Around the Blawgosphere

Law firms say they want 'practice ready' grads--but who are they actually hiring?

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Washington & Lee University Law School’s decision to emphasize practical skills in the 3L year and subsequent enrollment surge was called the “biggest legal education story of 2013” by Indiana University law professor Bill Henderson. And “National Jurist named the school’s faculty as among the twenty-five most influential people in legal education,” Ohio State University law professor Deborah J. Merritt notes at Law School Cafe.

But event though “employers say they are eager to hire these better-trained, more rounded, more ‘practice ready’ lawyers—and they should be … the statistics say otherwise. Washington & Lee’s recent employment outcomes are worse than those of similarly ranked schools,” Merritt wrote.

Merritt used a law-jobs calculator developed by Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers to search results by two sets of criteria:

“(a) The number of full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar admission, minus (i) any of those jobs funded by the law school and (ii) any solo positions; all divided by the total number of graduates.” Just 55 percent of W&L grads had this sort of employment by nine months after graduation in 2011, and only 49.2 percent did in 2012.

“(b) The number of full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar admission or for which the JD provided an advantage, minus (i) any of those jobs funded by the law school and (ii) any solo positions; all divided by the total number of graduates.” By this criteria, 64.3 percent of grads had jobs within nine months of graduation in 2011, and only 57.7 percent did in 2012.

W&L is tied for 26th in the U.S. News ranking, but not doing as well as schools by these measures as schools ranked at the same or a lower level, Merritt details.

Why is this? Multiple possibilities need to be explored, Merritt emphasizes. But one explanation might be that, for better or worse, law firms may not be as gung-ho about practice-readiness as they claim. “Law school clinicians have noted for years that legal employers rarely demand ‘clinical experience’ as a prerequisite for on-campus interviews,” Merritt wrote. “Instead, their campus interviewing forms are more likely to list ‘top ten percent’ or ‘law review.’ Old habits die hard. Employers have maintained for the last few years that ‘this time we really mean it when we ask for practical skills,’ but maybe they don’t.”

Legal writing that is ‘the opposite of sucks’

“I don’t know a damn thing about legal writing, as this blog constantly proves,” Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf writes at Hercules and the Umpire. But, having been asked to write something about it, he came up with 10 tips. Among them:

“8. Unless you are retrograde ([my career law clerk]’s word), or the judge won’t allow it, hyperlink to cases and citations to the record. Remember, nine out of 10 times a law clerk—not the trial judge—is the only one closely reading your stuff. (Oh, don’t pretend to be shocked!) The easier you make it for the law clerk, the less you have to worry that the clerk will go wild.”

“6. Is it too much to ask you to read and follow the local rules? Remember the venerable Latin legal maxim: Rules are the opposite of sucks.”

Play ball

Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites reports that lawyer and “longtime legal website entrepreneur” Steve Fuchs has started a new site called Barterball, where individuals—lawyers included—who want to make cashless trades of services can find each other.

Members set up profiles detailing the services they have to trade along with the services they need. Readers can then search profiles—which include feedback ratings by other users—and reach out the service provider of their choice.

“In fact, as an example of how Barterball might work, Fuchs describes a DUI defense attorney whose house needs painting. A painter who lives nearby was just arrested for DUI. Offline, these two might never meet, Fuchs says, but Barterball’s technology could bring them together.”

About Clark and Lois


Image from Shutterstock.

Man of Steel spoilers follow: Blogger James Daily already explored at Wired whether, in Man of Steel, Clark Kent had a legal duty to use his superpowers in front of a crowd and rescue his father from a tornado, even though his father did not wish him to do so.

Daily picked another nit about Man of Steel at Law and the Multiverse. Lois Lane “shows up at the site of what we later learn is a crashed Kryptonian ship” and implies that a court ordered the military to permit her to investigate, in person, an active military site. “That’s just not going to happen,” Daily wrote. “Indeed, according to this article, the military basically doesn’t have to permit journalists access to military bases if it doesn’t want to, and the courts are usually deferential to the military on these issues. … So the way the movie handles this particular issue, i.e., justifying Lane’s presence on a military base, was basically botched. “

How could the scriptwriters have made it more plausible for Lois Lane to be at the miltary site? She could have just said: ” ‘Perry White was roommates with General Swanwick at Columbia, and they haven’t missed their quarterly golf outing for twenty years. You don’t like it, take it up with the Pentagon.’ Boom. Done. And the audience gets a scene with Laurence Fishburne and Harry Lennix playing golf, which would be awesome.”

Meanwhile the Legal Geeks wondered about the scene during which Clark Kent—right after General Zod requests that the Earth-dwelling Kryptonian’s surrender via an international broadcast—enters a church, tells the priest that he’s the individual General Zod is seeking. He then asks the pastor present for advice.

“Would those communications be protected?” California lawyer Joshua Gilliland wrote. “Could the pastor be forced to disclose those communications and that Clark Kent was Superman?”

Gilliland consults the Kansas rules of evidence and determined that Clark Kent’s statements qualify as “penitential communication” under Kansas law and would be protected.

“There is a chance the minister could disclose the content of Clark Kent’s penitential communications seeking moral advice on the technicality a Christian was not from Earth,” Gilliland wrote, “but it is unlikely a Man of God would do that to the Man of Steel.”

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