Anxious About Law School Final Exams? Relax

Final exams. I know that many of you first-year law students are experiencing intense anxiety over your first round of final exams. Though I am now a law professor, I was once a law student, too. The compressed horror of years spent toiling in the justice system has deadened my sensitivity to many things, but I remember how big this first set of finals feels. This isn’t like undergrad, where you knew who the tough graders were and how well you were doing before you got a final exam. What if you study the wrong parts of your outline? What if you get a stomach virus? What if you oversleep or your computer freezes? Want to continue reading?
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Media Education Is Crucial to Preparing Young Attorneys to Speak on the Record

KnowIt Conference For Creators & Protectors of Intellectual Property Registration Open! May 11-14 Las Vegas Last month, a photojournalist for The Daily Northwestern , Northwestern University’s campus newspaper, captured photographs of student protestors who rushed a lecture hall where former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was speaking on campus. One of the pictures the photojournalist published featured a protestor sprawled on the floor. Students involved in the protest reacted with sharp criticism: being photographed in public had caused the protestor trauma, they argued. In addition, the reporters who used the student directory to attempt to contact protestors for quotes had invaded those students’ privacy.

In response to this pressure, editors at the newspaper took the photographs down and published an apology — steps that were immediately scorned by seasoned media professionals who explained that reporting on public events, through gathering quotes and taking pictures, is one of the most basic functions of journalism.

As with many stories that go viral, overheated Twitter commentary led to cross-generation attacks, straw-man arguments and handwringing over the death of traditional media. But when you push aside the noise around this story, it becomes clear that what happened at Northwestern illuminates an interesting disconnect between young people on the cusp of the Millennial-Z generations and the rest of us: we have different ideas about the purpose and function of traditional media.

What does this have to do with legal marketing? The oldest members of Generation Z are preparing to enter law school in the fall of 2020, which means firms are just a few years out from welcoming this new crop of lawyers. Forward-thinking law firms have long understood the value of media training in helping their attorneys build fruitful relationships with reporters and manage individual and firm brands across multiple channels. The Northwestern case, however, demonstrates that firms must also be prepared to offer some basic media education to their business development curriculum.

Younger lawyers may have a steep learning curve if they want to launch their careers with a productive media strategy. Here are three lessons firms will need to figure out how to teach them:

It’s […]

How Professors Help Rip Off Students

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As the semester ends, instructors at universities and community colleges around the country will begin placing their orders for next year’s textbooks. But not all professors will pay enough attention to something that students complain about: the outlandish prices of the books we assign. Having grown at many times the rate of inflation, the cost of a leading economics book can be over $250; a law school casebook plus supplement can cost $277. Adding to such prices is the dubious trend of requiring students to obtain digital access codes, averaging $100, to complete homework assignments.

Professors love tough questions. Here’s one we need ask ourselves: Are we helping rip off our students?

A good instructor wants to use the best materials, and some of the expensive textbooks are excellent and arguably worth the price. But some really aren’t, especially when there are cheaper or free alternatives of equal quality out there. Basic ethics suggest we have a duty to look for cheaper options before we inflict the $200 or $300 books or the $100 access codes on our students. Professors who write successful textbooks need to think harder about the professional ethics of allowing a book to be sold at exploitative prices to young people.

The root problem is that it is just too easy for us, the professors, to spend other people’s money. Just like doctors who prescribe expensive medicine, we don’t feel the pain of buying a $211 book of uneven quality and no real use when the course is finished, or a digital access code that costs $100 and is designed at least in part to disable the used-book market. The fact that professors choose and students buy destroys whatever power a competitive market might have to keep prices lower. That, and a touch of greed — the author of one successful book has earned an estimated $42 million in royalties — is why textbook prices have increased over 1,000 percent since the 1970s.

For students, those $200 books add up to real money. The average student spends over $1,000 on textbooks each year; some spend more, and at […]

Lawtech and what it means for future lawyers

Experts from across the City share their insights Left to right: Russell Johnstone, Michael O’Donoghue, Mark Marfé, Shantanu Majumdar, Tara Waters and Jill Howell-Williams At Legal Cheek’s latest careers event in partnership with The University of Law (ULaw), a group of experts from across the City came together at ULaw’s Moorgate campus to discuss how lawtech is disrupting legal education and changing the way lawyers work.

The speakers were: Tara Waters, co-CEO of Ashurst Digital Ventures; Russell Johnstone, general counsel, consumer, at BT; Michael O’Donoghue, senior associate, financial services litigation at Hogan Lovells , Mark Marfé, senior associate, IP at Pinsent Masons , Shantanu Majumdar, barrister, commercial disputes at Radcliffe Chambers ; and Jill Howell-Williams, campus dean and associate professor at ULaw. Lawtech drives progress

In an era of automation, concerns of job losses are mounting. Future lawyers needn’t worry, though, as Michael O’Donoghue explained that lawtech simply helps to “reduces the time spent on repetitive and routine and allows junior lawyers to do better work and progress quicker.” Mark Marfé agreed: “AI can’t break down a decision in the same way that a human can. Clients want humans to be the decision makers. They may want us to be supported by tech in order to reduce costs and speed up the process, but they don’t want us to be solely reliant on it.” When asked on the specific technology that’s being used, Tara Waters gave this insight: “Ashurst uses Kira, an AI-powered document review platform. You train it to find information in documents and it can then be used to review a large volume of documents very quickly. A lot of current AI technology is based on human-assisted review. A big focus now is on no-code solutions such as BRYTER, which can be programmed using drag and drop tools, allowing lawyers without coding experience to build solutions which work for them.” Radcliffe’s Shantanu Majumdar added that at the moment barristers are often the “beneficiaries of lawtech rather than drivers,” but they still need to understand what it can do and how it might help their clients. The barriers […]

Attorneys Are Fun People To Be Around

Last night was the Above the Law holiday party, and if you didn’t make it, you definitely missed out! The event is always an amazing time, since it is great to meet individuals from all across the legal profession and kick back with an amazing group of people. Attending the Above the Law holiday event and other holiday happenings sponsored by law firms has allowed me to reflect on the fact that attorneys are some of the best people to have fun with! No matter what others may say about lawyers, members of the legal profession should take satisfaction from the fact that something about attorneys makes us pretty fun to be around. Let me just say at the onset that I in no way equate having fun with drinking, and substance abuse is a serious issue in the legal profession. Rather, my point is that some personality traits of many lawyers may make it easier for us to cut loose than other types of professionals.

I first realized that lawyers might be especially inclined to have a good time when I was in law school. Students from the law schools I attended knew how to kick back and have fun in ways that I didn’t even see in college ( although I went to a pretty boring college! ). Law students at the schools I attended had amazing house parties, bar reviews at local bars, and other events that made it more palatable to attend law school. Of course, most of the people I attended law school with also knew how to hit the books, but these folks definitely knew how to cut loose as well.

I first realized that law students might be apart from other graduate student in their capacity to have fun when my alma mater’s law school and medical school had a mixer called “Medical Malpractice.” The event had a separation much like boys and girls on opposite sides of the gym at a junior high school dance. The law students were having a good time while the wallflower medical students mostly kept to themselves. The […]

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