Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Weekly Roundup--Feb. 13, 2007

This roundup is a first in a series of posts. The idea, as the name implies, is to give a quick rundown of interesting materials I have come across in the past week or so. Here goes.

Citing to Wikipedia. On Concurring Opinions, blogger Daniel Solove has a noteworthy piece called "When is it Appropriate to Cite to Wikipedia?" (Note to students: PLEASE READ!!) My favorite part is Brian Leiter's comment on the matter.

  • Side note: For a link to Wikipedia's Brian Leiter page, click here.

News from the Trenches. The ABA Journal just published the results of an online survey of law firm associates (or at least of people who claimed to be law firm associates). Of nearly 2400 respondents, almost 85% said they would be willing to trade some of their high salaries for lower billable hours. Not surprising. Neither is the general response by partners: get back to work.

They Really Mean it--Get Back to Work. The ABA Journal also reports that salary wars in NYC continue, with first-year associate pay reaching $160,000 in January 2007. So clearly, all associates need to keep their billable hours up to pay for the raise. (Dipping into partner profits to pay for raises is strangely unpopular at big firms.) And as reported in LegalTimes.com, the pay raises are rippling out to other cities as well.

Biting the Hand. . . . New York Law School's Professor Cameron Stracher wrote a recent Op-Ed for WSJ.com, in which he discussed the need for greater clinical education in American law schools. Part of his solution? Clinical rotations like in medical school. Nice idea to consider--although I wonder how useful watching a bunch of corporate attorneys drafting documents would be. Come to think of it, when I have had medical procedures done at teaching hospitals, I have wondered how useful the whole process was to med students in the room. Although since I didn't get charged any extra and since no one got hurt, it was at worst useless, and at best a learning experience.

Watch for more roundups soon.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you mention to comparison to Medical Clinicals. I think the Carnegie Report was on point with this topic as well. Over Christmas break, I was having dinner with three buddies, one is a 1L as well and the other 2 are first year medical students. The med. friends were talking about real life application of what they have learned and when it came down to it, if they were in a situtation that required use of medical skills, they would be able to possibly save a life. Versus us law students, we are lost as to what we know about the law, which rule applies in our state (we learned a traditional, common law, civil law, majority, minority, advancing majority, restatement, proposed amendment to the restatement- AHH which rule is the rule!?!). I mean, I don't even know where to file a law suit!

Anonymous said...

I think the clinic idea is a good one. I'm a 1L and most of my classmates who came to law school straight out of undergrad are clueless about the "real world" and how to act in an office. They are way too timid. Could they tell a secretary to fax something for them? Doubt it. I've never met a group of more socially inept people (in a business sense) in my life. They need more practice at interacting with coworkers and clients than a summer or two can give them.

Anonymous said...

I also think the clinic idea is a good one, not necessarily because it is new or innovative, but because it relates back to legal education as it was before law schools. If my rough layman's understanding of legal history is correct, much of the American bar throughout our history was educated under a master/apprentice arrangement. The student assisted the mentor at the office and studied Blackstone and other treatises in the off-time. Law schools as they are today have only existed over the last 100 years in America. Don't get me wrong, I really like law school and there is something very valuable about learning these complex rule systems in a controlled academic environment from a professor who has made understanding and teaching the fine points of his or her specialty a life's pursuit. However, I also hear things like the following from practitioners: "Law school is one year too long," and "there are too many electives in law school."
As with most complex situations, the answer seems to land somewhere in the middle. That is, we could strike a balance between spending too much time in clinics, where we risk learning some things the wrong way and learning no theory whatsoever, and leaving law school not knowing what a bar complaint is or how to manage the trust account.
Let us not forget what I think is the best part of clinical education, the very fact that students can use it to help the underrepresented members of our community. There is still so much more we can do to help people who can barely keep the lights on. Let's face it. If these people cannot yield a contingent fee with their legal problem, there is not much help for them in the private bar.