportunities, it seems unlikely that even a huge improvement in the economy will create enough new law jobs for the seemingly ever-increasing number of new law school grads.

With an eye on these market realities, Brian and Gerard Magliocca in recent posts are exploring why there seems still to be a huge demand for law school access as reflected in law school application rates:

Though I think the law school demand side is a very important component of this story, the question in the title of this post is meant to urge discussion of the law school supply side.  In particular, I would like to hear view from anyone inside or outside the law school marketplace as to whether law schools ought to be, in light of modern labor realities, significantly reduce the sizes of their graduating classes either by letting in many fewer students or failing out many more students before these students accumulate huge law school debts.

In a future post, I will set forth my own innovative proposal for how I think modern law schools should try to deal with these issues.  In the meantime, though, I am hoping to generate some feedback on these basic questions.

Posted by DAB

August 24, 2011 in Admissions to law school, Legal profession realities and developments, Serving students, Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 22, 2011

Some Good Things About a Third Year in Law School

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Shea usefully seeks to turn the blawgosphere's attention from "Is Law School a Scam?" issue to other important questions--like "Is the Third Year of Law School a Scam?"  That's not actually the way he characterizes his question, of course. He frames it in a less hyperbolic way.

I thought I might offer a few reasons why the third year of law school is useful--in the form of a Letterman Top Ten list. Of course, these ten reasons could be counterweighed by even more numerous or stronger arguments on the other side.

10. Given the lack of resources (or incentive) of private law firms to engage in training, a third year allows one to take advanced courses in a variety of subjects. I, for example, took Advanced Civil Procedure in my last term (with the great Geoff Hazard, now a part of the incomparable UC family).

9. A third year allows one to experiment by taking courses in new areas, perhaps opening one's eyes to areas of the law that might not have seemed initially appealing.

8. Having finished taking most bar classes, a student can now finally take courses related to his or her passions.

7. Third year students run a variety of programs essential to the law school curriculum, like Moot Court or Barrister's Union.

6. Having a third year allows one two summers while enrolled as a student, thus giving one the opportunity to experiment with two different firms, two different cities, or two different kinds of legal practice.

5. A third year allows one to write and publish notes in the Law Journal, thus improving one's research and writing skills dramatically.

4. In many schools still, the first year is almost entirely spoken for with mandatory courses. A third year gives one longer opportunity to actually study the areas one is keen to study.

3. A third year allows one to serve as a research assistant to law professors, thus building an important relationship with someone who might be a good mentor.

2. Without third year law students, the legal academy would lose those who run student-edited law reviews, the principal means for distributing legal scholarship. 

1. By the time of third year, you finally know where the best bars are. (Okay, most folks probably figured this out during their first week of law school. It just took me longer.)

What would you miss most if you never had a third year in law school? Alternatively, why do you think a third year was unnecessary?

Anupam Chander


August 22, 2011 in Serving students, Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IAALS launches new program called "Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers"

6059929829_79278f1731 Via e-mail I received this annoucement of note about legal education reform, which gets started this way:

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver today launches a unique, national initiative to change the way law schools educate students. “Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers” provides a platform to encourage law schools in the U.S. to showcase innovative teaching to produce more practice-ready lawyers who can better meet the needs of an evolving profession.

Rebecca Love Kourlis is the Executive Director of IAALS and a former Colorado Supreme Court justice. “Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers leverages the Carnegie Model of learning,” Kourlis says. “Our project provides support for shared learning, innovation, ongoing measurement and collective implementation. We are very excited to launch this project to encourage new ways to train law students and to measure innovation in the years to come.”

William M. Sullivan is the Director of “Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.” He also is the lead author of the 2007 Carnegie Foundation report, Educating Lawyers. “Our goal is to encourage law schools that are already committed to innovation to share what they know in a structured, collaborative place so that other law professors may discuss and develop new teaching techniques,” Sullivan says.

IAALS will manage this initiative, the first of its kind in the country. The initiative is partnering with a growing number of law schools in a consortium committed to innovative teaching.

The website for Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers is interesting and seems to have some useful contents, though I do not yet see just why the website (or this companion blog) ought to become a regular stop for law professors or law students.

Posted by DAB

August 22, 2011 in Deans and innovations, Teaching -- curriculum, Teaching -- pedagogy, Teaching Resources, The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack