Thought For The Week: “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

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Opportunities in Public Defender Offices Throughout the Country

According to a study sponsored by ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense, state public defender systems are falling short of the requirements to demonstrate competent counsel. As a result, there are opportunities at many public defender offices around the country.

This can be very interesting work and fills an important need under the constitutional guarantees of right to counsel.

Check it out if you are interested. The story is here.

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Thought For The Week: “The beginning of wisdom is to do away with fear.” Yohannes Gebregeorgis

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“Shocking” News about Bar Exams

Bar exams are the bane of existence for most law school graduates who are required to pass those exams to practice in most places in the country. It is not just that bar exams are especially stressful and anxiety creating — because there is so much on the line. It is also because what the exams test is based on memorization of information, which may not be useful in future practice because a prudent lawyer should never rely on that information without additional and updated research. That is unless that lawyer is hankering for a meeting with his or her malpractice insurer.

Fortunately, after so many years of business-as-usual bar exams and so much criticism about the current way of testing competence for lawyers, the National Conference of Bar Examiners recently announced that pilot testing for the “Next Gen Bar Exam” will begin sometime in 2026.

Here is how the new version is described:

The revamped test won’t include questions on family law; estates and trusts, the Uniform Commercial Code; and conflict of laws. It will test aspiring attorneys in seven skills areas, including client counseling and advising; client relationships and management; legal research; legal writing; and negotiations. …

The new exam might provide test takers with foundational material about a deal and then ask them to identify the points they would stress during a negotiation, said exam redesign volunteer Deborah Jones Merritt at Thursday’s meeting. Or it could provide a transcript of a client counseling session and ask examinees to assess the lawyer’s performance, she said.

The new exam will also better balance litigation and transactional skills and recognize that lawyers often use reference materials rather than rely on memorized doctrinal law….

 How refreshing. However, as always, the devil is in the details.

Read more about it here.

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Thought For The Week: “If one has no sense of humor, one is in trouble.” Betty White

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Thought For The Week: “The only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough.” Ted Hughes, poet

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Another Giant Among Lawyers Falls

If you do not know who Lani Guinier was, please read this article from the Washington Post. Or Google her. We lost a giant in the field of law earlier this week.

You will find that she was a leader in the field of civil rights in our country, particularly voting rights. She was a staunch advocate for both at the USDOJ and before that at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She was educated at elite schools, and she taught at them as well. She was a presidential nominee to head the USDOJ Civil Rights Division, but her nomination fell victim to partisan politics.

She was ahead of her time on her recognition of the seriousness of issues related to access to the ballot — issues that we are only just tackling in this country today. No matter your political persuasion, make yourself familiar with her legacy. To be a lawyer is to understand how the legal climate of the past informs the future.

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The Billable Hour — The Bane of Our Existence Lives On

For years I have heard predictions about the “end of the billable hour.” One fellow law consultant even predicted it in her book Law and Reorder years ago. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now. And neither do others.

Here is an excerpt from an Above The Law post article addresses this issue. As you will read, don’t count on the end of the billable hour. But keep pushing for other measures of competency and value that will help level the playing field for women in our profession. This MUST happen or we will lose far too much talent, and it will weaken or profession.


The Billable Hour Is Dead. Long Live The Billable Hour. 

This isn’t a new problem. 

By KATHRYN RUBINO onJanuary 5, 2022 at 5:17 PM

Time is money billable hours

The billable hour has been the bane of attorneys’ existence for a long time. Even when I entered the industry 20 years ago, the billable hour was ‘dead.’ Well, it’s not dead. It’s always the way firms are going to make their money.

— Michelle Fivel, a partner at Major, Lindsey & Africa who worked at multiple Biglaw firms before becoming a recruiter, tells the industry’s reckoning with the billable hour is a long time coming. Fivel also noted the impact this dependency has on equality, “You’re only as good as the number of hours you’ve billed. That ties people to the profession in ways where men have more than women. I’d like to see the playing field leveled for women. I just don’t think it is. And I suspect that as long as the billable hour is king, it’ll always be unlevel.”

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