Workers’ Compensation (TX): Helping Injured Workers Fight Insurance Companies

February 7th, 2016 / By

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corp.

If you hurt someone, a court may require you to pay their medical expenses and for their pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation insurance changes this process for employers and employees. An employee loses their right to sue their employer for negligence in exchange for an insurance plan that pays for the employee’s medical expenses and wage replacement when they’re hurt on the job. Workers’ compensation attorneys help employees navigate the administrative process and fight insurance companies over the insurance payouts.

In this episode, Royce Bicklein, a 1998 graduate of St. Mary University’s School of Law, discusses his firm’s practice and what’s involved in proving where an injury occurred and what’s to blame for the extent of an injury. Unlike almost every other state, Texas employers choose to opt in to the workers’ compensation process. As such, Royce’s firm handles workers’ compensation and traditional personal injury. Who helps a client  depends on whether the client’s employer opted in to the system or not.

This episode is hosted by Derek Tokaz, an academic writing teacher at American University. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Education and Employment

February 6th, 2016 / By

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is once again considering amendments to Standards 304 and 305 in order to permit externship credit for paid work. As I have written before, I support that change. When granting academic credit, the quality of the experience counts–not whether the student was paid for the work.

I have heard about unpaid externships that offered very little educational content. Conversely, I know of terrific externship placements (with both nonprofit and for-profit employers) that required students to choose between academic credit and pay under our current rules. I see no clear line between pay and educational value. Nor does a black letter rule seem appropriate for a learned profession: Surely ethical educators can determine which externships deserve academic credit.

The debate, meanwhile, raises a more troubling issue. If education and paid employment are incompatible, as some comments on the ABA proposal suggest, then we have lost an essential element of our professionalism. It’s possible that we have lost that element, but I think it’s worth reflecting on the issue.

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ABA House to Vote on Uniform Bar Exam

February 2nd, 2016 / By

Originally published on Above the Law.

Non-lawyers are encroaching on legal services traditionally offered by lawyers. Technology is changing how lawyers and clients think about value. Law schools have created a mismatch between the number of graduates and entry-level legal jobs. Throughout it all, regulators across the country are actively grappling (and griping) about how best to address these extraordinary circumstances.

While proposed actions or inactions cause sharp disagreements around the country about how to move the profession forward in the 21st century, one common-sense action shouldn’t: adopting the Uniform Bar Exam. Next Monday, the ABA’s House of Delegates will consider a resolution from the ABA’s Law Student Division that calls for all jurisdictions to adopt this portable exam. The House should support this measure, and all jurisdictions should adopt the UBE as quickly as possible.
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10K 1L Scholarship For One Lucky Student

February 1st, 2016 / By

For any readers out there who will begin law school this year — or who know someone else who will — I encourage you to check out a $10,000 scholarship contest. You can apply until April 15th, after which 20 finalists will be selected. One winner will be determined by votes via social media and will be announced on June 10th. The $10,000 will be paid directly to the student’s law school.

Law school is expensive and this will make law school slightly more affordable for someone. Scholarship application details can be found here.

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Harvard Transfers Don’t Spell Financial Trouble, But Several Law Schools’ Bond Ratings Do

January 29th, 2016 / By

This article was originally posted on Bloomberg.

Is the law school crisis affecting Harvard? Probably not. The school did choose to take 55 transfer students last year, the fourth largest transfer class in the country. In the prior four years the school took between 30 and 34 transfers each year. Its higher than usual acceptance of transfers has fueled speculation that it was compensating for an original applicant pool that wasn’t strong enough. Whether that’s so or not, several indicators that may show a school faces financial duress have each remained steady at HLS between 2011 and 2015.

  • First-year enrollment: enrollment ranged from 555 to 568 over the last five years. Applications were down 18 percent and yield declined from 66 percent to 60 percent, which indicates that several peer schools are making more competitive offers. Still, the school netted just one fewer first-year student this year compared to last and three more than in 2011.
  • Admissions credentials: the median LSAT score did not change from 173 (99th percentile) and the median undergraduate GPA declined just .03 from 3.89 to 3.86.
  • Tuition increased an average of 4.6 percent each year. Scholarship increases did not keep pace with tuition increases, indicating that the school took in more money each subsequent year.
  • There’s no talk about trouble with Harvard’s endowment, or any indication that Harvard Law has liquidity issues.

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How Student Loan Refinancing Could Undo Federal Loan Policy

January 26th, 2016 / By

Originally published on Above the Law.

If you’re a law school graduate with a ton of debt, there are a few companies that really want to talk to you — if you went to the right school and have the right job.

The deal works like this. The bank or non-bank lender pays the federal government the balance of your loan and you pay the new lender instead. In exchange, the private lender charges you a much lower interest rate. Rather than a rate north of 7%, you receive a rate as low as 2.5%.
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2016 State of the Legal Market

January 24th, 2016 / By

Georgetown Law’s Center for the Study of the Legal Profession has released its 2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market. The data-driven study of mid-sized and large law firms repeats many of the same findings that researchers have reported since the Great Recession. The news, unfortunately, is that there is nothing new. In 2015, as in other recent years, demand for law firm services “was essentially flat,” productivity among lawyers at those firms declined, and realization rates “plummeted.” (A realization rate “is the percentage of standard billing rates that is actually collected.”)

In sum, “2015 will go down as another overall lackluster year in terms of law firm financial performance.” Yikes. What does that mean for law schools? (more…)

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Arizona Summit Does Still Have Conditional Scholarships

January 22nd, 2016 / By

On December 16th, I wrote a column for Above the Law on the ABA’s annual data dump. In it I highlighted nine schools that “reportedly” eliminated conditional scholarship programs. I used the quoted caveat in my column because I was skeptical that a few of these schools had actually eliminated the program.

One school I contacted was Arizona Summit. The school previously operated a very large conditional scholarship program and had a substantial percentage of students who lost these scholarships after the first year. It would have been a substantial budgetary hit to change the program at Arizona Summit in particular. However, the school’s 509 report indicated that it had. (more…)

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Experiential Education and Bar Passage

January 22nd, 2016 / By

Robert Kuehn has written an excellent post about clinical courses and bar passage. He notes that Erica Moeser, President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, suggested in print that declining bar passage rates might stem in part from the rise of experiential learning in law schools. NCBE’s Director of Testing and Research has made the same claim, noting that: “There has also been a trend toward incorporating non-core courses and clinical experiences into the law school curriculum. These, too, can take students’ time away from learning the core concepts that are tested on the bar examination.”

When Kuehn contacted Moeser to ask if she knew about any empirical research supporting this purported connection, she admitted that she knew of none. Nor did her testing staff. (more…)

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An Influential Person

January 21st, 2016 / By

I’m proud to announce that my co-moderator, Kyle McEntee, has been named to the National Jurist‘s list of the twenty-five most influential people in legal education. Kyle has appeared on the list every year since the list debuted in 2012. He also remains the only person ever named to the list without holding a position as dean or professor at a law school. That’s quite a run!

Congratulations to Kyle, along with the others named to this list.

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About Law School Cafe

Cafe Manager & Co-Moderator
Deborah J. Merritt

Cafe Designer & Co-Moderator
Kyle McEntee

ABA Journal Blawg 100 HonoreeLaw School Cafe is a resource for anyone interested in changes in legal education and the legal profession.

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