News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Legal Education Reform Resources in One Place

From the Carnegie Report to The Lawyer Bubble, legal education reform has been a hot topic in academia, the profession, and in the news for the past several years. Writing on the issue has started to pile up, making it increasing difficult to get an overall picture of the crisis.

Fortunately, a bibliography recently posted to SSRN by the Gould Law Library at Touro Law goes a long way toward gathering citations to the most salient books, articles, reports, and media coverage in one place. The bibliography starts with major books published within the past seven years, and continues with articles, reports, and news coverage. Reports are organized by organization (e.g., ABA) and by state and city bar reports. News articles are organized by topics such as two-year versus three-year education, experiential learning, and cost of education. It is the intention of the authors to keep the bibliography up-to-date.

See Laura Ross, Gould Law Library, Legal Education Reform Bibliography (last updated September 24, 2014). [Full text from SSRN]

Brain Cells Die from Law School Stress, Neuroscientists Say

Law school stress can take an enormous toll on cognitive capacity, literally killing off brain cells and inhibiting learning. The bad news continues into the workforce: as a profession, lawyers suffer from depression at three times the rate of non-lawyers.

A recent article published in Loyola Law Review by Debra S. Austin takes a look at the neuroscience behind education and suggests methods of neural self-hacking that can alleviate law school stress. The author identifies sources of chronic stress in the hidden curriculum of law schools, including competitive classroom environments and the grading curve. She then reviews the science behind brain structure, the neurobiology of cognition, and how your emotional brain reacts to law school stress.

The author suggests several methods of neural self-hacking that change the way your brain works and actually help create new brain cells and stronger neural connections. Neural self-hacking includes things like getting enough sleep, exercising, doing yoga, meditating, and practicing gratitude.

Sure, it’s easy for you to blow off these suggestions for neural self-hacking as gratuitous Zen baiting. This is probably the bazillionith time you’ve had some guru tell you that adequate sleep and exercise is good, and that yoga is better than a glass of Jack Daniels. The difference here is that this article explains the science behind what really happens in your brain when you sleep, exercise, or meditate, and how this directly affects your stress levels, learning ability, and ultimately your success as a law student and future lawyer. This is the science behind why you really should relax, go for a walk, and get some zzzs.

The article is heavy on neuroscience lingo like amygdala, hippocampus, parasympathetic nervous system, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, so much so that it includes an appendix at the end. But don’t let that put you off reading it—the insight into the neuroscience of learning and the brain-altering benefits of stress reduction is worth slogging through any sea of science terms.

See Debra S. Austin, Killing Them Softly: Neuroscience Reveals How Brain Cells Die From Law School Stress and How Neural Self-Hacking Can Optimize Cognitive Performance, 59 Loyola L. Rev. 791 (2013). [Full text in WestlawNext].

How to Think Like a Lawyer

In the latest edition of The National Jurist, there is a great article titled How Law School Teaches You to Think Like a Lawyer.  This one page article is a great quick read for law students.  Students often hear the phrase “law school teaches you to think like a lawyer” but aren’t necessarily shown how what they are learning is doing that.  This article does a great job in highlighting this while also giving the reader an idea of the areas they may need to work on to complete the metamorphosis from law student to lawyer.

Of particular interest to us at the Law Library is “the ability to locate the law” (number three in the article).  While most attorneys gain a high level of proficiency in one or a few areas of law, they still need to do research.  As such we always encourage our students to take advantage of our library staff and let us help you elevate your research game:  our research librarians staff the desk M-Th 9am-8pm and F 9am-6pm and can be reached in person, or via, phone, e-mail or chat.  Librarians are also available for more in depth Research Consultations by appointment.  For contact information on our Research Services, visit the Library’s “Ask Us” webpage and look under “Research Questions”.

Deans’ Leadership in Education Symposium Features Article by C|M|LAW Prof. Phyllis Crocker

Each year, the University of Toledo Law Review publishes its Deans’ Leadership in Legal Education Symposium. The twelfth annual issue has just come out, and it features an article by Prof. Phyllis Crocker entitled The Paradox of Being an Interim Dean: The Permanent Nature of a Transitory Position, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 319 (2013). Prof. Crocker’s concluding advice to interim deans and interim deans-to-be is to “embrace the position, be respectful of its limitations, but find ways to make it your own.” Other articles in the symposium are –

  • Linda L. Ammons (Widener), Seasons & Sea Changes: Weathering the Storm, An Encouraging Tale, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 299 (2013)
  • Annette E. Clark (St. Louis), Postscript to a Deanship, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 303 (2013)
  • R. Lawrence Dessem (Missouri-Columbia), Stepping Aside as a Dean, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 327 (2013)
  • I. Richard Gershon (Mississippi), In Ten Years, All New Schools!, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 335 (2013)
  • Robert H. Jerry, II (Florida), Leadership and Followership, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 345 (2013)
  • Susan Poser (Nebraska), Inside the Star Chamber: A Dean’s Reflections on Central Administration, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 355 (2013)
  • Emily A. Spieler (Northeastern), The Paradox of Access to Civil Justice: The “Glut” of New Lawyers and the Persistence of Unmet Need, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 365 (2013)

Legal Career Success: Factoring Status, Eliteness, and Grades

Richard Sander and Jane Bambauer explore the importance of social class, law school eliteness, and law school grades in their recent article, The Secret of My Success: How Status, Eliteness, and School Performance Shape Legal Careers in the December issue of Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. The authors note that although social class (and religion), along with law school eliteness once played a crucial role in determining legal career success, these two factors are not necessarily decisive today.  The authors also propose that, despite what some legal scholars and law school deans have stated to the contrary, law school performance does seem to matter. Readers are left with this encouraging conclusion: “The very good news is this: “who you are” has declined in importance as determinant of legal careers, and “what you do” matters more. What students show they can do in law school – at all law schools – is very closely linked to both their short-term and long-term career success.”