Even people inside the Ivory Tower can tell that legal education needs serious reform.
I just got back from the International Legal Ethics Conference in Banff, Alberta. I feel like I literally just got back, since WestJet made an atrocious decision to detour a direct Calgary to Newark flight — full of people who had already cleared U.S. Customs — to Toronto, where we were trapped on the tarmac for six hours.
In any event, the ILEC conference was full of law professors from just about everywhere. I enjoyed many discussions about how the next generation of lawyers are being trained. I’m happy to report that a lot of the professors I talked to understood that one of the big problems facing American law students is the out-of-control cost of legal education. And I spoke to many American professors who understood that high professorial salaries are partially responsible for the runaway cost of tuition. There were lots of innovative ideas about how to make legal education cheaper for students, and more useful for clients.
Unfortunately, while there are many great ideas out there, the 800-pound gorilla is the restrictive American Bar Association, and it didn’t even have to bother being in the room for everybody to feel its weight. The ABA is perhaps the only organization in the world that doesn’t understand that the American legal education system is horribly flawed.
If the ABA could get a clue, there are a lot of people willing to go into the laboratory and experiment with new ideas. I was at ILEC on a panel about whether or not law should be an undergraduate degree. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but the ABA needs to realize that almost anything is better than the current system.
You don’t have to listen to me, you can listen to the New York Times….
Last year, my colleague Elie Mystal opined as follows: “Any lawyer who calls himself ‘doctor,’ like a Ph.D., should get punched in the mouth.” Given the self-aggrandizing nature of a lawyer taking on the additional title of “doctor,” I can’t say I disagree with him (with all due respect to the efforts on Facebook to get lawyers referred to as doctors).
But what if lawyers — more specifically, aspiring law professors — actually got Ph.D. degrees in law? That’s what will soon be happening at Yale Law School. The school just announced a new “Ph.D. in Law” program, aimed at aspiring law professors.
How will this program work? And is it a good idea? I reached out to a number of prominent law professors, all graduates of YLS themselves, for thoughts on their alma mater’s plan to grant a new degree….
Notice how this is a child? Don't act like a child.
True story: when I was a lawyer, sometimes I’d leave work and fantasize about jumping in front of a slow moving bus or cab and getting injured. Not enough to be in a life-threatening situation, just serious enough to be put in some ward of the hospital where my doctors wouldn’t allow me to do any more work. I knew just having a “note” from the doctor or being “sick” wasn’t enough. If you could see, you could review documents. So I needed an injury where somebody would prevent my employer from making me do any more work.
And an injury that was serious enough to allow me to quit would have kept my parents off my back. That’s the real business. If I had gotten, say, my left arm chopped off (I’m right handed), I figured I could credibly explain to my family that I had “a moment of clarity” and didn’t want to “waste my life in an office” anymore. Then I wouldn’t look like a “quitter” to my friends and family, and I’d look almost heroic for efforts to overcome my new disability. It would have worked!
I never did it, obviously. Eventually, I realized that quitting my job and dealing with the disappointment of my family and the unfounded perception that I “couldn’t cut it” from my friends was way more intelligent than cutting off my arm. And I think history has proven me right. For instance, I have two arms, which is awesome.
But I thought about it — you think about all kinds of crazy things when you feel overwhelmed with work. It seems like a Brazilian university student took her thoughts a step further. To avoid completing her dissertation, she faked getting kidnapped….
* Chief Justice John Roberts might “enjoy that he’s being criticized,” but that’s probably because he’ll get the chance to show his true conservative colors this fall when issues like affirmative action and same-sex marriage are before SCOTUS. [Reuters]
* Dewey know why this failed firm thinks a bankruptcy judge is going to allow it to hand out $700K in “morale” bonuses? You better believe that Judge Martin Glenn is going to tell D&L where it can (indicate). [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]
* It seems like attorneys at Freshfields may actually need to get some sleep, because it was the sole Magic Circle firm to report a decline in in revenue and profitability in its latest financial disclosure statements. [Financial Times (reg. req.)]
* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. didn’t do George Zimmerman any favors when he set his bond at $1M. Watch how quickly the defense fund Zimmerman concealed from the court disappears as he struggles to post bail. [CNN]
* Whatever it takes (to count you as employed): 76% of law schools report that they’ve now changed their curriculum to include more practical skills courses in light of the dismal job market. [National Law Journal]
* Texas Christian University is expanding its graduate programs, but a law school isn’t necessarily in the works, because TCU is only interested in “programs that promote employability.” Well, sh*t, y’all. [TCU 360]
We mentioned this suit in passing back in November in Morning Docket. At first blush, this complaint looks like a slam dunk for the plaintiff. A 60-year-old continuing education student named Karen Royce sued her professor of “Human Sexuality” for giving her some intimate homework.
Professor Tom Kubistant allegedly told his students to masturbate “twice as often,” and required them to keep a sexual journal and discuss it with the class.
Usually, when your class starts sounding like the beginning of a Shannon Tweed movie, you can expect a successful lawsuit against you. But here’s the thing: Professor Kubistant required students to sign a waiver. And Royce signed it.
And all the other students arguably signed a waiver saying they’d listen to the sexual thoughts of a 60-year-old….
* Killing me softly with taxes, killing me softly, with taxes, taking my whole life, with levies, killing me softly, with these taxes. [Going Concern]
* Texas GOP Platform says that they oppose teaching critical thinking skills to children. The party says it was a typo, but given how many people can’t think themselves above 150 on the LSAT, I don’t think they have anything to worry about. [Talking Points Memo]
* So, does this mean that Republicans don’t think the government can mandate ultrasounds, or what? [Huffington Post]
We’ve aimed for even-handedness in our coverage of Stephen M. McDaniel, the 25-year-old Mercer Law School alumnus accused of killing his neighbor and classmate, Lauren Giddings. We’ve written about the lurid allegations against him, and we’ve shared with you the reminiscences of a former roommate who found McDaniel a bit creepy. But we’ve also raised the possibility that some of the evidence against him might be fake, and we’ve even discussed whether perhaps McDaniel has been framed for the Giddings murder.
In our continuing quest to tell both sides of this story, today we bring you supportive words from a college classmate and friend of Stephen McDaniel. This individual believes that McDaniel is being treated unfairly in the court of public opinion — and he’d like to set the record straight….
Doesn’t truancy sound like a problem from a long time ago? Like getting shingles, you don’t really think of absenteeism as a problem that still really affects people. You know, rounding up truants sounds like a television cliché job for people like Cutty on the Wire.
I certainly didn’t think we still put people in jail for truancy. But apparently we do. At least, we do in Texas.
Even if the truant student has a really good excuse for missing school — like having a job — Texas will apparently still put people in jail for missing school….
The latest craze in the world of higher education seems to be suing your school if you don’t get exactly what you want handed to you on a silver platter. Let’s say you went to law school and you weren’t able to get a job that didn’t involve slinging Frappuccinos — or a job, at all, period. You should probably sue over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics. That seems like it might be an okay thing to do, because after all, it wasn’t really your fault.
Or, even better, you went to law school without finishing your undergraduate degree, and now you can’t take the bar exam. You should obviously sue the school for negligently allowing you to enroll. That was kind of your fault, but you’re going to sue anyway, because it’s easier to blame someone else than accept responsibility for your actions.
Or perhaps you’re an international student and you want to go to college and major in law, but you’re too slow to understand that 2 + 2 never equals 5. Whatever, you say — God doesn’t give with both hands, and it’s better to be hot. Alas, now you can’t get into the college program of your choice. You should definitely sue your high school for your own failures, because, really… why not?
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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