August 17, 2017
At its annual meeting this week in New York City, the ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 116 urging courts to implement plans that provide meaningful courtroom experience to new lawyers. The resolution—recognizing the important role law firms and clients play in the experience, or lackthereof, that young lawyers receive—also urges law firms and clients to take advantage of those plans.
August 15, 2017
In a recent article for Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis and Rule One Initiative Director Brittany Kauffman discuss how state court and bar leaders across the country are gearing up for major civil justice reforms using the recently released Roadmap for Implementation. The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of the State Court Administrators (COSCA) have 13 recommendations for improvements that the Roadmap guides toward implementation, in an effort to ensure that the legal system is serving those who need it.
August 10, 2017
In a time when nearly everyone has an online presence, more and more jurisdictions are having to navigate the extent to which trial lawyers can use a juror's social media to inform jury selection. In 2014, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released Formal Opinion 466 on this topic. The Committee said that lawyers can review a juror or potential juror’s internet presence before or during a trial so long as they do not communicate with or request access from those jurors.
Rebecca Love Kourlis
August 8, 2017
Last month, in "We Won’t See You in Court: The Era of Tort Lawsuits Is Waning," the Wall Street Journal took a look at the decline in tort lawsuit filings and the reasons fueling the decline, citing “state restrictions on litigation, the increasing cost of bringing suits, improved auto safety, and a long campaign by businesses to turn public opinion against plaintiffs and their lawyers.” At first blush, this may seem like good news: lawsuits are down, people are suing less! However, I caution that it is far from good news and, if this trend continues, the courts may be in danger of becoming irrelevant.
August 7, 2017
In the name of simplicity, the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to roll back transparency in employment outcomes for law school graduates in a process that, itself, is under attack for its lack of transparency. Simplicity is a good thing, but not when it risks mischaracterizing important facts. Understanding how law graduates are employed is critical for prospective students, current students, law schools, and the profession—and under this approved proposal, we would know less than we do now.
August 2, 2017
The California State Bar recently released the results of a study on the state bar exam’s current cut score, or pass line. The study, which was accelerated in order to possibly apply a new score to the July 2017 exam, suggests two possible options for addressing concerns that the exam may be too hard: 1) Leave the pass line at its current score of 1440 (144 on the 200-point scale), or 2) Set an interim pass line of 1414 (141.4 on the 200-point scale). The Committee of Bar Examiners and the Board of Trustees’ Admissions and Education Committee voted to adopt the study and to collect public comments on both options until August 25.
August 1, 2017
As noted by the Miami Herald, the average lifespan of an immigration case in the United States is about three years. Several factors have led to the nation-wide backlog, but many say the most prominent reason is the national shortage of federal immigration judges. According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, the backlog of immigration cases nearly doubled between 2009 and 2015 due to the shortage of judges. The average caseload for each judge is approximately 2,000 cases and some immigration courts are so backed up that they’re already scheduling cases for the year 2020.
July 31, 2017
Faced with rising numbers of people in poverty, funding deficiencies, and an increase in self-represented litigants in state courts, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators unanimously passed Resolution 5, in July 2015, to address these issues directly and to reaffirm their commitment to meaningful justice for all.
Rebecca Love Kourlis
July 28, 2017
When she became President of the American Bar Association, Linda Klein had a goal of traveling to every state to meet with bar members. It was a commitment that not everyone may fully appreciate. Is there really any greater proof of dedication to and passion for the job than committing oneself to a life in constant motion and going weeks without sleeping in your own bed?
Rebecca Love Kourlis
July 27, 2017
Aspen has been the home of things of great value for a long time… beginning with silver. Today, one of the treasures in Aspen is the Aspen Institute. It was founded in 1950 to promote the “appreciation of open minded ideas and values, open dialogue and enlightened leadership.” One aspect of the Institute is the Justice and Society program, which focuses on issues related to the meaning of justice and how a just society ought to balance fundamental rights with public policy.
July 26, 2017
The 6th Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference is right around the corner! It has become ETL Conference tradition to kick off the first day with a series of Ignite presentations. Presenters have 6 minutes, 20 slides, and 18 seconds per slide to share their projects, successes, and innovative ideas with a room full of legal educators and employers. In past years, presenters—and attendees—have been mostly from Consortium Schools. This year, all registrants are welcome—and in that spirit, we are also inviting any registrant to give an Ignite presentation!
July 25, 2017
The legal industry is changing. In some courts, upwards of 80% of civil and family cases involve litigants who are navigating the court system without any form of legal assistance. Research has confirmed that the primary reason so many do not have the benefit of a lawyer is because of cost. The inability to afford an attorney is no longer an issue confined to low-income Americans. Increasingly, middle-class litigants are finding themselves priced out of legal services as well. In addition, even litigants who can afford an attorney may choose to opt for self-representation in order to maintain a certain level of control over their legal matters or to keep the costs of such services down.