Issue #9 of Equipping Our Lawyers eNewsletter
Editor's Notes: I hope you find this newsletter useful to you in following and implementing the Critical Issues Summit Recommendations. Please note that we have rebuilt the Comments sections of the www.equippingourlawyers.org website to make your comments to Spotlight stories and Latest News items more user friendly. We welcome your adding your thoughts.
In future weeks, we will be adding Spotlight stories on the website concerning possible use of the new, knowledge-based--not time-based--International Learning Unit for mandatory professional education requirements and Washington & Lee Law School's completely rebuilt, practice-skill-oriented third year.
- Chuck Bingaman, Editor email@example.com
U.S. News & World Report Law School Ratings: A Flawed System and How It Hinders Reforming the Continuum of Legal Education
|Malcom Gladwell |
Malcolm Gladwell, in the February 14 New Yorker magazine, exposes the law school rankings in U.S. News & World Report for their flawed and arbitrary methodology.
Gladwell points out how selected quality factors such as academic reputation, LSAT scores in the 75th percentile, student-faculty ratio, and faculty law review publishing are, in U.S. News’ methodology, given arbitrary weightings and measured by “proxies” - factors that may or may not yield valid data on which to base rankings.
Further, Gladwell argues that key elements such as “academic reputation” are, in fact, simply tautologies based on surveys of, you guessed it, “reputation!” “The U.S. News ratings,” says Gladwell, “are a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Gladwell also points out that the U.S. News law school rankings take no notice of educational outcomes! Quoting U.S. News rankings editor Robert Morse, “We’re not saying that we’re measuring educational outcomes. We’re not saying we’re social scientists, or we’re subjecting our rankings to some peer-review process. We’re just saying we’ve made this judgment....” To check out the latest U.S. News rankings in the March 15, 2011 issue, see http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings.
Editor’s Note: Were they not so influential among law school applicants and, hence, law school administrators and boards, the U.S. News rankings would be little more than a harmless game... something like fantasy baseball. However, as in any business, what gets measured gets attention. U.S. News purports to measure law school quality but does not even try to measure learning outcomes. Until law schools plan, pursue, and measure learning outcomes and core competencies of graduates--and U.S. News and others evaluate THOSE efforts--law school rankings will continue to reflect less relevant--and less measurable--factors such as reputation. See Equipping Our Lawyers Critical Issues Summit Recommendations #1-4.
For a light-hearted, but on-target, alternative to the U.S. News approach, see Indiana University Law Professor Jeff Stake’s “The Ranking Game” at monoborg.law.indiana.edu/LawRank/play.shtml. In it, game players can select law school criteria THEY want measured--and the weight THEY receive--in arriving at their own law school rankings. - CCB
www.ACLEA.org Links to Mandatory Regulations Online
The Association for Continuning Legal Education's website now gives links to multiple providers of online mandatory CLE regulations. Go to www.aclea.org and to Resources/MCLE Rules. If your organization provides online regulations or links to them, ACLEA, a sponsor of this newsletter, will consider posting a link to them on its website. To request consideration of posting, contact ACLEA Executive Director Donna Passons at donna@CLEsolutions.com.
Summit Recommendations “How-To” in a 389-Page Gem
Had the 2009 Equipping Our Lawyers Critical Issues Summit conferees commissioned a distinguished team of lawyer talent management experts to carve out paths to bringing their Recommendations to reality, they might have produced this book: “ The Art and Science of Strategic Talent Management in Law Firms”, Terri Mottershead, General Editor (West, 2010).
True, it doesn’t address all the Recommendations. But “talent management” covers a wide swath of the legal education continuum, especially bridge-the-gap needs, law student and practitioner professional growth through competency modeling, and integrating pro bono service with law firm skill and culture development.
As Editor Mottershead notes in her preface, law firms in 2010 experienced a paradigm shift where they clearly saw the necessity of strategically managing their talent and found a cadre of increasingly well-qualified professionals to lead it. “These changes have finally ‘connected the dots’ between the pipeline of client work and the pipeline of talent ready, willing and able to deliver on it, but more...deliver on it in a way that differentiates the firm, is true to its values, and exceeds client expectations.”
“Art and Science” notes that a 2009 NALP law firm survey showed that 74% of the 242 responding firms had or were planning to develop a core competency-based approach to talent management.
The book’s chapters on "Competencies and Competency Models--An Overview" by Susan Manch and “Competency-Based Development Programs” by Sari Fried-Fiori are particularly valuable in giving detailed roadmaps for moving ahead. And those roadmaps are adaptable by law schools and firms of many sizes.
Other valuable sections of the book cover the transition from law school to law firms, integrating pro bono work as a talent management tool, and the technology of learning.
Editor’s Note: “The Art and Science of Strategic Talent Management in Law Firms” is a pretty lengthy title, but even it understates the breadth and depth of this book. All CLE, law firm, and law school professionals who wish to have a broad and detailed grasp of 21st century talent management will want to read and apply its insights. If you are interested in moving Critical Issues Summit Recommendations #1, 2, 3, 4, and 16 toward reality, Mottershead and her fellow authors offer both theoretical foundations and practical advice you can use. -CCB
Alabama Bar Leadership Forum Tackles Summit Recommendations
As its 2011 capstone project, the annual Leadership Forum of the Alabama State Bar is studying the 16 Recommendations from the Equipping Our Lawyers Critical Issues Summit. And it expects to present its own, Alabama-oriented version of the Recommendations at the Bar’s Annual Meeting in June.
According leadership coach and Summit conferee Steve Gallagher, “The Forum Committee chose the Summit Recommendations as the capstone project because their preamble encapsulated the Servant Leadership Model used in the Forum.”
The preamble states that “all members of the legal community share responsibilities to initiate and maintain the continuum of educational resources necessary to assure that lawyers provide competent legal services throughout their careers, maintain a legal system that provides access to justice for all, and remain sensitive to the diverse client base they must serve.”
The Alabama Leadership Forum is an annual, by-application only group of 30 lawyers who have practiced at least five years and no more than 15, who have played leadership roles in not-for-profits, and who wish to take the five-month training course. The Bar runs the seven-year-old project to groom future leaders with sensitivities to ethics and professionalism. For further information on the Alabama Leadership Forum, see http://www.alabar.org/members/leadership-update.cfm.
Editor's Note: This is a great model for ways local jurisdictions can use the Critical Issues Summit Recommendations to initiate conversations on strengthening the continuum of legal education in their areas while building leaders with the skills needed to push for progress. This newsletter will report further on findings of the Alabama Leadership Forum in June or July. -CCB