U.C. Hastings

Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

Whether teaching is an art or a science, it requires much more than knowledge of the substantive subject. An understanding of the material is necessary but not sufficient. Effective teaching also demands that the teacher and the students as a group develop a relationship of mutual respect and trust. The classroom dynamic is paramount.

This semester, I co-taught a class with Professor Roger Park. I mean a single class session, not the whole course.

It was terrific to be back in the classroom. That is the point of the entire enterprise in which we are engaged. A law school exists to train people to become advocates and counselors.

The experience reminded me of the importance of rapport based on the implicit pledge that the teacher is on the same side as the students. I have an opinion about effective pedagogy that may seem radical but is not really upon reflection. My hypothesis is that there is not much correlation between knowledge of a subject and success in communicating it to others…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How We Teach”

Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

I was recently befuddled about some information I had been given. That happens. I was inspired by my own momentary confusion to write this blog post. It made me realize how much raw data has to be sorted through to achieve transparency.

Perhaps the most important aspect of training in argumentation, which constitutes the bulk of the first year of law school, is learning how to frame issues. A skilled advocate comes to understand early on that the party who is able to define the question to be asked has already determined the answer that will be given. It is more than mere semantics.

Laypeople tend to regard lawyers as sophists, because they — the lawyers — are so concerned about accuracy and precision. Lawyers may even distinguish between “accuracy” and “precision.” Lawyers do not assume that everyone has exactly the same concepts in mind even if they are participating in a single conversation together, because the essential “meeting of the minds” is elusive. They also appreciate the consequences of sloppiness.

Allow me to offer an example…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Difficulty With Data”

Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

In the modern economy, we are trying to achieve with people what we have done with machines. We want individual workers to be “plug and play.” The term refers to computer equipment that can function immediately, without the need for elaborate set-up; you merely plug it into a power supply and it starts to play what it’s supposed to.

I have thought about, and startups are implementing, the delivery of legal services equivalent to ride-sharing services. Imagine a database that offered a list of lawyers whom you could meet in your area (if you even wanted to see them face to face), during a specific time period, with searchable specializations. If they were pre-cleared for conflicts and had set prices for particular tasks, the user would click to reserve an appointment and be all set.

Call it “Ziplawyer.” Apologies to Zipcar.

Maybe combine it with a ratings service. Behold: a new structure for the profession.

The model is great for consumers. It gives them information and options. The access to the marketplace fosters competition.

But the model also is advantageous for members of the bar. It allows solo practitioners who are tech-savvy to punch above their weight, as the saying goes. They can reach many more people than they could by traditional means, who need exactly what they have to offer.

Yet I am enthusiastic about these possibilities only to a point. I am reminded of Robocop 2….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Resist the Robolawyer”

Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’ll be sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

For a long time, I was young. Now, however, I am old enough to have contempt for the young. It turns out I am not alone. Anyone approximately my age laughs when I inform them I have reached this milestone.

Despite their desire that we all lighten up and their conviction we are peers, youth today — like youth of any era — take umbrage at this remark. What can I say. They have no sense of humor.

When I participate in the blogosphere, I wonder if the world is about to end. The lament about internet discourse has become cliched. It is angry, communicating hardly anything more than grunting. Even those who wish to be meaningfully provocative cannot compete.

Yet maturity is all about realizing one is wrong. I take it all back. I realize I am not understanding the norms…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Your Mother Is . . . Going to Law School”

A commenter on our story from last month about salaries for Boalt Hall law professors requested data about faculty compensation at UC Hastings. Ask and you shall receive. As noted over at TaxProf Blog (via the ABA Journal), the median salary for an assistant professor at Hastings is $112,942 and the median salary for a tenured professor at Hastings is $187,221 (not counting summer stipends).

Let’s continue our law professor salary survey. Last week, we looked at the University of Michigan (#9 in the latest U.S. News rankings, and #12 in the inaugural Above the Law rankings). Now we turn to the University of Texas (#15 in U.S. News, and T14 to ATL).

They say that everything is bigger in Texas. Is that true of law school faculty salaries?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Much Does Your Law Professor Make? University of Texas Edition”

We’re in that soft part of the second semester where things are generally calm on the law school front. Most 1Ls have figured out that they don’t need to be really paying attention yet, and the ones who haven’t are quietly plugging away in the library, oblivious to the outside world. The 2Ls are making plans for the summer (whether at a firm or visiting mom). And 3Ls without jobs are in the quiet, catatonic state where they haven’t fully processed what’s about to happen to them and they’re kind of wafting through campus waiting for somebody to wake them up and tell them it was all a dream.

Usually, the law student freak-out machine doesn’t get cranking again until April, which is why today’s campus “controversy” feels a bit like a tempest in a teapot. Essentially, a group of law students are accusing their student government of misusing their budget. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, but this time there’s a twist.

Yes, I’m shocked, SHOCKED that the people who run for law school student government did something to try to make themselves look more important than everybody else….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Time For Honoring Yourselves With Sweatshirts Is Almost At An End”