Saturday, February 17, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where they share their perspectives on their own experiences with clinical education.This post is from Argemira Flórez, a current 2L at Columbia Law School. Argemira was a student in Columbia's Mediation Clinic last semester and is now taking the Advanced Mediation Clinic.
One of my main goals while taking the Mediation Clinic last semester was to make a judgment as to whether mediation produces better justice than adjudication. While the lawyer in me found valid claims for both, the citizen in me found that mediation more closely aligns with my view for “better justice.” In my view, mediation produces better justice because it empowers people to be agents of their own change. It returns power to people whose main complaints are usually founded on a loss of power, or agency in some capacity.
Robert A. Baruch Bush is an author whose discussion on mediation vs. adjudication informed my views on why I think mediation produces better justice. In one of his pieces, Bush wrote an imaginary conversation between a judge, law clerk, law professor, and a court administrator, on the legitimacy and need for mediation. Through his realistic, albeit fictional, depictions of the goals of each player in the legal process, I became acutely aware of how the legal system is often much more loyal to its processes than to the people whom it is supposed to be serving through those processes. For example, Bush highlighted the goals of a court administrator as saving time and money. He presented the goals of a law professor as protecting the court as a public institution and promoting its values. Bush contrasted those goals with that of a mediator, which was to reach the best possible substantive result or solution to the parties’ problem. Admittedly, both litigators and mediators are loyal to a process. However, it seems to me that mediators are loyal to a process that more readily cedes to its parties’ will. In ceding to the parties’ will, mediation becomes a process that both protects, and empowers parties as they advocate for themselves. To me, that is better justice.
Unfortunately, I must admit that there are some cases that cannot be resolved through the mediation process. For example, there are many obvious reasons as to why mediation might not be the best means of resolving immigration disputes. Challenges might include power imbalances of the parties at the table, confidentiality concerns, and a heavy influence of law in the mediation However, I should note that the 9th Circuit has approved the use of mediation in some cases in the past (e.g. cases where a change in a petitioner’s situation might allow for an adjustment in status). It is my opinion that in issues of a polycentric nature such as these, the mediation process may fall short of what is actually needed (i.e. policy reform). Nevertheless, I agree with Michael Cardozo when he says that ADR may not be the answer to the resolution of every government problem, but it can play a major constructive role in resolving social policy disputes.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where they share their perspectives on their own experiences with clinical education. This post is from Kate Joohyun Lee, a current 2L at Columbia Law School. Kate was a student in Columbia's mediation clinic and is now taking the Advanced Mediation Clinic.
It rains a lot in Indonesia; 4 pm on most days, and it’s usually a downpour. Water skips down the windows, trees dance in the wind, and my dog has tracked mud onto the porch again. I’ve always loved rain. I’ve always loved watching the water come from nowhere and wash things clean. And at the end of it all, the world smells brand new.
Meeting another human being is like looking out the window of your car on a rainy day and noticing the car next to you. You see the shape and perhaps the color of the car, but the details are always changing as you or the other car zooms by. Sometimes you and an unwitting neighbor stop at a red light together, and only then can you sort of see that the paint job is scratched, the side mirror is a bit bent, and is that a dog in the back seat? A university sticker on the back window—a proud mom.
That’s how I felt whenever I mediated. The people sitting at the table and I had stopped at a red light together. We were discussing the effects of human flaws, things that had broken down through a lack of communication, generational poverty, racism, loneliness, anxiety…the list goes on. It’s one thing to conceptually know that people fall through the cracks. It’s another thing to meet them, face-to-face, to shake their cold hands or to offer words of encouragement that hits them in a way you never expected. To find yourself at the copy machine on the third floor of Brooklyn Housing Court, fielding questions from desperate strangers about how to file a complaint. To mediate mundane problems like leaks in the roof and abandoned cars caused by people who were just being human.
Something beautiful about meeting people in their worst place is that a lot of masks come off. In life outside of the mediation room, peaks are endlessly advertised; glimpses of the valleys are rare. But in the mediation room, you’re in the valley with them. This isn’t about victories, it’s about patching up failures and navigating the broken systems that have brought the parties to court.
It would be too simple and naïve of me to say, “this clinic changed me because I saw that so many people found life difficult.” Because I saw in myself flaws and failings, too. I’ve found myself in the valleys. I think of my snap judgments, my impatient moments, my misguided emotions. I think of the many times I assumed people were just rude or unkind, instead of tired, anxious, or lonely. I’ve always hoped that people wouldn’t look at my worst 1% and judge the rest—but I failed to extend that same grace to other people.
I walked into this clinic hoping to come out of it comfortable with conflict. But more than being comfortable with conflict, I am now a bit more comfortable dwelling in the valleys with people. I am a bit more comfortable with being human. A bit more comfortable with sleepless nights, with angry and bitter mornings. With failings and shortcomings and chips on my shoulder and on my nails.
My reconciliation with the broken parts of life have made the beautiful parts of life shine brighter, and now the broken parts hurt less. In becoming comfortable with conflict, strangely, I have found peace.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where they share their perspectives on their own experiences with clinical education. This post is from Yoon Won Song. Born in Seoul Korea, Yoon is currently a third-year student at Columbia Law School. She has taken both Mediation Clinic and Advanced Mediation Clinic in the past and is continuing her third semester of the clinic.
Mediation clinic taught me to view law in a very special way. It taught me to accept the imperfections in the legal system and showed me how to navigate and overcome those deficiencies. As a law student, I used to believe that the legal system effectively reflected the principles of justice, but the more I studied the traditional black letter law, the more I became aware of the system’s shortcomings. Different people have different conceptions of justice and such complexities cannot be reduced into some master-value rule. Oftentimes, legal system fails to account for various definitions of justice people have and court judgments do not offer the best solutions.
Mediating real parties in real life disputes showed me that there are ways to fill such gaps in the traditional legal system. Court-referred mediation is one of such instruments. Usually, by the time parties appear in court, things have become so adversarial that parties would not independently suggest mediation or negotiation, but many parties I have mediated were open, and even eager, to the idea of mediating and settling. They wanted to try mediation, settle the matter, and move on. What made them so eager to try mediation? Perhaps it’s the anxiety that built up while waiting for a judgment or the crude reality that the judge will side with only one of the parties. By the time parties appear in court, parties may have become doubtful of their claims than when they initially decided to file their claims in court. I realized that parties to a lawsuit don’t necessarily seek court judgment and may wish for a different method of resolution.
Court-referred mediation offers parties a second chance to opt-out of the traditional law and resolve their conflicts through open and honest conversation. It allows them to find a win-win solution tailored to their specific case that court judgments cannot offer. Had the judge not refer their cases to mediation some of the most successful settlements I have seen would never have been possible.
As a student in Advanced Mediation Clinic, I also participated in Columbia’s partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), where we learned that even global scale conflicts, complex business disputes, and multi-cultural tensions could be resolved peacefully through mediation and negotiation.
After being exposed to various types of mediation, I came to realize that mediation can successfully fill the gaps that are present not only in legal system, but in society as well. Clinical education has shaped the way I view law and society and imparted me with important skills that I will carry personally and professionally after law school.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where we get to hear their perspective on their own experiences with clinical education. This post is from Ayisha McHugh, a current 2L at Columbia Law School. Ayisha was a student in Columbia's mediation clinic and is now taking the Advanced Mediation Clinic.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
The Transactional Clinical Conference Planning Committee is now accepting proposals for the 17th Annual Transactional Clinical Conference. The full RFP is included below.
17th Annual Transactional Clinicians’ Conference
Breaking Barriers to Entrepreneurship
April 27-28, 2018 – Chicago, Illinois
Conference Website: http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/
The Conference Planning Committee invites your proposals for the 17th Annual Transactional Clinical Conference in Chicago, Illinois on April 27 and 28, 2018. Proposals can be for workshops, panels, or poster presentations.
PROPOSAL DEADLINE IS FEBRUARY 23, 2018
Every year, the annual Transactional Clinicians Conference (“TCC”) provides clinicians rare opportunities to up their game, both in teaching students and in assisting entrepreneurs. In 2018, 100+ transactional clinicians will join forces in Chicago to take on traditional barriers in teaching and practice that have kept new businesses from accessing the high quality legal representation they need to succeed.
The theme of the 2018 TCC will be “Breaking Barriers to Entrepreneurship.” We encourage clinicians to propose topics that take a broad and inclusive view of “barriers” to entrepreneurship and innovative approaches to breaking those barriers. For instance, proposals could address the following:
Barriers for Teachers:
- Few opportunities for teachers to learn about innovations in teaching
- Limited law school resources to open and sustain transactional clinics
- Competing priorities to juggle in teaching, supervising students, institutional service, marketing, administration, fundraising, and scholarship
Barriers for Entrepreneurs
- Uncertainty as to whether and how to seek legal counsel or legal knowledge
- Access to legal help and legal knowledge restricted by wealth, geography, language, immigration status, and computer competency
- Student entrepreneurs unable to translate innovations from the classroom into the marketplace
- Challenges in accessing capital and other resources, particularly in underserved areas and among underserved populations
Barriers for Communities Wanting to Support Entrepreneurs
- Limited public knowledge about the legal needs of new businesses
- Limited public education opportunities to learn about the legal aspects of starting a business
- Insufficient connections between transactional clinics, law firms and legal service organizations
- Insufficient connections between transactional clinics and other business support organizations, such as chambers of commerce, incubators, and Small Business Development Centers
The two-day TCC will be organized around workshops, posters, panels, and plenaries that address the above barriers while sharing best practices. The 2018 TCC Planning Committee invites your proposals for presentations that highlight innovations in:
- teaching practices
- expanding access to legal assistance to diverse communities of entrepreneurs
- helping entrepreneurs find capital, arrange relationships with workers, and protect IP
- involving students in education efforts to improve public knowledge about how to start a business
- helping student entrepreneurs translate innovations into new products and services
- integrating alumni and local bar members in student education
- utilizing web technology to reach entrepreneurs in remote areas
- gathering and analyzing case data about entrepreneur clients to assist policymakers
- Proposals should not exceed 2 pages.
- The committee welcomes individual and group proposals.
- For individual proposals, we may endeavor to assemble presenters on panels organized around a common theme.
- Given the involvement of digital media in students’ and entrepreneurs’ daily lives, presenters will be encouraged to leaven their content with videos, topical news, pictures, and other content.
- Proposals for workshops or panels should plan for approximately 40 to 50 minutes of presentation time. Proposals for poster presentations should describe, in general terms, the poster that will be prepared, and presenters should plan for short, continuous conversations with attendees at the poster reception.
- The TCC this year will be designed to provide CLE credit for participants. Speakers and panelists will be required to submit materials required for CLE accreditation.
Please submit proposals online at http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/presentations/ . If you have difficulty with any online submissions, contact Heather Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to contact any committee member with questions on the proposals.
If selected, you will be required to submit your conference materials online by March 23 (for sessions intending to generate ethics CLE credits) or April 20 (for all other materials).
Conference & Hotel Registration
Please register online at http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/rsvp/ .
In your registration, please note any dietary restrictions or special requests (lactation rooms, etc.).
Group hotel accommodations are available at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603.
When booking your travel, please keep in mind that the conference will begin with a poster presentation and reception hosted by Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in the evening on Friday, April 27th. The conference will begin early on Saturday, April 28th, and there will be a group conference dinner on Saturday, April 28th. The AALS Clinical Conference will begin on Sunday, April 29th.
As has been our tradition, we hope to secure funding support to defray at least some hotel expenses. In the event our support is insufficient to cover one night for all participants, we will allocate sponsorship first-come, first-served based on the date of registration for the conference.
To be eligible for this benefit, you must register for the conference, and indicate the nights you will need a hotel room in Chicago. Once funding is secured, those who received a free night will be registered directly for that night, and any additional attendees who do not receive this benefit will be given a conference code to take advantage of the discounted block rate, which will be available until April 5, 2018. Please give us your indication as early as possible, as we may need to increase the hotel block for Friday, April 27th to secure a lower rate.
This year’s conference will be paperless. All information and materials will be available online at the TCC 2018 website – http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/ . Please check back frequently for updates on scheduling and materials.
Your Planning Committee:
Heather Harper (IIT Chicago -Kent)
Esther Barron (Northwestern)
Priya Baskaran (WVU)
Bill Kell (Berkeley)
Lynnise Pantin (BC)
Jennifer Prusak (Indiana)
Vicki Phillips (American)
Steve Reed (Northwestern)
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Prof. Bob Kuehn's Post on the Demographics, Diversity, and Salary Data Within Clinical Legal Education
Here's the introduction:
Though clinical faculty have largely moved out of the proverbial basement, they remain a distinct sub-group within most law faculties. Often labeled as something other than law professors (“clinicians”) because of their teaching methods and goals, faculty that teach law clinic and externship courses also differ as a group by gender, race, employment status, and salary from “podium” faculty teaching doctrinal courses. And unlike the movement out of the basement, it’s not clear that clinical and doctrinal faculty are moving closer to each other on those attributes.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
By request of Prof. Tim Iglesias of the University of San Francisco, please see the attached announcement for the ABA's 2018 Affordable Housing and Community Development Law Law Student Legal Writing Competition. For interested students, the deadline is March 3, 2018.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
I am cross-posting my message as CLEA's president for 2018. This message appears in CLEA's Winter 2017-2018 newsletter.
I am grateful to begin service as CLEA’s President in 2018. This community empowers, equips, and inspires. Together we will continue to improve legal education and our work with students and clients. In my first address as CLEA’s President I want to urge us to remember the high calling of clinical legal education. We have important work to do this year.
Clinical legal education has never been more important. Legal education itself stands at a crossroads alongside the nation. We bear an immense responsibility to the public and to the Republic. Law schools and law professors have profound, generational influence on the bar, the judicial system, and the laws that govern the land.
The rule of law is essential to justice within a constitutional order, and it requires constant vigilance. Without the robust rule of law, democracy can become a dodge to pillage the people and profit pirates. The foundation of our American experiment rests on the demand that the governed participate in their own government, that no one will live outside the law established with the consent of the governed.
The rule of law depends on the trust of the governed. Trust in the law requires trust in lawmakers and the legal system. Trust in the legal system requires trust in those who operate and enforce it. Lawyers are the operatives of the rule of law, and if the people do not trust lawyers, they will not trust the system. If the system violates that trust, the rule of law will unravel and become vulnerable to poachers.
Trust in the legal system requires expansive inclusion of the governed. This has been our great, national failure since the founding, the exclusion of people from the system that presumes to govern them. Just as the colonists insisted that they be included in the making of laws that governed them, so do all those disenfranchised across our history.
The rhetorical aspirations of a more perfect union ground the fierce urgency of expansive inclusion in the United States. The founding virtues, however flawed in execution, provide a moral foundation for inclusion and empowerment. Progress toward justice comes in fits and starts, and the jealous powers of exclusion never give ground willingly. The revolutionary United States rejected the idolatry of blood-and-soil nationalism for an order built on laws and ideals. Those laws and ideals must propel us toward inclusion and thriving human dignity.
If we are true to the founding notes of liberty, justice, and equality for all, we will reckon with our laws, lawmaking, law enforcement, and legal systems to guard against exclusion. Justice in all its forms - social, economic, political, legal - rests on the dignity of every person. Human dignity demands inclusion and voice in government and courts that sustain the rule of law. Inequality and inequity in all their forms undermine the experiment and erode trust and reliance in the rule of law. Inequality and inequity threaten the foundations of justice. If the nation is interested in justice under the law, then lawyers must be keen to promote and protect human dignity, equality, and equity wherever we can.
Inclusion gives life to the rule of law; exclusion kills it.
This is the urgent work of legal education. We teach and train lawyers to be public citizens, operatives of the rule of law. To be effective lawyers, our students must have a deep knowledge of the law, expertise in the tools of the trade, and wisdom to apply them both in the service of clients. To be fruitful public citizens, law schools must teach students to criticize the law and improve it, to understand its relationship with lawmakers and the governed, and to witness the nature of justice. Our students must be worthy of trust. They must dignify their neighbors and work for the ever-greater inclusion of all people.
For twenty-five years, this has been CLEA’s mission, to improve legal education, to promote better law teaching, to cultivate the virtues of public citizenship in law students. Pioneering generations of lawyer-teacher-scholars have organized, advocated, and pulled alongside eager students to teach them how to be excellent attorneys.
In 2018, the second year of our five-year strategic plan, we continue their work in this critical institution that binds together schools, clinics, professors, and practices. In each of its committees, CLEA members contribute to the work of justice and good teaching. CLEA’s strategic plan, membership dues, conferences, newsletters, social media platforms, advocacy memos, best practices resources, research, and gatherings all promote the missions of clinical legal education. As we teach students and serve clients, CLEA works to improve the enterprise of legal education and to promote the just rule of law in the United States.
The work of self-government and the rule of law never ends. CLEA continues and accelerates its work to ensure law students become excellent lawyers who promote justice, inclusion, and dignity throughout their long careers at the bar.
Thank you for your work and vision. Thank you for your commitment to our common mission.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Edited by Prof. Tanya Cooper with the CLEA newsletter committee, here is CLEA's Newsletter for Winter 2017-2018.
This first issue of Volume 26 includes articles on clinical teaching by Robert Kuehn (Washington Univ.-St. Louis), Joshua Medina (Alabama), and Millicent Newhouse (Baltimore); messages from the outgoing Co-Presidents and incoming President; CLEA committee reports; several announcements about upcoming events at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego; and clinical news from our colleagues around the country.
The CLEA Newsletter Committee is Lauren Bartlett (Ohio Northern), Tanya Asim Cooper (Pepperdine), Susan Donovan (Alabama), D'lorah Hughes (UC Irvine), and Kate Kruse (Mitchell Hamline).
(This year, I'm serving as CLEA president and as editor of this blog so will make my interests and roles clear when our content requires it.)
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
I am proud to announce the publication of Prof. Nancy Hunt's new textbook, Lawyering in the Nation's Capital.
Here is more about the book from West Academic:
Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital, a new book by Professor Nancy Hunt of Pepperdine University School of Law, is the essential guide for the Washington lawyer, providing clear and succinct explanations of complicated procedures, legal issues, and conflicts arising in and among the branches of the federal government and the intertwined private sector. Peppered with insight from DC practitioners of law and lobbying, fascinating legal questions, and historical facts, the text examines the work of attorneys across the three branches of the federal government, in nonprofits, and in law and lobbying firms.
Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital, recently published by West Academic, draws on recent events, political conflicts, and cases as its explains the work of Washington lawyers. The discussion of this work across the private and public legal sectors spans topics including
- Congressional procedures that circumvent the illusive “regular order.”
- How lobbyists interact with Congress, explained by lobbyists themselves.
- The daily work of the agency lawyer, and why it takes agencies so long to promulgate regulations.
- Unique aspects of nonprofits lawyering in Washington.
- The specialized work of lawyers in the Office of White House Counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the Office of Management and Budget within the Executive Office of the President.
Professor Hunt’s text demystifies some of the most complex issues about how our federal government operates and how the private sector responds to government action, while posing thought-provoking questions about the outer limits of the power of each of the branches of government.
Friday, December 1, 2017
The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at NYU Law School.
The Workshop provides an opportunity for clinical teachers who are writing about any subject (clinical pedagogy, substantive law, interdisciplinary analysis, empirical work, etc.) to meet with other clinicians writing on related topics to discuss their works-in-progress and brainstorm ideas for further development of their articles. Attendees will meet in small groups organized, to the extent possible, by the subject matter in which they are writing. Each group will “workshop” the draft of each member of the group.
Participation in the Workshop requires the submission of a paper because the workshop takes the form of small group sessions in which all members of the group comment on each other’s manuscripts. By June 30, 2018, all applicants must submit a mini-draft or prospectus, 3-5 pages in length, of the article they intend to present at the workshop. Full drafts of the articles will be due by September 1, 2018.
As in the previous Clinical Law Review Workshops, participants will not have to pay an admission or registration fee but will have to arrange and pay for their own travel and lodging. To assist those who wish to participate but who need assistance for travel and lodging, NYU Law School has created a fund for scholarships to help pay for travel and lodging. The scholarships are designed for those clinical faculty who receive little or no travel support from their law schools and who otherwise would not be able to attend this workshop without scholarship support. Applicants for scholarships will be required to submit, with their 3-5 page prospectus that is due by June 30, a proposed budget for travel and lodging and a brief statement of why the scholarship would be helpful in supporting their attendance at this conference. The Board will review all scholarship applications and issue decisions about scholarships in early July. The scholarships are conditioned upon recipients’ meeting all requirements for workshop participation, including submission of drafts by the deadlines set forth above, and will be capped at a maximum of $750 per person.
If you have any comments or suggestions you would like to send us, we would be very happy to hear from you. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Randy Hertz at email@example.com.
-- The Board of Editors of the Clinical Law Review
Friday, November 17, 2017
As a clinical teacher, how much of your self do you share with the students you are supervising? What effect does that sharing, or lack of sharing, have?
Thanks to a thought-provoking session at the Northwest Clinical Conference earlier this month, led by the University of Montana’s Eduardo Capulong, and Kim Ambrose and Lisa Kelly from the University of Washington, I have been mulling over these questions for the last few weeks.
In their session, titled Teaching Professional Identity and Values through Narrative and Our Own Stories, Professors Ambrose, Capulong, and Kelly, asked participants, including myself, to think about how law professors are perceived by our students. Then they asked us to look inward with a partner, sharing how we saw ourselves first and then how our students saw us.
The question is, when do you self-disclose with students, and what are the risks and benefits? In many ways, in a clinical setting we are asking students to become reflective lawyers. We ask that they constantly assess their goals, their progress, and what they bring to the lawyering experience. In a way, with self-disclosure, we are modeling for students what we ask them to do in terms of being introspective and self-aware attorneys.
One faculty member at my institution recently recounted an experience with a student years ago. The student was having panic attacks in class and requested to sit by the door. Rather than simply saying “yes” and moving on, this Professor shared that she too had the same anxiety challenges. She gave the students two options – “sit by the door, or, sit in the front row so that when I am struggling, you can help me out and we can support each other.” This message communicated to the student that she was not alone—that she and her Professor are on a learning journey together. The Professor humanized herself and made clear to the student that someone who struggled with anxiety can be a lawyer, and, eventually even a law professor.
With students struggling with statutory interpretation, do you share that in law school you in fact bombed the exam for course you are now in fact teaching because you neglected to closely read the statute? Do you share experiences of professional failure or struggle? How much do you share with students regarding your own career? Would you ever share the anxiety or stresses associated with promotion, tenure, renewal of your contract, or funding?
On an even more personal level, in many of our clinics, we introduce students to the concept of secondary or vicarious trauma or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Studies show that raising awareness of the issue can actually lower the chances of manifesting secondary trauma symptoms. In teaching this topic, do you share your own experiences with trauma? Does this empower students to do the same, or, can it pressure them to reveal experiences they would rather not share? In the moments where I have decided to share my own past trauma with students, I have felt that it has empowered them to think about how their own trauma experiences influence their lawyering and approach to working with their clients.
Do you share personal losses, such as the loss of a family member or a pregnancy? In the past year, I have been open with my students about the fact that I am grieving the loss of my beloved father, who passed away after battling with pancreatic cancer nine months ago, just two days after his 60th birthday. That openness has actually enabled me to be there for my students, one of whom lost her father not long before. Because she knew I faced the same new reality, she shared with me when her mid-semester evaluation was scheduled the same day as her father’s birthday. This semester, another student tragically lost a sibling. She was initially reluctant to even share the fact of the death, for fear of being given less meaningful clinic work, but after she did disclose, the fact that she knows about my own loss means I am able to connect with and support her in these difficult times in a more genuine way.
When, how, and with whom to share is definitely a question and a question that will be resolved differently at different times. This summer, when teaching a five week refugee law course, I did not disclose to my students, in standing up to teach the day after a miscarriage, what I had endured. One week I was pregnant and looking forward to growing my family, one week later, standing behind the same lectern, I was not. They had no idea. At that time, of course, the loss was too raw and I hadn’t done any processing myself. But, several months later, in discussing the topic of pregnancy with students during a long car ride to a detention center, it felt inauthentic to refrain from sharing with my students that I too had lost a pregnancy a few months earlier. What feels right and enables connection in one moment will not always in another.
In the personal arena, as a parent, do you share the joys (and challenges!) of parenting? Does this present as unnecessary bragging (or whining?) or is it helpful insight and modeling being a working professional parent? On this line of sharing, I have erred on the side of sharing when a student asks or seems interested. I was pregnant and then delivered my first child as a clinical teaching fellow at Georgetown. Students obviously knew that I was pregnant and then that I had a small infant. A couple of female students wrote in my evaluations how much they appreciated our discussions of work-life balance and parenting and how it gave them hope for figuring out how career and family could work together.
Obviously, self-disclosure is context and situation dependent, but I appreciated the way in which Professors Kelly, Ambrose, and Capulong opened up this conversation. Does sharing some of our personal journeys make us vulnerable to our students? Will they judge us and think less of us as “Professors?” Or, are we normalizing conversation around difficult topics and reducing stigma associated with so many experiences we have in life. Are we making ourselves more approachable and relatable? In sharing, are students more likely to share what is happening in their own lives with you? Is this a positive development, or are you crossing the line into quasi-therapist/friend? Is that so dangerous in the end – hierarchy and grading aside, are we not just human beings interacting inside and outside of the classroom in all the messy and confusing ways that human present?
In practicing self-disclosure, are you actually working to humanize a profession that is so often disconnected from emotion? Given that lawyers are prone to self doubt, drug and alcohol abuse, stress and over work, could self-disclosure by leaders in the profession, including law professors, work to undo some of those complicated and negative dynamics? Can self-disclosure help to humanize professors to help to undo some of the ways in which law school is an environment rife with the challenges posed by implicit bias and stereotype threat?
I think I tend to self-disclose more than average, and increasingly wonder whether this may introduce an unhelpful dose of casualness into the professor-student relationship. It’s possible that bringing our more authentic and complete selves to the table could potentially undermine students’ respect for us. This may be of particular concern for young professors of color and women who face documented biases in the classroom due to gender, race, sexual orientation, class, age, or other differences. As a female law professor in my mid-thirties, I know students find me more accessible and less intimidating than my male and older colleagues. In disclosing tidbits of my personal or professional struggles here and there, am I encouraging a lack of respect? Am I crossing lines in a way that undermines my students’ ability to hold me in the same category of “professor” as some of my colleagues? Or, am I actually humanizing myself and enabling students to relate to me more easily human to human?
In conclusion, I have reached none, except that it is worth us asking ourselves, as clinicians, where we draw our lines and when, and what effect that may have. It is also worth opening up conversations with one another to understand how self-disclosure has played out, particularly across race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and other differences.
For myself, I am often a fairly open book. But, that book will be opened to various pages as and when I feel appropriate. There may sometimes be pages I wish I had not shared in that moment, but I am willing to experiment with self-disclosure because I believe that the potential gains in truly connecting with students outweigh the risks.
Monday, November 13, 2017
Via the Student Editors at Detroit-Mercy:
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
The Return of Sanctuary Cities: The Muslim Ban, Hurricane Maria, and Everything in Between
The University of Detroit Mercy Law Review is pleased to announce its annual academic Symposium to be held on March 23, 2018 at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
This Symposium will contemplate a broad range of issues associated with Sanctuary Cities – presentations may focus on a specific era – past, present, or future – or may discuss a subject through the past, present and propose future solutions. Presentation topics could include, but are not limited to:
- The potential consequences of Trump’s immigration policies (including the Muslim Ban);
- The ability or inability of Trump and ICE to carry out these immigration policies;
- The constitutionality of Trump’s and ICE’s policies and actions;
- The efficacy of Program 287(g) and the potential consequences thereof;
- The efficacy of states’ Sanctuary legislation, like (pro) California and (anti) Texas;
- The ability or inability of cities and states to provide protection to undocumented citizens;
- The rights that undocumented citizens, particularly youth, should enjoy;
- Strategies and policies that cities and states can adopt to protect their undocumented citizens;
- The potential benefits or consequences for cities and states who adopt Sanctuary laws;
- The consequences for the changes made to the DACA program and possible solutions; and
- The position that SCOTUS would take on these issues, including existing legislation & DACA.
The Law Review invites interested individuals to submit an abstract for an opportunity to present at the Symposium. Those interested should send an abstract of 300-400 words that details their proposed topic and presentation. Included with the abstract should be the presenter’s name, contact information, and a copy of their resume/curriculum vitae. Since the above list of topics is non-exhaustive, the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review encourages all interested parties to develop their own topic to present at the Symposium. In addition, while submitting an article for publication is not required to present at the Symposium, the Law Review encourages all speakers who are selected to submit a piece for publication in the 2018-2019 edition of the Law Review.
The deadline for abstract submissions is December 3, 2017. Individuals selected to present at the Symposium will be contacted by December 10, 2017. Law Review editorial staff will contact those selected for publication in 2018 regarding details and deadlines for full-length publication.
The submissions, and any questions regarding the Symposium or the abstract process, should be directed to Law Review Symposium Director Jessica Gnitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please cc the Detroit Mercy Law Review Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Tapia, at email@example.com.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
I think we should talk more about death, loss, and grieving. So, I wrote about it. For anyone who has felt or will feel death's sting, this one is for you. My heart is with you.
"We feel alien. The reorientation our systems undergo is jarring upon re-entry. Losing those who once composed us always makes it so. We are suddenly strangers who no longer fit into this world in the same way, but try not to fight this new reality. We do not belong as we once were because we will never be the same again. Death reconstructs, rewires, and reshapes us. Let it."
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Voting for the election for CLEA's Board of Directors, along with the Vice President and Secretary positions, is now open! All CLEA members are eligible to vote.
If you are a CLEA member, you should by now have received an email with instructions on how to vote (see sample below), along with your personalized username and password. If you did not receive the email, please check your spam folder. The electronic ballot contains information on each candidate.
Please log in to vote at your earliest convenience. Voting ends at 11:59pm on December 1, 2017. If you have any questions, please contact the CLEA Elections Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
D'lorah L. Hughes, Chair on behalf of the CLEA Elections Committee
(Melanie DeRousse, Anju Gupta, Lindsay Harris, and Steven Wright)
Sunday, October 22, 2017
In 2005, I was still an associate in a law firm in Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina came ripping through my home state. A little bewildered, I volunteered with the Mississippi Bar's Disaster Legal Assistance volunteer lawyer program and handled a couple of landlord-tenant cases. I had no idea how clinicians were responding then, but when I became a clinical prof in 2006, I learned about the mighty response from Loyola-New Orleans College of Law and their clinicians, Davida Finger and Bill Quigley, among many others. In 2007, the AALS Clinical Conference was in New Orleans, not too far from my home, and the Loyola faculty showed us ruined and reviving New Orleans, becoming my first hero clinicians.
In 2017, now in Los Angeles, I remembered the trauma of those days as Hurricane Harvey blasted Texas, followed by Hurricane Irma blasting Florida, followed by Hurricane Maria decimating Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Very quickly, we at Pepperdine started hustling to find ways to help, and I reached out to folks in Texas, only to find that Davida Finger was already at work, gathering resources, building systems, marshaling clinicians, identifying partners. She, Janet Heppard at Houston, Catherine Burnett at South Texas, Luz Herrera at Texas A&M, and others in Texas hosted a conference call that crashed when too many clinical folks and pro bono lawyers tried to call in; we ended up with two conference calls calling into each other. The veterans leaders of the Student Hurricane Network, Allison Korn (UCLA) and Lauren Bartlett (Ohio Northern), shared their hard won wisdom, now 12 years removed from Katrina and Rita. Melissa Luckman (Touro) offered guidance, help, and introductions from her disaster relief clinic in response to Hurricane Sandy and her seat on the ABA's disaster response systems.
I (halfway) joked with my faculty and administration that we needed to be involved in this work to bank good karmic/cosmic/gospel points against our inevitable need for an earthquake clinic in Southern California, just a few weeks before wildfires actually ravaged Northern California.
We launched Pepperdine's Disaster Relief Clinic in mid-October. We are handling FEMA appeals on referral from Texas so far, and we are establishing ways to support volunteer lawyers and public interest practices with research and advocacy help. Through all these conversations, we have been able to establish referral systems with the Loyola-New Orleans College of Law, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and Lone Star Legal Aid. We are working to build the means to support volunteer lawyers with research to assist efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through the Louisiana Civil Justice Center and the Columbia University Pro Bono programs, led by Laren Spirer. We're reaching out to Bay Area Legal Services, OneJustice, and others to address needs springing from the California wildfires.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Chrissy Cerniglia at Stetson is launching a program to provide legal research and support for volunteer lawyers across her state. There are other projects underway at Texas A&M, Texas Southern, Houston, Georgia, Harvard, Loyola-Chicago, and Miami, at least. Surely there are legal clinics across the country ramping up programs and projects. (I'm nervous about attempting this litany because I'm certainly missing folks and don't know half of the work underway.)
In bleak moments, this community inspires with the best kind of lawyering, the best kinds of generous collaboration, the best kind of sharing. Without cajoling or pleading, clinicians appear alongside our public interest, legal aid, and pro bono colleagues, while bar associations rise to organize and empower. Too often in academia, our schools race for mere rankings and prestige, jockeying for recognition. Here, schools from across our ecosystem band together to share and serve, modeling to our students how this profession ought to respond.
In an American moment fraught with mistrust, division, and a sense that our virtues are eroding, this outpouring, cooperation, and generosity are a balm and a strength of hope and promise. We can take care of our neighbors and communities, but only if we do it together.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Just can't resist sharing the sound of glass ceilings shattering over here in our Penn State Law corner of the world! #whatgendergap?
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Inspirational post by Carolyn Grose over at her blog on why we do what we do . . . as spotted on a sign at a march in recent months: "No mud, no lotus": http://profgrose.com/the-real-work-and-why-we-do-it/
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Is peer review a part of your law teaching world? Do your colleagues observe you in the classroom or clinic and give you valuable feedback? No? If you want to know more, take a peek at Albany Law Prof. Mary Lynch's piece over at the Best Practices in Legal Ed Blog: https://bestpracticeslegaled.albanylawblogs.org/2017/09/25/experience-with-peer-support-peer-review-and-feedback-on-teaching/#comment-60827
Thursday, September 21, 2017
This week, Pepperdine University convened an event to rededicate a portrait of Larry Donnell Kimmons, but this was more than dedicating a portrait and displaying a plaque. It was an act of critical remembrance, confession, repentance, and hope.
In 1969, George Pepperdine College was on its original campus in Watts. On March 12, a white campus security officer shot and killed, murdered, Larry Donnell Kimmons. Kimmons was a 15 year-old black high school student from the neighborhood on his way to a basketball game in the college gym with his friends. The Graphic reported on this killing and its aftermath in this 2016 feature.
Pepperdine had admitted black students since its founding in 1937, but through the 1950s it limited campus housing to white students. In 1965, the Watts Revolt erupted around Pepperdine’s campus and sparked the decision to move to Malibu by the early 1970s. The University’s response to Kimmons’s killing sealed the deal to evacuate South Central.
For years, the University forgot this trauma in its history. Except for a few who kept the story and its shame alive, the move to Malibu afforded an escape and a gloss to let the unpleasantness fade. After student protests in 1969 and 1970, the University erected a plaque and portrait at the old campus, but they never made it to the new campus and vanished from sight.
This week, however, Pepperdine remembered. Pepperdine confessed and repented. Pepperdine made good on its old promise to honor the “handsome man-child” who bled out his life on our campus. Now and henceforth, Pepperdine will honor Kimmons and his life, and remember his traumatic, unjust death, with pride of place in newly renovated Payson library.
Calling on Christian and Jewish practices of remembrance and markers, the Pepperdine community recalled the moment of blood and trauma as a pivotal moment in our history, erected a marker that will remind the people of the loss and injustice, and committed itself to continuing pursuit of justice and dignity for all people.
Public memory is essential for justice, dignity, and healing from public trauma. Last night was a remarkable and important reckoning for our school.
May we be faithful to the truth and love we witnessed there.