ABA Council on Legal Education Maintains Separation Between Paid Work and Academic Externships

Last week, the ABA Council on the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar (Council) approved a comprehensive revision of the accreditation standards for law schools and moved the package of revisions on to the ABA House of Delegates for approval at its August meeting.   Before finalizing the package of revisions, the Council voted on the  Standards Review Committee ‘s   recommendation to remove  the bar on paid externships,  a recommendation strongly supported by the ABA Law Student Division.   The Council rejected that proposal and voted to maintain the separation between academic externships and paid work.   The National Law Journal reported on the Council’s action and quoted Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director for admissions and legal education, “The council received a lot of comments and decided to not make the change. The fundamental reason is this perceived tension between the obligations of someone who is a paid employee and a student.”

At first blush, paid externships sounds positive — a  way to assist law students in reducing their debt while engaging in experiential learning.   That point has been argued by the Law Student Division.  However, as I discussed back in February,   permitting paid externships would create new problems.  One of the more likely outcomes was identified in the comment submitted by the Clinical Legal Education Association,

But those employers that are most capable of affording the full cost of a “paid externship” are also likely to accept only externship students who they deem qualified for long-term employment. Reliance on class rank would become the norm for “paid externship” placements. Traditionally, clinical courses have provided opportunities for all students to hone their abilities and prepare for practice. Students who are not at the top of the class have benefited from a chance to develop and demonstrate abilities that do not emerge in an exam. Particularly in light of the legal market and the needs of our students, CLEA is profoundly concerned about a change in the Interpretation that would benefit only students whose rankings are at the top of the class.

Moreover, those employers able to bear the full cost of a “paid externship” would more than likely “shop”among law schools. Faced with the choice of establishing a recruitment program with a school in the top tier or with a school in the third tier, CLEA believes that employers would choose the former. We suggest that revoking Interpretation 305-3 would limit the availability of certain kinds of experience to top-ranking students at top-tier schools and severely restrict students’ opportunities to participate in clinical and experiential education.

In short, CLEA strongly supports the interests of students, by seeking to assure that all students at all schools engage in high quality work, under close and careful supervision. We want more for our students than checking cites and reviewing depositions. We seek a set of standards that ensures high quality clinical legal education, in which supervisors are fully invested in teaching and mentoring students. CLEA encourages mandates that will result in equal access to all courses and for all law students. It is in the best interests of students to preserve a separate market for paid employment in which students are compensated with the fair market value of their work. Permitting the mixture of educational and employment functions will result in the diminishment of value for each, harming both students and law schools.

In its comment, the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT’) raised excellent questions about the the  likely, although unintended, consequences,

Having employers pay students also raises difficult questions about control of the assignment and crediting process. Could the employer fire a student for not performing at high enough levels?
Would a faculty supervisor be able to reassign a student if the employer failed to provide adequate onsite supervision if that would have implications for other students working for that employer, with or
without receiving academic credit? Could students refuse tasks assigned by their paying employer if those tasks were not consistent with the learning goals and the placement expectations? Would students be willing to discuss frankly with faculty supervisors any externship site supervision problems if they worried that it could mean displeasing an employer and potentially losing income. These are just
some of the troubling pedagogical issues likely to arise if students earn academic credit for paid employment.

We do need to find ways to reduce law school costs and defray student debt,   but not at the expense of providing appropriately designed and equally available academic experiences.  The Council made the right decision for legal education and for law students.

 

 

 

Innovative licensing of architects – a model for the legal profession?

While many who comment about the design of legal education look to medical schools, it seems to me that architecture schools provide another useful model. The architecture curriculum integrates classroom instruction with a central role for the studio (the equivalent of simulation or clinical work in law school), and the review of student work (also called critique or “crit”) is central to the studio. There may be lessons to be learned.
Now an alternative method of licensure (similar to the Daniel Webster Scholars Program in New Hampshire, but on a larger scale) is being considered:
NCARB Endorses New Path to Becoming an Architect:  Architect Licensure Upon Graduation

Incorporating internship and examination requirements into university education, the regulatory organization aims to simplify and accelerate the licensing process.

30 May 2014
Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Board of Directors has announced their endorsement of the concept of an additional, structured path that leads to licensure in a U.S. jurisdiction. The new path—licensure upon graduation from an accredited program—would integrate the rigorous internship and examination requirements that aspiring architects must fulfill into the years spent completing a professional degree in architecture.
The concept was designed by a distinguished group of volunteers convened by NCARB, which recommends national architect registration standards, called the Licensure Task Force. This group, which was initially formed in mid-2013, is headed by NCARB’s Immediate Past President Ron Blitch of Louisiana, and it includes former and current leaders of NCARB, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Association of Colleges and Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), as well as interns, recently licensed architects, program deans and instructors, and jurisdictional licensing board representatives.
A Progressive Path
Describing the work of the Licensure Task Force, NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong said, “NCARB is engaged in streamlining and simplifying the licensing process for aspiring architects, and we are actively re-engineering all elements of the architectural licensing process—education, experience and examination—to focus on facilitation of licensing.”
“This additional path to licensure is another concrete step to reimagining and reconfiguring each part of the process while upholding the rigorous standards needed to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare,” he said.
This progressive concept was borne of research and development efforts by the Licensure Task Force, with leaders from diverse segments of the architectural community to analyze each component of the licensure process to identify overlaps and redundancies to existing programs.
Now beginning the second year, the Licensure Task Force will start to identify schools interested in participating in the program. NCARB expects to issue schools Requests for Information later in the year, followed by a Request for Proposal process in 2015.
Exam Evolution
In addition to the licensure work, NCARB also announced this month that a transition plan is underway to guide the implementation of major improvements and changes to the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), the test that all prospective architects must take to get their licenses. The new ARE 5.0 will launch in late 2016, while ARE 4.0 will remain available for at least 18 months after the launch.
The exam is required by all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for initial architectural licensure by assessing candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide all services required in the practice of architecture.

 

TEACHING RESILIENCE AND BEING RESILIENT : Filling Our Tanks This Summer

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending the annual AALS clinical conference held  in Chicago.   The conference focused on achieving happiness and resilience at a time of challenge in legal education while exploring methods for becoming “better” clinical teachers.  Clin14BookletWeb

The Keynote opening presentation by Professor Nancy Levit from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law outlined research about happiness,  lawyers and legal careers.   Professor Levit’s  book with Doug Linder, The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010. Their sequel, The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law is now available.  The Levit and Linder research helps answer questions for our students and ourselves about how and why lawyers find a  legal career rewarding.   Much of the research reveals that simple truths about happiness – such as feeling valued or being part of a community – bears repetition.   The presentation was informative and the research can be used in advising our students, supporting our colleagues and caring for ourselves.

After her keynote, panelists Professor Calvin Pang (University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law)  and Professor Joanna Woolman (William Mitchell College of Law) with moderator American University Professor Brenda Smith presented a few clips from a very realistic “role play” focused on a “devastating” day in court and the responses  of a clinical teacher, clinical student, and non-clinical colleague.    (The film will be available after the conference – I believe at the AALS site – for those who want to use it in their home schools.)  In the film, the law student  faces a surprising negative court ruling and then experiences his client yelling at him outside the courtroom.   In conversation with the clinical professor, the student expresses anger with his client and believes he should just “drop” clinic.  The clinical professor listens to the student and also explores other aspects of the student’s current anger and despair including his having received a number of employment rejections during this same time period.

The film was provocative and engendered good discussion about the role of law professors .  Many of us have experienced with our students or in our own professional lives the coinciding emotional burdens of dealing with difficult emotions in client’s cases and receiving negative news on the home or career front.   Managing and coping with all those emotions and burdens is a never-ending part of professional development and law schools can and should play a significant role in preparing students with appropriate skills, appreciation of professional values and coping tools.

In a final exercise, the entire room of about 500+ created word trees on three questions:

1.  What do you do as a teacher to “fill your tank.?”

2. What do you do to encourage your students to adopt habits to make themselves whole?

3. What are the barriers and obstacles to the first two?

In asking myself these questions and watching the hundreds of others eagerly participate, I reflected on the particular importance of the resilience, holistic, and happiness theme at this moment in time.   Students and recent grads need our positive support.  Institutions need our creative, optimistic energy.   But providing that energy and support can be personally tolling.

Student-centered faculty – and in particular clinical faculty with summer burdens or untenured faculty with heavy writing demands – must  carve out some real off time or vacation in order to be effective in the long term.  Their institutions must support their need for renewal.  Filling  our personal “tanks” with sunsets, summer treats (ice cream for me!), some  relaxing days, renewed commitment to exercise or getting outside, and time vacationing with loved ones helps form the foundation for resilience in the academic year.  We need to do this not only to support our own resilience but to equip ourselves with the experience-based wisdom that will be needed in great quantities in the coming semesters.  In order  to assist our students and our institutions at this precarious time for law schools, we need to nurture our whole selves now.

The most fun grading ever, really

The words “fun” and “grading” rarely appear in the same sentence.  However, my large section civil procedure and evidence students’ extra credit projects really are fun to grade.

 The Assignment

Students get extra credit if they develop a creative way to explain one of the more complicated concepts we cover in class.  Students receive the following instructions:

You may work alone, or in a team of up to four people, to create a video, comic book, song, game, poster or some other creative way to explain any one of the following concepts: relation back of amendments; work product; expert discovery; summary judgment; claim and/or issue preclusion [in Evidence the list includes hearsay, character evidence, expert testimony and impeachment]. You may choose to focus on particular aspects of these concepts or the entire concept. 

The project will be worth up to 6 raw score points toward your final raw score total. [The most raw score points available in the class toward a final grade, excluding extra credit, is 100].

Points for the extra credit project will be allocated based upon: creativity; content chosen and explained [i.e. if you take a very simple portion of a rule and explain that, you will likely not get many points]; demonstrated understanding of the applicable rule[s]; communication of the rules to other students. Your project will be part of the review session in the final class.

The Projects

About two-thirds of the class normally turns in a project.  The grades usually are between 4 and 6 points, although I have given some projects a 1 or 2.

Some students developed projects based on television shows or movies. For example, in civil procedure, students developed this game show video on work product

The student actors all imitated various faculty members – complete with wigs, hand gestures, and hair flips. Another group of students in civil procedure did a spoof on the Back to the Future movies to explain relation back.

Other students developed a twitter feed on work product.  Some students used board games for inspiration.  A group of civil procedure students produced an elaborate game entitled “Battleship Preclusion

bp photo

The next year, many of those students took my Evidence class and created a new game: “Escape from the House of Hearsay

 bp photo1

Others developed projects using music and poetry.  For example, in Evidence, students developed a song to help explain hearsay, “The Hearsay Saga of Johnny and Sue”:

This stanza from a poem on character evidence made me laugh:

Hope you enjoyed this poem, I sure had fun.
I hope character evidence no longer makes you want to run
Despite this poem I’m sure we will still all cram
So that we do not fail this godforsaken Evidence exam.

These are just a small sampling of the wonderful creative projects.

It’s Not Just Fun and Games

The Best Practices suggestion that doctrinal faculty use multiple methods to assess student learning [chapter 7] prompted me to develop this creative extra credit assessment.

The assessment has multiple learning objectives.  First, the projects require students to learn the material because they cannot communicate creatively if they do not fully grasp the underlying doctrine.  Anecdotally, when polled via anonymous clickers about the assignment, most said working on the project was either very, or somewhat, useful to their learning.

This assessment also seeks to develop students’ abilities to communicate complex material beyond how they would do so in class or on an exam.  Using different mediums to communicate information is a useful skill.

Additionally, this project allows students to express themselves creatively.  Creativity and innovation are amongst the Shultz/Zedeck lawyering effectiveness factors.

Finally, assessing students on what largely end up being visual presentations provides an opportunity to assess the students’ grasp of the material in a format that may be used by tomorrow’s lawyers to communicate information.

The Impact on the Final Grade

Why make it extra credit rather than required?  Although I believe the projects have educational value, I make them extra credit because some students get anxious at the idea of having to engage creatively with the material.  Also, I want students to have some degree of autonomy about where they spend their time and energy.

I have been asked if this type of extra credit project “changes the curve”.   Underlying that question is the assumption that the way we traditionally grade has a validity that may be skewed by a project such as this one. I question that assumption.

This project measures students’ ability to understand, and communicate that understanding, in a different, but not less valid, way than a multiple choice or essay exam questions.  In some ways, giving extra credit for these projects is analogous to giving class participation credit.

Additionally, those who do not participate presumably can use the time students spent on the projects to study the doctrine.  Thus, the non-participants at least theoretically might have a leg up in terms of the material to be tested via a traditional final.

The Take Away

As we explore ways to prepare our students for practice in tomorrow’s world, we should consider alternative ways to assess knowledge and communication skills, and we should encourage creativity and outside the box thinking.  These projects do that.  And, they are fun to grade.

REMINDER: Educating the Transactional Lawyer of Tomorrow

Tina L. Stark Gives Kickoff Speech for Emory Law’s Conference on Transactional Law Education,

June 6-7

REMINDER:  If you haven’t yet registered for Emory Law’s Fourth Biennial Conference on Teaching Transactional Law and Skills, entitled “Educating the Transactional Lawyer of Tomorrow,” you should do so now.

Tina L. Stark will return to Emory to kick off the Conference by updating the fantasy curriculum that she proposed in her speech at the inaugural conference in 2008.  On Day Two, the keynote panel will address the topic, “Skills is Not a Dirty Word:  Identifying and Teaching Transactional Law Competencies.”

You won’t want to miss these or the many other terrific sessions we have planned.  You can register for the Conference by clicking here.  If you have any questions about registration, please contact the Conference Coordinator, Edna Patterson, at edna.patterson@emory.edu.

Please click here to download the 2014 Conference Schedule.

I hope to see you in June.

Sincerely,

Sue Payne

Executive Director

Center for Transactional Law and Practice

Emory University

1301 Clifton Road

Atlanta, Georgia  30322-2770

sue.payne@emory.edu

404-727-3202

Five Tool Lawyers

Leading Northwest legal practitioner and technology entrepreneur Marty Smith has an interesting post on the Five Tool Lawyer over at Legal Refresh. Using the metaphor of the Five Tool Lawyer, Marty breaks apart the stages of problem solving, incorporating risk analysis in a way I found helpful. In my response Five Tool Lawyers and Legal Education, I critique aspects of the Five Tool Lawyer metaphor for compressing too much into the 1st [Use interviewing skills to gather client facts, goals and needs] and 5th tools[Counsel, document, negotiate and advocate on behalf of client]. But here’s why I thought the metaphor was compelling:

"Compelling, because [it] moves beyond issue spotting v. problem solving to articulate the stages of problem solving, targeting a spotlight on often overlooked aspects. . . . By focusing on risk, the metaphor highlights two often neglected stages of the lawyer’s work – “use judgment to assess actual risks” and “problem solve for best way to meet client’s needs with minimal risk.” At the same time, it implicitly places the legal problem in the larger context of the individual’s life, or the business’s health. And it underscores the fact that lawyers need to know how to assess the significance of legal risks within that larger context."

Prepared to Practice?

This article in the New York Times is about a different profession, but it seems familiar.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/are-med-school-grads-prepared-to-practice-medicine/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 506 other followers

%d bloggers like this: