Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hope in Sao Paulo

Through some serendipity, I am spending this week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie at its Exchanging Hemispheres program.  I'm helping teach a short course, Access to Justice and Clinical Legal Education Theory, Practice & Skills.  My contribution today was a session on clinical pedagogy and program design with law professors and students who are eager to launch a clinical program in Sao Paulo. 

After one day here, I have renewed inspiration and commitment to our work in light of the lawyers and students who have shared this classroom today.  The first speaker today was Prof. Daniel Bonilla of Univeridad de Los Andes in Colombia who described his work in establishing El Grupo de Derecho de Interés Público (G-DIP), a human rights legal clinic in Bogota. 

Later, we heard from Mackenzie psychology professors about their work with Juridicial Psychology and clinical programs for psychology supporting people in the legal system and new programs to integrate law students into their work.

Throughout the day, Prof. Alan Russell of London South Bank University discussed his work and experience at its Legal Advice Clinic. Prof. Russell led the course last week to demonstrate the experience of clinical education and its promise for access to justice. 

Two law professors from another university in southern Brazil attended to contribute their work with their consumer protection clinic. Other Mackenzie faculty discussed their work in human rights and their designs for a new labor law clinic and other enterprises.

We all shared our alarm at the rise of global nationalism and our current political disruptions, our resolve to promote justice and the rule of law, and the great need to teach students about civil engagement, integrity, and public citizenship.  Clinical legal education is taking root throughout the world, with a deep understanding that lawyers are essential to constitutional democracy.  This heightens the necessity for training lawyers in this age of disruption. 

Meeting these kindred spirits, committed lawyers and teachers, has revived my spirit and calling for our work in our global community. The coffee is also very strong. Brazil is good to me today. 


January 23, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Repeal of the ACA and potential effects on rural West Virginia

Much post election analysis has focused on the plight of rural Americans. My colleague, Jennifer Oliva, has written an analysis on the negative effects of an ACA repeal in West Virginia, a largely rural state. The full post is available here:



January 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chasing Liberty: The Detention of Central American Families in the United States

On Friday February 3, 2017, UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law will host a day-long conference on the detention of Central American Families in the United States.

The conference will bring together advocates, law students, and academics throughout the nation who have been fighting to end the detention of immigrant families. In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reinstituted an abandoned policy of detaining children and their parents seeking asylum in the United States. Families were first held in Artesia, New Mexico, which was accurately described as a “deportation mill,” and now in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, along with a smaller detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Thousands of children and their mothers have now been held in confinement while their cases are processed, with a small portion of the families held for more than a year.

We will start the day with opening remarks from Professor emeritus, Barbara Hines, followed by a panel tracing the history of family detention and painting a picture of the current detention system. This will be followed by a panel examining the legal and advocacy challenges to the practice of detaining mothers and children, from the Flores case to hunger strikes by the mothers themselves. During lunch, students who have volunteered inside the detention centers from UDC and Lewis & Clark will share their perspectives. After lunch, scholars and advocates will examine the international human rights ramifications of detaining families and of asylum free zones in the United States.  Finally, we will pivot to examine the post-release crisis. How do we ensure adequate representation for asylum-seeking families released from detention? How do we win claims for protection in difficult jurisdictions? We will also examine the lessons learned from the massive national movement built to advocate for detained families and try to replicate our successes in representation in detained and non-detained settings nationwide.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Cecilia Anguiano, Law Student at Lewis & Clark Colle Law School, Portland, Oregon
  • Blaine Bookey, Co-Legal Director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, San Francisco, CA
  • Bridget Cambria, Partner with Cambria & Kline; Founder, ALDEA People’s Center, Reading, Pennsylvania

  • Kristina Campbell, Professor of Law and Jack and Lovell Olender Director, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

  • Dree Collopy, Partner, Benach Collopy LLP, Washington DC

  • Tessa Copeland, Law Student at Lewis & Clark College Law School, Portland, Oregon

  • Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the American Immigration Council

  • Conchita Cruz, Co-Director Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Andrew Free, Law Office of R. Andrew Free, Nashville, Tennessee

  • Lindsay M. Harris, Assistant Professor of Law, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law 

  • Barbara Hines, Emerson Fellow and Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas – Austin

  • Karen Lucas, Associate Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Michelle Mendez, Staff Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc

  • Andrea Meza, Equal Justice Works Fellow & Staff Attorney, RAICES, San Antonio, Texas

  • Lindsay Nash, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Cardozo Law

  • Sarah Paoletti, Practice Professor of Law, Director of Transnational Legal Clinic, Penn Law

  • Swapna Reddy, Co-Director, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Katie Shepherd, former Managing Attorney of the CARA Project and current Legal Fellow at the American Immigration Council

  • Anita Sinha, Assistant Professor of Law, Director of International Human Rights Clinic, American University Washington College of Law.
  • Maureen Sweeney, Associate Professor, Director of Immigration Clinic, University of Maryland Law School

  • Shana Tabak¸ Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgia State University, College of Law and Global Studies Institute

Registration: Please register for the conference here.

All questions should be directed to Assistant Professor of Law, Lindsay M. Harris at

January 18, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, Immigration, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your American is Showing

By Inga N. Laurent*

In Jamaica, I don’t have a car. This means if I want to get somewhere I walk or take a taxi. During my first few weeks of living here, the resistance I laid down to the acceptance of this reality was monumental. It was almost akin to a deal-breaker for me. I struggled so much with control, factors outside of my control, including traffic and my ability to accurately estimate timing and order my world. I lamented that I couldn’t just run to the grocery store when I wanted; it all felt somehow backward.

What I couldn’t see at the time, now makes me chuckle. In the last few months, slowly and surely and somewhat surprisingly, I’ve been eroding my rugged individualist mentality.

I’ve come to relish my taxi time. Do you know how much of humanity can unfold before you if you stop to listen? Or how many friendships you can make by learning to trust in someone else’s ability to be responsible and on-time? Do you know that in thirty minutes, you can learn about criminal justice, technology, farming, musical instruments, families and lost and recovered dreams?

In Jamaica, I don’t have a schedule. This means I often get lost in reading or connecting with people instead of writing law review articles. During my first few months of living here, the resistance I laid down to the acceptance of this reality was monumental. I struggled so much against my own self, using chiding and biting remarks, fearing my fraudulence, not ok with slowing down and certainly not comfortable with stillness.

What I couldn’t see at the time, now makes me chuckle. In the last few months, slowly, surely and somewhat surprisingly, I’ve been eroding my long-held, entrenched views on the importance of staying busy.

I’ve come to understand that it all adds up in the end. All. Of. It. Do you know what it’s like when you finally trust yourself to self-regulate? Do you know how to relax and enjoy the gifts that life is giving you rather than fighting with them? Do you know how it feels when your mind become sharper and the web of connections fuse because you’ve allowed yourself the space for your beautiful brain to simply do its thing; the evolutionary thing that is composed of eons of innate wisdom ensuring survival?

In that trust, while relaxing, I read the following words from Sebastian Junger and suddenly I understood.

Tribe on Homecoming and Belonging: “This book is about why that sentiment is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning. It’s about why—for many people—war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end.”

This quote brought me back to my research in some kind of startling way. I am not satisfied merely with an academic discussion of the values and challenges of restorative justice. I am here to learn about it on every level, including the theoretical but also the practical, and not for argument’s sake, but because I believe in human relationships and in our interdependence. I do this work because I deeply believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and I want us all to know that we are so much more than our bad acts and mistakes; hopefully in tumbling around teaching and learning this lesson, I will be able to internalize it myself -- “to be understood as to understand.”

And while self-reliance and time-management have served me well so too have connection and space.

The “root of the root and the bud of the bud” is learning not to overcome my Americanness but to become one with it. To realize that sometimes my individualism serves me better, as I have a penchant for wanting to rely on others perhaps more than I should, but somedays that same trait may block the very connection I need. To realize that somedays the drive to stay busy stems my laziness but that on other days, I need my experience to simmer, so I can meaning-make, stop compartmentalizing and embrace the integration that allows me to be simultaneously messy and seamless. I’m in this time, in this place, exactly where I’m supposed to be, exactly as I’m supposed to be. And you know what my friend, you are too. Every experience, the joyful, the painful, even the ugly and the mundane, brings us closer to our imperfectly, perfect selves.

*Inga is currently on sabbatical from her day job as professor and Externship Director at Gonzaga University School of Law. While away, she is living and researching in Kingston, Jamaica under a Fulbright grant, learning about the shift in Jamaican culture from retributive to restorative models of justice.

January 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Save the Date: 2017 New Clinicians Conference, May 6 in Denver

From CLEA:


The Clinical Legal Education Association's
2017 New Clinicians Conference
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Denver, Colorado

This year's New Clinicians Conference, hosted by the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), will take place at the Colorado Bar Association in downtown Denver, within walking distance from the AALS Clinical Conference hotel.  The full-day program will include multiple plenary and facilitated small group sessions, as well as break-out sessions.  If you are new to clinical teaching, please consider this event when making travel arrangements.

Online registration and additional details will be available in a forthcoming announcement.  Registration for the New Clinicians Conference is separate from the AALS Clinical Conference.

If you have any questions, please contact:  Cindy Batt ( or Chrissy Cerniglia (

January 17, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2017

A wish for MLK Day--Remember the poor will still need our help, too.

Much is going to change for Americans over the next weeks and years with the new Administration.  With change comes fear and in this case change looks to be formidable.  It seems like every moment, we are bombarded with information reminding us of people whose needs and legal rights need to be protected now more than ever and asking us to support them.  We are pressed to bring foremost to our minds many issues.  People’s free speech rights may be challenged.  Non-citizens may be harassed or deported.  Women will not be respected.  Gay and transgender people may lose gains made over the last few years.  Many may lose healthcare.  It is scary.  These people need help and protections.  The warnings we get are real and they are right.  Just worrying about these things is not enough.  Steps must be taken to ensure that people are protected.  Sometimes, it is protecting people who may be close to or similar to us and whose problems we understand viscerally.  Sometimes it is protecting people who are just people that we cannot stand to see potentially harmed by what seems like coming vast change and possible attack.

I am afraid, too, about many of these issues.  My fear, however, is that in the overwhelming barrage of all of this change, the needs of the poor and of the traditionally legally underserved  are forgotten.  As a lawyer and teacher who has spent much of my career working on issues of the poor, one of my biggest fears is that these people who have needed our help  and continue to need our help will be put on the back burner as we struggle to protect other things.

That is not to say that all of the issues described in the first paragraph are not important.  They are.  But what is going to happen over the next few months to the poor?  My clients depend on SSI, a welfare program designed to provide minimal income benefits to poor people with disabilities, on TANF, a welfare program designed to provide much less but at least something  to parents with children, and on SNAP benefits.  Will those programs continue to exist?  Will they be under attack?  Even if they are not, my clients still need help proving they need these benefits.  Won’t it still be a problem that like many states, my state has chosen long before this election to dismantle General Assistance for those who cannot qualify for other income support programs?  Don’t these issues still need to be addressed?

My fear for the coming months and years is that we will help those like us more than those not like us.  For well over a year now, I have been struggling to write a law review article about legal triage, a topic many have discussed before me in the clinical legal world.   My continuing struggle as a former glorified pro bono coordinator, as a legal services attorney, and now as a law professor is that the people that we relate to most are really the people who get help.  It is easy to see that people like us are people we have to help.  We help those with disabilities when we know family or friends with disabilities.  We help people with health insurance when we know those who have struggled without it or feel we know those at risk.  My fear for the next few months is that those who we do not generally see who have often been the traditional clients that advocates for the legally underserved have helped will be left behind as we struggle to protect people like us or people we know on issues that are really, really important.  My hope is that I and my students will remember that there are still real needs among our traditional client base.  I do not argue that we necessarily need to help them the way that I try to with my students through individual work.  There are likely better ways and certainly just as good ways of working for the poor that are  as important or better than what we do.  But my wish for MLK Day is that people do not forget this group.  While we struggle to work on other issues that are really important, let's continue to focus on the needs of the poor. 

January 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

JOBS: Cal State - Chico: Undergraduate Professor of Legal Studies in its Community Legal Information Center

Via Dr. Mahalley D. Allen, a position in legal studies and Cal State - Chico's innovative, undergraduate legal clinic:


Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice


California State University, Chico is committed to achieving the goals of equal opportunity and endeavors to employ faculty and staff of the highest quality reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the state. We are committed to achieving excellence through diversity in the classroom and the workplace. We strive to establish a climate that welcomes, celebrates, and promotes respect for the contributions of all students, faculty, and staff

The Position: The Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice invites applications for a tenure-track position in legal studies at the Assistant Professor level. The position begins August 2017.

Minimum Qualifications: The minimum requirements for appointment to this position are: a Bachelor’s degree, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from an accredited law school, current membership in the State of California Bar or membership within one year of the start of employment, ability to teach courses in clinical legal education (i.e., Community Legal Information Center) and courses in the Legal Studies program, as well as the capacity to engage in publishable academic and/or legal/professional research. 

Preferred Qualifications:  Preference will be given to applicants with any of the following: legal clinical experience, paralegal supervision, experience in practicing law, teaching experience, law review participation and/or additional degrees, such as a L.L.M. or Ph.D. In addition to teaching courses in clinical legal education, other primary teaching responsibilities may include courses in any one of the following areas: constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, civil litigation, introduction to legal studies, alternative dispute resolution, administrative law, and moot court.

Responsibilities: This tenure-track position carries responsibilities in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service to the Department and University. Teaching assignments are based upon qualifications of the individual and the needs of the department.                     

Salary: Salary commensurate with education and experience.

The Department: The Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice offers undergraduate degrees in political science (including an option in legal studies), criminal justice, international relations, and public administration, as well as Masters degrees in political science and public administration. We have an exciting curriculum, with numerous options to meet a host of academic interests, and an active and productive faculty committed to excellence in teaching and scholarship. Over 1,000 students major in our department’s programs. Additional information about our Department is available at Additional information about the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences is available at


The Legal Studies Program: The Legal Studies Program within the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice includes an active moot court program, a paralegal certificate program, and the Community Legal Information Center (CLIC). Founded in 1969, CLIC is an extensive undergraduate law clinic designed to benefit participating students by providing hands-on legal training and active learning experiences. CLIC also provides a unique civic engagement program that helps serve the legal service needs of Northern California. Additional information about the Legal Studies Program is available at:


Closing Date: Review of applications will begin on February 6, 2017, and continue until the position is filled.


How to Apply:   All applicants must apply online at:   


Complete online applications must include: curriculum vitae or resume, cover letter, complete set of undergraduate and law school transcripts, and teaching evaluations if available. Three letters of recommendation are also required and should be submitted to the Search Committee Chair.


Job-related questions and letters of recommendation should be directed to:

Dr. Mahalley Allen, Search Committee Chair

Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice

California State University, Chico
Chico, CA 95929-0455 , 530-898-6506

January 12, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

JOBS: Pepperdine Startup Law Clinic in the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law

Supervising Attorney in Pepperdine's new Startup Law Clinic in the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship & the Law

The Supervising Attorney will teach and supervise students practicing in the Pepperdine Startup Law Clinic (the "SLC"). In the SLC, law students learn and train through law practice under the supervision of the Supervising Attorney. The SLC provides legal services to entrepreneurs and startup businesses in corporate organization and financing transactions. The Supervising Attorney will teach the seminar component of the SLC course with an adjunct faculty appointment. The SLC contributes to the University's mission by increasing the School of Law's capacity to teach, train and form professionals as well as serving the local entrepreneurial community. The SLC serves the School of Law's strategic plan by increasing the profile of the School of Law within the vibrant Southern California entrepreneurial community.


  • The Supervising Attorney will supervise law students in practice with professional responsibility for all client services. The SLC's primary focus is in startup financing. The specific legal questions any given client may present may range from issues of corporate law to IP and licensing, to tax and employment, as well as finance. Matters could include entity formation, drafting shareholder and operating agreements, negotiating investment or loan agreements, advising on how to structure internal compensation structures for founders, drafting vendor or services agreements, and many other basic legal needs for startup companies.
  • Uphold University mission through work performed.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

The above information has been designed to indicate the general level of work performed by employees within this classification. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job.

Skills and Qualifications

Required: The Supervising Attorney must hold a JD degree from an ABA accredited law school and must be a licensed attorney in good standing in California. The Supervising Attorney must have substantial transactional legal experience in startup and entrepreneurial law practice, especially in financing transactions. The Supervising Attorney must have broad and deep relationships in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Southern California and the ability to secure strategic partnerships for the SLC.

Preferred: Preferred candidates will have expertise in other relevant fields such as intellectual property, tax, or mergers & acquisitions.

Qualified individuals should be able to articulate a strong commitment to diversity, and have the ability to work effectively with individuals from different backgrounds.

Offers of employment are contingent upon successful completion of a criminal, education and employment screening.

This is a restricted, exempt, 40 hour per week position.

Salary: Commensurate with experience


Follow this link for more information and instructions for applying.

January 10, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Getting Unstuck and Design Thinking

Everyone in our work encounters students who are in crisis about their callings, opportunities, and direction.  Most of us are sympathetic because we have all passed through those years, bedraggled and anxious about what we should do and how we should get there. Some of us still are.  

Students seek counsel and advice as they try to choose between their several options or as they despair at having too few. Many students (and professors and people) suffer profound questions about their lives and purpose as they finally achieve admission to law school with great dreams of how they imagine it to be, only to be utterly confused and depressed at the reality. Many students (and professors and people) are paralyzed by the fear of missing out, worried into stasis because choosing one path will necessarily eliminate others. They cannot square their reality with their expectations, and they are terrified of making an early step that will lead them into the wilderness instead of their home. In my experience, I meet many students who are people of faith, praying desperately and waiting to learn what God wills for their lives.    

Today, I listened to a very wise episode of  The Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam, applying design thinking to the problem of people feeling stuck in lives that do not reflect who they see themselves to be.  I recommend it for teachers and students looking for a useful framework for thinking about work, vocation, purpose, and decision-making.

Here’s the link to the episode and an excerpt:

Many of his students come to him saying they don't know what to do with their lives. They want to find the "right" answer. He tells them, 'There is more than one you in there.'

"So the problem with the current approach that lots of people are taking," he says, "is it starts with the wrong question. And the wrong question is, how do I figure out that one, best solution to my life?"

Design thinking is about recognizing your constraints, realizing there isn't just one answer, and then trying something: "Building a prototype," getting information from it, and then trying something else.

This reflects some of the advice I often give students, hard won as the wisdom of my own failures and struggles.  

It’s important to understand the difference between a problem and a circumstance, the “gravity problem” in the podcast, that can help us set more realistic expectations as a basis for our decisions.  

Rather than slogging through anguish trying to decide what to do in their work, students should imagine what kind of life they want to live. Making decisions consistent with values and preferences can be more liberating than pining for the perfect job. This also addresses the fear of missing out, because many options might be consistent with values and preferences along an evolving path.  As the podcast suggests, there are many different potential versions of our lives, so we experiment with prototypes to refine the best possible options in a moment within our circumstances.   

The episode suggests design thinking, not as self-help or mystical psychology, but as a framework to guide decisions and reflection for students stuck at the end of education and the beginning of a career. This is a critical moment, but it is only one more step in a long journey.

January 8, 2017 in Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dear ___________

This term I try something new. 

The students in my clinic will write a letter to themselves. The letter will be them speaking to themselves 14-15 weeks from now when clinic is over. They will tell themselves what they accomplished, what they did, and how they did it.  It is the student setting goals for themselves before the experience begins.

The clinical students will set goals in this letter it is hoped. By stating their accomplishments, they will set a path of achievement and work. The clinical faculty and the law school they attend is there for them to set goals and outcomes, but they can set goals as well and seek outcomes. The letter is a means to set them on that personal course.

The letter gets them to consider what they are now. Are they fearful of speaking in court or in front of people? Are they comfortable conducting site investigations? Are they comfortable with their interviewing skills? Do they negotiate well ? Or maybe, they have bigger goals such as they really want to learn how to infuse social justice into their work and learn it because it is what they want to do as a legal professional?  The letter can be very different for all of the students.

The most important thing is the student should be identifying their own concerns, the areas of legal practice skills that they know they can work on to improve, or the type of learning and development they want out of the clinical experience.  It could be anything. Maybe they just want to get along better with their co-students. Or, maybe they want to not be late once for any appointment related to the clinic. Regardless, the idea is to have the student embrace their goals and pursue them.

This idea of a letter to oneself came from a writing retreat I attended years ago. It lasted for 10 days. When the retreat was over, we were told to write letters to ourselves. The letters would be mailed to us (or handed back to us) in a  year.  We were charged in the letter with talking to ourselves and saying what we accomplished in that year.  Some goals were ambitious, some were basic, but we set the course of our development and work.

What I noticed from this experience is because I wrote specific things in the letter I pursued these goals strongly. I focused on them. If I had some challenges in achieving the goals, I sought help or I slowed down and refocused. Regardless, the letter became part of a path for me because I knew what I wanted to achieve and I made the effort. It was as if the letter made me push harder.  Reading my letter a year later was quite interesting too and something I welcomed. 

Imagine a letter written before a basketball camp that lasted a month. An excerpt of the letter might read like this:

Dear Brian:

You have worked hard on your left hand dribbling now. You have gotten much better at dribbling left handed and you feel good about that. You also needed to work on your free throws and you now almost never miss. You put in the time.

The clinical experience is increasingly important and is as always focused upon the actual skills of legal practice, among other things. This letter is just another tool to push that goal.  With so much focus upon the all important practical skills of legal education, this letter to oneself is just something else to use. 




January 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bob Kuehn: Data Show Most Law Schools Are Not Preparing Students Well for Practice

In a post at the Best Practices blog, Prof. Robert Kuehn examines empirical data on the performance of law schools in preparing students for practice.  He finds and demonstrates that most law schools continue to fall short of preparing students for practice, even many years after the ABA and most law schools declared preparation for practice to be a principal goal of legal education.

More recent studies have not reflected any improvement in the role of legal education in preparing graduates for practice. The American Bar Foundation’s After the JD study tracks the careers of a sample of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000. It asked lawyers three and seven years of out of school if “law school prepared me well for my legal career.” On this fundamental objective of legal education, law schools failed miserably — 40% of lawyers after three years of practice and 50% after seven years said that law school did not adequately prepare them. Both groups overwhelmingly agreed that law school was too theoretical and unconcerned with real life practice. In another study of early-career lawyers, only 28% believed that law school prepared them to practice law.

January 5, 2017 in Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Clinic Mural

UCD Mural

Like many clinicians, I found this past semester challenging. (And yes, “challenging” is code for all of the other descriptors and curses best left off this blog.) I was fortunate to work with 10 especially engaged UC Davis law students in a clinic serving victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. But the semester seemed unusually fraught with health issues for students, staff, and faculty alike, and our clients faced particularly frustrating setbacks in court. Then there was the election…

But there was also a new kind of energy in our building - involving scaffolding, paint, and pizza. Professor Maceo Montoya and the undergraduate students* enrolled in his Fall 2016 Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop created and painted a mural for a large wall in our clinic cottage. (The picture does not do it justice.) The left side depicts “trapped,” portraying isolation, hardship, and the lack of accessibility to lawyers for our clients. The center represents “agency,” portraying our clinic law students, the history of our building as a farmworker cottage, and the hope the rising sun brings. The right side shows “liberation,” including the chains of oppression transforming into quetzals, the safe space provided through our clinic, legal successes for clients, and “justice” written in several languages.

Thanks to connections made by one of our Immigration Clinic Directors, Professor Holly Cooper, and the creativity and hard work of Professor Montoya and his students, our workspace is more colorful, more inviting, and more meaningful. And we now have an everyday reminder of the reason we do the work we do.

Happy New Year!

*The students who painted the mural were: Vanessa Barajas Orozco, Castro, Anllely, Monica Duarte Martinez, Jose Espinoza, Jazmin Guerrero, Daisy Hernandez, Kristi Lin, Cecilia Lopez, Jeannette Martinez, Raul Mercado, Annette Miramontes, Briana Nunez, Jessica Orozco, Derick Romero, Shelby Sanders, and Natalie Villalobos Gomez. Several mentioned an interest in social justice lawyering, so keep an eye out for their law school applications.  

January 4, 2017 in Clinic News, Interdisciplinary Programs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Clinicians and Clinical Events at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting

The 2017 AALS Annual Meeting opens Tuesday, January 3, in San Francisco. The AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education and the Clinical Legal Education Association have several events, formal and informal, on the menu.


Tuesday, January 3:

CLEA Board Meeting, 3:00 – 5:00 (UC-Hastings,100 McAllister St., 3d Floor)

CLEA Membership Meeting, 5:30 – 6:30 (UC-Hastings, 198 McAllister St., Ground Floor)


Wednesday, January 4:

A Practical Approach to Developing and Assessing Experiential, Meaningful Placements for Incoming and Outgoing J.D. Law, International Legal Exchange and Post-Graduate Legal Education Joint Program, Co-Sponsored by Clinical Legal Education, East Asian Law & Society, & Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers, 1:30 – 4:30 (Yosemite C)

Jessica Burns (Global Experiences), William H. Byrnes (Texas A&M), Gillian Dutton (Seattle), Jayanth K. Krishnan (Indiana – Maurer), Charlotte Ku (Texas A&M), Srividhya Ragavan (Texas A&M), Susan B. Schechter (UC-Berkeley), Aric K. Short (Texas A&M), Jeffrey Ellis Thomas (UMKC)


AALS Externship Committee Meeting and Dinner, 7:00 – 9:00 (Amber India, 25 Yerba Buena Lane)


Thursday, January 5:

Addressing Implicit Bias in Teaching, Clinical Legal Education Section, 8:30 – 10:15  (Continental Ballroom 4)      

Rachel Godsil (Seton Hall), Carol L. Izumi (UC-Hastings), Verna Myers (Verna Myers Consulting Group), Victoria Plaut (UC-Hastings)


AALS Clinical Legal Education Section Luncheon, 12:00 – 1:30 (Ticket Required)

This luncheon includes the presentation of the 2017 Pincus Award to Frank Askin (Rutgers) and Tom Geraghty (Northwestern)


AALS Discussion Group: Law School Curricula and Practice-Readiness: Perfect Partners or Strange Bedfellows?, 1:30 – 3:15 (Union Square 1&2)

Constance E. Bagley (Yale), Bradford Colbert (Mitchell | Hamline), Randy J. Diamond (Missouri), Claire Donohue (American), Kate Elengold (North Carolina), Michelle Falkoff (Northwestern), Andrew J. Haile (Elon), Norrinda Hayat (UDC), John D. King (Washington and Lee), Laurie S. Kohn (George Washington), M. Isabel Medina (Loyola  - New Orleans), Ann L. Nowak (Touro), David Anthony Santacroce (Michigan), Jessica Steinberg (George Washington), Jane K. Stoever (UC-Irvine), Bryan Taylor (Concordia), Paul R. Tremblay (Boston College)


Friday, January 6:

AALS Arc of Career Program, Chartering New Waters: Clinicians' Post-Tenure Reflections, 8:30 – 10:15 (Continental Ballroom 6)

Kristina Campbell (UDC), Patience A. Crowder (Denver, Susan R. Jones (George Washington), Laurie S. Kohn (George Washington), Karla M. McKanders (Tennessee), Jayesh Rathod (American), Robin Walker Sterling (Denver) Elizabeth Young (U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review)

January 2, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 30, 2016

CLEA Newsletter Winter 2016-17


Together with the CLEA Newsletter Committee, I am very happy to announce that the Winter 2016-17 issue of the CLEA Newsletter has just been posted here:

In this issue, you'll find lots of interesting content, including: CLEA's Strategic Plan; articles on clinical teaching by Robert Kuehn (Washington Univ.-St. Louis), Jennifer Oliva & Valena Beety (WVU), Dana Malkus (St. Louis Univ.), and Rebecca Nieman (Thomas Jefferson); CLEA committee and advocacy updates; and several announcements about upcoming events at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.  Plus, you'll find good news from our colleagues around the world.

Thanks, and Happy New Year

CLEA Newsletter Committee
Lauren Bartlett (Ohio Northern)
Tanya Asim Cooper (Pepperdine)
Susan Donovan (Alabama)
D'lorah Hughes (UCI Irvine)
Kate Kruse (Mitchell Hamline)

December 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sign-on Letter Opposing the Nomination of Sessions

Law professors at several schools—including Denver, Georgetown, Washington and Lee, U.C. Berkeley, Northwestern, and University of Chicago—have organized a sign-on letter asking senators to reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General because it "presents a very real threat to civil rights and civil liberties, to underrepresented groups and people of color, and to the principles of inclusion and tolerance we all hold dear."   They have also launched a related fundraising effort to take out ads in local newspapers targeting senators who are undecided about their vote. 

The letter already has 1100 signatures and counting.  You can add your signature at  The fundraising goal is $13,000 and the group has raised about $10,500 to pay for newspaper ads. You can pitch-in to the fundraising effort at

December 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The ABA sues the Dept. of Education to protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The ABA issued this statement describing its suit against the Department of Education to protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after recent actions by the DOE to redefine qualifying work.

Here is an excerpt from the ABA's statement:

The suit, which also includes four individual plaintiffs who were denied eligibility under PSLF, details how the Department of Education changed the eligibility requirement for work that was clearly “public service” after already approving the work and after individuals made decisions and loan repayments based on those approvals. . . .

The complaint contends that the individual plaintiffs (Geoffrey Burkhart, Michelle Quintero-Millan, Jamie Rudert, and Kate Voigt) made financial and life decisions based on the program. Not only did they follow the rules of the program by making loan payments while employed in public service jobs, but three of the plaintiffs received verification from the DOE that their jobs qualified under the program. A fourth plaintiff, Quintero-Millan, believed she qualified because she worked in a public service job for a nonprofit that the Department of Education had already certified as qualifying for the program. The plaintiffs were later informed that their jobs no longer qualified and their previous payments did not count towards the program.

December 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Comparative Law for Spanish-English Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices

My very first job after law school was in Ecuador.  Pause and think about that.  As a newly-minted lawyer, my first job was in Spanish, not English; in a civil, not common law, jurisdiction; and in a country that I had never even visited before I moved there for a year.  And, not surprisingly, I struggled.  I declared victory the day I pieced together the vocabulary and the wherewithal to get my suits dry-cleaned.  Which is to say nothing of the struggle of learning the history, culture, context, and daily practice of Ecuadorian law.

A new book, Comparative Law for Spanish-English Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices / Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes: Culturas jurídicas, términos jurídicos y prácticas jurídicas (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2016), takes a close look at the legal systems of the U.S., England, Spain, and Mexico to give bilingual lawyers a foundational understanding of the common principles and practices in these jurisdictions, as well as practical and doctrinal insights into a variety of English- and Spanish-speaking jurisdictions.  The book, written by Professors S.I. Strong of the University of Missouri, Katia Fach Gómez of the University of Zaragoza, and Laura Carballo Piñeiro of the University of Santiago de Compostela, examines “various types of legal authorities and how such materials are interpreted and applied in the two legal traditions” (7), discusses substantive areas of law and procedure, and then looks at etiquette and practice in the two traditions. The book is a bilingual text geared to helping those who are conversationally fluent in a second language achieve legal fluency. The authors envision the book being used in both group and individual study, and it is available in both hard copy and electronic form (Elgar is currently offering a discount on website sales). If you are interested in the book, visit Elgar for more information or contact Professor S.I. Strong.

December 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"The Privilege of Stillness" - Aleppo

The Privilege of Stillness


See the hordes of humans trying to escape, let it pass quickly.

See the buildings blown into dust, scroll faster.

See the child marred by mud and blood, let it hastily roll over you.

The mind hides from itself, defiantly shouting: I will not be moved. I simply cannot bear witness to this suffering. I cannot and I will not. I am choice. I am privilege. I am closed, clamped and wound down, tightly shut off and sealed. I will not be moved because I choose not to be moved.

See the hordes of humans trying to escape, let it pass quickly.

See the buildings blown into dust, scroll faster.

See the child marred by mud and blood, let it hastily roll over you.

Until the heaps of images and stacks of grief mount so high they finally tumble into a single question: why

Slowly cracks of light appear through doorway’s spine; slowly the wheels of the mind unlock and spin around reason like a tire falteringly trying to grip the pavement in a deluge. The mind no longer completely hidden from itself, softly responding:  It is for your own protection. The Color of Fear explains it well. I do not have the courage to face another reality, as it would alter mine. Validating your experience will surely invalidate my own. Your already broken actuality will absolutely break mine. Can I survive myself so that you might live? And with more questions, light spills through the doorway and wheel finds the groove.

See the hordes of humans trying to escape, look at the picture.

See the buildings blown into non-existence, open the article.

See the child marred by mud and blood, haunted, and finally read the words: “A complete meltdown of humanity.”


Fall into history, crash into sharing, stagger into realization: one minute of learning is never wasted, one ounce of compassion is never squandered, and one moment of shared humanity has the capacity to haphazardly propel you into the person you hope to be. Though it is often too late, it is never too late.

Now, move.

December 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 12, 2016

"Water your own grass"

I watched the little video below, and it completely reminded me of something I learned from Nancy Levit at a AALS Clinical Law Conference presentation a few years back. Nancy may not know it, but her advice profoundly changed something in me (and hopefully future generations of lawyers - thank you, thank you, thank you for your books Nancy and Doug)!

"The best advice I ever heard and internalized was to "water your own grass." This is applicable to so much in life be it work, relationship or friendship. If you truly care about something, invest in it, get curious about it, figure out how, even in small ways, you can improve it, and you will not regret the exercise. Even when you find aspects you don't appreciate (as you surely will because everything is "flawed"), your picture will be formed with such a new and complex understanding that it's impossible not to find beauty and some measure of clarity in such a tangled web. Good luck out there. Oh, and I almost forgot, this includes the "self" too, you beautiful, flawed, complicated human! (from my Facebook interwebs post this morning). Enjoy!


December 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Long Walk Home

Long walk home

For the first time today, I noticed I was walking like a Jamaican. Jamaicans don’t “walk” so much as they stroll, they saunter, they meander…and it wasn’t until about halfway home that I realized I wasn’t racing to one of the imaginary finish lines I often create in my mind. I was suddenly just walking. And that revolutionary act transported me to a world that I occupy but am not really a part of. The observation from those moments was enough for me to rethink my whole racing strategy because there was real, tangible joy to be found on the other side, where sandals meet the road.

During that long walk home, my eyes locked onto other eyes and held gazes that revealed humanities composed of infinite stories and ancestors, as complex, rich and meaningful as my own.  I felt and can internalize and identify with the phrase “the grass tickled my feet.” I have now heard the songs of birds while discovering a mahogany-magenta-maroon color that I’m not sure Crayola’s 96 has managed to capture in quite the same way as that flower. I heroically survived a tense encounter with a ferret (what Jamaicans call a rrrat – a hard r laced with a trace of disgust) as he watched me, watching him, watching me; both of us wary and thankful as we parted ways. And remarkably, my body remembers how to walk, though I have often created my own abnormal, unsustainable, ungodly rhythms that leave me sweating, exhausted and aching, my body knows my natural stride includes a gentle swinging of hips, though I have long tried to subdue it, and feet that don’t so much step but glide over asphalt and ant; how quickly I unlearned all the harsh lessons I’ve taught myself.  

When you suddenly appreciate how full a moment can be and see what was previously unseen, in reflection, you also come into close contact with what’s absent. On that long walk home, I did not think about the election once. I did not think about what I would have for dinner or a snack. I didn’t think about buying Christmas gifts or creating grocery lists or any lists at all. The omnipresent, self-induced anxiety cycle ceded for while allowing new prioritization and restructuring of a truth long suppressed: connection over technology, natural over manufactured, curiosity over fear, inhabiting over externalizing, and journey over destination.

And I want that for you, my dearest friends. I want you to walk with me, if even for just a few seconds. I know during this time of year, that during this time in history, that with a society constantly telling us there is not enough time and that we are not enough, telling us only about absence, lack, scarcity and need…that walking this way can seem impossible. But I am witness to what’s on the other side and my desire for you is stronger than the misguided belief of impossibility.  You can see humanity the way I saw it, hear the birds sing the way I heard them, experience color the way I saw it, you can trust and come home to yourself; forgetting by letting yourself remember what you have always known. Forget the broken hearts and promises, forget the election and divisiveness, forget the endless amount of work that will always exist, forget the real and self-created responsibilities, forget the hurt, the past and the pain for just a little while. Let your body do what you are convinced it doesn’t know how to do; let it lead you home. Connect. Commune. Wonder. Inhabit. And for just a little while, may your destination not be nearly as important as your journey. As they say in Jamaica, “Walk gud my friend, walk gud.”*

*An expression used to wish good fortune and a good trip on departing travelers (Wiwords)

December 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)