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12
Dec

Reflections from the Dean of Northwestern Law

Welcome friends of Northwestern University School of Law. I hope you will enjoy these observations about our Law School, about legal education and the rapidly changing legal profession, and about (on a somewhat lighter note) the adventures of a new transplant to the City of Big Shoulders.

I welcome your feedback: daniel.rodriguez@law.northwestern.edu

17
Jul

Professor Erin Delaney, Fulbright Award Recipient

Great news to share today: our Northwestern colleague, Erin Delaney, was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant for her extraordinary work on comparative constitutionalism. She will spend the Fall 2014 semester at McGill University in Canada working on “Safeguarding Federalism: American Federalism in Comparative Perspective.”

Earlier this year Erin was a MacCormick Visiting Fellow at the Edinburgh Law School, where she was researching constitutional change in the United Kingdom—a timely topic in the lead up to the national referendum on Scottish independence. The changing nature of the British constitution is captured in an interesting recent article of hers, “Judiciary Rising: Constitutional Change in the United Kingdom,” which was published in the Northwestern Law Review earlier this year.

Congratulations, Erin!

16
Jul

NU Prof. David Scheffer on Scottish independence

Learned analysis from our colleague and director of Northwestern Law’s Center on International Human Rights.

14
Jul

Law schools and the lost generation

Criticizing ATL and its legal educ reporters for hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, and other assorted mischief is a habit for those of us on the front lines of this business, and I have this habit as much as anyone.

But, when one of these folks calls it right, credit is due, and listening is the right reaction.

Elie Mystal has a post today on Above the Law that gets to the heart of a real problem, and one which potentially will only grow in significance and impact. Law grads, as he notes, feel increasingly disaffected from their law schools once they graduate, this disaffection being tied not principally (my characterization, not his) to the quality of the education provided, but to the employment outcomes and correlative debt burden suffered by students out in the marketplace with challenges and stress. In the law schools, we call this group (grads of the last seven years or so) “the lost generation.”

The basic problem which undergirds Elie’s righteous and thoughtful post is that law schools too often regard their undemployed or underemployed graduates, more than, say, a year out, as someone else’s problem. Even those law schools that work hard, and creatively, to increase employment opportunities for their current students and newly-minted graduates lack the clear incentives to continue that assistance — and in a tangible way — over the several beginning years of their graduates’ careers. No wonder why young alums perceive their law school as connecting with them only with their hands out for money. They are more right than wrong.

Let’s keep it real and say, again with credit to Elie’s main message in this post that law schools must be proactive and strategic in providing their graduates with assistance over at least the first few years following graduation. Practically, this means (at least): (1) substantial loan repayment assistance (in addition to IBR); (2) assistance which tracks not only public interest/public sector employment, but employment in legal sectors which cannot realistically hold out the promise of helping graduates’ cover their post-graduate debt; (3) meaningful career assistance which continues in the first years following graduation (not “thanks for meeting with us for your 2nd and 3rd year. Good luck!); and (4) professional development initiatives (subsidized principally by the Law School) which assist graduates with developing the most applicable modern skills, skills which will enhance their employment opportunities and point them toward more successful outcomes.

Spare us the “well, law schools will never do this, as it costs them money and it won’t have a perceptible impact on their rankings.” We are doing all four of these things are Northwestern, and we will do more. There are certainly other law schools who are engaging with their young alumni in similarly, if not more, creative ways as well. The costs of substantial action are high, and some law schools will be better resourced (of course) than others to undertake these initiatives. But, folks, let’s move it much higher up our priority list. The time has come to do something meaningful with this lost generation. It’s good for the law schools; and it’s the right thing to do.

So, hats off to Elie (at least until a future irritating post by him!) for making an essential and powerful point about the connection between the applicant decline, young alumni anger, and the flaws in the current structure of legal education.

14
Jul

Law school apps, general trends

down nationwide this year; more or less stable at “top” schools (including Northwestern).

11
Jul

Northwestern Law at legal writing conference

Description here courtesy of one of our Communications & Legal Reasoning faculty members, Dana Hill:
The Legal Writing Institute (LWI) recently held its 16th Biennial Conference of legal writing and research, library, and academic support professors in Philadelphia and Northwestern Law’s faculty was well-represented among the presenters, planning committee, and attendees. LWI’s mission is to improve legal writing by providing a forum for discussion and scholarship about legal writing, analysis, and research. Clinical Assistant Professor Elizabeth Inglehart was a member of the conference planning committee. The following Northwestern professors made presentations:

Elizabeth Inglehart presented “Practicing Today for Practice Tomorrow: Innovative Approaches” with Karl Okamoto & Terry Seligmann of Drexel University School of Law and Lori Johnson of UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law;

Dana Hill & Kathleen Dillon Narko presented “Using the Problematized Teaching Method to Engage Students in Critical Thinking in the
LRW Classroom”;

Michelle Falkoff & Chris Martin presented “When the Student Becomes the Teacher: A Different Kind of Flipped Classroom” with Lorie Reins-
Schweer & Caroline Sheerin of University of Iowa College of Law;

Deborah Borman presented “De-Grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics in Favor of Authentic Analysis”;

Susan Provenzano & Sarah Schrup presented “Are Law Graduates Legal Writing Mushfakers? Designing Upper-Level Courses to Promote
Mastery in Analytical and Persuasive Legal Writing”; and

Cliff Zimmerman presented “A Multicultural Perspective on PLAGIARISM: Teaching about an Age-Old Problem in the
New Age of the Global Student” with Jaime Bourier & Jonathan Gordon of Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

More detailed descriptions of the presentations can be found here: http://lwionline.org/uploads/FileUpload/ConferenceProgram625.pdf

Additionally, Professor of Law Emerita Helene Shapo and Clinical Professor Judy Rosenbaum were recognized for their years of service with LWI.

3
Jul

Legal education scholarship and its coming heyday (?)

cross-posted from Prawfsblawg.

2
Jul

Legal automation and law curriculum

cross-posted from Prawfsblawg.

28
Jun

Guest post: Prof. Tom Geraghty from South Africa

from my remarkable colleague, Tom Geraghty, the Class of 1967 James Haddad Professor of Law and Director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic:

Geraghty_UNODC Conference_web (2)I write from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I am attending a UNODC-sponsored International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice System. (View conference program.) In attendance are 250 advocates for the improvement of legal aid systems, including high government officials from around the world (Africa, Asia, the Middle East, U.K., Eastern Europe), leaders of NGOs, leaders of legal aid offices, and faculty from law school clinical programs. I am moderating a panel on meeting the demand for legal services in criminal justice systems and making a presentation on children’s access to legal services while in police custody.

I was invited to participate in this conference as the result of work that my colleagues, students, and I have done over the years on access to justice in developing countries. At the opening of this conference, Justice Dustan Mlambo, Judge President of the Gautang Division of the High Court of South Africa and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Legal Aid South Africa, referenced the Lilongwe Declaration on Legal Aid (2004) as a foundational document for the recently adopted (2012) U.N. Guidelines for Access to Justice in Criminal Justice Systems. The Lilongwe Declaration, a document that students and I had a hand in drafting in 2004 in Malawi (along with Justice Mlambo, then head of Legal Aid South Africa, and Adam Stapleton, who will be visiting the Bluhm Legal Clinic this year to expand international human rights opportunities for our students), has turned out to be a foundational document for those advocating for the improvement of legal aid and an inspiration for the new U.N. Guidelines, which are truly transformative.

Our country has much to learn from international practices and particularly from the Lilongwe Declaration and the recently adopted U.N. Guidelines on Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice System. These documents set forth a comprehensive human rights-based approach to the provision of what we call public defender services, including early provision of legal assistance to children and adult suspects in police stations and special consideration for the needs of children in conflict with the law, women, vulnerable groups, as well as victims of crime and witnesses. The documents also emphasize the need to expand legal aid to those in need through the use of paralegals who can deliver many necessary services less expensively than lawyers and who are available to deliver legal aid in rural areas. Those seeking to improve the quality of indigent defense services here and abroad should use these documents as sources of a comprehensive view of the range of services that should be provided to those affected by the criminal justice systems.

Participation in international conferences, such as this week’s International Conference on Access to Justice in Criminal Justice Systems, provides our programs at the Bluhm Legal Clinic with fresh perspectives on legal practice, human rights, and the effective delivery of legal services. We use this information in our representation of our clients, especially when international standards and documents respond more concretely to real world problems in our juvenile and criminal justice systems. Collaboration with our international counterparts also gives our students opportunities to perform meaningful legal services/human rights work on the ground. And curiously, attendance at such conferences enable us to meet with our colleague in the U.S. who are doing remarkable work. An example of this was the presentation made yesterday by Seymour James of the Legal Aid Society of New York. His description of the fine work done by his office was inspiring and underscored what I view to be a priority for law reform in Cook County—improvement of the quality of services that we provide right at home. Let me add that we could learn a lot from Legal Aid, South Africa.

27
Jun

Veterans’-focused high-tech incubator in Chicago

Great initiative, reflecting the work of distinguished alum, Howard Tullman ’71, and his colleagues at Chicago’s high tech incubator, 1871:

1871, GOVERNOR QUINN, MAYOR EMANUEL, AND THE PAT TILLMAN FOUNDATION ANNOUNCE VETERANS TECHNOLOGY INCUBATOR AT 1871
Dubbed “The Bunker,” Incubator to House Veteran-Owned Technology Companies Beginning in Fall of 2014.

1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman confirmed today that 1871 will be launching a veterans-focused technology incubator called The Bunker in 2014 as part of 1871’s recently announced expansion plans at its digital startup hub in The Merchandise Mart. The announcement is officially being made in concert with the offices of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn, as well as the Pat Tillman Foundation – all of whom are also expected to provide support and resources for the new program.

Tullman describes the inspiration for the new initiative: “Many years ago in law school, I learned that my most mature classmates and the hardest and most serious competitors in the school were the vets. They had the positive ‘can do’ attitude, the ‘take no prisoners’ drive, and the commitment to success that are precisely what it takes to build a successful startup. In addition, we owe these men and women a great debt for their sacrifices and service to our country. At 1871, we want everything we do to make a difference, not just a living, and we hope in our own way that we can help our vets move forward and make yet another important contribution to our economy.”

The Bunker will be the Nation’s first Veteran Business Accelerator and will harness the leadership experiences of veterans as a strategic differentiator for startup and early stage veteran owned technology enabled businesses. The Bunker will be a veteran-operated, veteran-focused effort that will seek to offer an entry point into the technology economy for hundreds of local and national veteran owned and operated technology businesses, with the dual goal of exploring and tapping into the significant resources available to veterans from government organizations and maximizing the skill and trainings which our veterans developed while serving in the military.

While there are a substantial number of city, state and federal veteran assistance programs, it is sometimes a challenging and complex process – especially for novice business builders – and one of the focus areas of the 1871 veteran’s incubator will be to work closely with the city and the state as well as the vets to help smooth, streamline and accelerate these interactions. 1871’s huge population of volunteer mentors (especially in the legal and accounting fields) will be of invaluable assistance in these areas. The Bunker will be run by Todd Connor, an Operation Iraqi Freedom Navy veteran and successful entrepreneur who most recently led the city of Chicago’s military high schools program.

The Bunker will be a part of the new 25,000 square foot expansion coming from 1871 this October, which was announced on Tuesday, June 17, in conjunction with Governor Quinn. Fueled by a $2.5 million investment from the State, the 25,000-square foot space will house alumni companies, venture capital firms, and incubators and accelerators, including this effort.

“Illinois’ veterans are some of the most talented and skilled individuals in our state’s workforce,” Governor Quinn said. “By supporting veteran-owned and operated businesses, we can ensure that our men and women service members have what they need to continue contributing to our communities while driving our economy forward. We owe a debt of gratitude to the many brave Illinois men and women who have answered the call to serve and I commend The Bunker and 1871 for launching this innovative platform on their behalf.”

“Great startup businesses need great leaders who know how to ‘get it done’ amidst uncertain and challenging circumstances. This is what veterans bring.” stated Todd Connor, CEO of The Bunker. “This represents a truly different model for the veteran community that is not about defining the veteran population as a group that needs help, but rather capitalizing on the talent pool of some of the highest performing veterans.”

The Bunker is expected to maximize use of 1871’s existing shared facilities for housing its companies and hopes to bring companies to Chicago and 1871 for long-term, permanent stays that will allow integration into the 1871 community as well as the broader Chicago business community.

# # #

About 1871

1871 is an entrepreneurial hub for digital startups. Located in The Merchandise Mart, the soon-to-be 75,000-square-foot facility provides Chicago startups with programming, access to mentors, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that help them on their path to building successful businesses. 1871 is the flagship project of the CEC.

27
Jun

Pre-law student reading list

The best preparation for the demanding work of a first-year law school is surely rest and recuperation. Enjoy time with friends and families and take the time you need to wind down from work responsibilities as you make the transition to the exciting, focused journey of the beginning law student.

Still and all, pre-law students — OLs, as the new term describes them — ask about valuable readings to help better prepare them for their law school work. Everyone has their favorites, so let me suggest some of mine.

Some classics:
“A Man for All Seasons”
Robert Bolt’s magnificent play about Thomas More and the ethical dimensions of lawyering, faith, and client service in the shadow of the struggles of merry old England under the regime of Henry VIII.

“The Bramble Bush”
A short, remarkable book by one of the great legal scholars of the 20th century, Karl Llewellyn. Rewarding and insightful, even several decades after its publication.

“Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success”
A helpful book, written by two of our beloved Northwestern professors, Helene and Marshall Shapo.

“A Civil Action”
Page-turner on modern impact litigation by Jonathan Harr.

On law, lawyers, and the system:
“Six Amendments: How and Why we Should Change the Constitution”
From our esteemed alumnus, Justice John Paul Stevens, a thought-provoking short book on of the key legal controversies of our times

“Tomorrow’s Lawyers”
Intriguing book (also refreshingly short) by futurist Richard Susskind. Frames well the challenges to young (and not-so-young) lawyers in the coming decades. Not for the timid, but a very interesting perspective.

Our brave new world (books which explore the key dimensions of our complex technological age, and how future professionals ought to cope and even thrive in this distinctly different era we are in):

“Accelerating Democracy”
Wonderfully insightful book from NU Law prof. John McGinnis. Big data meets democracy.

“The Second Machine Age”
Food for careful thought by two innovative MIT professors, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

“Steve Jobs”
Comprehensive biography of this remarkable figure by Walter Isaacson. Baffling genius; extraordinary story of Apple and its intersection with modern economic trends

On a lighter note:
Anything by David Sedaris. Hilarious.

“You Were Never in Chicago” by Neil Steinberg. Especially for the newcomers to our City of Big Shoulders!

And don’t forget to catch up on your binge-TV watching. We like House of Cards; Homeland; Veep; Downton Abbey, Newsroom, and Boardwalk Empire.