Monday, October 17, 2011

Reformation Tour 2011

In the past two weeks, OBCL alumni and students had the chance to visit Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom to walk where the great reformers - men like Luther, Calvin, Huss, and Knox - lived and died in their fight for the gospel. Led by OBCLAA President Paul Harman and Dean Roger Magnuson, the sightseeing was accompanied by lectures detailing the impact these men had on history.

The OBCLers outside of Huldrych Zwingli's Grossmunster in Zurich, Switzerland

I can tell you for certain that I was challenged by this first-hand look at the Reformation. Hope you can make it on the next OBCL study abroad trip!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wall Street Journal Law Blog: Should States Deregulate the Practice of Law?

For a roundup of some of the most recent talk on deregulating the legal profession, see this post from the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.  It seems that this kind of news doesn't end.  And I think that's a good thing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ribstein: Compulsory Licensing of Attorneys is Doomed

Larry Ribstein has been writing about the "death of big law" and other changes in the profession for some time.  This week he is debating compulsory licensing of lawyers at a Federalist Society event in Los Angeles.  Ribstein comments, "This is one of the big regulatory issues of our time.  It’s not just about who makes how much money, but access to justice.  The current system of compulsory licensing for the practice of law is doomed.  The question is not whether it will end, but when and how. "

Gary Rosin comments on the importance of this issue for law schools:

If state licensing, and state licensing (Bar) exams, go the way of the dodo.  What does that do to law schools?  In most states, only graduates of ABA-approved law schools are qualified to take the Bar exam.  With no Bar exam, what happens to the demand for ABA-approved legal education, or to the demand for ABA accreditation?
At that point, formal legal education would be, at best, a matter of branding, of distinguishing a lawyer from mere providers of "servicios notarios."  So, too, would accreditation become a way of branding, with the ABA only one of several law-school accreditors. But would the ABA retain its power if it no longer controlled the gates to the profession?

Book: "First Thing We Do, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers"

A new book argues for deregulation of the legal profession.  Check out the description on Marginal Revolution. The book is published by the Brookings Institution.

Josh Blackman comments regarding ABA regulation of the legal profession: "The cartel won’t last long friends. Embrace the change now."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lasting Change in the Legal Profession

I've been posting a variety of news items on on this blog regarding changes in the legal profession that will put pressure on law schools to take measures to increase the value they offer to students (all of interest, of course, to graduates of a non-traditional law school like Oak Brook College of Law).  There will undoubtedly be more to come.  Here's the latest from the ABA Journal:

The golden era is gone, but this is not because the law itself is becoming less relevant. Rather, the sea change reflects an urgent need for better and cheaper legal services that can keep pace with the demands of a rapidly globalizing world. The Great Recession—a catalyst for change—provided an opportunity to re-examine some long-standing assumptions about lawyers and the clients they serve.

Whether BigLaw lawyers, boutique specialists or solo practitioners, U.S. lawyers can expect slower rates of market growth that will only intensify competitive pressures and produce a shakeout of weaker competitors and slimmer profit margins industrywide. Law students will find ever-more-limited opportunity for the big-salary score, but more jobs in legal services outside the big firms. Associates’ paths upward will fade as firms strain to keep profits per partner up by keeping traditional leverage down.

And those who wish to rise above the disruption will have to deal with technology that swallows billable work, a world market that takes the competition international, and a more sophisticated corporate client with vast knowledge available at the click of a mouse.
 More here.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Victory for Oak Brook College graduates in Minnesota Supreme Court

Oak Brook graduates will now have the ability to take the bar exam and practice law in Minnesota under the newly amended rules issued by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Monday.  Read the press release here; background information is available here.  Bravo to the group of petitioners, including Oak Brook alumni Micah Stanley and Valarie Wallin, who worked long and hard for this excellent new rule in Minnesota! 

Ribstein: "Law schools as borscht"

A recent report on the "lawyer surplus" has generated a lot of discussion on the blogosphere.  I think the most interesting commentary on this report is from Larry Ribstein:
The problem isn’t that we have too many law trained people and so should train fewer.  In fact, in our increasingly regulated economy, there is probably a gross undersupply of law-trained people. 

The problem is that regulation has fixed the nature of the product so it hasn’t adequately responded to shifts in demand.  The downward demand shifts have been produced by, most importantly, technology.  But demand is increasing for new kinds of law-trained people both at the low-cost end of service to the poor and middle class and the potentially high-profit end of producing new kinds of products and services (see Law’s Information Revolution).  Yet regulation has locked law schools into models that don’t serve these new needs.
In a real market, the supply side would change. As discussed in yesterday’s WSJ, if nobody’s buying borscht, make more horseradish.  

Read the whole post here. It seems that there is a never ending stream of articles on the need for law schools to innovate and adapt to changing markets.  Oak Brook College is a law school that thinks outside the box already and should be in a good place to respond to these developments. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CA law school alternatives

This month's California Lawyer is running a feature story on the little-used option of Bar eligibility by reading the law:

The Path Rarely Taken

It is interesting, among other things, for what it says about law school debt, the realities of practice (v. academic preparation), and the potential success of an alternative approach.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The new world of legal practice: a second track for associates

Big law is changing the way it does business. Outsourcing is here - only this time, it's not to India, but to out-of-the-way cities in the U.S.

The New York Times reports on the trend for major law firms to have a second track for associates, a "non-partner" track.

The nation’s biggest law firms are creating a second tier of workers, stripping pay and prestige from one of the most coveted jobs in the business world.

Make no mistake: These are full-fledged lawyers, not paralegals, and they do the same work traditional legal associates do. But they earn less than half the pay of their counterparts — usually around $60,000 — and they know from the outset they will never make partner.

These career associates are being moved out from the major metropolitan centers of big law.

Orrick moved its back-office operations to a former metal-stamping factory here in 2002, and in late 2009 began hiring career associates. Costs of living are much cheaper in Wheeling than in San Francisco, Tokyo or its 21 other locations, saving $6 million to $10 million annually, according to Will A. Turani, Wheeling’s director of operations.

“It’s our version of outsourcing,” said Ralph Baxter, Orrick’s chief executive. “Except we’re staying within the United States.”

This is not necessarily a bad thing except in the sense that a lot of attorneys who hoped for big law jobs aren't getting what they planned on. But this new efficiency helps employ people; it's the market at work.

As I noted before on this blog, these changes in the legal profession will increase the pressure on law schools to take measures that will increase the value they offer to students. I believe this will lead to more schools explore non-traditional methods of education - like that which OBCL is pursuing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

SAVE THE DATE! Tahoe scheduled for Sept. 9-11, 2011

The Board of the OBCL Alumni Association is happy to announce the dates for this year's annual General Meeting and Retreat Friday-Sunday, September 9-11, 2011. All alumni and students—along with their families—are invited to attend.

Once again, the retreat will take place in scenic South Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada.

Here is a tentative schedule for the weekend:
Fri., Sept. 9: evening open house in alumni cabin
Sat., Sept. 10 (morning): 2011 General Meeting at Forest Suites Resort
Sat., Sept. 10 (afternoon): fellowship, site-seeing, and enjoying the beauty of Tahoe
Sat., Sept. 10 (evening): BBQ and fellowship in alumni cabin
Sun., Sept. 11: morning worship and fellowship time

Be on the lookout for further details and registration in the next few weeks!

Each year, the annual retreat proves a wonderful opportunity to be refreshed and encouraged—and informed about how to impact the future success of Oak Brook College and its alumni. Whether you've never missed a meeting or are debating coming for the first time, come out and help make the 2011 retreat our best yet!

Questions? We are happy to help! Email any questions to Emily Younger ( or Mark Bigger (

See you there!

(photos courtesy of Heidi Miller)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The debate over law school scholarships

The legal blogosphere has been buzzing with discussion of a recent New York Times article about the use and abuse of law school scholarships. A good roundup of the discussions is available here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Costs of Legal Education: How Much Does a Law Review Article Cost?

A recurring theme in discussions of legal education is the excessive cost associated with the traditional law school model. Here's the latest example:

What is the total cost of a law review article written by a tenured professor at a top-flight law school?

It's in the neighborhood of $100,000, according to Hofstra University School of Law professor Richard Neumann. His estimate factors in the salary and benefits for a tenured professor at a high-paying school who spends between 30% and 50% of his or her time on scholarship and publishes one article per year.


Neumann also pointed to research suggesting that 43% of law review articles are never cited by anyone. "At least a third of these things have no value," he said. "Who is paying for that? Students who will graduate with six figures of debt."


New York Law School Dean Rick Matasar urged legal educators to consider the possibility of new, lower-cost law schools that rely heavily on untenured faculty and adjuncts to teach rather than write law review articles.

"Students are saying, ‘I don't want to pay for it anymore,' " he said.

Of course, I am not about to discount the value of good scholarship (see here and here). I think it's essential, and should be part of the mission of a Christian law school, of Christian law professors, and yes, of Christian attorneys. (See, for example, David Skeel's plea for Christian legal scholarship here.) Should professors be paid enough to be able to pursue scholarship? Yes. But should students have to cover the cost of $100,000 law review articles that no one reads? That just isn't a sustainable economic model.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Judicial Clerkship Applications: A Brief Guide

What It Is

Most judges employ one or more law clerks who act as their research assistants, proof readers, sometimes opinion-drafters, and sometimes play other roles in assisting the judge. Clerkships are often one or two year positions, although some judges hire “career clerks.” Clerkships are commonly filled by recent law school graduates, and many judges see this as an opportunity to mentor young attorneys at the beginning of their careers (although attorneys who have been in practice for a while have been known to take time off from practice to spend a year or two clerking). As a current law clerk, I can personally affirm what I have heard from so many people before me: clerking is great experience, allowing the clerk to see the legal field from the other side of the bench, observe a lot of practitioners, deal with a wide variety of cases, hone research and writing skills, and learn from an experienced judge. It also looks great on a resume.

Clerkships are desirable, meaning that they are also highly competitive. There are always a lot of applicants for each position. Lately, it has only gotten worse. (See some of the reports from the last couple of years here, here, here, and here.) Given the current state of the legal job market, a lot of law school graduates as well as practicing attorneys are finding that t a year on a state or federal payroll, without worrying about billing hours, looks pretty appealing.

Application Procedures

So, what does it take to get a clerkship? There are tons of resources available on this subject, so in this post, I will give the bare-bones outline.

Good research and writing abilities are an absolute must. Good grades are usually a make-0r-break. And good recommendations, especially from people who the judge knows, are extremely helpful.

To apply for the job, the standard application requirements are:

  • Cover letter;
  • Resume;
  • Law school transcripts;
  • Legal writing sample showing your writing and research abilities and ability to craft an argument—for example, a law review article or comment, a sample brief from a legal writing class, or actual brief from an internship (but make sure to check with your boss first, to see if you can use the brief and if anything needs redacted);
  • Letters of recommendation (most judges require three letters of recommendation).

This webpage from Indiana University School of Law has good advice on what you should have in your cover letter, writing sample, recommendation letters and other application materials. See also this site from George Mason.

Of course, it’s always good to double-check when you are ready to apply to see if the judge has any unique or different requirements.

Select where you are going to apply.


Be aware that you have to apply about one year in advance.

Federal Clerkships

The place to apply for federal clerkships is Federal clerkships are by far the most competitive field (see here).

Many federal courts follow a hiring plan (see here), supposed to keep the hiring on a schedule so that the “hiring of law clerks will be done no sooner than the Fall of the third year of law school.” (Or, for those in part time programs like Oak Brook College, that would be the fall of the final year of law school.) Law school graduates may apply and be hired at any time. The key dates this year are:


Fall 2011

First date when applications may be received [actually, this is the day that judges start looking at applications, which means you should have your applications on the OSCAR website by that date]:

September 6, 2011
(OSCAR release:
10:00 a.m. (EDT))

First date and time when judges
may contact applicants to
schedule interviews:

10:00 a.m. (EDT),
September 9, 2011

First date and time when interviews may be held and offers made:

10:00 a.m. (EDT)

September 15, 2011

Remember, if you’re hired in September 2011, that means you start your job in August 2012.

Not all federal judges follow the hiring plan, however (it’s only “binding” on those who choose to participate). So try to double-check on the judges you’re applying with. The most well-known judges often hire earlier than the plan, on the theory that then they get the “top” clerk applicants before other judges start making offers (and more and more judges seem to be doing this – see here). This has created a lot of controversy and discussion, and searching online will turn up some information. See here, here, and here.

State Courts

State courts have quite a bit more variety in hiring timing than the federal courts. Most commonly, the judges at state courts hire before the federal courts do. That means that if you apply in state courts, you generally should have your applications in by June or July for the positions that would start over a year later (usually August or September). For information on state courts, visit For slightly dated but still useful reference on state hiring practices, see

Further Resources

Law Clerk Addict

The Vermont Law School Guide to Judicial Clerkships

Indiana University Clerkship Resources

George Mason Clerkship Guide

University of Virgina Clerkship Information

UVA Clerkship Blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Slaves of some professor?

At the OBCL Alumni Association Meeting, I did a short presentation encouraging OBCL students and alumni to pursue the writing and publishing of legal scholarship. Trying to make the point that scholars and scholarship have an important impact on the world, I quoted Keynes' old line that even those who think of themselves as eminently practical men are actually the slaves of some defunct economist - and, I added, the same applies to law schools and legal scholars. I was pleased to see the same point being made, with the same quote from Keynes, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

The British economist John Maynard Keynes famously observed, 75 years ago, that statesmen who think that they are pursuing policies of their own devise are really showing themselves to be "the slaves of some defunct economist." In America today statesmen are more likely to be the slaves of some defunct legal theorist. Our litigation-prone culture and complex legal structure—not least the matrix of overlapping state and federal powers—regularly translate questions of policy into questions of law. As a result, American law schools wield more social influence than any other part of the American university.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Alumni in the News IX

99A Oak Brook alum Sean Sangree receives Porterville’s Prosecutor of the Year Award.

Mike Reitz talking on the Dave Boze Show about the top ten reform ideas for public employee unions. Writing for the Freedom Foundation, Mike invokes the ghost of Democrat icon FDR for confirmation that public employees unions are bad public policy. Mike speaks to a loud crowd on the steps of the Washington Capitol in support of Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to limit collective bargaining by public employees.

99B Alum Chris Walsh is elected Chairman of the Fresno County Republican Party. This Fresno Bee article talks about his successful prosecution of a Fresno gang member resulting of a term of 60 to life.

Lael Weinberger recently wrote a law review article entitled "The Business Judgment Rule and Sphere Sovereignty" for Cooley Law Review. He also has a book chapter entitled, "Enforcing the Bill of Rights in the United States" which is being published in Jurisprudence of Liberty (LexisNexis 2011).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Professor Rucker to Testify in Ethics Hearing

Guest post by Rebekah Millard (03B)

Some OBCLers may recall Professor Rucker telling the story of a prosecutor, Phill Kline, who was unafraid to stand for the rule of law, paid dearly for his stand, but was blessed by God despite the best efforts of his political enemies. That story continues this week in Topeka, Kansas, where Kline is the subject of a state ethics investigation.

In a Kansas State Ethics Committee hearing that began earlier this week, state Disciplinary Administrator Stanton Hazlett has (at the direction of the Kansas Supreme Court) targeted Former Attorney General Phill Kline for potential ethical misconduct concerning his prosecution of late-term abortion providers in Kansas. It appears that Professor Rucker, formerly Kline's chief of staff, will be playing a continuing part in this story as he testifies this week at the hearing.

Here is a little background:

Phill Kline, former Kansas Attorney General (2002-2006), was the first and only prosecutor ever to succeed in obtaining abortion records from Planned Parenthood and late term abortionist George Tiller. Despite having one of the strictest late-term abortion laws in the U.S. (drafted and enacted thanks in part to Kline's previous tenure in the Kansas House of Representatives), due to a lack of prosecutions, Kansas had remained the nation’s capital for late-term abortions.

When Kline’s investigation of Planned Parenthood became public, Kansas Governor Sebelius (now head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and the President of Planned Parenthood announced a new political initiative to spend massive amounts of money to defeat Kline. Governor Sebelius also used her authority over two Kansas agencies to thwart Kline’s investigation and used her appointment authority to pack the Kansas Supreme Court with justices who would work to block the investigation.

With this political machine in play, Phill Kline was defeated in his bid for re-election as Attorney General in 2006, but was elected as Johnson County District Attorney, which allowed him to retain jurisdiction over the Planned Parenthood investigation. As a result, a district court judge found probable cause that crimes were committed at Planned Parenthood. In October 2007 Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri was charged with 107 criminal charges, including 23 felonies.

In 2008, Kline lost his bid for reelection as Johnson County DA (some would say due to the fact that his exoneration in an ethics investigation was never reported).

The current ethics investigations could result in censure or loss of law license for Mr. Kline, and, certainly might lead to the derailing of the case against Planned Parenthood.

Among the “ethics” violations with which Kline has been charged is the accusation that Mr. Kline’s strong personal anti-abortion beliefs interfered with his judgment. (Are we to gather that if a prosecutor is adamantly opposed to rape, for instance, his prosecution of rape would present a conflict?)

How to help:

Pray for God to bring justice and vindication to a man who has faithfully and professionally fulfilled his calling to uphold and enforce the law. Pray for wisdom and protection for Professor Rucker as he engages in this ongoing controversy. Pray that other state prosecutors will be emboldened to enforce the law—that the rule of law may be strengthened throughout our land.


Find out more at Phill Kline's web site, Planned Parenthood Corruption.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bakersfield Bar Prep

12 graduates of OBCL are in Bakersfield doing bar prep for next week's bar exam. Most of them have been putting in long days as they went through two simulated full bar exams and hours of discussion and private study.

Paul Johnson is caught looking at his cell phone during essays. He is likely to face censure from the group during a lunch hour meeting at Moo's Creamery. Luke Bowman studies on with a Bible verse from his namesake in the background as Josiah Heagy and Christiana Holcomb demonstrate the concentration that makes Bakersfield OBCL Bar Passage rates second to none.

Justin Kelly, Ryan Bedford, and Jason Lau have come from all over the world to study in the Oak Brook Mecca of Bakersfield, California.

Please keep bar takers in your prayers this week as they get ready to increase our bar passage rate.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Representing at the Federalist Society

This past weekend was the Federalist Society's annual Western Conference at the Reagan Presidential Library in beautiful Simi Valley, CA. They had a great lineup of speakers on cutting-edge legal topics, but perhaps even more important for the OBCLers in attendance, it was a time to catch up with a great group of alumni.

All told, we had more than a dozen OBCL alumni and students in attendance. Keep your eyes open for next year's conference dates, and let's keep increasing that number!