If there's an advocacy topic you want to see discussed, or about which you wish to contribute, contact one of the blog administrators - see the list on the right side of this page. Lonely thinking changes nothing, sharing your thoughts may start a trend.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Technical Troubles with Google Blogger

Dear Friends,

As you may have noticed, we haven't posted many blog entries in the last few months. This is because we (along with many others) are experiencing technical troubles with the Google Blogger platform. The main problem is that Blogger no longer forwards new posts to blog followers or to our Google Groups email mailing list.

Google has promised to fix the problem, but as of today, nothing has happened.

We are considering moving the blog to another platform, such as WordPress.

In the meantime, we are temporary hiatus.

If you normally receive blog posts via email and you receive this one, please let me know; it would be an indication that the problem has at long last been solved.


Chris Behan

Friday, March 18, 2016

How Do You Spend the Last Five Minutes of Class?

The following guest post was written by Mark Caldwell, Program Development and Resource Director at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

Sometimes Face Book leads you further than updates of restaurants your "friends" have visited, Selfies of others bragging about where they have been, and reminders of a friend's birthday. This past week a post from my friend, and teaching colleague, Marianna Hogan directed me to a wonderful article on the Chronicle of Higher Education's page titled, Small Changes in Teaching: The Last 5 Minutes of Class (http://chronicle.com/article/Small-Changes-in-Teaching-The/235583) by James M. Lang. I commend this article to your personal reading, along with the other posts from Prof. Lang.

Lang opines that, "most faculty members eye the final minutes of class as an opportunity to cram in eight more points before students exit, or to say three more things that just occurred to us about the day's material, or to call out as many reminders as possible about upcoming deadlines, next week's exam, or tomorrow's homework." In reading this I had one of those "cosmic whacks on the side of the head" as I recalled all too many sessions where I attempted to cram in one more performance or offer one more "critical" piece of advice that I knew would make every student a vastly improved trial lawyer. Lang reminded me of just how wrong I was. I was shamed into considering his solution and reminded it was a tool I had foolishly abandoned.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Welcome to the Law School of the Future....

It is the first day of law school, and you are excited. You have completed your online preparatory work, and you think you are ready to begin this journey. You spend the morning processing through the expected administrative details, take the student oath of professional conduct and now you are going to your learning space. You call it yours because you have been told by student services that your working group will collectively use this space for all of your course work this year. Your section has 32 students in it, and you’ve been assigned to one of the three professors you designated based upon your projected career path as identified by the extensive conversations, interviews, and surveys conducted with students services. You have always dreamed about being a plaintiff lawyer, and you cannot wait to get started.  You’ve heard, but you think it is just a rumor, that you may get your first case assignment today. There is no way you could possibly start law school with a client, even in a teaching environment. But who knows?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A New Way to Crack an Egg

One of the eggs in the law school basket that needs to be cracked in a different way is how to effectively teach legal writing beyond the basics that are  ably covered in the required curriculum. I thought we might crack that egg together using a different model, one that builds upon the importance of professional identity as a key component of the process. Think of it as another way to put verbs into the sentences of our conversation. The idea for this course is one we have been kicking around at Stetson for awhile, and many of my thoughts about it come from conversations with several of my colleagues, particularly Associate Dean Vaughan, Prof. Jason Palmer, Prof. Chrissie Cerniglia-Brown and others. I think it fits our current discussion because it is a concrete example of how we might begin to reimagine the legal education experience in a way that considers professional identity and real world competencies at the core of the process.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Professionalism - First, Last, Always

So now that we have talked somewhat about the current state of legal education, how to begin to fix it? I would suggest that we should ground our law school (soon we’ll change the name to law center, but more on that later) of the 21st century in what makes law school different from other graduate programs - professional identity. Let me discuss briefly why professionalism is important before I explain how we should set about teaching it.

The need for professional identity is a sine quo non for lawyers. We use professional identity to ensure a certain level of professionalism, civility, and more importantly, proper delivery of legal services. We also have a vested self interest as lawyers in the concept of self regulation of the profession, because otherwise we will concede control of the law to outside regulators. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Moral Imperative - a Problem with Promise

We have a problem - legal education costs to much. Like most problems thought it comes with a promise, whoever is first to reimagine legal education successfully while making it financially viable will own the future - and the future is now.

Depending upon the statistics you choose to quote, a law degree costs somewhere between roughly 84,000 dollars for a state school and 122,000 for a private school. See http://www.admissionsdean.com/paying_for_law_school/law-school-cost-calculator and http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertfarrington/2014/12/18/law-school-and-student-loan-debt-be-careful/. This figure, of course, does not include any debt incurred for undergraduate degrees or other advanced degrees. This fact alone, in conjunction with the multiple stressors experienced by the big firm market, has resulted in a new general belief - for many, law school is not worth the price of admission. Think about that for a moment, the world has fundamentally changed its perception of the value of a law degree over the last 4 years. This slide occurred quickly, and shows no signs of slowing down. Law schools are now experiencing market stressors for which the vast majority of law professors have no frame of reference. It is difficult to find a time in modern legal education, at least since the advent of the Langdelian method of instruction, to use as a guideline when dealing with what now confronts us all. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Law at the Crossroads - The Profession Embarks on a Hero’s Journey

I have blogged about learning skills and their relationship to doctrine on multiple occasions, and will continue to do so when appropriate. Today, however, I am in a reflective mood because I was recently asked to give the keynote speech at our graduation celebration. Three years ago our current dean implemented a process where students select a professor to speak at the winter graduation celebration. My good friend Peter Lake was chosen by the students, but he could not do it because he was on a cruise ship with his wife. In yet another example of how much Peter is smarter than me, I was not conflicted out, and happened to be the student’s second choice.

I found it very humbling to be in this position, but as I thought through the messages that I could share, I began to realize that the challenges I am facing right now as a member of the legal education world mirror, in many ways, the same challenges my students face as they become lawyers is a world that is changing more rapidly each day.  I also came to realize that I must adopt the same attitude about the changes in my world that I want the students to have about the challenges they are getting ready to face. In a very real sense I became the student again, with this task as my teacher.