A prequisite for pro bono?

Lawyers across the country have been talking about New York’s new mandate requiring those seeking to join the bar to complete 50 hours of pro bono work.

New York will be the first state to institute such a requirement, which will take effect starting next year. New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the requirement May 1.

Since then, lawyers have been discussing the pros and cons of the rule. Some say it won’t do anything to help needy clients and unnecessarily burden incoming lawyers. Others contend it will turn new lawyers on to pro bono service.

Bloomberg BNA asked lawyers around the country what they think.

Ben Trachtenberg, professor at the University of Missouri School of Law: “While I completely appreciate the motive behind Chief Judge Lippman’s plan, and there’s a tremendous access to justice problem, I don’t think this is a particularly effective or fair way to solve the problem.”

Michael Millemann, professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law: Chief Judge Lippman’s decision to require 50 hours of pro bono service for admission to the bar is a good step in the right direction.”

Robert N. Weiner, partner, Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.: “The issue is whether there will be enough resources to ensure that the people doing the pro bono are getting supervised, and getting to represent the right clients, and actually serving their clients The existing infrastructure will need to be supplemented dramatically to have the capacity to accommodate all this pro bono service.”

Questions remain about the implementation and organization of the requirement (some lawyers even want to extend the rule to existing lawyers) and the New York State Bar Association has created a task force to address the issue. What impact New York’s move will have on other states also remains to be seen.

Do you think Maryland should make pro bono work a prerequisite for admission to the bar?

Ivy League shake-up in the law school rankings

Some Ivy Leaguers may have their crimson shorts in a twist after U.S. News & World Report’s release of its 2013 Best Law Schools rankings.

Yale Law School once again tops the list, but Stanford Law School moves into the No. 2 spot, over East coast incumbent, Harvard Law School. The Cardinal have topped the Crimson.

Harvard has held its second place position since 2007, though it tied with Stanford in 2009.

Columbia Law School in New York followed by University of Chicago Law School round out the top five on the list.

The University of Maryland School of Law climbed up the rankings, coming in at No. 39, a jump from its No. 42 position last year. The year before, it rose from No. 48 to No. 42.

Maryland is tied, however, tied at the No. 39 spot with three others—Brigham Young University Law School, George Mason University School of Law and Ohio State University College of Law.

For specialties, Maryland ranked No. 3 for healthcare law and No. 5 in clinical training.

The University of Baltimore School of Law ranked No. 113. It was tied with Quinnipiac University School of Law in Connecticut, Gonzaga University School of Law in Washington, Florida International University College of Law, Albany Law School and CUNY School of Law in New York.

UM Law seeks attorney judges

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law needs attorney judges as it will once again host the Eastern Regional Mock Trial tournament.

Next weekend’s tournament is for undergraduate trial teams (meaning witnesses can score points) and has two rounds of competition each day. Judges’ meetings will begin at 9 a.m. for morning rounds and 1:30 p.m. for the afternoon rounds, with the trials beginning a half-hour after the meeting and lasting up to two-and-a-half hours.

“Judging undergraduate mock trial is a blast,” said Mark A. Graber, an associate dean and director of the mock trial in a statement. “You will see several of the top teams in the nation – including Johns Hopkins, American, Howard, Georgetown, and George Washington. You get to be the judge. And you really help our students.”

Judging is on a pro bono basis, but food and coffee is provided.

Interested lawyers can email Graber for more information.

Sotomayor to speak at UM Law

Registration is reportedly full for today”s University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law School convocation featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

But never fear: Daily Record reporter Andy Marso (that would be me), will be live-tweeting the event. Follow me, @andymarso, or catch my re-tweets from@mddailyrecord.

Sotomayor became the first Hispanic justice in 2009 and the third woman to sit on the top court. She’s also the first Supreme Court justice to visit UM law since Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2002.

Law blog roundup: Can belly dancing reduce alimony?

Greetings on this hot, humid Monday. Cool off with the latest law links:

  • Today brings the announcement that the W.P. Carey Foundation will donate $30 million to the University of Maryland School of Law. The new name — the Francis King Carey School of Law –  will honor Carey’s grandfather, an 1880 graduate of the school.
  • DLA Piper lands #2 spot on the National Law Journal’s list of the largest 250 law firms.
  • “That safe was so full, you couldn’t put another dollar in it.”
  • Beware: Belly dancing could reduce alimony.
  • Filing motions to enforce settlements could be in vogue soon.
  • Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester responds to the Washington Post’s ‘Spillionaires‘ story.

SALT shakes award at Haddon

University of Maryland law school Dean Phoebe Haddon was in San Francisco last week to receive the Society of American Law Teachers’ Great Teacher Award. Haddon was honored at a dinner Friday night.

Haddon is a longtime SALT member and served as co-president from 1997-1999.

“It’s a tremendous organization. I’m proud to be a part of it,” she said last week from the Bay Area. “It certainly helped develop me as a law professor and taught me to be a better teacher.”

The award cites in part Haddon’s role in protecting the law school’s environmental law clinic during the General Assembly’s session last year, a controversy sparked by the clinic’s representation of environmentalists suing Perdue Farms and family farmers.

The SALT meeting coincides with the annual meeting of The Association of American Law Schools, which meant Haddon was doing a lot of schmoozing when she wasn’t attending programs.

“I spend a lot of my time at this type of meeting talking to alums in the area,” she said.

Tuition holds the line at UM Law

It seems students at the University of Maryland School of Law have already gotten a great present this holiday season: no tuition increase next year. This despite other schools within the University of Maryland, Baltimore seeing an average tuition increase of 4 percent for the 2011-2012 year.

UPDATE 12/17/10: A UMB spokesman reminded me that a tuition freeze does not happen just because the law school announces it. Tuition rates have to be approved by the Board of Regents, a vote that follows the General Assembly’s approval of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget.

In a memo to all UMB students about tuition and fees, published yesterday at Above the Law, President Jay Perman said the one-year freeze at the law schools was made “due to unique and striking changes in the economic environment for the legal profession.”

Law school Dean Phoebe Haddon, in a subsequent memo to law students also in ATL, elaborated:

Holding tuition at the current level in the upcoming academic year has been a top priority for me. The impact of the economic downturn on the legal employment market, combined with the large amount of debt many of you carry, has caused the faculty and administrators of the Law School great concern. Relative to the other professions, the legal sector has been especially hard hit, with tens of thousands of law jobs lost. Many of us also believe that this downturn is resulting in a fundamental restructuring of law practice that will require careful financial planning for all of us going forward.

Haddon added that the law school will make-up its shortfall to UMB by dipping into its short-term savings.

“I have been actively meeting with supportive alumni, friends and foundations seeking financial support so that the fund balance will be replenished,” Haddon wrote.

Calling UM Law alumni: Does the tuition freeze make you more likely to donate to your alma mater? Less likely? Or does it not affect your decision at all?

“Juan” interesting keynote speaker

Tonight I’ll be attending Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service’s pro bono recognition reception at the University of Maryland School of Law. The event will honor lawyers and law firms for their pro bono service, including three lawyers who have taken at least one case a year from MVLS for the last 10 years.

Oh, and the keynote speaker is Juan Williams. Yes, that Juan Williams. It should be noted Williams was scheduled to speak at the MVLS event way before the whole NPR kerfuffle, and he is still going to talk about volunteerism. Whether he will address his own situation is not known; I’ve been told there is going to be no formal Q&A session, and it’s possible he won’t be taking  questions at all.

But that will not stop me from Tweeting live from Westminster Hall tonight. You can follow me here. I’ll have a full report of the event tomorrow.

Anything you’d like me to ask Mr. Williams?

Hungry for change… and a job

The ABA’s Special Committee on the U.S. News and World Report Rankings issued its findings last month. The committee, which included University of Maryland School of Law Dean Phoebe Haddon, stated the following:

We believe that, for better or worse, U.S. News rankings will continue for the foreseeable future to dominate public perceptions of how law schools compare, and that there is relatively little that leaders in legal education can do to change that in the short term.

A 2009 law school graduate named “Ethan Haines” (more on the quotation marks in a bit) disagrees. Haines is the founder of unemployedjd.com and says he represents fellow graduates and law school students “who have been disillusioned by law school employment statistics, commercial school rankings, and antiquated career counseling programs.”

Continue reading

Nice guys can finish first

Jay Perman, the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s new president, has no problem being known as a nice guy. His annual commencement speech while dean at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine was even about the importance of doctors being nice to patients.

But Perman told reporters and editors at The Daily Record last week that what surprises him are people who view nice as a liability. He recalled early in his career a colleague at the University of California, San Francisco, said Perman “would never make it” because of his niceness.

“So ha-ha,” Perman said dryly. “I’m here to say that’s not true.”

Perman describes himself as nice by nature but also in a pragmatic way.

“When you’re nice, it becomes that much easier to demand of those who are not nice that they shape up or get out,” he said. “That’s why it’s been so effective for me.”

That Perman is a pediatrician has also helped him as an administrator. (You can insert your own joke here about what caring for children and overseeing a faculty have in common.)

“I think if there’s a case for a leader being nice, that sort of self-selection goes into choosing pediatrics,” he said. ‘There are no harsher critics of nasty adults than children. They will not have it.”