In Brief

Vol. 40 No. 8

The paperless casebook, good news about legal jobs, adjunct professors.

The paperless casebook?

In case you missed it, Apple recently ventured into the e-textbook market and will release several high school textbooks for use on an iPad.

What does that have to do with law school? Nothing yet. But Dustin Benham, assistant professor of legal practice at Texas Tech University School of Law, believes law schools and the legal profession might see the effects of Apple’s business move within the next few years.

“If students are trained to read legal writing solely in electronic form,” Benham explains at the Legal Writing Prof Blog, “the transition to a paperless legal text environment will accelerate.”

That is, if Apple or another provider eventually makes e-textbooks available within the law school market, writes Benham, in a post called “E-casebooks on the horizon?”, then this might intensify the trend toward electronic legal research among lawyers.

Already, he says, much research is done via Westlaw, Lexis, and other such services, and traditional law libraries for firms and counties are shrinking or disappearing altogether. “The current reality, however, is one where students read paper casebooks,” he notes, adding that the paper casebook is “the last real bridge between the digital age student and reading in traditional print.”

If e-textbooks do end up replacing paper casebooks in law schools, Benham notes, something important may be lost. Law students who do their legal reading exclusively this way will be less likely to also browse traditional resources that can enhance their understanding, and that are still better in paper form than in electronic formats.

 

Good news about legal jobs, career services

Maybe you’ve followed some of the recent discussions regarding the recession’s impact on the legal job market.

If so, then an editorial at the National Law Journal might give you a much-needed jolt of encouragement. Some indicators—such as “noticeable increases in the number of employers on campus last fall”—are starting to look better, writes William A. Chamberlain, assistant dean for career strategy and advancement at Northwestern University School of Law.

There’s no denying that the market is still tough, and that law students—and the career services professionals who help them—now need to push harder than in years past and leave their comfort zone in order to find jobs, Chamberlain writes.

But the good news, he adds in his editorial called “Law schools are adapting to the shifting job market,” is that  law school career counselors are up to the challenge and “genuinely want to help their students find jobs”—and aren’t just motivated by the U.S. News & World Report rankings, despite what some cynics say.

If you haven’t visited your career services office lately, consider this your nudge.

 

Networking? Don’t ignore your adjunct professors

Looking for another job search tip? Here’s one from Randall Ryder at lawyerist.com: Network with your adjunct professors.

Ryder, himself an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, notes that practical skills classes are widely recommended as a way to prepare yourself to practice law, and that many of these classes are taught by adjunct professors.

When it comes to networking, he says, many law students overlook adjunct professors because they aren’t tenured. “That may be true,” Ryder notes, “but many adjuncts can actually be more helpful to a law student’s job search.”

Why? Adjunct professors typically practice law, whether in a big firm, a government position, their own practices, or some other setting that might appeal to you, too. Further, he explains, your adjunct professor might be part of an OCI hiring panel or a recruitment committee, or might have direct hiring responsibilities.

At a minimum, he or she can help you with your networking skills; after all, Ryder notes, it took some good networking for the lawyer to land an adjunct professor job.

Not sure how to approach your adjunct professor? Ryder breaks it down for you step by step in a post called “How law students can network with adjunct professors.”  

 

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