SUNY Buffalo Law Offering 2-Year J.D. for Foreign Lawyers

From the New York Law Journal:

Lawyers who hold law degrees from institutions outside the United States will be able to earn a J.D. in two years through an accelerated degree program at University at Buffalo Law School set to begin this fall.

The degree is part of a wider push by Buffalo Law to establish itself as an internationally known institution and to train lawyers from all over the world. Unlike students completing their LL.M., a one-year masters program, J.D. candidates in the two-year program will be part of the school’s traditional J.D. class. Their degrees from foreign institutions will give them advanced standing at Buffalo Law as if they’ve completed about 30 credit hours, or one year of law school.

“If you’re looking at this as an 18-year-old in another country, you think, ‘I can be a lawyer in my country and a New York lawyer.’ It’s a big value proposition,” said David Westbrook, a Buffalo Law professor and director of the school’s global strategic initiative. “You can hold yourself out to multinational corporations and say not only are you familiar with local laws, but you’re familiar with the law of the deals.”

The state Court of Appeals and the American Bar Association have both approved the accelerated J.D. Buffalo Law is one of the first in the nation—and the first in New York—to offer this kind of program.

More information is available here.

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On law schools and institutional crisis

Bill Henderson has previously said that he expects big layoffs at law schools this fall – presumably thinking that there will be a huge overall revenue shortfall, but that schools won’t know, until opening day, just how bad their own situations look. We will soon be able to test Bill’s crystal ball. But the Catholic University story should wake up a much wider swath of academics to the impact of the current law school crisis. At universities highly dependent on law school revenue – apparently, Catholic U is among those schools – the crisis will eat directly into the budgets of other programs. But where law schools are break-even propositions – the many law schools where overhead covers just that – the reality that law schools actually need institutional subsidies (just like almost every other college in a larger school) may mean that the universities may more critically question the need for a law school…and may empower the university to impose its will and priorities on law schools that were previously very independent.

Dan Filler

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Logic

What Dan Filler at The Faculty Lounge wrote:

The newest voume summary from LSAC is out and it indicates that, as of February 15, 2013, applications have increased to the point that law schools are now down a mere 18.9% in total applicants and 22% in total applications. A total of 39,351 people have applied to law school. If this pace continues, we would expect to see just short of 55,000 applicants this cycle. [Emphasis added.]

How Brian Leiter reads that:

So my earlier speculation has come true: there has been an uptick in applications this year.

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Legaltech – The Power of a Crisis: Remaking the Habits of Lawyers

[Disclaimer: I am attending Legaltech thanks to a free blogger's pass, so read skeptically. All opinions are my own because nobody else would want them anyway.] [Further disclaimer: Live blogging. Errors, omissions, and snarky comments are my own.]

Day Three Keynote General Session Presentation: The Power of a Crisis: Remaking the Habits of Lawyers

The legal industry is at a crossroads. Some would call it a crisis, and many would attribute it to a series of habits developed over many years – like sticking with the billable hour, being slow to adopt new technologies, and continuing to buy legal services the old same way. In these tough economic times corporate clients are aggressively cutting costs and legal budgets are under the microscope in a way they never have been before. How can the legal industry – notoriously resistant to change – use the science of habit formation to change their ways and, ultimately, serve their clients better? Join us for a fascinating look at the neurology of habits – how they are created, reinforced, and controlled – and gain insight into how changing a few habits can transform an industry.

Speaker: Charles Duhigg,
Author, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business;
Investigative Reporter, The New York Times

Look at two companies that have gone through significant changes: Alcoa and Starbucks.

Alcoa’s new CEO Paul O’Neill recognized that the aluminum industry was declining. He also recognized that producing aluminum was extremely dangerous to workers. He decided to focus not on productivity, but on developing habits around worker safety. Whenever an injury occurred, a factory boss had to write a lengthy report within 24 hours. What happened was that all the communication habits within Alcoa shifted. Result: revenues and profits exploded. “A crisis spilled into a habit of excellence.”

Does the legal industry face an “Alcoa moment”?

Case 2: Starbucks. We think of it as a company that sells coffee; it’s really a company that sells customer service. You can’t make people pay for customer service, but you can get them to pay for coffee. At the height of its expansion, Starbucks was hiring 1700 people per week–mostly high schoolers and recent high school grads. Problem: how to get kids to not act crazy? (NY TV news showed the story of a customer who complained because the employee wrote “Bitch,” instead of her name, on the coffee cup. Say goodbye to customer goodwill.) Problem, rephrased: how to get employees to develop willpower to provide good customer service. Consider the marshmallow study. Long story short, Starbucks revised their training manual to teach habits of willpower.

What does this mean for lawyers and law firms? During periods of crisis is when it’s easiest for individuals to change habits. So go out and do that. [That's where the talk ends.]

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Legaltech: The Future of Technology: Five Trends Lawyers Can’t Ignore

[Disclaimer: I am attending Legaltech thanks to a free blogger's pass, so read skeptically. All opinions are my own because nobody else would want them anyway.] [Further disclaimer: Live blogging. Errors, omissions, and snarky comments are my own.]

The Future of Technology: Five Trends Lawyers Can’t Ignore
Now more than ever, attorneys have an obligation to change with the times and stay on top of available technology that can help them better serve their clients and manage their practice. From shorthand to typewriters, Dictaphones to voice recognition software, technology always works its way into lawyers’ lives. Just as it has in the past, so will it in the future—and at a faster pace than many lawyers may be prepared for.

This session will introduce you to looming industry trends you can use to help your firm thrive in the ever-changing legal marketplace. We will also get you up to speed on the five top tech trends you can’t afford to ignore, including:

Evolving ABA & State Bar rules
Social Media
Predictive Coding
Alternative Fee Arrangements

Speakers:

Christopher T. Anderson,
Product Manager for the LexisNexis Firm Manager,
LexisNexis

Jack Halprin,
Head of eDiscovery, Enterprise,
Google

The cloud is not a brand new threat. Back in the day, operators could listen in on phone calls. What’s new is the speed, the amount of information, and the informality with which we now exchange information. When Chris and I started our law firms wouldn’t even let us have computers.

Still, lawyers’ “over-arching fear of the cloud” is noteworthy.
BYOD (bring your own device) is spreading.
iPhone & Android users vastly outnumber Blackberry users in the room.
Cost of storage is increasing, but cost of managing stored data is increasing.
We’re all on different electronic devices; it’s not all uniform any longer.

Mr. Anderson: It’s the clients, with changing expectations about how we work, who are driving changes in the practice of law–alternative billing, big data & e-discovery, transparency, etc.

Trend 1: Alternative fee arrangements (AFA)
We’re getting new technology & data that allow alternative fee arrangements to work for us. Some lawyers say the billable hour is a dinosaur–it’s dying.

Trend 2: Big Data & Electronic Discovery
Big data: “Collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes awkward to work with.” Wikipedia. Impact: New FRCP Revisions effective Dec. 1–changing the way lawyers who practice in federal courts comply with e-discovery. Higher use of forensic specialists, e-discovery experts, data analysts.
E-discovery expertise is essential for most firms to compete in today’s market. More businesses are selecting legal representation based on RFP.
Technology assisted review (TAR) aka predictive coding. Not suitable for every case; with smaller document sets, it doesn’t work.
Predictive analytics & early case assessment (ECA)–estimating risk to prosecute or defend a legal case. Global organizations deal with legal discovery and disclosure requests for ESI and paper documents on a regular basis.

Trend 3: Client Expectations: The Age of Instant Information
Clients expect quick responses; we should have information at our fingertips. “It’s in the mail” is no longer acceptable. Cloud-based technologies help us to avoid the most common client complaint (not returning phone calls).

Trend 4: Social Media
The courts have almost universally held there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in social media. If it’s relevant info, or can lead to relevant info, it’s also discoverable.
Social media is being used as a business development tool. Ethical questions, such as whether you can “friend” a judge or an opposing client. You can’t describe yourself as an “expert” in your social media profiles.

Trend 5: Cloud Storage

Trend 6: Changing Business Models
Competition from above: Big Law is shedding lawyers.
Newly minted lawyers are not finding jobs.
Unbundling of legal services.

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Legaltech Day Two: The Morning Show!

[Disclaimer: I am attending Legaltech thanks to a free blogger's pass, so read skeptically. All opinions are my own because nobody else would want them anyway.]

[Further disclaimer: Live blogging. Errors, omissions, and snarky comments are my own.]

Day Two Keynote General Session Presentation: The Morning Show! Episode 1: The Judicial Perspective – Managing Big Data, Proportionality, Data Security, and Privacy

Join us at Legaltech’s new interactive talk show featuring some of the globe’s leading jurists who rule on bleeding-edge legal issues that shape the practice of law. Hosted by attorney and legal luminary Patrick Oot – the program will feature lively discussions including data security, privacy, managing big data, and proportionality. Whether you prefer Watch What Happens Live or Charlie Rose this is one keynote session you won’t want to miss!

Speakers:
The Honorable Michael M. Baylson, Senior Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The Honorable Andrew J. Peck, United States Magistrate Judge, Southern District of New York
Patrick Oot, Co-Founder, Electronic Discovery Institute; Special Counsel, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Matthew V. Gillis, Vice President & Managing Director, LexisNexis Litigation Solutions & Professional Services

Judge Baylson: on Boeynaems v. LA Fitness International, LLC, 385 FRD 331 (E.D.Pa. Aug. 16, 2012). Plaintiffs, former members of LA Fitness, alleged membership practices were misleading and fraudulent. “Asymmetrical discovery”: plaintiffs had few documents, defendants had millions. Under the Third Circuit Hydrogen Peroxide decision, Court was obliged to allow generous discovery to determine whether case should be maintained as a class action. There had already been substantial discovery by plaintiffs, with no objection by defendant. Defendant objected to additional discovery plaintiffs sought as not relevant to the class action issue. Defendant sought cost-shifting.

Judge Peck: We judges need facts–to support objections to discovery requests, to justify cost shifting, etc. Don’t just say “it’s overly burdensome” or “it’s going to cost over $1 million.”

Judge Baylson: Lawyers need to inform judges on what is the value of the case.

Judge Peck: Breach of contract cases are relatively easy to evaluate. Where the value is more intangible, as in discrimination cases, you have to go beyond dollars and sense to present relevant evaluative information to the court. In SDNY we have discovery conferences (“bring your geek to court day”), not discovery motions. Usually the question is resolved from the bench. Works for us, other courts should try it. Our goal is always to “rightsize” discovery.

Judge Peck: If the buzzword for 2012 was “predictive coding,” for 2013 it will be “information governance.”

Mr. Oot: Question for the audience–how is the Sedona Conference Cooperation Proclamation going over with your clients? (57% of the audience responded via online poll that they have adopted predictive coding and it has helped reduce costs.)

Judge Baylson: Clients who tell their lawyers they won’t cooperate may find it costs them money in the long run.

Mr. Oot: Privilege logs (Chevron Corp. v. The Weinberg Group) are getting bigger but less descriptive, not meeting the requirements of FRCP 26(b). Privilege logs are becoming useless boilerplate. How are you incorporating FRE 502(d) (to obtain a court order preventing waiver of privilege) into your practice? (38% advise clients to enter into 502(d) orders at the start of every litigation; 38% don’t know what it is.)

Judge Peck: In my opinion, it is malpractice not to seek a FRE 502(d) order in every case where discovery is going to be substantial.

Mr. Oot: How is Computer Assisted Review (CAR) entering your practice? (50% have not used it, 32% have used it but did not disclose it, only 3% do not advise using it.)

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Looking for e-discovery vendors interested in law school collaboration

I spent a good chunk of the morning talking with e-discovery vendors in the Legaltech exhibit hall and trying to figure out how best to expose my students to e-discovery systems. Unfortunately, in most cases the people I needed to talk to within each company weren’t available, so I’m posting this as a sort-of RFP from e-discovery vendors interested in working with me in the law school classroom.

The e-discovery course has four components. The largest component is teaching the students the legal rules of e-discovery–primarily the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, FRE 502, the case law applying those rules, and the Sedona Conference materials that help inform the case law. Next are the people skills. First, my students have to learn to work with clients who are may not understand concepts like litigation holds and duty to preserve, and whose instincts may tell them to hide or destroy damaging information. My students also have to learn project management skills to help them lead the ESI preservation and production process. Next, my students need to learn to negotiate with and understand e-discovery vendors. The smallest component involves learning about ESI storage, management, and production technologies; it is the smallest part of the course because I anticipate that my students, when they become new lawyers, are less likely to be technologists themselves, but must understand the technology well enough to be able to select and work with vendors.

What I’m looking for is e-discovery vendors who are interested in being part of this process. I want to incorporate various types of role-playing and simulations in the course. Some of that role-playing will involved client counseling and management; some of it will involve selecting and working with vendors.

If your e-discovery company is interested in this, please contact me. I envision something like a 30-45 minute Skype conference call with your reps, as my students–playing a law firm seeking to hire an e-discovery vendor to work on a matter–interview your reps to determine what you can do for them, and to select the best vendor for the job. You stand to gain clients, as my students will be the next lawyers working in e-discovery. You might also gain employees; at least one of my former students is now working in e-discovery. You might find it to be a useful training exercise for new marketing and tech people. You might even appreciate feedback from students who can tell you how your presentation came across.

I’ll be at Legaltech for the next couple of days. If it takes a while for this request to find its way to the right people in your organization, please email me or leave a comment on this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

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