Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

Friday, August 18, 2017

JOBS: Temple University Beasley School of Law

Via Prof. Colleen Shanahan:

Temple University Beasley School of Law is seeking to fill two faculty positions beginning in fall 2018. The first is for the Murray H. Shusterman Professorship in Transactional and Business Law. For this position, we expect to hire an established, tenured expert in the field. We particularly invite applicants whose scholarship and/or teaching focus on commercial law, broadly construed (e.g., secured transactions, sales, bankruptcy, consumer protection, e-commerce, and related fields), though we also invite highly qualified applicants from other areas of business and transactional law to apply. The second is an entry-level or junior lateral position, where our subject matter interests include intellectual property, law & technology, and criminal law. Potential candidates for either position may contact Brishen Rogers, at Temple University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, and we strongly encourage women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals, and members of other groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in law teaching to apply.

August 18, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

JOBS: Cal-Western School of Law

Via Prof. Nancy Kim:

California Western School of Law (CWSL) is seeking applications from entry-level and junior-lateral candidates for a tenure-track position to begin on or about August 1, 2018.  We are looking for candidates with strong academic backgrounds, a commitment to excellence in teaching, and demonstrated potential to be productive scholars. The Appointments Committee is particularly interested in candidates with a strong desire to teach civil procedure, family law, immigration law, tax, or trusts/estates. CWSL welcomes applications from individuals who would contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of our faculty.


Established in 1924, CWSL is an ABA accredited and AALS member, non-profit law school located in downtown San Diego, California.  We have the distinction of being San Diego’s oldest law school and are known for our commitment to preparing students to be practice-ready lawyers.  Notably, our graduates regularly outperform the statewide average on the California bar exam.  CWSL is the recipient of numerous community service awards, including the State Bar of California President’s Pro Bono Service Award, and the federal government’s President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.  We are also home to numerous outstanding programs, including the California Innocence Project, Community Law Project, and the New Media Rights Program.  Members of the faculty have national and international reputations for their scholarly contributions.  Our faculty is dedicated to the community, teaching, and scholarship.


A substantial percentage of CWSL students come from diverse cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.   We are committed to developing a faculty that better reflects this reality, and to this end, we are particularly interested in candidates who are committed to teaching a diverse student body.   All candidates are encouraged to submit a statement to our Appointments Committee addressing their commitment to diversity and how they can contribute to the educational experience of our students.


Please direct application materials (including cover letter, CV, and diversity statement) and questions to the chair of the Appointments Committee, Professor William Aceves, at the following email address:  The other committee members are Professors Hannah Brenner, Nancy Kim, and Joanna Sax.  The Appointments Committee is attending the AALS faculty recruitment conference in November 2017.  Please reference your AALS FAR form number in any correspondence. For candidates seeking consideration outside of the AALS faculty recruitment conference, we encourage the submission of applications before September 1, 2017

August 17, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

JOBS: University of Arkansas - Fayetteville Immigration Clinic

Via Prof. Annie Smith:

The University of Arkansas-Fayetteville invites applications from both entry-level and lateral candidates for a tenure-track position to direct a well-established Immigration Law Clinic.  All applicants for the position should have significant practice experience in immigration or asylum law and some familiarity with supervising law students or new attorneys.  Any successful applicant will be expected to gain admission to the Arkansas bar.  

In furtherance of the law school’s fundamental commitment to experiential learning, clinical professors and legal research and writing professors have full tenure rights and equal voting privileges on all faculty issues. All candidates should have demonstrated scholarly promise, strong classroom teaching skills, a distinguished academic record, and a commitment to service within the law school and broader university community. 

The University of Arkansas–Fayetteville, located in the northwest corner of the state, is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas. The University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution and welcomes applications without regard to age, race, gender (including pregnancy), national origin, disability, religion, marital or parental status, protected veteran status, military service, genetic information, sexual orientation or gender identity.  Persons must have proof of legal authority to work in the United States on the first day of employment. All applicant information is subject to public disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Applicants with questions may contact Professor Annie Smith, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, at




August 16, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Welcoming Sophia Hamilton as Pepperdine's New Director of Externships and Pro Bono Programs

At Pepperdine, we are excited to welcome Prof. Sophia Hamilton as the new Director of Externships and Pro Bono programs.  She will also teach in our Academic Success Program and Bar Preparation Workshops.  Sophia is a graduate of our law school and is an excellent lawyer and teacher who is already a great asset to our law school.

Please read more here at our press release. 

Go Waves!

August 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Call for Authors – Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions

Via Prof. Kathryn Stanchi of Temple:

Call for Authors – Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions

DEADLINE: Friday August 25, 2017

The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of judicial opinions rewritten to reflect a feminist perspective, and commentaries on the cases and rewritten opinions, for an edited book collection tentatively titled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions.  This edited volume is part of a collaborative project among law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key judicial decisions in the United States.  The initial volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court, edited by Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, and Bridget J. Crawford, was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press.  Subsequent volumes in the series will focus on different areas of law and will be under review by Cambridge.

Torts volume editors Lucinda Finley and Martha Chamallas seek prospective authors for fourteen to sixteen torts opinions covering many major topics in tort law. The editors have selected the cases with an eye towards issues and injuries of particular salience to women’s lives, and with insights from feminist torts scholarship and input from leading torts scholars.  Potential authors are welcome to suggest other opinions that they would like to address, but the overall number of cases finally included in the volume must remain limited.

Interested prospective contributors should submit a proposal to either: 1) rewrite an opinion (subject to a 10,000 word limit), or 2) comment on a rewritten opinion (4,000 word limit).  Rewritten opinions may be majority opinions, concurrences, or dissents. Authors of rewritten opinions should abide by the law and precedent and supplemental materials in effect and available at the time of the original decision.  Commentators should explain the original court decision and its context, how the feminist judgment differs from the original judgment, and what difference a feminist judgment might have made.  The volume editors conceive of feminism broadly and invite applications that seek to advance, complicate, or critique various feminist theories and advocacy.

Those who are interested in rewriting an opinion or providing commentary should apply no later than Friday August 25, 2017, by e-mailing the following information to Lucinda Finley,,  and Martha Chamallas, :

  1. Your CV, your areas of torts interest or expertise, and why you are interested in and well suited to participate in this project.
  2. Your top three preferences of cases to write about, and whether you have a preference to do a rewritten opinion or a commentary.
  3. Any time constraints and other obligations that may impact your ability to meet the submission deadlines.
  4. If you have another case that you feel strongly should be included instead of one of the selected cases and that you would like to write about, provide information about the case and the reasons you think it should be included.


This list of cases that the editors have selected for consideration to be included in the volume Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions, is as follows:

  1. The “Classics”:  Tort cases that appear in almost every U.S. Torts casebook, and thus shape generations of lawyers’ understanding of tort doctrine.


  1. Tarasoff v. Regents of Univ. of California, 551 P.2d 334 (Cal. 1976): the classic “psychiatrist’s duty to warn” case, with an underappreciated subtext of intimate partner violence.


  1. Farwell v. Keaton, 240 N.W.2d 217 (Mich. 1976), establishing a limited affirmative duty to “rescue,” or come to the aid of someone in peril.


Negligence:  Is the “Learned Hand” formula for negligence just an economic cost/benefit calculation, or should it include a broader array of social factors (as Hand himself intended)?

  1. McCarty v. Pheasant Run, Inc., 826 F.2d 1554 (7th Cir. 1987). In a case involving a woman who was assaulted in her hotel room by a stranger who gained access through a sliding glass door, Judge Posner applied an economic cost/benefit analysis to the question of negligence and upheld a jury verdict for the defendant hotel. This case involves attempted sexual violence against women, and also provides fertile ground for a feminist critique of a law and economics perspective on tort law.


Duty of care:  A significant Torts issue, heavily influenced by policy concerns, and often involving women and children plaintiffs who have been assaulted – and thus fertile territory for feminist analysis.

  1. Kircher v. City of Jamestown, 74 N.Y.2d 251 (N.Y. 1989).  A case involving the “limited public duty” doctrine, which severely restricts the obligation of police or other protective service workers to affirmatively aid crime victims.  This limited duty has serious adverse implications for women and children experiencing family violence.  It is the civil tort law analogue to the limited constitutional affirmative duty to protect adopted by the US Supreme Court in infamous cases such as DeShaney and Castle Rock v. Gonzales. The NY Court of Appeals has been a “leader” in crafting the rules that circumscribe when a victim can sue the police for failure to protect.  While there are numerous cases that one could choose to include in this volume, including several that directly involve domestic violence and police failure to enforce protective orders, Kircher has been selected for several reasons.  It comes after several NY Court of Appeals opinions in this area, and thus provides a good vehicle to explore, critique, and consider expanding the doctrinal limitations. There are two dissenting opinions that call for a relaxation of some of the doctrinal limitations.  And it subtly demonstrates the problem of police callous attitude towards presumed family violence that often underlies their inaction.  Kircher was abducted by a stranger from a drug store parking lot, who drove her around and raped her. The eye witnesses to the abduction reported it to a police officer, who dismissively assumed it was probably a domestic dispute, and thus did not follow the abductor’s car.
  2. Sharon P. v. Arman, Ltd., 21 Cal.4th 1181, 989 P.2d 121 (1999). A woman was raped in late morning in the underground parking garage of the office building where she was a tenant. The California Supreme Court held that the risk of sexual assault in this particular parking garage was not sufficiently foreseeable to impose a duty on the landlord to provide reasonable security, even though the court acknowledged the demonstrated risk of underground parking garages in general. The case highlights the way in which courts can use the duty issue and landlord protective policy concerns to keep cases form juries and erect significant barriers to tort recovery for sexual assault victims – especially the first sexual assault victim on a particular property.


Vicarious Liability


  1. Lisa M. v. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, 12 Cal.4th 291, 907 P.2d 358 (1995). A young pregnant patient was digitally sexually molested during her ultrasound exam by the ultrasound technician employed by the hospital. The issue was whether he was acting within the scope of his employment so as to trigger respondeat superior liability for the employer hospital. In notable contrast to cases where they had ruled that employees committing physical assaults on other workers or customers were acting in the scope of employment, the court held that the sexual assault was done for purely personal “lust” reasons, so that the ultrasound technician was not acting within the scope of employment.


Damages:  Damages issues have received significant attention from feminist torts scholars, and they remain extremely important for whether there are hidden barriers to equal access to the tort system and fair compensation for women and people of color.  

  1. Simpkins v. Grace Brethren Church of Delaware, 2016 Ohio 8188, 2016 Ohio Lexis 2961 (December 2016).  A teenage girl was sexually assaulted by her pastor.  In her suit against the church that employed him and that ignored his history, a jury awarded her a verdict in excess of $2 million dollars.  But Ohio has a general cap on non-economic damages for all tort claims, and the application of this cap significantly reduced the compensation that she could recover.  She appealed, contending that the damage cap, as applied to sexual assault victims, was unconstitutional. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the cap finding that it survived rational basis review.  


  1. G.M.M. v. Kimpson, 116 F.Supp.3d 126 (E.D.N.Y. 2015).  A case involving harm to a young Latino boy from lead based paint. The economists who projected future earnings for the child used earnings tables based on race.  The case directly raises the issue of whether courts should permit the use race-based earnings tables (and by extension sex-based earnings tables) to calculate future lost earnings.  It also illustrates the racially disparate impact of many environmental harms.


Compensable harms:  Emotional Distress and Reproductive Harm. Tort law’s traditional devaluing of emotional, relational and reproductive harm has worked to the detriment of women.  Cases involving various aspects of reproductive harm raise important issues about  reproductive health and autonomy which are often overlooked by courts.


  1. Dillon v. Legg, 441 P.2d 912 (Cal. 1968), the landmark case that first recognized a tort claim for “bystander” emotional distress suffered from watching a family member get gruesomely injured, regardless of whether the plaintiff was in the “zone of danger.”  Would such claims be better characterized as harms to important relational interests that are deserving of protection?


  1. Boyles v. Kerr, 855 S.W.2d 593 (Tex. 1993). In a case involving the sexual exploitation of a woman by her boyfriend who videotaped their consensual sexual intercourse and showed the tape around the college campus, the Texas Supreme Court declined to permit tort claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The case provoked a great deal of outcry by women’s advocacy groups, and provoked a dissent by the lone woman Justice on the court, who characterized the result as overtly gender biased.


  1. Broadnax v. Gonzales, 2 N.Y.3d 148 (2004). Overruling precedent that barred emotional distress claims for pregnancy loss unless the pregnant woman suffered a separate physical injury, the NY Court of Appeals permits a woman to recover for emotional distress against physicians whose negligent prenatal care caused the death of her fetus. This case and its precedents highlight the implications of characterizing a pregnant woman and her fetus as separate beings, so that loss of a pregnancy is not understood as physical harm to the woman.


  1. Greco v. U.S., 893 P.2d 345 (Nev. 1995). Physicians negligently failed to diagnose severe fetal defects in time for woman to consider whether to terminate the pregnancy.  The parents brought a “wrongful birth” claim, and the disabled child brought a “wrongful life” claim.  Surveying case law from many other jurisdictions, the court permitted the wrongful birth claim, while denying the wrongful life claim. While there are many cases from which to choose that explore these issues, Greco is selected because it discusses both wrongful birth and wrongful life in a single case, discusses the policies involved and the decisions of many other jurisdictions, represents the evolving majority approach, and like most cases, fails to fully comprehend the reproductive autonomy dimensions of these tort claims.


Intentional Torts


  1.  Robinson v. Cutchin, 140 F. Supp.2d 488 (D. Md. 2001). An African-American woman was involuntarily sterilized by a physician who performed a tubal ligation without her consent during an emergency C-section to deliver her 6th child. The case discusses the difference between battery claims and informed consent medical malpractice claims, which sound in negligence.  The opinion displays remarkable insensitivity to women’s reproductive autonomy and to the racially biased attitudes of the doctor, and to the history of forced sterilization of minority women.
  2. Reavis v. Slominski, 551 N.W.2d 528 (Neb. 1996).  This case explores the issue of consent as a defense to intentional torts. Reavis had sex with her employer at an office holiday party; several years earlier, she had also acquiesced to his repeated sexual advances, claiming she could not turn him down because she desperately needed the job, and because her prior history of sexual abuse amounted to an incapacity that made her extremely fearful of not acquiescing.  She sues for battery, and the issues involve apparent consent, coercion, duress, and incapacity as vitiating apparent consent.  The case resulted in multiple opinions, with a debate between majority, concurrences, and dissent over the relevance of her prior history of sexual abuse, and over whether fear for one’s job is sufficient to constitute duress that would vitiate apparent consent.


  1. Guthrie v. Conroy, 567 S.E.2d 403 (Ct. App. N.C. 2002). A workplace sexual harassment hostile environment case brought as a tort claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The opinion, while acknowledging that the conduct would amount to a Title VII hostile environment claim, dismisses it as merely juvenile and boorish behavior that does not meet the stringent tort standard for “outrageousness.” The opinion summarizes the factors and types of conduct in the workplace harassment context that would push the behavior into the “outrageous” category.  The case highlights the interactions between statutory Title VII civil rights law and common law tort claims, and whether they are intended to vindicate different interests and should be assessed by different standards.


  1. Lyman v. Huber, 10 A.3d 707 (Me. 2010). An i.i.e.d. case arising out of an emotionally abusive and controlling intimate partner relationship. The court focused on the “severe” emotional distress element of the claim, and overruled a verdict for the plaintiff, concluding that she did not suffer emotional distress more severe than what the “reasonable person” would be expected to tolerate. This case highlights the difficulties facing domestic violence victims who try to bring tort claims against their abusers, with courts often interpreting the elements of the i.i.e.d. tort more strictly than in commercial relationship or stranger relationship contexts.  It is also a vehicle for exploring the potential for bias in the supposedly objective notion of the “reasonable person.”

August 3, 2017 in RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Law Study and the Buddhist Wisdom of Emptiness: Defining and Facing the "Lawyers' Dilemma"

“I am not; I will not be.

I have not; I will not have.

This frightens all children, and kills fear in the wise.”



By Ashley Sillay and Sarah Gerwig-Moore


            Lawyers as a whole are statistically unhappy. Drug and alcohol addiction, divorce, personal ruin, and professional missteps plague the profession.[1] It is estimated that 1 in 5 lawyers is addicted to alcohol.[2] Even worse, it is estimated that 60% of lawyer malpractice is attributed to alcohol abuse.[3]

            Eileen Zimmerman’s recent piece in The New York Times Magazine, “The Lawyer, The Addict,” touched millions of hearts and minds as the author chronicled her former husband’s secret and deadly addiction. He was a high-functioning lawyer and a high-functioning addict. He was working until his final days- desperately billing and responding to clients’ concerns.

            Zimmerman’s piece and others have explored whether there is a culture problem in law practice that promotes and allows this sort of endemic unhappiness and substance abuse, and many understand that this culture problem begins in law school.

In a few weeks (or sooner), students will enter our law school classrooms fresh-faced and hopeful. In a few weeks and three years, many of those same students will be cynical, debt-ridden, and yes, even addicted to drugs or alcohol.

            So how do we define the problems- and address the issues as they develop? This essay is the first in a series of pieces exploring the “lawyer’s [and law students’] dilemma,” how it may be defined, and approaches that may provide useful perspective as our troubled profession confronts a crisis.

There may not be one answer, and there may be many answers.

It is also possible that problems faced by lawyers and law students have roots in a much deeper source than the profession itself: a fractured worldview. A fractured worldview separates ourselves from others, from nature, and from the universe. This point of view, one of self-as-separate-from the surrounding world, alienates us from sources of emotional support. For lawyers, a group whose specialized education necessarily creates barriers of understanding from “laypersons,” this alienation from the surrounding world is sharpened, resulting in what others have called the Lawyers’ Dilemma. It is also the law students’ dilemma.

Several fields have attempted to offer solutions. The field of Therapeutic Jurisprudence has emerged as a nexus fusing the legal and medical fields. Therapeutic Jurisprudence has indeed found its way into legal education, though it is not generally a required course. This exposure to various therapeutic modes of practice is meant to immerse students in and enlighten students to the emotional needs of their own future clients. During this process, one aim of the course is that law students will reflect on their own emotional lives, becoming more compassionate as a result.

While Therapeutic Jurisprudence seems a step in the right direction, it is very largely focused on the client’s emotional needs, not the lawyer’s. As a result, a pretty significant problem arises when law students begin to question precisely how to intertwine into their own practices the nurturing of their clients’ emotional needs. With the Model Rules of Professional Conduct there to dissuade them, in addition to other various ethical and moral rules dictating the professional behavior of lawyers, law students are generally hesitant to take on the role of therapist when working in their capacity as attorneys.

Although there are many solutions offered up to solve what appears to be broken about the practice of law, the Buddhist Wisdom of Emptiness may be relevant for and applicable to all lawyers, regardless of the individual’s religion or faith. Emptiness teaches us that the individual is not an island but is connected to all things. It challenges our fractured worldview. Culturally, a resurgence of meditation practice, yoga, and mindfulness exercises in the West has provided proven benefits to its practitioners. Lawyers who practice Emptiness will experience a paradigmatic shift in worldview that could result in a more balanced, supported lifestyle. It could be one option (among others) to define and face the Lawyers’ (and Law Students’) Dilemma.


For lawyers, replacing this fractured worldview by implementing an Emptiness practice may, through the unification of self and world, yield more tolerance, respect, support, and love. One result of this paradigmatic shift in worldview may be healthier, happier lawyers, who, through Emptiness, will feel less alone and will be less inclined to abuse drugs and alcohol. If the law of karma (or the law that reactions spring forth from one’s own actions) dictates that the Lawyers’ Dilemma is in fact a symptom of our fractured worldview, the medicine, then, the Buddha taught, is Emptiness.

The stresses of the legal profession are burdensome and only truly understood by those who take them on. For lawyers, professional and social isolation is part and parcel of a thriving, busy practice. We are taught in law school to think logically, as a reasonably prudent person would, when analyzing fact patterns. But many law programs struggle with showing students how handle the cumulative pressures as they layer upon us year after year, and while toiling in a litigious environment. Law students and law graduates begin to see our lives as “us against the world.” If human ignorance is the karmic cause of a fractured worldview isolating the self, then Emptiness is a potential medicine. With some simple, practical adjustments to one’s viewpoint, a new source of healing and support is free to emerge.


And so lawyers continue learning, by error and by trial, ways of coping with burnout instead of how to prevent it. Many very meaningful approaches include faith-based practice, and Buddhist practice is not in opposition to or in tension with those. In fact, just the opposite. This piece is the first of several in which we explore the whether Buddhist Wisdom can inform our law teaching, law study, and law practice. There are countless productive and useful approaches, but an Emptiness practice is worth considering- and meriting further exploration.


[1]See, hereinafter “Benchmark Institute”

[2] See “Benchmark Institute”

[3] See “Benchmark Institute”

August 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

You Sit Here, or, Practical Adventures in Rookie Lawyering

“Come see me in my office when we get back,” Mr. Becker said to me at my first lunch with him. “I’ve got some work for you.”

“Yes, sir.” I was thrilled because I had been hunting these invitations. I’d been with that century-old firm for just a week, chomping at the bit for a chance to prove myself anew after a long rookie year of discouragement and failure.

I’d fled my first Big Law firm when they and I came to the clear, mutual, finally explicit realization that we were a bad fit. I thought they’d hired me under false pretenses then followed through with poor management. They thought I was immature, out of my depth, and not worth their investment. We both may have been right, but for sure I wanted to be in a courtroom and out in the world. For sure, they weren’t letting me out of my office or the Federal Register.

So I was on the market again too soon. I put on a brave face and some false confidence to convince other firms that it made perfect sense for me to be seeking a new job eighteen months out of law school at the ripe old age of twenty-five. 

A couple of firms bought my ruse, and one, Watkins & Eager in my home state of Mississippi, welcomed me warmly. They taught me how to be a lawyer. At the interview, I told them I most wanted to litigate and hadn’t even been able to attend a single deposition since I passed the bar, much less take one. Rebecca Wiggs, a partner in the firm, laughed at me, “What are you doing this afternoon? I can make your dreams come true.”

They also explained - to my undying relief - that they had no billable hour quotas and hadn’t since 1895. “Do the work on your desk.  Everything else will take care of itself.” The associates did the work for clients and the cases, not for their own desperate billable hour salvation. That just seemed right.

Thus it was that my new firm hired me to do exactly what I declared that I wanted to do. Now I had to do it, but that brave face and false confidence were rooted in the brutally real pain of being asked to leave my first job. That’s not how careers are supposed to start, even if I had already been sending out resumes for months. 

My new office overlooked the governor’s mansion in Jackson, and it was next door to Mr. Goodman, the grandson of the firm’s founder, our chief, who was then in his seventies. The family firm had over sixty lawyers, and I was the newest and youngest.

He and Mr. Becker, the patriarchs, took me to lunch. These were Southern gentlemen lawyers of a fading era: genteel, unfailingly polite, honest, practical, charming, ambitious, erudite, attentive, and calm. They were progressive in their ways. Mr. Goodman’s aunt had been one of the first women admitted to the Mississippi Bar. (I found her penciled notes around a paragraph I needed in the firm library one day, in a reporter from the Thirties that still smelled like her cigarette smoke.)

Mr. Becker had been with the firm nearly as long as Mr. Goodman, and he’d been one of Mississippi’s preeminent trial lawyers for forty years before he called me in for my new matter. His office was a gallery, and half the art was his own work. He’d taken up folk painting in his sixties, but he’d been a collector for far longer. I’d heard tales that the firm had been alarmed at the furniture he’d had shipped back from Europe to decorate at the firm’s expense. My wife and I have an original Becker on our wall to this day. He painted it after giving us a tour of his grand gallery of a house with more Spanish wine that we realized we were drinking until he ushered out to prepare for a dinner party. 

Ultimately, I would spend long hours with Mr. Becker over those years in the firm. I tried my very first case with him, which we lost. He might have expected that result in advance, which might be why he made me first chair, but that’s a story for another day. That first visit to his office is the one I remember best.

He handed me a file and told me about the case. It was a medical malpractice case, and we represented the doctor. He had a summary judgment hearing coming up and wanted me to argue it.

Honestly, my young professional dream was coming true. But don’t forget that brave face, false confidence, and painful failure. “Mr. Becker, I’m happy to handle this, but I feel like I should tell you that I haven’t done this before, in case you need someone who knows what they’re doing.”

He was already looking at another letter or his calendar and glanced up at me with a little irritation. “Go do it, lad.”

With that vote of confidence, I wandered out into the hallway with my first hearing in my hands. Rule 56 rushed back into my mind: no genuine issue of material fact, entitled to judgment as a matter of law. I knew I’d need to learn the standards for professional liability in Mississippi, and I knew where to research and how to write my argument. I knew the theory, the procedure, and the stakes. I had a gilded brain educated at fine institutions. But I was beating back panic about appearing alone in court for the first time.

I stood in the hall, a little dazed. Then Ms. Wiggs walked by, she who couldn’t wait to send me to her depositions. “Hey, Jeff, how are you doing? Getting settled in?”

“Yes. Thanks. But Becker just have me a summary judgment motion, and I don’t know where the courthouse is.”

She laughed at me again and glanced at her watch. “Do you have time for a walk?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Let’s go.” She didn’t literally take my hand, but nearly. We walked the five or six blocks to the Hinds County Courthouse. She greeted the bailiffs and deputies and introduced me. She pointed at the clerk’s office and asked me who had my case. I told her the judge, and she pointed me up the stairs. She pushed open the door to the empty courtroom, walked around the bar to counsels’ table on the left, and put her hands on the back of the first chair.

“You sit here.” She pointed at the lectern in the well. “When it’s your turn, you stand there.”

It was a beautiful, generous act of mercy.

I don’t remember what came of the hearing or the case. I remember having tunnel vision. I was keenly aware of a judge and an opponent. I’m sure I argued from my notes on a legal pad, but that’s about it. Probably there were clerks and bailiffs, other parties and clients, but my brain couldn’t process them. No one came to see my debut, but that’s probably for the best. I did just fine and didn’t act, look, or feel too stupid, after it was over.

Whatever the outcome, those conversations gave me more applied legal education than I ever had in a single day.

“Go do it, lad.” Becker gave me a shot of encouragement, a dose of professional confidence, a reminder of humility, and a proper dose of fear. He trusted me with his work.

“You sit here.” Wiggs gave me the great gift of orientation. I could focus on my argument and my preparation without worrying about literally being lost or looking like an outright fool. She told me that she always tried to visit a new courtroom and watch a new judge before having to argue there. It’s basic, brilliant, wise lawyering.

Like many of our students now, I graduated with great credentials and deep knowledge of the law but without the practical ability to do much with it. Watkins & Eager taught me how to be a lawyer, by inviting me to practice law.

I carry these lessons with me in clinical teaching. It was excellent pedagogy. An empowering supervising attorney trusted me with an assignment that he knew I could handle, even if I didn’t, and it was non-directive to an extreme. Another empowering attorney caught me in the fall and helped me prepare and understand my role, always instilling wisdom and knowledge, answering my questions, without taking the work away from me. With grace and generosity, she prepared me to be a better lawyer the next day and the next day after that, without embarrassment or condescension.

They taught me how to practice. They also taught me how to teach rookie professionals how to practice. They trusted and taught me then, like I trust and teach my clinical students now.  From Jackson to Los Angeles, those fundamental lawyer lessons ring true. These are great outlines for experiential learning: Sit here. Stand there. Go do it.    

July 16, 2017 in Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Christine M. Scartz: An Open Letter to My Recently-Graduated Students As they Study for the Bar Exam

A guest post from Prof. Christine M. Scartz of the University of Georgia:


An Open Letter to My Recently-Graduated Students As they Study for the Bar Exam

Dear Clinic Alumni in the Class of 2017,

Heartfelt congratulations to you! As my own father told me when I graduated, no matter where you go from here, no one can ever take away from you the great accomplishment of earning your J.D. degree.

Your sights are set on new goals now - passing the Bar exam and launching your careers. As the summer days speed by, you may have several questions on your mind. Will you be able to absorb all of the knowledge required to pass the Bar? And if the knowledge goes in, will you be able to get it all out in a coherent fashion on the exam? Perhaps most importantly of all you may be asking yourself, if I pass the exam and choose to practice law, am I ready to be a lawyer?

As your former clinic professor, I have the answer to that last, important question. You are ready. You will find your way to a practice where you will use your head and your heart to help all sorts of folks through all sorts of difficult times. You will be bright lights of compassionate lawyering, whether you take up the mantle of social justice work, or take on the responsibilities of representing corporate clients with global-scale expectations.

I am absolutely confident in my answer. I watched you master unfamiliar law, combine it with your clients’ stories, and advocate effectively in front of veteran judges. I observed you build relationships with clients wholly different from yourselves, and treat pro se opposing parties with respect and dignity. I witnessed the growth of your self-assurance in your interviewing, negotiation and courtroom skills, as well as the deepening of your conviction in the rightness of your choice of profession.

I am confident in my answer for some perhaps counterintuitive reasons as well. I stood with you when you figuratively stamped your feet in frustration, and when you literally shed tears of sadness and anger. I observed you make mistakes, and drown in disappointment. I witnessed your hurt when your generosity was rebuffed by clients, and your hard work was rejected by judges. Then, I saw you rebound with renewed energy for doing better. You are ready.

My confidence in my answer also comes from having seen you participate in thoughtful discussions of case law, literature, and documentaries. I listened to you offer thoughts and opinions on difficult subjects that were sometimes inseparable from your personal histories and current realities. I witnessed you display sympathy, empathy and understanding to your classmates, people who may have been strangers to you a few weeks previously, and some of whom you will never cross paths with again.

Finally, I know you are ready because even as you were my students, so too were you my teachers. Some of you were in the first class I taught upon my return to clinical teaching. To you I say thank you for your patience, kindness and enthusiasm as my excitement about our work often led me to lurch about disjointedly in the classroom and the clinic office. Some of you were kind enough to “repeat” the clinic for a second semester. To you I say thank you for the gift of your time, which helped me believe in myself as a professor and in the value of our collaborative efforts. To all of you I say thank you for your questions, suggestions, innovative ideas, and especially your honest criticisms, as these helped move the clinic work forward as well as deepen my commitment to academic pursuits that will benefit the students and clients who come through the clinic door in semesters to come.

You are ready to be lawyers. I cannot wait to see where you go from here.


Professor Scartz

July 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

JOBS: Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic at Ohio State

Via Prof. Paul Rose of Ohio State:


Clinical Faculty Position

The Ohio State University, Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Description: The Moritz College of Law invites applications for the position of Assistant Clinical Professor of Law in its Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic (EBLC), to start in late 2017.  The EBLC professor has primary responsibility for directing and teaching the Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic,  which provides third-year law students with the opportunity to learn lawyering skills by representing entrepreneurs and their start-up businesses.  EBLC students typically work with clients on all phases of starting a business, including client intake, entity formation, legal business planning, and contract drafting (including employment and independent contractor contracts). When relevant for the client, students also learn how to protect the intellectual property of a business.  The EBLC’s clinical professor will have several areas of responsibility, including 1) supervising law students who represent clients under the Ohio Supreme Court's student practice rule 2) classroom teaching of lawyering skills, 3) engaging with the local and regional entrepreneurial community, and 4) participating in the life and governance of the College of Law.

We will consider all applicants; however, we prefer candidates with significant experience in representing entrepreneurs and early-stage companies.  Candidates also should have an excellent academic record that demonstrates potential for clinical teaching and preparation of clinical educational materials. Candidates should be admitted to the Ohio Bar or eligible for admission in Ohio. The starting salary range will be $78,000 - $81,000 for a 12-month contract; full University fringe benefits are provided as well. The ideal starting date will be November 15, or as soon thereafter as possible.  The successful candidate will begin teaching in January 2018.

Application Instructions: A resume, references, and cover letter should be submitted to Professor Paul Rose, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, 55 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Send e-mail applications to Applications will be reviewed immediately and will be accepted until the position is filled; preference will be given to applications received before September 1st

The Ohio State University is committed to establishing a culturally and intellectually diverse environment, encouraging all members of our learning community to reach their full potential. The Ohio State University is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, or protected veteran status.

About Columbus: The Ohio State University campus is located in Columbus, the capital city of Ohio. Columbus is the center of a rapidly growing and diverse metropolitan area with a population of over 1.5 million. The area offers a wide range of very affordable housing, many cultural and recreational opportunities, excellent schools, and a strong economy based on government as well as service, transportation, and technology industries (see Columbus and its many suburbs have consistently been rated as one of the Top U.S. places for quality of life. Additional information about the Columbus area is available at

July 13, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Panelists: AALS Annual Meeting Open Source Program on Teaching Access to Justice

Via Prof. Colleen Shanahan:

Call for Panelists

Innovations in Teaching Access to Justice Across the Law School Curriculum


2018 AALS Annual Meeting – Open Source Program

Friday, January 5, 2018, 8:30 – 10:15 a.m.


We invite applications to speak on a panel about how law school faculty can innovate in the classroom to create future attorneys who are concerned about access to justice and playing a role in solving the access to justice crisis.  Each panelist will speak about a recent experiment incorporating access to justice into the law school curriculum.  We hope to identify an additional panelist who has (or will in the Fall 2017 semester) integrated access to justice concepts in a first-year or core law school course.

            The program will begin with a roundtable discussion of each panelist’s recent efforts to highlight and incorporate access to justice in their own classrooms.  The program will continue with a facilitated discussion that will allow audience members to share and develop their own classroom experiments, including ideas to incorporate access to justice in core and first-year courses.  The planned panelists are Anna Carpenter (Tulsa), Lauren Sudeall Lucas (Georgia State), Victor Quintanilla (Indiana), and Colleen Shanahan (Temple).

            To be considered as a panelist, please email a short (1-2 paragraph) statement of interest and description of your recent or upcoming effort to teach access to justice in the classroom to Colleen Shanahan ( by September 1.

July 13, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trump Administration creates new burdens for Immigration Judges

Clinical Professor Sarah Sherman-Stokes was recently featured in the Washington Post offering her opinion on the devastating impact of new policies on immigration judges. The Trump Administration's stance on undocumented individuals has led to an explosion in the number of cases. Immigration judges already carry exceedingly large dockets, nearly three times the amount of district court judges trying civil cases. These judges are now losing critical training conferences essential to ensuring fair trials for noncitizens.  

The full piece is available here:


July 11, 2017 in Immigration, New Clinical Faculty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

RFP and Registration: 2017 Northwest Clinical Law Conference

From the organizers:

2017 Northwest Clinical Law Conference

On behalf of the NWCLC 2017 Planning Committee, we are pleased to provide details regarding the 2017 Northwest Clinical Law Conference, to be held November 3-5 at Sleeping Lady.


Our theme this year will be "From Competence to Social Justice: The Role of Legal Clinics in Forming Professional Identity and Values." Below are a request for proposals with additional details regarding the theme and our call for presenters. Please note that we are also seeking proposals from clinic administrators in hopes of having a separate conference track for administrative professionals who wish to attend. Proposals can be sent to me ( for distribution to the Planning Committee and are due by SEPTEMBER 8, 2017.


Also attached is a flyer with registration details. The registration and payment deadline is SEPTEMBER 1, 2017 and your completed registration form and fees can be returned to Geri Sturgill (


We look forward to seeing your proposals and to a great conference later this year!


Download 2017 NW Clinical Conference Registration Flyer


Download 2017 NW Clinical Conference Request for Proposals

July 6, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

U.S. Senate Unveils Health Care Bill Designed to Dismantle the ACA

If you are closely tracking the ongoing federal legislative efforts to repeal and replace the Accountable Care Act (ACA), you might find interesting my recent piece, U.S. Senate Unveils Health Care Bill Designed to Dismantle the ACA.   A huge thanks to the Oxford Human Rights Hub for publishing my take on the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 and the formidable procedural and substantive obstacles the bill faces in the United States Senate.  The Hub also published my post, How an ACA Repeal Would Devastate Appalachia, as part of a three-part series on American health care reform this Spring.  I intend to continue to watch--and write about--federal legislative attempts to dismantle the ACA over the summer and will provide links to new posts as they as they go live on this blog site.

July 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 30, 2017

West Virginia Law Review 2018 Appalachian Justice Symposium: Announcement and CFP

Dear Colleagues,

Please find here the announcement and CFP for the West Virginia Law Review’s 2018 Appalachian Justice Symposium, which will be held on February 23-24, 2018 at the West Virginia University College of Law.  Papers selected by the Law Review will be published in a special symposium edition of the Law Review entitled “Essays on Appalachia.”  
I am writing to respectfully request that you (1) consider participating in the Symposium by submitting either a paper or panel proposal and (2) circulate the attached CFP as far and wide as possible.  Additional information will be posted periodically on the Symposium website located at: 
If you have any questions about the Symposium or the CFP, please feel free to reach out to me at your convenience.  Thanks so much for your time and attention and I hope that everyone is enjoying a wonderful summer.



June 30, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Requests for Proposals and Registration for the 2017 Southern Clinical Conference

Via Prof. Danny Schaffzin:

2017 Southern Clinical Conference

Registration is now open for the 2017 Southern Clinical Conference. Please link to for registration information and hotel information. 
Also, we are still accepting Proposals for concurrent sessions or works in progress. We encourage you to submit your proposal by the July 17th deadline.  Further information about the conference and RFP is below:
The Planning Committee for the 2017 Southern Clinical Conference invites you to submit proposals for this year’s conference “Back to Our Roots: Renewing the Social Justice Mission of Clinics and Externships,” which will take place from Friday morning, October 20th, to mid-day Saturday, October 21st, at the LSU Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Proposals should be submitted by July 17th via the online form located at  .
Early clinical legal education had an identifiable focus on social justice. Now, a divisive election and a change in administration have brought new challenges for law school clinics and externship programs. The political and legal framework affecting the clients and communities we serve is now under extraordinary strain. Cutbacks in legal services and changes in governmental priorities seems likely to fray the already attenuated network of legal services available to those in need. In this context, we seek to revisit and to renew the social justice mission of law school clinics.
We invite proposals that address these themes. We encourage you to consider how to explore the past, to assess the present, and to plan for future action by clinics and externships on social justice concerns. We seek proposals that will question the social justice roots of clinical legal education and will offer guidance in responding to current events.
Proposals might focus on any of the following questions:
How has the social justice mission of clinics or externships changed over the years? How do we define it? How can it be renewed?
What institutional challenges now exist for pursuing a social justice mission through clinics or externships? What political or economic challenges now operate to alter how clinics and externships might teach social justice?
Do regional differences exist in how a clinical teacher might approach the challenge of social justice work? 
Does working in the American south pose particular challenges or important opportunities? What can we learn from comparisons to other regions of the country?
Do our students share our appreciation for the social justice mission that may underlie our work? If so, how can we enhance that appreciation? If not, what challenges does that create?
Do changes in the regulation of law schools affect how we address social justice concerns, including questions surrounding status of clinical faculty and around academic freedom?  
How do pressures for bar passage and post-graduate employment for our graduates affect what we do in clinics and externships? 
How can we set learning objectives relating to social justice in our clinics and externships? 
How can we assess our students’ and our courses’ success in attaining those objectives?
We welcome proposals for concurrent sessions, plenaries, and workshops devoted to these themes. At recent conferences, concurrent sessions have run for about 90 minutes. We welcome ideas for shorter formats, including TED talks, flash or lightning talks, or similar formats. We expect to offer sessions of varying lengths, intermingled with plenary discussions and opportunities for free-form discussion and networking.
Works in Progress
With sufficient interest, we expect to offer sessions devoted to scholarly works-in-progress. These sessions will include both commentary from discussants and support for new and experienced scholars. Proposals for works-in-progress need not be limited to the conference theme.
In general, the Planning Committee will favor proposals that address the conference theme, are relevant to conference attendees, are well-defined and focused, are timely and important, and show care and thoughtfulness in development.
We value diversity, both in the composition of presenting teams, and in your topic’s presentation of diversity as a concern in your work. Diversity includes gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, geographical location, years of experience, type of school, type of program and other factors.
Submission of Proposals
Proposals should be submitted using the online form located here no later than July 17th.
We encourage you to contact any member of the Planning Committee to discuss your ideas as you prepare a proposal. This group includes:
Anne Hornsby,
Kendall Kerew,
Robert Lancaster,
Daniel Schaffzin,
Alex Scherr,
Crystal Shin,
Emily Suski,

June 28, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Call for Papers: "Children's Rights and Responsibilities in Africa"

The AALS Section on Africa is pleased to announce a Call for Papers from which 2-3 additional presenters will be selected for the section’s program to be held during the AALS 2018 Annual Meeting in San Diego on “Children’s Rights and Responsibilities in Africa.” The program is co-sponsored by the AALS Section on Children and the Law and the AALS Section on International Human Rights. The call for papers seeks authors of published or unpublished papers that consider the rights and responsibilities of children on the African continent.

Background: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the history of the world. A look at the drafting history of the CRC indicates that African countries were not proportionally represented in the drafting process, arguably due to a lack of resources and a dearth of diplomatic representatives in post-colonial Africa. Although some feared that the North-South divide in the drafting process would prevent the universal acceptance of the treaty, the fact is that the continent was strongly represented among the first countries to sign and ratify the treaty.

African countries did not stop there. They criticized the CRC for not going far enough in protecting children’s rights and taking into consideration African cultural values (such as the notion that children also have concurrent responsibilities) and issues, such as apartheid, child marriage, child labor, child trafficking, children in armed conflict, and harmful cultural practices. African nations converted this criticism into the first regional children’s treaty, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Africa also is home to the first nation, the Republic of South Africa, to include many of the principles of the CRC and the African Children’s Charter in the nation’s constitution.

Despite the leadership that the African continent has offered in developing an international legal framework for children’s rights and responsibilities, the consequences of colonial occupation has led to a perception that children’s rights have not been recognized in many areas, ranging from gender discrimination to education to economic security and more. This call for papers is intended to advance the dialogue related to both the creation and fulfillment of children’s rights and responsibilities, especially as they relate to children in Africa.      

Thus, the Section on Africa invites any full-time faculty member of an AALS member school who has authored a published or unpublished paper, is writing a paper, or is interested in writing a paper on this topic to submit a 1- or 2-page proposal to the Chair of the Section by August 31, 2017. The Executive Committee will review all submissions and select proposals for presentation as part of our AALS 2018 Program.

Please  share this call for papers widely and direct all submissions and questions to the Chair of the AALS Section on Africa:

Professor Warren Binford

Willamette University College of Law 



June 15, 2017 in Children, Conferences and Meetings, Current Affairs, Family Law, Interdisciplinary Programs, Juvenile Justice, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Community Out of Chaos

This week, I attended the 2017 501(c)onference, presented by the Center for Nonprofit Management in Los Angeles. Creating Community Out Of Chaos was the theme, and it was timely.

I registered for the conference as a bit of continuing education. In the Pepperdine Community Justice Clinic, our students and I counsel nonprofits and NGOs in corporate and policy matters, so I seized an opportunity to learn more about the nonprofit ecosystem, the market, and its trends. The 501(c)onference is a gathering of world-class nonprofits and nonprofit leaders in Southern California, to exchange ideas, network, and improve collaborations. Like most lawyers and most academics I spend most of my time with other lawyers and academics, so it was nice to break away and see the work from the clients’ point of view. (This had the double benefit of new insight for the great boards on which I get to serve: Counsel to Secure Justice, Medicine for Humanity, The Abundant Table, and the Clinical Legal Education Association.)    

The time away from the ivory silo was refreshing and useful, and that was my first professional lesson for the week. All we lawyers should spend time with our clients in their markets, especially when they do not need us. We learn more about them so can serve them better. All we academics should spend time in the fields we study and teach to ground our scholarship and classes in lived experience.

At this brief conference, a rising energy and resilient optimism pervaded the conversations. Everyone acknowledged the conflict and tension of our present political and social anxieties. People presented bleak, striking data about the economy, communities, and policies. Speakers identified troubling trends rooted in systems and cycles, but there was little despair in the room.  Instead, there was a calm, fierce, determined air to stay at work in new and better ways. Plenty of people spoke of resistance, but it is a resistance against division, inequity, and deceit.

That spirit infused righteous talk of alliance. We talk a lot about collaboration, but this deeper discussion of alliance meant more than projects in common. It meant more than MOUs. Alliance calls for mutuality, humility, and shared burdens in a righteous cause. Even as these organizations may vie for the same grants and funders, they were all speaking to the need to join forces in defense of our social contracts and the community ligaments than bind us together.

Those conversations invited talk of innovation and new ideas to fund and sustain organizations and their work. Some brilliant panelists discussed the emerging trends of social-impact investing, B-Corps, pay-for-performance, and other market-driven social enterprises. This is an important new trend that we must explore and improve. No one does this work for the money, but money is necessary for the work. Angel investors, equities, bonds, and other start-up financing mechanisms promise new means of big money for socially responsible enterprises who can find the right mix of markets and economic development. Some of us, however, had good counterpoint discussions about the temptations of profit and the reality of issues that defy markets. Sometimes folks can get rich while doing great good in the world. Very often, social needs and solutions will not respond to market fixes and will require the generosity of donors and the tenacity of scrappy activists whose work is not measured in profit.  

These conversations stood in stark contrast to a meeting of Black Lives Matter that my family and I attended earlier in the week. BLM intentionally and explicitly is not part of the traditional nonprofit system or economy. As it fights for empowerment and reform, it takes a radically different, disciplined strategy. The nonprofit conference was in gleaming, corporate quarters in spaces built for teaching and learning. BLM met in a well-worn, hard-working community center covered in local art, a place with sharp edges made warm, hospitable, and loving by a fierce commitment to inclusion and dignity. BLM opts for deep, patient community organizing and development built on relationships, teaching, dialog, and amplified voices. It is not profitable and does not seek to be.   

And this contrast informs another great lesson for me this week. I believe in All-of-the-Above, each of these extraordinary people and organizations seeking the light in their respective worlds and calling others to join their alliances. From the veteran community organizers in Inglewood to the rich foundations Santa Monica, from the scrappy new nonprofit laboring without an office to the global NGOs who can call on millions, their work all bends toward the dignity of every person. To seek the dignity of the oppressed and to empower the poor is to love everyone, including ourselves. We need them all.   

To empower the vulnerable people on the margins of our society and economy is to strengthen all the bonds on which we all rely. This morning, we saw again the great and awful cost when we allow those bonds to fray and snap. While we gathered in conference, a man took intentional, deadly aim at our representatives, our Congress. He chose a moment when they were actually engaged in friendly, healthy, democratic, bipartisan, American government, even in an era of harsh polarization and distrust. Just hours later, another person unleashed death on co-workers in another workplace shooting that we can only ever seem to call senseless.   

This violence is a failure of many things, and we must own them together if we going to resist the breach of our social contract, our commitments and reliance on each other. If we cannot trust each other, then the center will not hold.  

So I end this reflection returning to work as a teaching lawyer (or a practicing professor). Our communities and commerce depend on the rule of law. The rule of law depends on our social contract, these deep commitments to each other. These commitments depend on trust, and trust depends on dignity. Everyone's dignity depends on the dignity of everyone else, and that mutuality is under assault.

Fundamentally, this must be the work of lawyers. We must guard and defend the conditions necessary to thrive in liberty and peace.

So we must teach our students accordingly. Violence is a failure of our morality and care. Rampant deceit is a failure of our discipline to hold ourselves accountable. Injustice thrives when our alliances degrade. The Republic will fall when we abandon our mutuality. This is the jurisprudence we need to teach and study. This is how community emerges from chaos.        

June 14, 2017 in Community Organizing, Conferences and Meetings, Current Affairs, Scholarship, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

National Lawyers Guild to Honor UCI Law Professor Annie Lai

The National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles (NLG-LA) will honor Prof. Annie Lai at its Annual Awards Banquet on Sunday, June 11.

The co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) at UCI Law, Prof. Lai teaches and practices in the areas of civil and immigrant rights. Among the many matters that Prof. Lai has worked with students on in the IRC is a constitutional challenge to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s worksite immigration raids in federal district court in Arizona. The IRC is serving as lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

More recently, Prof. Lai helped draft a letter, signed by 292 legal scholars, addressed to President Donald Trump that asserted the President’s threat to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities is unconstitutional. Prof. Lai frequently partners with grassroots organizations on local policy initiatives—she was part of the effort to obtain a far-reaching sanctuary policy in the City of Santa Ana and clarified federal funding concerns along the way. Together with students in the IRC, Prof. Lai provided comment to the Santa Ana City Council regarding a legal defense fund for detained immigrants facing deportation.

“I feel incredibly honored and humbled to receive a recognition like this from the National Lawyers Guild,” said Prof. Lai. “We are living in a time when bold and creative lawyering for social justice is not just an ambition, but an imperative. The National Lawyers Guild is an organization that has long stood for those very values.”

“We are thrilled to be awarding Professor Lai, who exemplifies everything the Guild looks for in movement lawyers: someone who has committed their career to supporting the movement, vindicating the rights of the people, and sharing their passion and knowledge to uplift other advocates,” said Ameena Mirza Qazi, executive director of the NLG-LA.

The National Lawyers Guild seeks to unite lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests.

The NLG-LA’s annual awards banquet will celebrate the guild’s 80th anniversary and will take place on Sunday, June 11, at 5:00 p.m. at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel. For more info, please visit

Media Contacts

Colleen Taricani
Assistant Dean for Communications
Phone: (949) 824-3063, mobile (949) 945-4506
Email address:

Ryne Hodkowski
Public Relations Manager
Phone: (949) 824-0385
Email address:

June 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

An Interview with Antoinette Sedillo Lopez

To steal from the words of our most recent AALS Clinical Conference theme, these are definitely tumultuous times. For me, it is a daily battle to read the news and not go back to bed.  Stories of clinicians working to make a difference in their communities both in and out of the law school environment, provide inspiration and motivation to keep fighting another day. 

Though the ending of this chapter is not yet written, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is already an inspiration.   After more than twenty years as a clinical teacher and scholar, she is now running for Congress in her home state of New Mexico.  Below, in her own words, you will find a piece of her story. 


        1.    Along with having been dean of your law school, you have many years of clinical teaching experience; how has clinical teaching informed your decision to run and why is it important to you to run for office now? (correction, I was associate dean not dean--ASL)

As a clinical teacher, I worked on many of the issues and challenges our communities in New Mexico are facing.  Our work was rooted in helping the overlooked and underserved communities of Central New Mexico. I have had the privilege of meeting with tenants of run-down trailer parks who, among their numerous grievances, have been deeply impacted by the quality of their living environment and have few remedies.  I worked with students on devastating cases where clients who were in abusive situations had few options. I have met mothers who lost a day’s pay each time they had to go to court on their restraining order, custody petition, or divorce.   I have met with families devastated by the effects of a sawmill on the air quality in their community. 

My involvement with community while I was at the law school culminated with an encounter with a woman begging on the street in Guanajuato, Mexico.   I gave her a bag of tamales; she looked at me with deep gratitude and told me that she would share them.  I discovered that she was undocumented in Mexico, from Guatemala.  She had fled an abusive home life and was happier living on the streets in Guanajuato than she had been in Guatemala.  My perspective changed.  I felt a strong need to get involved more deeply with my community and to help confront challenges facing survivors at the intersection of immigration, poverty and domestic violence.

I retired from the law school at the University of New Mexico after 27 years of law teaching to become the executive director of Enlace Comunitario, a non-profit that serves all victims of domestic violence and conducts outreach to Latino immigrants in Central New Mexico.  I was very gratified and satisfied with our progress until the current administration came into power.   In one election, I knew that everything had changed for our communities. The terror among all immigrants coupled with the activities of ICE after the President’s Executive Order and the Director of Homeland Security memo purporting to roll back limitations on the discretion of ICE officials was alarming. Using my clinical skills, I worked with allies to try to convince the New Mexico Supreme Court that it has inherent authority to protect access to justice. I co-founded a group called “Defend Our Neighbors” to advocate for the rights of all who might be affected by the current administration.

These advocacy roles were noticed by others who encouraged me to amplify my voice for others and to use the skills, knowledge and values I had developed as a clinical law teacher in Congress.  I am very excited by the opportunity to serve in Congress at this time.


        2.    What skill(s) or lesson(s) from your clinical teaching do you think will be most applicable to life as a Congresswoman?

As my last academic project before I left law teaching, I worked with Deborah Maranville, Lisa Bliss, and Carrie Kass to co-edit the book, Building on Best Practices:  Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World. The book brought innovative and effective law teachers and administrators from around the country to discuss how legal education should change to adapt to changing realities.  The book stressed developing goals and outcomes and focusing on teaching and programmatic strategies for students to learn to achieve those outcomes.  My biggest take-away from 27 years of law teaching and various roles in administration is based on those two large points.  As a congresswoman, I will be open to addressing changing realities and I will be focused on fighting for the outcomes we need for our communities to thrive: community and economic development, health care for all, and social justice and equality.


        3.    How will your clinical experience help you better serve the needs of constituents?  Advocate for them in Congress?

Throughout my clinical experience, I have had the chance to work with people from all walks of life. I have developed a passion for problem- solving and bringing people together around a cause.  As a clinical teacher, I have opened doors to public service for students and opportunity to the clients that we served.  My approach emphasizes accessibility, which will produce effective constituent services.  As an advocate, I will not simply offer sound bites, but will work to deliver progress on the many causes I’ve worked on throughout my career.  I will be a powerful voice in Congress for the under-served communities I have worked with, sharing the stories I have learned and bringing the force of the law, facts, and data to bring about change.


        4.    The current political climate is challenging. What parts of clinical teaching will help you make difficult decisions in Congress and help you explain the issues and your decisions to your constituents?

The challenging political climate is one of the reasons why I am running.  After years of working with communities who do not have a voice in the policy prescriptions that are intended to solve the problems that afflict them, I feel now is the time to best use my skills and training to champion this community in Washington. My deep knowledge of the Constitution, federal laws and public policy, and our community is an asset in standing up in opposition to the current administration’s backwards policies.  Whether it be the rollback of our civil liberties, access to health care or climate change policies, this administration has chosen ignore the people’s voices.  I will communicate well and often with my constituents so that they are always aware of how federal issues will impact our community and will constantly seek their input on the issues.


        5.    What is one piece of advice you wish someone had shared when you were beginning your teaching career?

 Prepare yourself to pursue your passions in teaching, in scholarship and in service and everything will fall into place.  Even if you don’t achieve the ultimate goals you seek, the journey will be fascinating and rewarding.


        6.    Tell us a little about your path.  When you were a law student or while you were teaching clinics would you have imagined someday running for Congress?

My story starts even earlier than law school.  I told my high school counselor that I was interested in the law. He replied, “That is great, because you are so smart, you will make a great legal secretary.”  I have definitely exceeded the expectations prescribed to me as a woman, as a Latina, and as someone from a rural, working class community in New Mexico.  I wake up every morning in awe that I  served as a law professor for 27 years, eight of which I spent as Associate Dean, and as a nonprofit  executive director for three, and that today I have the privilege of running to represent New Mexicans in Congress. I am proud to have had a career that has prepared me with the knowledge, skills and values to do a great job for my home state.


        7.    What would you suggest to someone who wants to make a difference in their community but isn’t in a position to run for office?   How can other clinical teachers best help, including those without live-client clinics?

 I believe all of us need to be engaged and informed.  We need to use the privilege of our education (formal and informal) and our positions, whatever those positions might be, in service of those without privilege. Clinical teachers can insure that students see the social justice implications of the work they do.  They can help students understand the “foot of oppression” that impacts people of color, low income individuals, and those with little power in our society.  Through these lenses, students can use their talents and their resources to address the problems of poverty and inequality while in clinic and after they leave the law school.

June 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Transactional Clinical Conference in Philly tomorrow and Friday

90 transactional (CED, IP, Small Biz, and Entrepreneurship) clinicians from across the country will meet in Philadelphia June 1-2.  Here's the Program: Transactional Clinical Conference June 2017 24x36 poster

May 31, 2017 in Clinic News, Conferences and Meetings, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)