15 Sample Assignments

Reflection Exercise from UNC’s Becoming a Professional Course

 

Reflection Exercise 1: Initial Self-Assessment. Complete the “Revised Personal and Professional Values Survey: Relationship and Significance.” Write a short approximately four page (double spaced) essay reflecting on what you learned about yourself and its possible significance for the future. Due September 6, 5 p.m. by email.

 

Pre-Class Survey from UNC’s Becoming a Professional Course

 

This short questionnaire is designed to help us make the course more valuable to you, and to assist us in making team pairings for work to be done later in the course. We hope you will help us by submitting this questionnaire, along with a copy of your CV (for the instructors and not to be shared with other students) to Judith Wegner (Judith_wegner@unc.edu) as soon as convenient. Thanks.

 

 

    1. Your interests. Are you thinking about a particular career path or paths that you hope to explore in the future? Could you share a bit about your interests and aspirations? (I don’t know is an acceptable answer)

 

 

    1. Your experiences to date with law and law school. What have you enjoyed? What has frustrated you?

 

 

    1. Things you’d like to learn. Could you say a bit about things you want to learn about and skills you want to develop through this course or otherwise in the next year or two? It may be helpful to consider both things you like and feel confident about and areas where you lack confidence but feel a need to develop greater strength.

 

 

    1. Working with technology. The course will provide students with an opportunity to develop important skills with technology that we hope will give them an edge in their employment search. Please comment on the following:

 

*How comfortable are you with information technology? What experiences have you had? *What are your preferences and tools? Are you a PC or Mac user? What operating system do you have? Do you have a working computer that’s readily available to you outside of law school, or do you need to use computer labs on campus?

 

    1. Competing demands on your time. Could you share a little about the time demands you will be facing this semester (courses you’re taking? work and/or family obligations? extracurricular leadership? commuting patterns?)

 

 

    1. Working with others. We assume that you are comfortable working with others, but at the same time do not want to assign students as teammates with others with whom they already have an unhappy working relationship. Are there others in the class that you would prefer not to be teamed with, for whatever reason (no need to explain why, this is just a basic check to avoid major problems if any).

 

 

    1. Anything else to share. Anything else you’d like to tell us about you or your interests?

 

Personal-Professional Profile (based on Giving Voice to Values Curriculum by Mary Gentile, revised with permission by Judith Wegner)

 

    1. In your definition of an excellent legal services organization (either in the private or public sector), how important are the following?

 

 

 

 

Very Impt.

 

Somewhat

 

Impt.

 

Not Very Impt.

 

Don’t Know

 

    1. Provide excellent service to clients

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Has efficient and flexible operations

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Attracts and retains exceptional people

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Engages to an important extent in services that benefit society

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Invests in employee training and professional development

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Operates according to its values with a strong code of ethics

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Is regarded by others as a “high quality” organization doing “high quality” legal work

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Provides competitive compensation

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Provides those who work there with challenging opportunities to learn and grow

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Supports its personnel in developing a reasonable work/life balance

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Values the contributions of diverse personnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Is there anything you would like to add to the above list as “very important”? If so, what?

 

 

    1. Which of the following issues pose the greatest challenges for today’s leaders in the field of law? Please choose a maximum of three items.

 

 

____Competition from non-lawyer providers of related services

 

____Economic changes affecting the costs of delivering legal services

 

____Changes in technology affecting the delivery of legal services

 

____Changing expectations regarding jurisdictional boundaries affecting delivery of legal services

 

____Costs of delivering legal services

 

____Cuts in federal, state, and local budgets for the courts and legal services organizations

 

____Levels of debt affecting the salary expectations of beginning lawyers

 

____Changing dynamics regarding entry-level versus lateral hiring of legal talent

 

____Economic changes affecting the ability of middle class and lower-income clients to pay for legal services

 

____ Expectations by senior lawyers regarding compensation levels

 

____ Economic downturn

 

____ Growing inequity in the distribution of wealth around the world

 

____ Lack of public trust in lawyers and the legal system

 

____ Unreasonable expectations regarding workloads and time spent on the job (v. personal time)

 

____ Inadequate preparation of beginning lawyers by law schools

 

____ Organizational changes affecting the economic delivery of legal services

 

____ Other (please specify)

 

 

    1. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

 

 

Question

 

Strongly agree

 

Somewhat Agree

 

Somewhat Disagree

 

Strongly Disagree

 

Don’t know

 

a. Law firms really don’t need to worry about the ethical dilemmas of those they represent

 

 

 

 

 

 

b. The most important role of lawyers is to do what their clients ask them to do

 

 

 

 

 

 

c. Those entering legal practice these days should expect to change jobs often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

d. The most important role of lawyers is to bring about constructive social change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

e. Lawyers generally see law practice as a means of making a living rather than a means of bringing about social change or facilitating justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

f. The reputation of the organization is important to me in making my decision about the organization where I want to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

g. I view law practice most of all as providing me with intellectual challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

h. I anticipate that my own values will sometimes conflict with what I am asked to do as a lawyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    1. If you answered the above statement “4h” with “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree,” please specify what kinds of values conflicts you expect to face:

 

 

    1. Assume you are engaged in each of the following legal activities/practices. How likely do you think it is that values conflicts would arise?

 

 

 

Question

 

Very Likely

 

Somewhat Likely

 

Not at All Likely

 

Don’t Know

 

    1. Advising re employment issues

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Advising re commercial issues

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Involvement in litigation

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Involvement in criminal prosecution/defense

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Representing government outside criminal context

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Representation in tax disputes

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Representation in consumer disputes (bankruptcy, foreclosure)

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Representation involving family disputes (divorce, child custody)

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Representation involving those with limited financial means

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Representation of businesses and corporations as outside counsel

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Representation of business organizations as in-house counsel

 

 

 

 

 

 

    1. If you find that your values conflict with those of the organization for which you work, how likely is it that you will:

 

 

 

 

Question

 

Very Likely

 

Somewhat Likely

 

Not Likely at All

 

Don’t Know

 

    1. Not mind too much

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Experience it as stressful

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Quietly handle the stress

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Look for another job

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Speak up about your objections

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Advocate alternative values or approaches

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Try to get others to join in addressing concerns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Think of a few occasions when you encountered a values conflict in your previous work experience. Recall how you handled the situations. Would you characterize yourself and your behavior as that of:*

 

 

 

(1) an Idealist (One who is primarily concerned with moral ideals when making decisions on how to act.)

 

(2) a Pragmatist (One who is concerned with his/her own material welfare, but also with moral ideals. “Pragmatists will gladly do their fair share to create a civil society, but not place themselves at a systematic disadvantage” to do so.)

 

(3) an Opportunist (One who is mainly concerned with his/her own material welfare.)

 

 

 

 

*Categories and descriptions drawn from Gregory Dees and Peter Crampton, “Shrewd Bargaining on the Moral Frontier: Toward a Theory of Morality in Practice”, Business Ethics Quarterly, April 1991, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 146 and 164.

 

 

 

    1. If you placed yourself in the category of “pragmatist,” what can you do to maximize the likelihood that you will act on your ideals? What competencies will you need?

 

 

 

    1. Think of someone you deeply respect. What are the 2 or 3 characteristics you most admire in this person?

 

 

 

    1. Who are you at your best?

 

 

 

    1. Name your 3 or 4 deepest values.

 

 

 

    1. What is the one sentence you would like to see in your obituary that captures who you really were in your life?

 

 

 

    1. Questions of Purpose: What is your personal purpose for your legal career? (Consider, for example, what impact you want to have, whom you want to benefit, what you want to learn, what impact you wish to have, what you hope to accomplish, how you want to feel about yourself and your work)

 

 

    1. Questions of Risk

 

a.) Are you a risk-taker or risk-averse?

 

b.) What are the greatest risks you face in your line of work? Are they personal (e.g., livelihood, deportation, legal punishment) or are they professional (e.g., harm to clients, the firm), or are they societal (e.g., impact on the profession, the public, the nation)?

 

c.) What levels of risk can and can’t you live with?

 

16. Questions of Personal Communication Style/Preference:

 

a.) Do you deal well with conflict or are you non-confrontational? Under what circumstances do you behave in each way?

 

b.) Do you prefer communicating in person or in writing?

 

c.) Do you think best from the gut and in-the-moment or do you need to take time out to reflect and craft your communications?

 

d.) Do you assert your position with statements or do you use questions to communicate?

 

 

17. Questions of Loyalty:

 

a.) Do you tend to feel the greatest loyalty to family; work colleagues; your employer; or to others such as those you assist (clients or others)?

 

b.) Under what conditions and given what stakes?

 

 

18. Questions of Self-Image:

 

a.) Do you see yourself as shrewd or naïve?

 

b.) As idealistic or pragmatic?

 

c.) As a learner or as a teacher?

 

d.) Other?

 

 

This material is part of the Giving Voice to Values curriculum collection (www.GivingVoiceToValues.org). The Aspen Institute was founding partner, along with the Yale School of Management, and incubator for Giving Voice to Values (GVV). Now Funded by Babson College. Revised by Judith Wegner with permission of Mary Gentile. © Mary C. Gentile, 2010

 

 

Crush-the-Mush Exercise Example 1 from Georgetown University Law Center’s Technology, Innovation, and Legal Practice: Access to Justice

 

 

Crush-the-Mush Example 1: Springfield Legal Clinic Intake System

 

The Mush

 

This is the “legal mush” that might appear in statutes or regulations or you may get from your content expert or a typical legal memo. The information you need is here, but you need to distill it down to “CRFO” elements (Conclusions, Rules, Facts and Outputs) to design a legal expert system.

 

Dear Legal Clinic Intake Volunteers,

 

Thank you for volunteering your time to greet and interview prospective clients of the Springfield Legal Clinic. Below are the rules that we have regarding eligibility for our services and our financial aid program, as well as the rules for assigning an urgency level for the client’s case and the determining the best type of lawyer to assign to the client (assuming that the client is eligible for our services). Please become familiar with these rules so you can make determinations on each of these items when you meet the prospective clients in the clinic’s Reception Center.

 

To be eligible for the services of the Springfield Legal Clinic, clients must be must be age 18 or older and be a US citizen at the time of the interview. To qualify for our financial aid program, the client’s average household income per-person living in the household must be less than $20,000.

 

We assign an “Urgency Level” to the client’s case based on the following: Cases involving domestic abuse have an urgency level of “High,” cases involving mortgage problems get an urgency level of “Medium,” and cases involving landlord disputes get an urgency level of “Low.” Any other kind of legal problem gets an urgency level of “Medium.”

 

We identify the “Best Lawyer” to assign to the client’s case based on these rules: All domestic abuse cases go to a Senior Lawyer and all landlord dispute cases to a Junior Lawyer. If the client has a mortgage problem and qualifies for our financial aid program, then we assign a Senior Lawyer; but if the client has a mortgage problem and does not qualify for our financial aid program, then the client is assigned a Junior Lawyer.

 

After you have interviewed the prospective client, please draft an email to the intake supervisor summarizing the results of your interview. If the person is not eligible for services, your email report should indicate that and state the reason why. If the person is eligible for services, your email should state each of the key conclusions you reached (see the conclusions described above) and briefly explain why you reach conclusion.

 

[These are the outputs of the system, which we are leaving to the side for now.]

 

 

The Mush Crushed

 

 

Conclusions and Rules

 

 

Reminder: In most systems, you’ll have an “ultimate conclusion” that is supported by “intermediate conclusions,” which must be reached by the system before the ultimate conclusion can be reached. On this page, identify as many conclusions as you think may be needed for the system to perform the analysis described on the prior page.

 

 

Important: For each conclusion you identify, be sure to identify the rules that lead to it.

 

 

Facts that System May Need to Use Rules

 

 

Instructions: Identify the needed facts by drafting the question for each fact that the system may need to get from the user — and showing the user’s answer options for each question. Remember that fact variables can be of these types:

 

    • List (of items to select from)

 

    • Text

 

    • Number

 

    • Integer

 

    • Percentage

 

    • Currency

 

    • Date

 

    • Time

 

 

Output Text to Display at the End of Session

 

 

We are leaving outputs to the side for now.