Justices Scalia, Ginsburg Concur – Against 2-Year Law School

Last year, President Obama supported the idea of two-year law school programs.  This past May, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia railed against two-year law school programs (compared to the traditional three years). He argued that two years is not sufficient for training for the profession of law, but treats law school instead like a trade school.  

This week, liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seconded Scalia’s motion, using essentially the same language:  

Two years—it does reduce the respect, the notion that law is a learned profession. You should know a little about legal history, you should know about jurisprudence. [Two years] makes it more of a craft like the training you need to be a good plumber.

Not sure why she thought to make a crack against plumbers.  Time and US News and World Report say the average plumber makes about $50,000 per year – not much less than a local prosecutor or public interest lawyer. Moreover, Time notes that a good plumber in Cincinnati with seven years experience can make $100,000 or more.  

In any case this gives us a chance to mention the Notorious R.B.G. tumblr.  Just because we can.

Who are the Kurds? Ask the GeoPolitical Monitor

Thanks to Geopolitical Monitor for publishing this short intro to what’s going on in and around northern Iraq.

Whatever language you use – observers, air support, trainers – President Obama is sending the American military back to Iraq.

But the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is not like the rest of Iraq…. 

… With difficulty and irf-marmatti-300x203errors, but with determination, they have tried to build the foundations for a peaceful, prosperous, and even democratic society.  They have protected their own people, their minorities, and refugees.  After years of successfully attracting international investment, and even tourists, they now need the rest of the world more than ever.

More on Geopolitical Monitor

American Univ advises returning students about Ebola and a global university

As students return to their universities this month, and as many leave the bubble of high school for the first time, health officials are offering lessons about globalization and public health.  

American University explains that it has students from around the world and scholars that travel the world, including West Africa.  It offers a basic explanation that Ebola is difficult to transmit, and a link to the relevant CDC web page.

American University’s Associate Professor Susan Shepler spent this summer in Ebola-affected Sierra Leone and Liberia.  A scholar on youth and conflict, she offers some advice about Ebola.

What do students want?

With back-to-school timeliness, Slate posts an excerpt from the new book by William Deresiewicz, asking What do students want?  He concludes that they want a mommy and daddy.  Well, not exactly. More precisely, he offers that students “crave” mentorship, validation, and connection from “parental figures other than their parents.”  Elaborating:

…there are two things, above all, that students want from their pro­fessors. Not, as people commonly believe, to entertain them in class and hand out easy A’s. That’s what they retreat to, once they see that nothing better is on offer. What they really want is that their teach­ers challenge them and that they care about them. They don’t want fun and games; they want the real thing.   Continue reading “What do students want?”

Betamax or VHS: Getting the Internet of Things to Work Together

You know how your phone works on wifi, everywhere?  You don’t care what kind of wireless router Starbucks or the airport or your office has, or who their ISP is.  And those places don’t care if you have an iPhone or Android, or who your carrier is.  Imagine if you could only call other people that had an iPhone, or only people on Verizon?

WiFi works with everyone because of an 1997 agreement, or standard, called IEEE 802.11.  All the relevant parties agreed to make their stuff work with each other.  Now, as we move toward an Internet of Things, they will be many more players.  Will they lay nicely together?  IEEE Spectrum investigates.

Study Abroad and Do This

This week’s Washington Post Sunday magazine was an Education edition, and had several good pieces. One was a reflection on making the most of your semester studying abroad. It offered life lessons like learn the city, set goals, travel, keep a diary, live with a host family, learn the language.  All these are excellent suggestions.  But the author omits one more:  Work!  Yes, go to class and do your homework.  But more than that, find a job.  You may not have a visa that permits you to find paid employment.   And you may not speak the language.  No problem:  you find an internship.  You speak English, and so will many companies – American (or British) or not.  You can apply to intern in any of the U.S. government offices – embassy, consulate, etc.  NGOs, law firms, and many others will be interested as well.

Some universities’ study-abroad offices will help you with this – The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), for example, has programs in the Ireland and UK parliaments, and with aid organizations in El Salvador.

Yes, by all means, learn the language, travel as much as you can, go to class, meet people from all over, enjoy the nightlife – and get some professional experience.  It’s a global world – show your future employers you know and you are ready.

Tech and Ed: the Dark Side

Naturally: law grads who sat for the bar exam last week and experienced a “software glitch” – couldn’t upload their essays – have filed a class action suit.

In case you missed it,

“when takers attempted to upload their answers after the first day of the exam on July 29, many encountered a glitch that held up their answers for many hours. A number of jurisdictions extended their submission deadlines, but some test takers were left frustrated and rattled.”

If you don’t know the bar exam, imagine the SAT – except this exam after you finish law school determines whether after four years of college and three years of law school, you will be allowed to be a lawyer.  So any “distress” during the exam is not just inconvenient, it could influence how well you do on the rest of the exam.

Tech firms have to get some things right.  This is one.

Read more: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202665995950/Angry-Bar-Candidates-Sue-Over-Exam-Software-Problems#ixzz39e7KtraL

Raymond Burse and his personal $90,000 transfer to low paid employees

The news is full of kudos for the decision by Raymond Burse, President of Kentucky State University, to authorize the transfer of $90,000 from his salary to the salary of a couple of dozen of the lowest-paid employees at his university.  I add mine here.

There is much to applaud.  But the move is already larger than the small but real increase for a few custodians, groundskeepers, and clerical workers.  By reaching the audiences of the Washington Post, CBS News, Huffington Post, and international Sydney Morning Herald, and surely more to come, it elevates the debate about the minumium wage and the wealth gap in America.

Burse likely can live without the money – much would have gone to taxes, the remaining $260,000 per year will go pretty far in Frankfort, Kentucky, and this position builds on a career that included being a VP and general counsel at GE.   And Burse is not new to university administration: he was president of KSU for much of the 1980s.  More, he resigned from the Alabama A&M board of trustees in 2011, critical of the way he and others on the board were treated.

In a time when universities are struggling to balance their budgets, where tenured faculty are untouchable and students are paying ever-higher tuitions with ever-larger accumulations of debt, it is often lower-paid positions (staff, adjunct faculty, etc.) that have been cut.  The least interesting critics will complain that there’s still a 12-to-1 pay imbalance.  But for $90,000, President Burse makes a large contribution to his employees and to the larger discussion.

(More from Lillian Cunningham at the Washington Post)