Friday, December 12, 2014

A Blueprint for Better Bullshit: Indiana U. lawprof William Henderson's proposed competency-based curriculum.

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(Helpfully identifying the location of the migraine you risk by listening to him). 

A candidate for the next big thing in legal education is the so-called "competency-based curriculum." Its chief advocate is the relentlessly self-promoting Indiana University lawprof William Henderson, whose meager experience as a practicing lawyer did not prevent him from launching a consulting biz that, among other things, provides law firms with advice on hiring and on conducting "360 reviews" of employees.

At first blush, a competency-based curriculum may seem like a hopeful development. How can any proposal to replace the world's most unsuccessful professional training model, the Langdell/Socratic, be a bad thing?

But a competency-based curriculum is not primarily clinical, i.e. geared to actually training students to practice law and run their own small firms. Rather, a competency-based curriculum consists of coursework designed to bolster a series of very general personal habits (aka "competencies") that legal employers allegedly favor. Or, as Henderson puts it, "the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attributes of highly successful professionals." [1] These competencies include "for example, teamwork, communication skills, emotional self-control, problem-solving, and decision-making." [2] Or for a full-on blast of Billy's buzzword bullshit:
"[T]he types of education that will attain the highest valuation are complex problem-solving skills that enable law school graduates to communicate and collaborate in a highly complex, globalized environment. This is not vocational training; it is the creation of a new model of professional education that better prepares our graduates for the daunting political and economic challenges ahead." [3], [4]


Henderson runs a "competency-based" Legal Profession course for Indiana U. 1Ls, and has made some  of the course materials available at a site called Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers [ETL] (where lawprofs are encouraged to post portfolios of courses they believe are particularly innovative).

It is very interesting reading. Henderson asserts that his Legal Profession course "uses personality and motivational assessment tools to help students identify their strengths, opportunities for development, and values and help align them with potential career opportunities."  It also "introduces students to real-life work settings by putting them into team-based projects; assessment includes both peer feedback (360° Review) and overall team grades." Finally, it "advances professional skills through a 1L competency model that focuses on active listening, empathy, self-awareness, asking questions, presentations, and resilience." How does the course achieve all this wonderfulness? Why, through assignments like this:
"A typical team assignment: Watch a video in which a practitioner describes his experience litigating a complex case, and identify specific instances in the video when he used the attributes from the umbrella categories listed above (“At 38:07, the lawyer demonstrated interpersonal skills by saying that ‘everyone [on a jury] is someone’s father, brother, mother, sister. . . . Try to remember they are just people")."
Here is an assignment for OTLSS readers: Identify the attributes I am demonstrating from Henderson's list of "umbrella categories" when I make the following deeply profound point: We are all of us just people, but unfortunately some people are scammers. Do not be modest on my behalf. "[Y]ou can list passion, listening, or intellectual courage more than once. . . " [5]

Why do you need three years, or even two years, of ruinously expensive law school to instill professional behaviors and attributes? To build teamwork? Try joining a touch football league. To teach "communication skills"? Try joining Toastmasters or an expressive dance troupe. What about "emotional self-control"? Wait, did Henderson really say he wants to teach emotional self-control in law school? Sounds like law professors have hit upon a new rationale for making their students eat shit without complaining. They were just teaching emotional self-control.

Why is Henderson so widely hailed as a visionary within legal academia? Well, I am sure that it does not hurt that Henderson steers clear of tenure reform, which he dismisses as deriving from a "take-away mentality" that does not accord with a more forward-looking "point of view of the possibilities." [6]  A reformer can be as creatively destructive and paradigm-shifting as he likes, so long as he does not challenge the compensation, perks, and job security of the pampered law professoriate.

Another factor, perhaps, is that Henderson’s competency-based model does not require lawprofs to possess significant legal practice experience-- because, as noted, the approach is not to train students in lawyering, but to modify their personal traits or behaviors to conform to those allegedly desired by employers. Relatedly, the imperative under this approach to monitor and evaluate students’ traits and behaviors means that lawprofs will enjoy an even wider scope of authority and oversight over their students-- something that must be very appealing to those (many) lawprofs who have authoritarian personalities.

Henderson has strongly endorsed the curricular reforms implemented at Washington & Lee (W&L) [7], Northeastern [8], and New York Law School [9], notwithstanding the fact that employment prospects for students at all these schools remain awful. [10] He has even expressed a favorable opinion of the scam de la scam InfiLaw Consortium schools. [11] Henderson's endorsement of W&L's vaunted 3L program is as striking as a car crash: He said: "To use a simple metaphor, W&L is tooling around in a Model-T while the rest of us rely on horse and buggy." W&L's dismal placement numbers suggest that employers regard the place as a Model-Turd.

I acknowledge my allergy to yapping about globalized-this and entrepreneurial-that, especially when served with rhetoric about forward-looking, innovative, proactive change. Somehow it always sounds like the verbiage that a glib CEO might spout just before offshoring a bunch of jobs. [12]

I know that Henderson has written some important things about law school scamming (e.g. bimodal salary distribution; "Enron-type accounting standards"), even if he cannot quite bring himself to use the word "scam." Plus, he is right to popularize the provocative work of Richard Susskind, who has forecast the decline of what he calls "bespoke" lawyering, and much else. I just happen to believe that Henderson’s competency-based curriculum remedy, however enthusiastically presented, is a puffed-up nonstarter, or a leaky patch for the widening holes beneath the Titanic’s waterline.

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Notes

[1] William D. Henderson, A Blueprint for Change, 40 Pepp. L. Rev. 461, 496 (2013).

[2] Blueprint at 505.

[3] Blueprint at 493.

[4] Of course, there  is room for a "competency-based curriculum" proponent who teaches at a law school named after a Saint to toss in such things as "values," "virtues," and an "internalized moral core." All it takes is a slight tweaking of the bullshit. See e.g. Hamilton, Neil W., Law-Firm Competency Models and Student Professional Success: Building on a Foundation of Professional Formation/Professionalism (December 10, 2013). University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Forthcoming; U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-22.

[5]  See Professor Henderson, Legal Profession Class, Assignment for Week 2. ("Before class. . . meet in your Practice Groups and identify the six BEST examples from the Schiller interview that map onto your assigned list. Your written work product, done for the Group as a whole, should include (a) the trait / skill / competency you have identified, (b) its location in the interview (e.g., "Passion in Scene 8 @ 42:23 when he says …."). There is no need to explain why the excerpt your Group identified mapped onto that specific trait / skill / competency – someone from your Group will have to do that during class. In addition, you are looking for the best examples. Therefore, it is okay to repeat specific traits, skills, or competencies. For example, you can list passion, listening, or intellectual courage more than once.")

[6] Legal Visionaries webinar, The Disruption and Transformation of Legal Education and Services (March 2014) at 24:32-24:50, 25:49-26:15 ("So I know that one of the most popular things is ending tenure, and I actually don’t think that’s a good place to start because it’s kind of a take-away mentality that doesn’t put people in a good mood to innovate, and really innovation is what we need. . . . I think the right way to do it is through visionary leadership, getting people excited about the good things that flow from adopting a change initiative and widely publicizing, you know, bright spots or examples of success. I just think we need to do it from a point of view of the possibilities and making the world a better place and making the industry better, rather than kind of take-aways.")

[7] See William Henderson, "Washington & Lee is Biggest Legal Education Story of 2013," Legal Whiteboard (January 29, 2013).

[8] You Tube video, "William Henderson discusses the theory behind the Northeastern Model of Legal Education," (June 16, 2014) at 0.00-0.20 ("Back to the Northeastern model. If we have to overlay it with a theory, or we need to, then we want to kind of simplify it. We think about it as immersive, iterative, and integrated approach that enables and accelerates self-directed learning, and this comes very much through the focus groups and the co-ops.")

[9] See Third Tier Reality, "A Pig in Sheep's Clothing: Indiana "Law Professor" William Henderson," (April 11, 2011) (comment by William Henderson, April 11, 2011 at 2:45 PM): ("Rick Matasar is the most innovative dean in the country.. . . . [I]t is easy to criticize NYLS and other law schools, all of them high priced. But up close, NYLS is harder to criticize because it curriculum and employer alliances are designed to attract employers and get students over the bar exam.")

[10]  Law School Transparency has the grim numbers. For the class of 2013, overrated first-tier W&L, alleged breakthrough engineer of legal education, has a nine-month-out full-time bar-required non-funded placement rate of 56.6%, no better than many humdrum second and third tier schools.  Northeastern scored 44.9%. NYLS scored 44%. The abominable InfiLaw Three came in at 39.4% (Arizona Summit), 29.5% (Florida Coastal), and  28% (Charlotte), respectively.

[11] Jones, Ashby, Private-Equity Group's for-Profit Law School Plan Draws Critics, Wall Street Journal. Web. (October 20, 2013) (""InfiLaw is applying a private-equity model to legal education, and so far I'm fairly impressed by what I've seen," said William Henderson, a law professor at Indiana University who studies the legal profession. While its achievements so far are modest, said Mr. Henderson, "I think these are people who could make a difference in legal education."")

[12] Indeed, Henderson supports document review offshoring, though not ending lawprof tenure. See Pig (comments by William Henderson, April 11, 2011 at 2:45 PM and 2:46 PM). Race-to-the bottom economics for thee, but not for me.

43 comments:

  1. Great write-up. I'm dissapointed to hear this, though, as I thought we had a semi-friend of the scam movement in Henderson, due to his bits on bimodal salaries and Enron accounting standards. After reading all this MBA-speak, however, his true colors shine right through.

    Herderson might as well do the Full Monty. "Oh, and remember: next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans...yeah....that would be great..."

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Wait, did Henderson really say he wants to teach emotional self-control in law school? "

    Veiled barb at Columbia Law students (not to mention CLS admin itself, which caved to the demands).

    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/minority_law_students_push_for_delayed_exams_due_to_grand_jury_decisions_co

    ReplyDelete
  3. From Third Tier Reality comment:

    "At Washington and Lee Law the median lsat is 161 and the median gpa is 3.37 for fall 2014 compared to 164 and 3.51 for 2013. That's a huge drop in lsat. Expect W & L to fall out of the US NEWS top 50 next year."

    With Washington and Lee's terrible placement and this drop in admissions indicators, it is very hard to say that its third year program is working!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Henderson wrote a couple of rave post about W & L then just a few weeks later the news of its terrible job placement came out. Looks like its getting even worse there.

      Delete
  4. None of this stuff is wrong. One of the problems with law school clinics is that they are so hit or miss-- a person who goes into tax corporate law isn't going to gain much from doing free unlawful detainer cases for indigent clients (so called "poverty law).

    This is one more sign of law school adopting a "MBA-light" program, which I understand many of the mid-tier schools are doing (since they are basically shut out of Big Law and Mid Law, except for the top 10-15%).

    The problem with MBA light, is that no one with a head on their shoulders needs it-- it's common sense that someone could pick up after reading a couple books on networking and client development.

    This is just a sideshow. The law schools have two options-- (i) lower tuition, or (ii) adjust to a lower head count. Since law schools aren't really that expensive to run, I suspect we'll see a lot of option two and as little of option one as they can stomach. Henderson's stuff only comes into play once a year when law schools like IU have to justify their existence to the larger university.

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  5. I hear a lot about trying to train leadership or other productive traits and I think its bullshit. I know I'm old and I'm a hick from out in flyover country but I was involved with a lot of groups as a kid like 4H and FFA that purported to teach us leadership. We didn't sit around in a jerk circle and say "Alright kids, today we're going to learn leadership. .." It wouldn't have worked and it would have put us to sleep. I know it's equally true for young adults (ug and ls aged) because I saw it time and again in the military too.

    If you want to teach leadership or teamwork or tolerance or whatever other abstract quality you need to accomplish a task you need to WORK ON ACCOMPLISHING A TASK.

    Take those same kids that would fall asleep if you sat them down for daddy time about inclusive, synergistic problem solving or whatever fancy buzzword bullshit the "progre$$ive educators" are parroting and give them a task they're mildly interested in like building birdhouses or fences or planting a garden or whatever the fuck and they will learn a shit ton about how to lead people, manage their time and labor and generally how to get things done and not be a giant asshole to the people around them.

    Seems to me that what we need is a residency type system where we can train people how to be practicing lawyers doing legal work by LETTING THEM PRACTICE BEING LAWYERS DOING LEGAL WORK.

    -Ringtail

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    1. Trouble is, Ringtail, who is going to pay these residents while they are training? Homey gotta eat. Not enough paying work out there as it is. Medical residents are basically subsidized by the gubmint. Think that will happen with lawyers? "Not the way to bet." - Pete Rose

      Delete
    2. That's the rub I guess. It really boils down to more graduates than the industry can support and I think any proposal to fix the nuts and bolts of the training/credentialing system is mental masturbation until some of these sties shutter their windows and close shop.

      -Ringtail

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    3. Two cruel ironies. 1. The scamdeans and lawprofs know they will starve in the real world while talking of wonderful outcomes for their a students so they wll dog this unil it goes down the toilet. 2. As admissions standards plummet the lemmings are getting dumber so it will keep going for quite a while.

      Like many here I see only a few schools closing in the near future.

      Delete
  6. Alert:

    The ABA just provisionally accredited another law school (Lincoln Memorial) which now brings the total of ABA-approved schools to 205. See,

    http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education.html



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    1. Oh, Jesus H Christ on a fucking pogo stick!

      Old Guy

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    2. LMU has fewer than 100 total students, which is near what their first entering class was. I heard that one recent class had around 30. I figured the ABA would just drag their feet until it closed. Some thought that they might actually put a school out of its misery.

      But now they've given it a new lease on life. School officials were talking about how this would help them recruit. Which in this market is the equivalent of giving someone a hunting permit to go hunt elephants and cape buffalo when all they've brought with them is a slingshot.

      Delete
    3. Unfortunately, it will help them to recruit. Provisional accreditation will make them more attractive to lemmings.

      This pig is the second accredited law skule in Knoxville. Just how many law skules does that modest-sized city need?

      Get a load of their special admissions program, which requires (this is quoted from their Web site):

      (1) At least one score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) of 138 or higher within the last five (5) years; and
      (2) A minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.0.

      Since most universities require 2.0 for graduation, the second requirement means almost nothing. The first doesn't mean much either: 138 is below the tenth percentile.

      This god-bothering law skule has integrated preparation for the bar exams into its curriculum. It retains Barbri to deliver bar-review courses to all students. Small wonder, when it is scrambling for accreditation and catering to people with truly embarrassing LSAT scores and GPAs.

      Old Guy

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    4. "Get a load of their special admissions program..."

      (Forrest)
      Lieutenant Dan! You Got Magic Legs! And a JD from The Short Bus School Of Law! Oh, Lieutenant Dan!

      Delete
  7. There are two problems with Henderson's (Or anyone's) ideas for reform of law school curricula.

    (1) Law firm partners and hiring managers do not think that students actually learn anything useful in law school.
    Because hiring managers do not trust the skills of new law grads they make hiring decisions based on other criteria; Prestige of the grad's law school, membership in law review, common Alma Mater of the manager's school or the manager's boss's school, common frat membership, friendship or family relationship between grad and a partner. Law school class rank is also used but remember that class rank is not an absolute measure of skill but a relative ranking of where a grad stands in a pecking order with other similarly clueless law grads.

    It might not even be possible for law students to learn practical legal skills in law school. The professors barely have any such skills. The environment of law school is also not conducive, containing nothing in the way of real cases, evidence, motions, judges ruling, etc, or a real boss that actually knows what was important or not from past cases. The law partners think they should just hire good people and their mentoring is what will make them useful lawyers.

    Do hiring managers even ask law grads questions that would take legal skill to answer in law firm interviewing?

    (2) There are not enough jobs for lawyers.
    So even if the grads law school was turning out were actually practice ready and this was acknowledged by law firms, half of them would still be unemployed because there is no demand for lawyers.
    Even if law schools could give students actual skill in the law it wouldn't matter because the differentiators between grads will be the same things that they are now; prestige, relative rankings, and connections. The well connected will get the job and the poorly connected will not.

    Henderson's proposal seems to have the third problem of being a change initiated from a lower tier law school by someone who is not practice ready themselves to serve as a talking point when selling admission to low tier students. Remember the hiring managers do not believe any school, not Cooley, not Yale, actually teaches students how to practice law. Therefore changes to law school from the professors do not impress them because they think that if professors knew how to teach law students law they would do so.
    If hiring partners started thinking that law professors could teach law they might start thinking that some law professors can teach law better than others and the curriculum that a law professor chooses for their school matters. But until then it doesn't matter.

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    Replies
    1. #2 is the real answer. Change the classes any way you want. There aren't enough jobs. End of discussion.

      Delete
  8. Look. I understand the desire of law professors to rev up the creaky law school curriculum that hasn't changed since law schools took over legal education from practicing lawyers a couple of centuries ago, and just maybe the students might derive something useful from Henderson's new curriculum. However, what law students need is not so much "practice ready" skills developed from play-acting but sufficient sophistication to understand how they will fit into a law firm's power structure and economic reality. Unfortunately, law professors are not good instructors in this as they usually have minimal practice experience.

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  9. Oh. My. Fucking. God.

    That "assignment" - guys, please click on that link and take a look at the unintelligible, unmitigated bullshit this clown is purveying.

    As far as Henderson's use of the "26 Lawyering Effectiveness Factors" by Marjorie M. Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck? Seriously?

    There's one "Lawyering Effectiveness Factor": being a bigger cunt than opposing counsel. End of list. In all my years of practice, the most "effective" lawyers were the ones who were so cunty that they just wore the other side down with their bullshit. Those guys who had a reputation for just being such dickish lawyers that you'd immediately roll your eyes when you see their name on the caller ID or in your email inbox and you tell your client to settle because it's going to be far cheaper than playing "who's the bigger cunt" with someone like that.

    Legal profession in a nutshell, folks. You succeed literally by failing at being a good human being.

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  10. "At 38:07, the lawyer demonstrated interpersonal skills by saying that ‘everyone [on a jury] is someone’s father, brother, mother, sister. . . . Try to remember they are just people"

    I must be low on interpersonal skills. I thought they were all rabbits in clever costumes.

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    1. Best practice is to ask in voir dire just to be sure.

      Delete
    2. "...ask in voir dire just to be sure."

      Yeah, but you have to be sneaky about it to get around a Batson challenge.

      "So, Juror #3.... ...do you like carrots?"

      Delete
    3. 7:01, thanks for making me laugh.

      Delete
  11. Let this vapid, empty, evil scammer flap his fucking gums, and then take a look around. It's almost over in a very big way. There's no demand for lawyers. If the law schools all closed tomorrow the country would not even notice. No one gives a shit about fine-tuning an obsolete factory that runs on fraud and government bailouts, other than the managers that hope to keep their make-work jobs. Fuck 'em. The boomerang is going to come back so hard they'll all get their heads chopped off suckling on a drying tit to finance their McMansions and 401k contributions. Jokes on those assholes if they ever meet a former student in the real world.

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  12. @ 9:49AM

    Law school only teaches the basic skill of "thinking like a lawyer", i.e. how to apply a set of rules to a given fact pattern and come up with the court-approved result. And how to do citations and legal research. That's not nothing, and you can't be a lawyer without mastering those skills, but to go LSAT on them, it's necessary not sufficient.

    Those things are about 1-5% of what an attorney does in the real world. Earning your keep working for clients or for the government, you only get that experience by doing. As far as classes go, you only need the core 1L courses + evidence & legal ethics. Ideally, you only get to become a practicing attorney after working under supervision for 1-3 years.

    @ Albino Raccoon - totally agree.

    Imagine if the # of law school spots were limited to paid apprentice positions like residencies for medical school. Of course, the government funds residency positions, which will never happen in law. But if we had a true apprenticeship system, all the problems with law schools and graduates would be greatly reduced.

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    1. @4:35

      Apprenticeship programs that were privately funded would be shot down by the anti-trust goons of the USDOJ - lawyers controlling their own future competition. Medical residencies are safe because Uncle Sam is exempt from anti-trust laws (see, e.g., the Postal Service).

      Major League Baseball has an anti-trust exemption. How many lives have they ruined?

      Delete
  13. Kumbaya, my lord, kumbaya…

    Old Guy

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  14. Social and professional skills are very important, but just how are law profs who have little to no work experience as lawyers or in any business capacity supposed to teach these things? And surely these things can be taught for less than law school tuition prices of $100,000+.

    These law profs have basically no personal experience and no formal training as career coaches, psychologists, etc., yet they think they are experts and can teach these skills to their students. They don't even have experience working as lawyers for non-trivial lengths of time. I guess their liberal arts degrees really are versatile and make them experts in every subject under the sun.

    If the goal is to teach social skills or business etiquette, I think taxpayer's money would be better spent on much cheaper personal development programs run by people with actual qualifications and/or real-life experience.

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    1. "I guess their liberal arts degrees really are versatile and make them experts in every subject under the sun"

      That's exactly what being permitted to publish "scholarship" on any topic under the sun - without having peers (in those topics) shred your cruddy "scholarship" to thin little ribbons - will do for your ego and for your sense of being an "expert" in that subject matter.

      "Hey, I've published 11 pieces of shoolershoop on this, so I'm a Learned Hand at it."

      Delete
  15. William Henderson is a pig and a fraud. He once told me that NYL$ wasn't hurting too many students because "A lot of them come from rich families. Those students aren't taking on much debt." He then ignored when I pointed out USN&WR data showing then that the average law student indebtedness at New York Law Sewer was about $128K, and that roughly 90% of grads incurred debt for their TTT law degree.

    http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/grad-debt-rankings

    Look where the average law school debt figure stands now for NYL$: $164,739, with 84 percent of 2013 grads taking on such debt. In the final analysis, William Henderson is simply trying to publish some "scholarship" so he can "justify" his position. By the way, this guy also emailed me later saying that he was a union rep prior to being a "professor" but that he doesn't believe in protecting industries from outside competition. Of course, that is contrary to being part of the law school pig cartel.

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    1. "By the way, this guy also emailed me later saying that he was a union rep prior to being a "professor" but that he doesn't believe in protecting industries from outside competition. Of course, that is contrary to being part of the law school pig cartel."

      "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is." -- Mark Twain.

      Delete
  16. This is full meltdown. Even the master manipulator law schools can't cover up what's happening now. The next few years should be fun.

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  17. Sooo.... rather than have law students work as clerks in law firms, judicial chambers, corporate legal, or legal aid, as a requirement for getting a JD and preferably for pay, learning as apprentices and making real-world work contacts, the law schools have ginned up simulated work training that they can charge $1400/credit hour for.

    Yet, some STILL deny that law school is a scam?

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    1. Preferably for pay? Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha . . . . . . .

      No paying work now for at least half of grads, to say nothing of older lawyers. The only solution is cutting the number of graduates which can only be accomplished by eliminating student loans.

      Delete
  18. You know, it's not really that hard to figure out what employers want. They've (we've) been telling law schools the same thing for at least 50 years. What they (we) want are law-school grads who can write, research legal issues, and use their writing and research skills to answer questions.

    Law schools KNOW this. But they don't want to hear it, because (1) teaching those things requires tons of one-on-one instruction; (2) a lot of law profs never really learned (or have forgotten) how to do those things themselves; and (3) research-and-writing instruction is about as sexy as Doris Roberts in a muumuu at 6:00 am.

    If law schools were really serious about giving students the skills they need to succeed, the schools would scrap half the current curriculum and replace it with intensive, required courses on things like:

    - how to write,
    - how to determine what propositions a case does and does not stand for,
    - how to figure out the risks associated with a given course of action,
    - how to ballpark an argument's chances of succeeding.
    - how to marshal authorities,
    - how to summarize findings and recommendations in an email,
    - how to write,
    - how to write,
    - etc. You get the idea.

    If students came out of law school with only the basic contracts-civ-pro-torts-crim-property doctrine, along with the above skills,* they'd be much better prepared for practice (except perhaps solo practice) and much more marketable than they are now.

    *And I do mean having the skills, not just having had the experience of writing one or two memos and one or two briefs.

    - One of the Lucky Ones

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    1. What do employers want? Rich kids with connections down at the yacht club.

      If "law-school grads who can write, research legal issues, and use their writing and research skills to answer questions" were in demand, I would not be unemployable.

      Old Guy

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    2. I agree that law is a contracting sector, and that for at least the past four years, the only law-school grads who have been in demand are the same ones who have always been, and probably will always be, in demand. My point was just that *if* law schools really wanted to do what Henderson claims he is trying to do, the best course for law schools (aside from shutting their doors or slashing tuition by 70%) is obvious and has been for a long time. But they don't want to hear it.

      - One of the Lucky Ones

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    3. Ever since the legal sector became corporatized (as exemplified by the "billable hours" economic model and reliance on insurance carriers), no employer actually cares about legal skills.

      The ONLY thing legal employers care about is generating revenue. Thus, they will look to hire revenue generators--young lemmings with the energy to bill 180+ hours per month, or capable of attracting clients with deep pockets.

      In most cases, quality is irrelevant. Only a handful of lawyers have to worry about producing a quality product. Most lawyers just have to worry about generating a billable event. Hence the prevalence of 3-sentance scribbles that get billed as "memos," or chats while taking a piss at the urinal that get billed as a "conference."

      Delete
    4. "... no employer actually cares about legal skills.... In most cases, quality is irrelevant. Only a handful of lawyers have to worry about producing a quality product. "


      I don't know what to make of this.

      It doesn't match anything I know.

      Delete
    5. @ITOT -- if you do insurance defense or contract work, I'm not at all sure an employer cares about quality.

      I worked toxic torts when I started. I drafted memos that nobody ever read. I attended depositions, where all I really did was just sign-in and sit. I produced hundreds of motions for summary judgment, which were really just re-used briefs from the brief-bank that only required replacing the captions and a few names here and there. NONE of this stuff required actual legal skills. It was all just busywork that anyone with attention to detail could do.

      Frankly, the only reason to have an attorney do this mindless work was in order to charge the insurance carrier the attorney rate ($130/hour), rather than the lower paralegal rate ($60/hour).

      Sure, if you're looking for an associate to do legal research, you'd care about quality. But given the saturation of easily replaceable, revenue generating commodities holding law degrees, quality isn't something you'd care about for the grunt work.

      By the way, I lasted 2 years at this job. It was basically a revolving door of associates, so nobody invested much in any of us. Any "real" legal work was handled by the partners, and a tiny handful of senior associates that were brought in already having experience.

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  19. Since last spring, Cooley—er, I mean Western Michigan Cooley—has somehow lost 60% of its full-time faculty:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/12/nations-largest-law-school-fires-otherwise-terminates-extreme-prejudice-nearly-60-faculty

    That should leave about enough profe$$ors to wind the operation up.

    Old Guy

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  20. Building a better mousetrap is fine when there are mice, or there are going to be mice, but until then it's just useless. If anyone can create legal employment to match the amount of law school graduates, then we'll have a hero. Until that hero emerges, the next solution would be to reduce the supply...not make the supply different.

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  21. "[6] Legal Visionaries webinar, The Disruption and Transformation of Legal Education and Services (March 2014) at 24:32-24:50, 25:49-26:15 ("So I know that one of the most popular things is ending tenure, and I actually don’t think that’s a good place to start because it’s kind of a take-away mentality that doesn’t put people in a good mood to innovate, and really innovation is what we need"

    No, bill. What you need is fewer law schools.

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  22. Columbia is the first law school to break $60,000. Dumb move, especially in a buyer's market.

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