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.
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.
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
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.
cross-posted from Prawfsblawg.