In Brief

Vol. 42 No. 7

Quick looks at hot practice areas, a possible cost-saving trend in casebook usage, and maximizing the benefit of study groups.

Looking for a great practice area? You're getting warmer

Each year, many in the legal profession eagerly await a legal profession trend report from Bob Denney of Robert Denney Associates. If you're trying to figure out that type of law you'd like to practice, maybe you should take notice, too.

In a post called “2013 What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” at the blog attorneyatwork (http://attorneyatwork.com), Denney identifies the following practice areas as being “red hot”:

  • energy, in many parts of the United States and in some other countries;
  • regulatory, especially in health care, energy, and financial services; and
  • health care, particularly in light of the Affordable Care Act.

If you have another year or two to see how things develop, check out his list of areas that are “getting hot.” Two to watch: elder law and alternative dispute resolution.

No casebooks! One professor's experiment

The giant casebook with its equallly giant price tage is a fairly recent invention, says I. Richard Gershon, dean and professor at University of Mississippi School of Law. It used to be that cases were only available from case reporters at the law library—until publishers realized there was a big market potential.

For various reasons, Gershon decided to teach his first-semester Wills and Estates class without a casebook this year. But he didn’t go old school and send students back to the library—instead, he created and posted his own materials, including PowerPoints, on Westlaw.

In a post called “The evolving law school, part II: Can we stop using casebooks?” at Law Deans on Legal Education Blog(http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_deans), Gershon says this did take some extra effort, but he feels like it was worth it.

For his part, he was able to customize the materials and direct his students’ focus. And for students, the benefit was obvious.

“When you consider that a student will take approximately 20 classes in law school,” he writes, “and that casebooks cost around $200 each, doesn’t it make sense to move away from using casebooks for our classes?”

Making study groups work for you

Were you in any study groups your first semester? If so, how did that go?

If the results were not what you would have hoped—or if your group worked pretty well, but there’s still room for improvement—check out “Study groups: Make them work for you” at Law School Academic Support Blog (http://law professors.typepad.com/academic_support).

Here are just a few of the practical tips offered by Lisa Young, director of the bar studies program at Seattle University School of Law:

Think about your study goals and your expectations for the study groupbefore agreeing to work with others.

Establish a start time and an end time for your study group sessions. Time is of the essence and you do not want your study group to take over all of your free time.

Create an agenda that will help each member of the study group come to the meeting prepared. Knowing what to expect will help retain the focus of the group meeting and help everyone stay on task.

And in forming your next study group, she writes, don’t forget the ultimate goal of any such group. It’s great to have a “warm and fuzzy feeling” at the end of each session—but you should also be able to list the five things you learned.

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