ABA wants more practical training in Law Schools

I saw this headline, ABA Urges Law Schools to Adopt More Practical Training for Students, on the American Bar Association Journal homepage and it hit home. As a fairly new attorney, close to three years practicing now, it is something I’ve thought about from time to time. Below, a key passage from the short story and then my thoughts on the matter:

“Many new lawyers come out of law school never having drafted a complaint; never having seen a contract; never having interacted with a client, much less an adverse witness,” said former New York State Bar Association President Stephen Younger. However, those same lawyers, in increasing numbers, are hanging their shingles as solo practitioners. “It is a real ticking time-bomb for our profession,” Younger said.

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MSU College of Law: Sued by an old dude!

I’ve been laughing at this news posting since last week. As a graduate of Michigan State University College of Law, it piqued my interest when I saw that MSU Law was the target of a lawsuit. I was hoping for something spectacular. Maybe a class-action lawsuit against my first year Criminal law professor Jack Apol, for recycling his lame jokes constantly. But, then I remembered that most classmates of mine, unfortunately, encouraged that debacle.

Instead, we get some dude in North Dakota, a former attorney general named Nicholas Spaeth, claiming that he was passed over in hiring based on age discrimination.

Spaeth, according to his complaint (PDF), applied to be considered for a teaching job at the school in October, responding to a posting on the Association of American Law Schools’ bulletin. During the group’s Faculty Recruitment Conference, he was not offered an interview slot.

He accuses the school of instead hiring three individuals who are younger and who he believes brought far less professional experience to the table.

The article goes on to say that Spaeth filed something like 100 complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 30 or 40 of the complaints have been dismissed, again according to the article, with the rest still pending.

The Law School responded with:

Ha. Get out of here.

And then responded by burning the complaint and doing the Dikembe Mutombo block-shot finger wave.

Oh, that’s not how they responded?

In a statement today, College of Law Dean Joan Howarth said the school had not received notice of the lawsuit.

“When or if one comes our way it will be a false accusation because we do not and have not discriminated on the basis of age,” she said.

A bit more boring than if I handled their P.R.

I kind of wish this Spaeth had a case, but, I strongly doubt he does. I mean, after all, if it was accurate that MSU Law was discriminating based on age, maybe I would have had a Torts professor first year that was young enough to read a clock and not keep talking for 20 minutes after class was supposed to end.

Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) – Vital for those between the age of 17 and 21

The last article that I wrote on this blog was about a program called “Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration” held at Lansing Community College. The program was designed to help community youths avoid a future of incarceration.

One thing that I wanted to use this blog to talk about based on that program was a program called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA, as it will be referred to in this article. HYTA is vital for those between the ages of 17 and 21 when it comes to the legal process. HYTA allows for the slate to essentially be wiped clean after the defendant completes the terms of their probation.

I do want to first say that this article is intended to just be a brief introduction to what is available with the HYTA process. Any defendant should speak at length with their attorney about their options, I want to raise some points today that hopefully will be helpful at looking at HYTA in a general way, as well as sharing my experiences with this deferral program.

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Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration

One Love Global hosted an Event this evening titled, “Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration.” The event was designed to allow Lansing, Michigan youths interact with the panel of five men currently incarcerated in a Michigan Prison.

The panel handled questions from the audience, a packed house at Lansing Community College’s DART Auditorium, on life in prison, anticipation of life outside of prison, how family members viewed them, the choices they made that led to their current position as well as myriad other topics. On hand to moderate was AJ Hilton of local FOX News.

One of the topics that came up several times throughout the course of the evening was the theme of asking those around you for help in terms of getting on the right track. One of the inmates mentioned that this notion goes against natural tendencies that many have.

As a criminal defense attorney, this idea of thought stuck with me quite a bit. When I think about the role of an attorney, helping a client better themselves is one that can sometimes be overlooked. An attorney gets the case, looks at the facts, finds the best way to proceed. Where I think an attorney can also help is in the role of a facilitator.

UPDATE: Link to an article on the event from the Lansing State Journal.

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