Law Schools Adapt to Online Teaching During Coronavirus Outbreak

Berkeley Law LL.M. Program featured in LLM Guide, April 29, 2020:

Some law schools are racing to create digital learning environments that, in many ways, can mimic a physical classroom.

At Berkeley Law in California, for example, all teaching is being conducted via Zoom, which can host up to 300 students in a class. The system includes live visual images of participants, breakout discussion groups, and a written chat that runs parallel to the audio conversation.

“I have received many messages from students praising their professors and expressing how much learning has continued uninterrupted,” says Berkeley Law’s dean, Erwin Chemerinsky.

“This new format is able to approximate the hallmark pedagogical experience of the traditional law school classroom, including group-based interactive problem-solving.”

For students, the challenge is maintaining a sense of connection with classmates who may be in different time zones and countries. Virtual meetups are now commonplace in a discipline that is inherently collaborative.

The specter of recession and unemployment is also a major concern for those graduating this summer. Law firm offices remain shut across the world; many courts have been suspended.

“One has to wonder if students accepted for the fall semester will decide to defer enrolment until conditions fundamentally improve,” says Rice from Kaplan Bar Review. “Given the impact on the economy, some may delay for financial reasons.”

She adds that many law firms have postponed the in-person recruiting season that typically occurs over the summer, reflecting concerns over safety but also the lack of hard data on which to judge students since many schools are now using a pass-fail grading system.

Berkeley Law has adopted such a system, so as to protect students who may have been thrust into an unfamiliar online environment and are grappling with more tangible challenges caused by Covid-19.

“Many in our community have been – or I fear will be – dislocated, or have unexpected family care responsibilities, or have health issues to deal with,” says Chemerinsky.

“Also, the shift to distance learning has, understandably, caused anxiety. Changing all classes to Credit/No Credit will, hopefully, lessen stress at this difficult time, especially for those who are experiencing hardship.”

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Far more scholarship dollars are flowing to star LL.M. students who have a strong academic and professional track record

Berkeley Law LL.M. Program featured in LLM Guide, March 11, 2020:

Berkeley Law in California has increased its scholarship budget over the past decade in order to attract top candidates, says director of admissions, Erin Weldon.

The scholarships are merit-based and each has a particular requirement, such as demonstrated interest in a particular area of law, such as social justice, or citizenship in a certain region, like Latin America.

Students are considered for scholarships at the time of admission and do not apply for them. “Candidates can make themselves stand out by making their application materials the best they can be, including a clearly articulated personal statement and an organized CV,” says Weldon.

“This is not the time for candidates to be shy; if they do not share with us the cool things they have done, awards they have won, and work that they are proud of, we may have no other way of knowing.”

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Why LL.M. Grads are Leaving Big Law Firms and Moving In-House

Berkeley Law LL.M. Program featured in LLM Guide, December 4, 2019:

While Big Law firms are still attractive, in-house legal departments are increasingly appealing for graduates of top LL.M. programs, who are entering them in far larger numbers than ever before.

“There are a couple of major market forces at work here,” says Rachel Zuraw, co-director of LL.M. professional development at Berkeley Law in California: “There is no guarantee that you will make partner at your law firm, and companies are building increasingly sophisticated and large in-house legal teams. So law students are seeing more venues where they can pursue interesting work.”

Peter Landreth, Zuraw’s co-director, adds that in-house work can be a lifestyle upgrade for attorneys who have been working in Big Law, where the hours are often grueling. “A major attraction is leaving the conventional billable hour model of most law firms behind,” he says. “As an in-house attorney, you are part of a team working towards a business objective, irrespective of how many hours it takes.”

However, he adds that it is still relatively unusual for companies to hire LL.M. grads right out of law school — unless they have significant experience in private practice.

“Companies still rely on law firms to provide practical training for junior attorneys so that when they transition to in-house work they can hit the ground running.”

Zuraw agrees: “Many in-house legal departments still view that as the best training ground, and it will expose young lawyers to everything that can go wrong by working with a variety of clients so that they can later help a single company get everything right.”

Zuraw at Berkeley Law adds: “If you are a junior attorney, being at a tiny startup could be negative because you don’t have anyone to train you; conversely, if you are an experienced attorney, being at a tiny startup could give you the chance to really flex your knowledge and judgment.”

She adds that in in-house departments people tend to specialize in a field of law, so you should make sure that you are really interested in the role for which you are applying.

How an LL.M. Can Help You Pass US Bar Exams

Berkeley Law LL.M. Program featured in LLM Guide, October 18, 2019

“The biggest challenges for students are the exams themselves which are notoriously difficult,” says Peter Landreth, director of LL.M. professional development at Berkeley Law in California.

Elon Musk debuts test tunnel in Hawthorne: ‘I really think this is incredibly profound’

Ethan Elkind quoted in Curbed Los Angeles, December 18, 2018

“If his tunneling costs are real, that would provide a staggering benefit for subway transit. And we need more transit tunnels in our cities badly as an alternative to street traffic and to expand overall capacity,” said Ethan Elkind, a transportation scholar who directs the climate program at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley Law. “If it works, transit agencies may want a piece in some way.”

Apple Pushes Out Software Update to Avoid China iPhone Ban

Mark Cohen quoted in Dow Jones News, December 19, 2018

Both of those American companies stopped selling their products in China, said Mark Cohen of the UC Berkeley School of Law, a former senior counsel in China for the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. A “political narrative is not beyond the realm of possibility,” he said.

Trump dismisses a century of constitutional scholarship in bid to end birthright citizenship

John Yoo quoted in Yahoo! News, October 31, 2018

“The 14th Amendment settled the question of birthright citizenship,” John Yoo, a Berkeley law professor who served in the George W. Bush administration, wrote in a recent essay. “According to the best reading of its text, structure and history, anyone born on American territory, no matter their national origin, ethnicity or station in life, is an American citizen.”

Legal experts skeptical Trump can unilaterally subsidize Appalachian coal

John Yoo quoted in The Daily Caller, August 15, 2018

“There could be existing statutes that provide for subsidies for industries that are harmed by unfair trade competition or that are advancing innovative techniques for energy development,” said Yoo, who worked in the Bush administration Justice Department and was a major proponent of the “unitary executive” theory of government.

“The program you mention, however, doesn’t seem to fall within these categories,” Yoo said. “If no existing statute exists creating the program, then President Trump will have to ask Congress for new funds this upcoming year.”

Daughter of Slain Environmentalist Connects Migrant Caravan to Honduran Government’s Failures

Roxanna Altholz mentioned in KQED, November 2, 2018

Roxanna Altholz, who co-directs the International Human Rights Clinic at Berkeley Law, said Honduran authorities have withheld and even erased evidence from dozens of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices during the investigation.

“I am very concerned this is a show trial and it’s a trial being used to shield the masterminds, the intellectual authors, from accountability,” said Altholz, who was on the team of international attorneys aiding the family.