Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Friday, November 18, 2005

Discriminatory Recruitment

Tortious has provided some thoughtful commentary on the job/scholarship that has been discussed in previous posts:

I would just like to clarify that my original "beef" was the inconsistency with which the UM Law administration applies its policies. I would not ban the firm from campus, nor would I ban the military. I wouldn't ban anyone. The policy is simply a bad one.

How odd it is that they teach us the importance of proper representation of all clients, regardless of their political views or the crime they have comitted. Why shouldn't the KKK, ACLU, ADL, Nazis, Commies, or whoever else wants to recruit be allowed to do so? I certainly don't need Dean Lynch to babysit me with regards to my employment choices. Consider that many of us may go on to criminal work, and find ourselves defending child molestors and embezzling CEOs. They deserve representation too. But a Marine charged with disorderly conduct resulting from a bar fight doesn't deserve a UM Law student representing him? He doesn't deserve one of us helping him to prepare a will before he ships off to Iraq? Phooey.

The military isn't the KKK or the Nazi party. Their reasons for descriminating are not out of animus towards particular groups, rather for practical needs of defending the nation. Even assuming, arguendo, their policies to be unwise, they are rational. The law firm in question has a rational reason for discriminating as well.

So why the double standard? Let them all come.

PAD and other UM Outline Nonsense

In the preamble to the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Responsiblility:

As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education. In addition, a lawyer should further the public's understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority. A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.

I don't know what PAD charges for its outlines (the email we all received today is silent on price) and whether or not their outline bank is profitable. But it seems to me that charging anything more than a nominal fee for archiving outlines is not keeping within the spirit of a lawyer's ethical obligations. Other law schools have online outline banks (Harvard's being one of the best and open to the public) and charge no fees. I have noted in the past my distaste for organizations that horde outlines, and how doing so ought to be a violation of the honor code. (and here) Outlines should be a way of enhancing the sense of community among UM Law students, not as a way of profiting off of nervous 1L's or of protecting the ranked elites.

Although I personally do not create outlines, I freely share the ones I find with classmates. I do not accept outlines from others if they insist I share it with no one else.

Law school is competitive, and I suppose the moral code I propose should leave some room for the maker of an outline to keep it private up until the point he finishes a course. After that, he ought to give it away freely with no restrictions so that for better or worse he adds to the advancement of the legal profession. Under no circumstances should an organization, particularly the law reviews, exclude non-members from their outline banks.

To my knowledge, professors who write law review articles do not pay to get them published ("payola") and the law reviews certainly don't pay for contributed articles. So why don't law students hold themselves to similar ideals of intellectual community? Perhaps the more opportunist among us can answer this.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Outrageous Discriminatory Recruitment II

I recently discussed what I perceived as a discriminatory hiring practice nonetheless endorsed by the UM Law administration. Essentially, a law firm is taking applications for a paid clerkship, the winner also receiving a monetary scholarship (a.k.a. signing bonus). Applicants are limited by race, and whites need not apply.

Apparently other schools are in the DOJ's cross-hairs for very similar scholarship/work-study discrimination. As I commented on a collegue's blog posting, these types of scholarship/employment practices may run afoul of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The most outragous aspect of this controversy is the fact that UM Law only grudgingly allows the military JAG corps to recruit on campus, disclaiming support for their "discriminatory" practice. Apparently it does not matter to the administration that the military's hiring practices have been deemed legal. The majority of Americans support the military's policies regarding women in combat roles and the "don't ask don't tell" policy with regards to sexual orientation. But a firm that denies opportunities to students based on race is welcomed on campus with open arms. What's next for UM Law...a minority-only or gay-only law review?

I wonder how the "winners" of these scholarships/internships in question must feel, knowing that but for naked racial discrimination, a more qualified candidate might have won instead.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Outline Time? Read this First

Many law students (including 2L's and 3L's) assume they must create an outline to do well in a class. This is not so. Some will benefit from doing so, others are wasting valuable time.

It is always important to know who your advice is coming from. I would prefer not to reveal too much about my own exam performance, but I have booked more than 2 courses and have the GPA to take advantage of any opportunity not otherwise closed to UM Law students.

I strongly recommend the use of commercial outlines and finding free outlines off the Internet. I have never created my own outline. At most, I have cut and pasted together portions of several outlines. I do not take notes in class.

By taking this approach, I can immediately start studying for exams without wasting enormous time by composing one. I find that commercial outlines help to structure and organize the material in ways the professor usually fails to, and ensures that I will be aware of blackletter law that the professor assumed the students to know on their own. They also expose me to arguments and lines of cases the professor did not cover, but I can use those arguments nonetheless on the exam.

All of the arguments against canned outlines lack merit. I have heard many from my collegues over the years. "Errors": A nice theory, but in practice I have never experienced that problem i.e. all of the outlines I have used correctly stated the law. On the contrary, I have seen errors in the outlines my collegues composed themselves. "But prof has a unique spin": Again, a nice theory but in the end most profs end up testing the law of the topic generally, not their own interests they highlighted in lecture. "I won't remember as well": Exams are not about memorization, they are about understanding. True, you will have the benefit of the physical act of typing to help you remember what you wrote. That advantage is nullfied by the fact that in October I already have my outlines and will have read and re-read them 20 times by the time you finish your outline in late November. I also usually have time to reread the entire casebook, an invaluable excercise if time allows.

As far as exam writing goes, I strongly recommend the treatise available from The web site is cheezy, but the materials themselves are excellent. Also, practice using the Examples & Explanations series is essential.

To 1Ls: Of course there are students who do well by creating their own outlines. To the 1L's who are not quite sure what to do just yet, I would recommend they use a commercial outline to supplement any they create on their own. Next semester you can decide if going naked is the best thing for you. I know many 3L's who started getting A's after their 1L year C's and D's. They made the mistake of ignoring commercial outlines and treatises. Keep in mind, many of your 2L and 3L profs will make commercial outlines and treatises (like Examples & Explanations) required or recommended reading. While I still have mixed thoughts about Book Horizons, today is the day to march over there and ask them for help. Remember, next semester you can resell any study aids on ebay or and recoup your investment. I remember the high and mighty 1L cliques that considered canned outlines the equivalent of playing with a corked bat. C's have a way of humbling those folks.

To 2 & 3Ls: If you get stuck on a particular topic, get on Westlaw or Lexis and look for law review articles or treatises (PLI, ALI or Practice guides) that cover the topic. The easiest way is to put in the relevant cases and look at the citing references that explain the case implications. The briefing tools offered by Westlaw & Lexis are excellent for extracting the black letter law you need to know. Copy and paste into your outline, you're good to go.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Outrageous Discriminatory Recruitment

As UM Law students know, when the US military JAG corps attempts to recruit on campus, emails begin by announcing their presence with a disclaimer:

Notice Re Military Discrimination and

Law School Nondiscrimination Policy

It is the policy of the University of Miami School of Law not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or sexual orientation in its education programs, admissions policies, employment policies and other school administered programs and to refuse access to employers who refuse to sign nondiscrimination statements and/or who otherwise discriminate in violation of the nondiscrimination policy. By statute, the United States Armed Services discriminate by gender by refusing to employ women for certain positions. In addition, by statute, the United States Armed Services will not employ for any position those whom it deems to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. Because of the conflict between these policies, in the past the University of Miami School of Law has refused access to recruiters from the U.S. Armed Services.

Recently, the U.S. government has decided to cut off federal work-study funds and certain loans to educational institutions, which deny access to the Armed Services. Because of the government's threat to this important source of student financial aid, the University of Miami School of Law has reluctantly decided to allow access to military recruiters. This step is being taken solely to ensure our students access to federal financial aid and in no way represents approval of the Armed Services policy or a withdrawal from our firm commitment to our non-discrimination policy. Anyone with information that any other employer discriminates should contact the office of the Dean of the Law School.

Dennis O. Lynch

September 20, 1999

So imagine my surprise when a recent Career Planning Center update email notified students of the following scholarship opportunity:

Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP Diversity Scholarship (1L)

Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP is committed to diversity in the legal profession, and to continue its ongoing efforts to increase the diversity of the attorneys recruited, hired, retained and promoted to Shareholder status at the firm. To assist BDB with its recruitment of minority attorneys, in 2005 we established the Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP Diversity Scholarship Program. During 2006, the inaugural year of the scholarship, we will award $5,000 to help defray the education expenses of one first year student. In 2005, first year students from the following law schools are eligible to apply: Capital University Law School; Case Western Reserve University School of Law; Cleveland-Marshall College of Law; The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; the University of Akron School of Law; and the University of Miami School of Law. The scholarship will include a paid clerkship position in the summer following the first year of law school in one of BDB’s offices.

First year minority law students of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native-American descent are eligible to apply. The scholarship will be awarded to the candidate who best meets the following criteria: Demonstrated Leadership Skills; Commitment to Excellence; Service to the Community; and Academic Excellence.

Interested students must submit the following items with a completed application: A current academic transcript (if not available at time of application must be submitted when received); A college transcript; A current resume; A written essay up to a 1,000 words on the following topic: What distinguishes you from your peers? Please include in your essay a discussion of the life influences that have contributed to the person you are today. Essays must be type-written, single-spaced, in Times New Roman 12 font format.

Completed application materials should be submitted to: Tami Whiteleather; Legal Personnel Coordinator; Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP; 50 S. Main Street; Akron, Ohio 44309.

Applications must be received by January 10, 2006. Students considered for the scholarship award will be requested to interview with firm attorneys. Those selected for an interview will be notified by January 25, 2006.

Yes, that's right...WHITE PEOPLE NEED NOT APPLY FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP. So why is BDP allowed access when their scholarship/recruitment program blatantly discriminates by race?

In light of the stated policy, allowing this sort of opportunity access to the students is extremely difficult to defend. Whether or not such a scholarship/recruitment practice is legal is hardly relevant, because the military's policies have been deemed legal and yet remain condemned by the UM Law administration. Thus by UM's standards (where race, gender, or sexual orientation is the deciding employment factor), this scholarship/clerkship is just "wrong" and ought to be banned or disclaimed in the same manner the military recruitment efforts are.

However: I am not a lawyer, and what I'm about to say should not be taken as legal advice. But if this scholarship/recruitment were a hypo on an exam, I would likely conclude that such an employment practice is illegal. It might be legal under some sort of affirmative action plan, but there aren't enough facts here to know if an affirmative action plan can be sustained.

I for one find the scholarship/clerkship offensive, even if it is legal. Minority students at UM Law are perfectly capable of competing for employment in the legal field without handouts and preferences.