Patent Humor: A Method of Tilting A Head to Indicate Confusion

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See above for illustration accompanying an issued patent for A Method of Tilting A Head to Indicate Confusion.

This method is routinely employed and likely infringed by most law students when first confronted with Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a) and 19(b) regarding Joinder of Required Parties, as amply illustrated by the appropriately numbered illustrations above.

Note for example the bugged-out eyes and pupil dilation occurring upon exposure to Rule 19(a) governing necessary and feasible persons to be joined, which leads to an almost canine-like confused tilt of the head upon turning to Rule 19(b), which determines whether the court should dismiss the civil action for non-joinder.

Be warned: it should be noted that the patent’s claims are not limited to law students, or for that matter, humans. It is unlikely, of course, that family members or house pets would be willing to endure explanations of Rule 19; nonetheless, the patent’s claims are sufficiently broad to include grandparents and German Shepherds.

Um, just kidding. Nobody would ever file such an absurd patent.

Graphic via Context-Free Patent Art. Cross-posted to Infoglut Tumblr.

Secondary education and hyper-competitiveness: Succeed or “No Harvard for you!”

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A great and provocative quote about education by Daniel Coffeen (via quotecatalog), and brought to my attention by @marcyljordan:

High school, it seems, has changed. It has become competitive. Young men and women — 13 to 18 years old — must work more or less tirelessly to ensure their spot at a college deemed worthy to them and their families. So rather than living their adolescent lives — lives brimming with desires and vitality, with vim, vigor, and brewing lust — these kids are working at old age homes, cramming for tests, popping Adderall just to make the literal and proverbial grade.

And for what? So they can go to a school that puts them in debt for the rest of their lives. School has become a great vehicle of capitalism: it quashes the revolution implicit in adolescence while simultaneously fomenting perpetual indebtedness.

My response: I don’t remember me or my contemporaries stressing about grades in high school like kids do today. I cannot remember this topic ever coming up in high school, and I went to one of the best public high schools in the state. I received an excellent education, taking honors and AP classes.

And to be honest, even today, not all high-school students are competitive over grades: just ask any high-school teacher. But I think there are lots of good reasons why kids at the higher levels–such as honors programs and AP classes–are significantly more stressed-out today than they were in the 1970s and 1980s:

  1. The economy and job market sucks, making it all the more important for students to create an impressive resume. That means a good college, which requires good high-school grades. 
  2. Standardized testing has created a sickening outcomes-oriented culture, where the only thing that matters is the score. Education as a value-in-itself is a laughable concept to most of today’s students. I see this every day in law-school students and it breaks my heart.
  3. High school grades appear to be inflated today due to high-school administrators who want to get kids through, parents who push for higher grades when undeserved, and students who feel entitled to get all As “because they need them to get into a good school.” And of course, also to blame are some teachers who are slowly captured by the pressures from administrators, parents, and students to grant undeservedly high grades. Because grades are inflated near the top, a good grade has less meaning. Thus, any grade lower than an A can have an absurdly disproportionate impact on a student’s college application.

As the photo suggests, “No Harvard for you!”

Cross-posted to Infoglut Tumblr.

Intellectual Property Scholars Conference in beautiful Chicago

A week ago, I got to catch up with old friends and make new ones at the Intellectual Property Scholars Conference. This year it was held in Chicago at Depaul. The program was jam-packed with interesting presentations, and I also got the opportunity to sneak in a few slices of delicious Giordano’s pizza.

Chicago is a beautiful town.

South Michigan Avenue at night
Crown Fountain
Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park

It wasn’t all play. My presentation focused on my ongoing Cyberskills project, which uses live, online role-playing simulations to teach law. I presented portions of two papers, the abstracts for which are provided below:

Best Practices for the Law of the Horse:
Teaching Cyberlaw (and Law) with Online Role-Playing Simulations

Judge Frank Easterbrook once mocked Cyberlaw as “the law of the horse,” a subject lacking in cohesion and therefore unworthy of inclusion in the law school curriculum. This Article responds squarely to Easterbrook’s challenge and concludes that Cyberlaw is a course that can be taught particularly well in law schools when learning occurs through live, online role-playing imulations. These techniques have been successfully used by the author for the past three years, casting students as lawyers in realistic simulations that unfold on the live internet. Unlike other Articles responding to Easterbrook, this Article bypasses a doctrinal or theoretical approach, avoiding (for now) the longstanding debate between Cyberlaw exceptionalists and unexceptionalists. Because Easterbrook’s attack is ultimately educationally rooted, the Article takes a pedagogical approach, concluding that Cyberlaw presents a unique opportunity for holistic and experiential legal education that combines doctrine, theory, skills, and values in a highly engaging manner. Accordingly, in light of the recent studies Best Practices in Legal Education and the Carnegie Report, the Article explains how the author came to develop such a course and outlines how such a course might be structured. The Article concludes with a response to Easterbrook’s existential (“surface”) and normative (“illumination”) attacks on Cyberlaw, concluding that both are without merit.

Navigating the Uncharted Waters of Teaching Law
with Online Simulations

The internet is more than a place where the Millennial Generation communicates, plays, and shops. It’s also a medium that raises issues central to nearly every existing field of legal doctrine, whether basic (such as torts, property, or contracts) or advanced (such as Intellectual Property, Criminal Procedure, or Securities Regulation). This creates tremendous opportunities for legal educators interested in using the live internet for experiential education. This Article examines how live websites can be used to create engaging and holistic simulations that tie together doctrine, theory, skills, and values in ways impossible to achieve with the case method. In this Article, the author discusses observations stemming from his experiences teaching law courses using live, online roleplaying simulations that cast students in the role of attorneys. The Article concludes that such simulations have significant benefits for law students, and surprisingly, can also benefit scholars who use simulations proactively to deepen the synergies between their teaching and scholarship. However, the resources required for simulations may also exacerbate long-standing systemic tensions in legal education, particularly regarding institutional resources as well as the sometimes conflicting roles of faculty as teacherscholars. Because the American Bar Association will almost certainly, and appropriately, require law schools to expand their simulation offerings, the benefits and tradeoffs of simulations teaching must be addressed now.

Presentation on teaching with online simulations at Institute for Law Teaching and Learning summer conference

Last month I participated in a great conference on legal education by the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, “Engaging and Assessing Our Students” (link here). There were numerous workshops, and my only regret is that I couldn’t attend all of them. My topic was on teaching with online simulations:

Live websites provide a dynamic “sandbox” for role-playing simulations that cast students as lawyers acting for fictional clients. Such simulations, initially crafted for a Cyberlaw class, can also be used in a wide variety of other courses. This provides a highly configurable platform for the immersive and holistic learning of knowledge, skills, and professional identity, including realistic fact-finding, advocacy, negotiation, ethical traps, and much more. The workshop will first provide background on relevant technology and methodology. We will then move to a mini role-playing exercise using the live Internet, followed by a discussion of the benefits and challenges of online simulations.

Interested readers can find my presentation materials, including a sample scoresheet incorporating all MacCrate skills factors, here.