Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tying Knots

One of the dangers of living in the Northwest is that you occasionally attend a school fundraiser and become the winning bidder on a climb to the summit of Mt. Hood. Now I have climbed a fair number of mountains in my day, but none technical and only one recently. Thus, after the semester ended, I found myself in the unusual role of student.  Mine was not a class about law or writing or education; rather, this was a class about tying knots, which I know nearly nothing about.

Don’t get me wrong: I have been tying knots for well over forty years. Well, actually, one knot and it involves bunny ears, but if needed, I can even tie it in a double knot! However, in this class, we were not being asked to tie knots that will keep on your Disney princess tennis shoes with red flashing lights as you run across the playground. These were life-saving knots. The kind that get you out of crevasses and keep you from falling off cliffs. Knots you want to--need to--know how to tie in the dark without thinking. Prusiks. Clove lines. Bow hitches. Double eights.

And so there I sat with one of my climbing partners to my left, and the other to my right. Both had a vested interest in my mastery of these skills. Indeed, their life might depend on it. No longer the one in charge, I was suddenly a student well outside of my comfort zone learning a high stakes skill that I needed to master with peers watching and evaluating. The pressure was on.

The course was well designed. The instructors sent us a manual before class, listed online demonstrations to watch, went over a quick PowerPoint in class, and then broke us into small peer groups  of 3-5 learners, plus one instructor, and handed us each a length of climbing rope to practice and demonstrate our knot-tying mastery. Our instructor quickly tied a couple of the assigned knots and then directed us to try. I panicked.

Here it was seven o’clock at night. I had not had dinner. I had worked all day. I had just met a publication deadline, returned from a business trip, and closed out the school year. I had two young children at home and not enough sleep. I was driving over two hours roundtrip at night to attend this class. I had not done my homework and was running on fumes. And it hit me.

The tables were turned. All year long I had provided my students with a variety of resources, assigned them work to support their learning, delivered content in multiple settings with a variety of media. I had created opportunities to work in different group sizes, and yet, when it came time to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, to apply their knowledge, they would sometimes look at me hungry, exhausted, and confused like they had no idea what they were doing.

Humbled, I meekly handed my rope back to the instructor and asked him if he could demonstrate how to tie just one knot, and this time more slowly. He did, but not nearly slowly enough. I still didn’t get it. I tried, but he quickly untied my jumble of climbing rope, and directed me to watch him again. He quickly tied it so fast that I could not break down all of the steps. I tried again, but it was clear I had failed. I asked him if he could let me tie the knot and coach me through it one step at a time. He agreed, but after the second step took the rope back and quickly tied it again. At this point, all of my teammates were done with this knot and were ready to move on.

He offered to teach me a different method for tying the knot for people "who struggled." I was being offered remedial knot-tying! "No!" I insisted, and then I dropped the H-bomb in a moment of panic and defensiveness. I had a doctorate from Harvard, and if they just gave me a few more minutes, I could catch up. One of my peers, reached out to assure me. She was a D.O., but this is different, she said.

The instructor suddenly felt uncomfortable and said that now he was intimidated. He was obviously doing something wrong. I assured him that it was my fault: I hadn’t done my homework. I just needed him to slow down and coach me through each step of the tying of the knot, which he did. Once we broke it down step-by-step, with me (the learner) as actor, we both identified what I was doing wrong. Like so many things in life, I had been overcomplicating the knot. Rather than tie it once, I was tying it twice, perceiving it as more complex than it really was. The problem was suddenly untangled.

After the class took a break and I grabbed a quick bite to eat, I quietly slipped into a different group, where I could escape the shadow of my double figure-eight failure and start fresh with a new instructor. I eventually mastered all five knots, and developed such a great rapport with my second teacher (who knew nothing about my near miss with remedial knot tying instruction) that after our field training, he offered to join us on our climb up Mt. Hood. Perhaps he just loves climbing mountains, or maybe, although he witnessed how much I learned in class, he also saw how much I do not know, how much I still have to learn, and knows that some students still need teachers to be ready to support and watch over them, even after class ends.   


June 24, 2015 in Teaching and Pedagogy, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Southern Clinical Conference Update

Here is an update from the Southern Clinical Conference Planning Committee:

We are touching base with more exciting news about the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference, which will be held at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law on October 22-24, 2015.  First, please be reminded about the July 17, 2015 deadline to submit a proposal for plenary, concurrent, or workshop sessions related to our conference theme of Confronting Issues of Race and Diversity in Clinical Legal Education (see Request for Proposal materials attached to D. Schaffzin e-mail of May 26, 2015).

Apart from plenary, concurrent, and workshop sessions, the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference will also include a time slot dedicated for participants to present works-in-progress.   We invite works-in-progress proposals from new and experienced scholars, on all topics, at all stages of development, from completed drafts to half-baked ideas.  The work-in-progress topic does NOT need to relate in any way to the conference theme.  

We also are looking for volunteer discussants to facilitate dialogue about each work-in-progress project during the sessions.  Work-in-progress presenters will have an opportunity to work with discussants in advance of the conference to tailor the session to meet their goals -- whether receiving detailed feedback on a draft, developing particular ideas, or devising a publication strategy. 

For more information, please consult the attached work-in-progress request for proposals, cover sheet, and template.  

Prospective Work-in-Progress Presenters: please send proposals to Sandra Love ( by August 15th.  

Prospective Work-in-Progress Discussants: please send an email to Sandra Love ( by August 15th indicating your interest and listing any topic areas in which you have a particular interest or expertise.  If you would be open to serving as a discussant with regard to a paper of any topic, please note that, too.

Please contact the Planning Committee if we can be of any assistance.  Work-in-Progress presenters from all regions are welcome.  Join us and present your work in a fun and supportive environment!

 We look forward to your proposals. Registration details and other reminders regarding the Southern Clinical Conference will be coming later this summer.

 Danny (on behalf of the SCC Planning Committee) 


Daniel M.   Schaffzin 
  Assistant   Professor of Law 
  Director of Experiential Learning
  Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

June 22, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

JOBS: Qualified Tax Expert, Low Income Tax Clinic, Columbus Community Legal Services, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America

Via Prof. Faith Mullen: 

Qualified Tax Expert, Low Income Tax Clinic

Columbus Community Legal Services

Columbus School of Law

The Catholic University of America

Columbus Community Legal Services, the clinical program of the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America welcomes applicants for the Clinical Supervising Attorney-Qualified Tax Expert position in its Low Income Tax Clinic (LITC).  The successful candidate will represent clients and teach law students.  The LITC is the newest of four clinics comprising Columbus Community Legal Services, one of the District of Columbia’s oldest legal services providers.  Experience in a clinical environment—either as a law student or as teacher—is strongly preferred.  Applicants should also have a demonstrated commitment to working with low income individuals. 

 Responsibilities of the LITC QTE will include


  • Provide law students with closely supervised agency and courtroom experience on behalf of Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents on personal federal and local income tax matters
  • Provide law students with practical instruction on federal and local income tax law, Internal Revenue Service regulations and procedures, and United States Tax Court rules and procedures
  • Expose law students to the opportunities of providing pro bono services to needy individuals in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia
  • Develop and conduct limited advice and referral clinics for Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents on a range of personal federal and local income tax matters
  • Develop and conduct community education outreach programs for Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia organizations, their members, and fellow practitioners on a range of personal federal and local income tax matters
  • Provide low-income Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents with direct case representation before the United States Tax Court, the Internal Revenue Service and local tax authorities

The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • A Juris Doctor degree
  • A license to practice law in the District of Columbia, or be eligible and willing to waive into the District of Columbia Bar
  • Admitted or eligible to be admitted to the United States Tax Court
  • A commitment to instructing and supervising law students
  • A working knowledge of personal federal income tax law
  • A mature, self-starter, with an ability to work independently
  • Ability to work collaboratively with others
  • A demonstrated commitment to social and economic justice

Compensation: The position is full-time with a salary of up to $50,000 plus benefits, which include medical insurance and other benefits.

 Applications will be considered on a rolling basis starting July 3, 2015 or until filled. The anticipated start date is August 1, 2015, although a later start is possible.

 For more information contact Paul Kurth at 202-319-6788.


June 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

JOBS: UDC Fellowship in General Practice Clinic

Via Prof. LaShanda T. Adams:  

Master of Laws (LL.M.) Degree Program With Concentration In Clinical Education and Systems Change

To Provide Family Law Services to Women Veterans

Dear Colleagues,

U.D.C. David A. Clarke School of Law is pleased to announce a fellowship opportunity in the General Practice Clinic.

The fellow will supervise law students in the representation of women veterans in family law matters.

The U.D.C. David A. Clarke School of Law has an excellent and nationally ranked clinical education program. Each law student (J.D. candidate) must complete at least two seven-credit clinics (a minimum of 700 hours of clinical work) to graduate. Each LL.M. candidate will work closely with an experienced faculty member in a clinic to teach and supervise J.D. candidates in substantive law and practice skills. In addition, over the course of the two-year program, Fellows in the LL.M. program will complete a culminating project in the form of a scholarly work of publishable quality or a project designed to stimulate systems change.

The two-year LL.M. program includes coursework in clinical pedagogy, legal scholarship, public interest law, and systems change. The focus of the program is to provide the Fellows with a foundation in clinical education practices and to strengthen their lawyering and advocacy skills.

L.L.M. candidates will receive an annual stipend of $51,157 plus benefits.

The program begins on August 1, 2015.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Specific clinic descriptions are at:

Admissions Process

Please submit the following:

A response to the following questions in no more than 1,000 words (two pages):

In your area of concentration, what systemic problems have you identified? How do you envision using the law to transform the system?

Resume, Writing Sample, Law School Transcript (official), Two letters of recommendation from persons with personal knowledge of your capabilities and commitment to social justice.

Please send materials, except transcript, electronically to Jordana Arias, Clinic Staff Assistant, (Please enter “LL.M. Application” in the subject line.)

Mail transcript to:

Jonathan Smith, Associate Dean
Clinical and Experiential Programs
University of the District of Columbia
David A. Clarke School of Law
4200 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Building 52
Washington, DC 20008

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Questions? Please contact Jonathan Smith:

Candidates should have a minimum of two years relevant practice experience and be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any state possession, territory, or Commonwealth of the United States, or the District of Columbia. A person chosen to enter the LL.M. program who is not a member of the D.C. Bar will have to apply to waive into the D.C. Bar or otherwise apply for membership in the D.C. Bar.

June 4, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Clinical Writers' Workshop--Upcoming Deadline

Here is the announcement for the Clinical Writers' Workshop from the editors of the Clinical Law Review:

The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 26, 2015, at NYU Law School.  The registration deadline is June 30, 2015.

The Workshop will provide 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, all applicants will need to submit a mini-draft or prospectus, 3-5 pages in length, of the article they intend to present at the workshopFull drafts of the articles will be due by September 1, 2015.

As in the previous Clinical Law Review Workshops, participants will not have to pay an admission or registration fee but participants 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 conference without scholarship support. Applicants for scholarships will be asked to submit, with their 3-5 page prospectus, 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 timely submission of drafts, and will be capped at a maximum of $750 per person.

Information about the Workshop – including the Registration form, scholarship application form, and information for reserving hotel rooms – is available on-line at:

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

-- The Board of Editors of the Clinical Law Review

June 2, 2015 in Clinic News, Current Affairs, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

RFP: Southern Clinical Conference, October 22-24, 2015, in Memphis

Via Danny Schaffzin

Southern Clinical Conference 2015
Request for Proposals
October 22-24, 2015
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Memphis, Tennessee

Confronting Issues of Race and Diversity in Clinical Legal Education

Deadline for Proposals: July 17, 2015

The Planning Committee for the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference invites you to
submit proposals for this year’s conference, which will take place from Thursday
evening, October 22nd, to mid-day Saturday, October 24th, at the University of Memphis
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis, Tennessee. Details on registration and
lodging will follow soon.

The committee is open to receiving proposals for plenaries, concurrents, workshops or
discussions formatted in other ways. The deadline for proposals is July 17, 2015. We
will notify those who make proposals no later than August 14, 2015. A solicitation
for a devoted Works-in-Progress session will go out under separate cover.
We invite proposals that address how to teach and advocate about race and diversity in
clinical education. We encourage applicants to think broadly about this topic. We
solicit proposals from teachers of in-house clinic or externship courses, and other
courses that offer real practice experience.

For example, proposals might focus on any of the following topics:

Programs or initiatives that address racial justice in distinctive or compelling ways.

Responses to the emerging public debate about race relations across the nation,
including the #BlackLivesMatter and other similar movements.

Ways that clinical programs and teachers can leverage their position in two worlds
(the legal academy and law practice) to confront issues of race and diversity.

Specific courses or classes or pedagogical methods that offer effective ways to
introduce race and diversity issues into clinical teaching.

The influence of teaching about race and diversity on clinic design and vice versa
(e.g. choosing long-term vs. one-semester cases; representing groups vs. individuals;
focusing on political vs. litigation vs. transactional strategies; selecting and
sequencing of externship vs. in-house vs. other real practice experiences.)

The distinctive dimensions of confronting race and diversity in a southern historical
and political climate.

The challenge of teaching race and diversity as a pervasive concern, regardless of the
practice areas into which our students will graduate.

Addressing issues of race and diversity as they arise within our law schools and
impact students, faculty, staff, and other internal stakeholders.

The contributions that we, as clinical teachers, can make to a larger discussion of
race through service and scholarship.

The challenges confronted by both newer and more experienced teachers in
integrating race and diversity as topics into newly-created or long-standing courses.

Successful proposals might combine one or more of the suggestions above, or discuss
none of them. We encourage you to think creatively and flexibly in addressing the
conference theme.


In general, the organizing 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, disability, geographical location, years of experience, type
of school, type of program and other factors.


Proposals should be submitted by e-mail to Sandra Love ( no later
than July 17, 2015.  Please use this cover sheet and template:  Download Southern Clinical Conference - Cover and Template for Proposals - 2015

Here is the complete RFP for downloading:  Download SCC RFP - FINAL

May 26, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Opportune Moment

Building on Warren’s post, here is the National Law Journal’s declaration that this is the moment for clinics:   

Law school clinics are having a moment. They have become an increasingly important part of the law school curriculum during the past five years, as schools faced pressure to provide students with practical, hands-on experience. In this special report, we highlight six law school clinics taking new approaches to student learning, breaking into new areas of the law or that have impressive track records of success.

Whether this is overdue or just getting started, we have expanding responsibility and genuine opportunity now to contribute to the reformation of legal education with creativity, courage, optimism, compassion and excellence.   All hands are on deck, and clinicians have been preparing for this storm for a long while.    Let's make history.  

Profiled in the story are clinics from Brooklyn, Cardozo, Chicago, Loyola-LA, Suffolk and UVA.   Good work, y'all.  

May 19, 2015 in Clinic News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Let's Make History

It’s been a heck of a year. Three people in my life died unexpectedly and I am witnessing four friends and colleagues battling cancer. Commencement was yesterday and I, for one, am ready for this year to end. It was my own personal annus horribilis, and so no one was surprised when I stood on the law school steps after our graduation party, tore off my academic regalia, and shouted joyously, “Bring on summer!” before heading straight to the last remaining video store in town and loading up my arms with all those movies I didn’t have time to watch this past year. 

The Theory of Everything? Check. The Imitation Game? Check. American Sniper? Check. My pop culture deficit is so deep and accelerating so rapidly, it should qualify for its own deficit clock. In the past semester alone, I missed two student references to the District 12 finger sign from The Hunger Games trilogy and a case rounds cameo by Viggo Mortensen from The Lord of the Rings. If I wanted to remain a relevant authority in my students' eyes, I knew that I had to commit to a summer long bender of kettle corn binges and movies at midnight. The sacrifices one has to make for professional development….

And so last night, there I was watching The Interview. Who wasn’t curious about the movie that purportedly led to the Sony email hack and brought down Amy Pascal? Bad reviews aside, I like to laugh, so it doesn’t take much to convince me to watch a comedy, especially to kick off a private summer movie festival on my very own couch.

But the movie was bad, really bad, and morning came too quickly. The phone was ringing, our preschooler burst through the bedroom door dressed and ready to go to school, and it seemed the sun was shining even brighter and earlier than usual. For some reason, my head was hurting despite the fact that I had washed that kettle corn down with nothing more than water and a splash of Martinelli’s. Had I finally reached that age when staying up past midnight could have this effect?

As if the sobering after effects of one bad late night movie in middle age was not painful enough, I sat down to nurse my morning coffee and began flicking through my emails on my smartphone when I was jolted awake in a moment of panic by the National Law Journal headline proclaiming, “This is the Moment--for Clinics”! Now?! I was only 16 hours into the summer following my annus horribilis, and was still wearing fuzzy pajamas. Right now?!

As my thoughts began to race about this moment--our moment--in history, I began to resent the cruelty of fate. “Couldn’t we have another moment?” I wondered. Why didn’t we have 1998, before the tech bubble burst, the Twin Towers fell, the Long War began, Enron went bankrupt, the housing market collapsed, the financial crisis of 2008, and the crisis in legal education began? Who got that moment?

Why does our moment have to be now when law school enrollments are down? Budgets are being slashed. At least two law schools are merging, and another is on the cusp of closing. One of the oldest and largest law school clinics in the Northwest was closed unexpectedly last fall due to a budget deficit at the law school. Our most senior clinical faculty are retiring from coast to coast. Others are dying. Many are not being replaced with tenured or tenure-track appointments. Law school deans are throwing in the towel after 2.8 years on average, leaving us without stable leadership. Our students are less qualified, and need more remediation. We have more foreign students enrolling in our LLM programs, some seeking clinical experiences. Our schools need students and our students need jobs, and so we work to recruit, teach, train, place, and mentor them in a market that bears little resemblance to when we graduated from law school.

All the while, our nation’s clinical faculty continue to grow and adapt and lead as the market forces legal education to adapt to a new century with different needs and unique challenges including globalization, digitalization, and a rapidly changing environment. It might not have been our first choice, but this is our moment in time. 

Oh well. The film festival was off to a bad start anyway. Who needs summer when there is work to be done? Let’s make history.  

May 18, 2015 in ABA Standards, Clinic News, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Clinic Effect

Yesterday, I received an email from the “LexisNexis Law School team” about the release of a new white paper, commissioned by LexisNexis, on how law schools can develop writing and transactional skills “to address the demand for more practice-ready graduates.” The white paper, Hiring partners reveal new attorney readiness for real world practice, surveyed 300 law firm partners and supervising associates, and its “key findings include:

• 96% believe that newly graduated law students lack practical skills related to litigation and transactional practice.

• 66% deem writing and drafting skills highly important with emphasis on motions, briefs and pleadings[.]

• Newer attorneys spend 40% – 60% of their time conducting legal research[.]

• 88% of hiring partners think proficiency using “paid for” research services is highly important[.]

• Students lack advanced legal research skills in the areas of statutory law, regulations, legislation and more. . . .

• The most important transactional skills include business and financial concepts, due diligence, drafting contracts and more. . . .

• [L]aw firms spend[] approximately $19,000 per year, on average, to train a new associate[.]”

Without a doubt this survey can be helpful just as the white paper claims: “Law schools are presented with a great opportunity to improve upon the employment prospects of their graduates by focusing on certain practical skills that law firms most desire.” While critically important to practice, legal research and writing and drafting pleadings are not enough to ready law students to enter the profession. So-called “soft skills” like client-centered and culturally competent lawyering are equally important, not to mention ethics, and law students must know how these operate in practice. Not only do law students need to learn legal theory, but they also need to apply it in real world contexts, as the study recommends. Not all law students want to enter Big Law, but many feel pressure to do so, as the New York Times well.blogs reports. Integrating practice skills in legal education is precisely what clinical law does, and the effect is undeniable.

Just this week, as several of my clinic students graduate, I received this note from one woman who took one year of the domestic violence law clinic:

“I also want to say thank you for a wonderful year. Clinic was by far the best experience in law school for me. I learned more in Clinic practicing with you than in any other class during my three years. Thank you for teaching me to be a practical and ethical lawyer. I learned to keep my cool in stressful situations and most importantly, how to be a passionate advocate for my clients while maintaining a client centered approach.”

My clinic colleagues are posting similar expressions of gratitude from their students. Our students even report satisfaction in learning how to talk to court clerks, opposing counsel, and especially clients. They appreciate knowing how to navigate the courthouse and where to file pleadings and request transcripts. Not all of my former clinic students were happy, in full disclosure. Some complained clinic was too much work, or the subject matter was too emotionally taxing, and that is okay. There is value in ruling out what you don’t want to do.

This is my seventh year of clinical teaching, and I still feel incredibly lucky. What a privilege to guide the next generation of lawyers. My first former student is about to become a clinical teacher herself, and many others have asked me for guidance on how to get into clinical law. Not only does this make my heart swell with pride and gratitude for the best job on earth, but I also see this as proof of the clinic effect. It’s real.

May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Welcoming Tanya Cooper to Pepperdine University School of Law

I am very pleased to announce that Tanya Asim Cooper is joining the faculty at Pepperdine University School of Law this summer to design, launch, teach and direct the new Restoration & Justice Clinic.   In the new clinic, Tanya and our students will provide legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes.   She will build collaborative relationships with professionals in Southern California to facilitate comprehensive services for our clients and to provide experiences in multidisciplinary practice for our students.  

Prof. Cooper joins us from the University of Alabama where she has led and taught the Domestic Violence Clinic with extraordinary clinicians and where she was instrumental in expanding the local task force on domestic violence.  Before teaching at Alabama, Tanya trained in the clinics at American, and taught in the clinics at UDC.  She is a great fit at Pepperdine.   We are thrilled to welcome her back home to California, and I can’t wait to see her great work to come. 

May 3, 2015 in Clinic News, New Clinical Faculty, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 1, 2015

The CLEA Newsletter Spring 2015 is out!

The CLEA Spring Newsletter is out! Read about upcoming CLEA events, articles on clinical teaching, social justice creative writing, Clinical Conference updates, and more.

May 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Next for Social Justice?

Today I had the opportunity to discuss clinical law teaching as a method to advance social justice in a private meeting I can't say much about except that I left it invigorated.

Over the past three days I have felt anything but invigorated as I watched, read, listened to, and pondered media coverage and expert commentary on the massive implosion of community non-development and public non-safety in the much beloved and misunderstood Charm City of Baltimore

This month, my students have been stressed out and frustrated but they have also filed a petition to help a client get access to a vehicle to travel the 30 miles to her job as a maid; counseled a client through issues about her own life-threatening illness and how it may or may not impact her potential filing for divorce; and researched best practices on reporting gender-based violence on campus to advocate for its victims.

What is next for social justice can seem elusive in our world of declining law school applications, a wounded economy that may never fully recover, violence in our streets, and a social media-centric culture that distracts our students and ourselves constantly and often lacks any meaningful results.

Yet we adapt.  We listen to the call for legal assistance for Baltimore that went out on this blog and hundreds of other online lists this week.  We listen to our students when they put down their phones and ask us to review their draft petition.  We listen to our clients when they vent about the system, and we nod and say we agree and we mean that.  We do agree.  The system is porous.  It is messed up.  

Social justice is hard to hear.  It whispers.  But when we stand still, in these spaces we create to cultivate it, we hear that whisper.  And stand ready to start anew each day in our journey through this work, and we respond to that whisper in the words of the brilliant Maya Angelou: "Good morning."

April 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Clinical Law Prof Meet-Up in the Desert: May 6 at 8:30 p.m.

UPDATE:  We're meeting on the patio outside the Fireside Lounge at the Westin.  See you soon.


Friends, Writers, Readers,

The Clinical Law Prof Blog community will gather for an informal, not-hosted, meet up at the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, May 6, somewhere in the Westin.   (Watch this space, the Facebook page and @ClinicalLawProf for the location TBD).

It is impossible to plan a gathering that does not conflict with other worthy gatherings at this mighty conference, but if you can, please save the time and join us for conversation, refreshments and pleasantries.  

April 28, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings, Food and Drink, Games, Music, Religion, Science, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Call for Help.


We have just received a call for help from our fellow clinicians in Baltimore.  

"Lawyers and law students are needed for jail support and legal observing for demonstrations in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. We are building an infrastructure to support community organizations in Baltimore who are exercising their civil and human rights." 

There is a immediate need for attorneys licensed in Maryland with criminal defense and civil rights experience. 

If you would like more information, please see the following website:

The website has information on: News & UpdatesTraining Materials and a place for Donations.  






April 27, 2015 in Clinic News, Clinic Students and Graduates, Community Organizing, Criminal Defense, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

What the Best Law Mentors Do: A Request for Nominations

Via Prof. Kelly Terry, a request for nominations for the best law mentors in the country:

 I am writing to ask for your help with a new research project.  A team of my colleagues here at University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law, Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz, Professor Terri Beiner, Professor Kelly Browe Olson, and I, are launching a study of the best law mentors in the country. We recently signed a contract with the Harvard University Press to publish our results.

We need your help finding the best mentors.  Our goal is to identify attorney mentors who transform junior lawyers’ careers and even lives, study those mentors in depth, and understand why they are so effective. Based on this research, we will identify and describe a set of behaviors, attitudes, and habits that are characteristic of the best law mentors.   We hope to produce a work that is a manual for attorneys who aspire to be transformative mentors, a benefit to legal employers for hiring and training mentors, and a tool more junior lawyers might use to find good mentors.  Thus, anyone (you, your colleagues, or your alumni) who contributes to our study by nominating a mentor will both honor a great colleague and help move the profession forward by improving lawyer mentoring.

The methodology for the study will be qualitative and similar to the approach Dean Schwartz and his co-authors used for What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013).  We will solicit nominations, gather evidence of nominees’ excellence, and pare the list to the most extraordinary legal mentors. We will then study the mentors where they work, interviewing both the mentors and focus groups of current and former mentees.  We also hope to observe mentoring interactions.  We will sift through the information we gather, identify what the best mentors have in common and areas of important difference, and organize the book by the common themes identified through this process. We plan to finish our research over the next three years and complete the book, What the Best Law Mentors Do, by January 2019.  

Here is a link to the website we have created for the book,, and here is a link to the page we are using to solicit and receive the nominations,  Please feel free to make nominations yourself.

We are hoping you will share the links with your colleagues, alumni, large local employers, and state bar associations.  We would be very grateful for your help with our efforts to find great mentors.  We suspect the mentors nominated for the study will be flattered by the nominations, and the ones we choose to study in depth will appreciate the publicity resulting from selection as one of the best mentors in the country.  If a nominated mentor chooses to remain anonymous or does not wish to participate, however, we will not pursue the nomination.

April 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Pay Phone: A Very Short Story About Law School

The 1Ls filled the big classrooms, grinding through Contracts, in perpetual states of anxiety, fear and exhaustion. In the atrium, a few 2Ls and 3Ls relaxed on benches and chairs. Some chatted over their wraps and snack bars and Nalgene bottles. Some highlighted cases and book-briefed cases for the next class. Some disappeared behind screens and headphones. One napped without shame, her hood over her eyes, sprawled on a couch. The space was public, but their possession was open and notorious. Their domicile is the law school, and the atrium is their residence.

On the balcony above, two professors stopped to talk about the Dodgers’ strong start. A student hovered nearby, waiting for her chance to ask a quick question, worrying if she were near enough to get their attention without being intrusive. Across the way, an administrative assistant backed out of the library and hoisted a bulky box full of blue books and Scantron sheets.

When the phone rang, most folks reached for their mobile devices. The Boomers did not notice anything peculiar. The Gen Xers recalled the hint of a bygone sensation, and their minds toggled to an emerging memory dredged up from childhood. The Millennials registered the anachronism first, because the ring was too loud, too insistent and all the way across the room. Nothing vibrated in their hands, and no one raised a phone to their ears. It was an actual, honest to goodness bell. For a few of them, this was a brand new experience.

All eyes turned to the pay phone on the wall that none of them had noticed before. It rang again. No one moved to answer it, and everyone wondered who would. They think like lawyers, and all of them were analyzing the facts, their duty to answer, the defenses for not answering, the potential liability attaching if they did answer, the ownership of the phone, the likelihood of needing to help whomever was calling, the time before the next class, and the social cost of being the one person to do the peculiar thing. It stopped ringing.

Their obligation, if any, was waived. The professors asked each other if they had ever noticed that pay phone before. The hovering student chuckled to make herself heard and to move up the conversation queue.  The sleeper slept, and the people who had taken out their ear-buds put them back in.

One of the professors wondered why the law school still paid for a pay phone if they couldn’t afford more research assistants.  The other said that it would probably not survive the renovations planned for the summer.

It rang again. Everyone stopped, looked at the phone and looked at each other. They dared each other to answer it. One of the professors looked over the rail at a group of her students and pointed, “Come on, y’all, somebody answer that thing! It won’t bite.”

“No way! That’s how horror movies start,” said the articles editor for the law review, a once aspiring actress. She got laughs, but no one stirred. It rang and kept ringing.  It did not switch over to voicemail. 

With a shrug, a 3L marked his place with a highlighter and walked across the room. All eyes on him, when he put his hand on the blue receiver, it stopped ringing. The tension broke as he shook his head and returned to his cases, but it rang again before he made it back to his study group.

“Go faster,” commanded his moot court partner.

“Fine!” He put his hand on the phone, and it rang again.

Pausing a beat, he answered, “Hello?”

Everyone watched him as he became increasingly cross and concerned.   “Ma’am…” he tried to interrupt the caller, “… Ma’am?   Could you, could you hang on just a second?”  He looked at the keys to find a mute button but gave up and put his hand over the receiver.   “Is anyone in a clinic?   She’s calling about the clinic.” 

“Yeah,” an eager 2L said as she grabbed a pad and pen.   She was all about client intake, just not usually with an audience.   She took the receiver from the 3L who was happy to let her take over.  “Hello?”

Tethered to the phone, she perched her legal pad on her knee and leaned against the wall.   Most of the students went back to their work.   One of the professors walked down and stood nearby to keep watch over the student. 

“Yes, ma’am, but do you know which clinic represented you?”   She made a note but shook her head. “I don’t know that clinic.   I’m in another one, but I can ask….” She struggled to take more notes.  For long stretches she tried to listen, tried to take notes, tried to understand.  She tried to catalog a story, but she couldn’t get a question in edgewise. 

“Ma’am, do you have a number…. Ma’am?”  She stood up straight and spoke louder, “Ma’am, are you there?  Can you hear me?  I think we dropped the call?  Hello?”   She hung up and looked at her teacher.  “That was weird.”

“What did she say?”  The professor directed the law school’s elder law clinic and had taught the student in her professional responsibility class the previous semester.

“Well, she was talking really fast and said she didn’t have much time. I think she said that the Family Law Clinic had worked with her on a custody order before she went to jail but that she had just gotten out and wanted to see her kid.”  She looked at her scratchy notes.  “I think.  She was mad.   She was talking really fast, and it was hard to understand her.   She said she was running out of time, and didn’t have any change? Does that make sense?”

“Yeah,” the professor smiled.  “She was calling from a pay phone, and you have to pay for the time you talk.  If she was the one trying to call before we answered it, she probably ran out of money.” 

“Oh.  I wonder how she got this number.  Do we have a family law clinic?”

“We used to, but the funding ran out a few years ago.  We transitioned the practice to other clinics when we got new grants, but that was like 15 years ago.  Did she say who helped her?”

The student checked her notes, “Um, Tracy? Tracy something?” 

“Tracy Welty, probably.   She was a professor, but she retired.  She moved back home, somewhere in the South, I think.  I wonder if we still have the client files.  Do you know her name?”

“She was talking too fast.  It was a sketchy connection.   She said it, Tamika, Tamara, something, but I didn’t catch her last name.  It was very loud where she was.” 

“Did you get a number?”

“No, but if she was calling from a pay phone, I don’t know how we can get her.  Can we call the number back?  I don’t even know where she was.  ”

“I don’t think so.” 

“What should I do? “

They pondered for a moment. The professor asked, “What clinic are you in?”

“The Immigration Clinic.  We don’t handle family law things.”

“I know.  Neither do I.  Why don’t you ask Prof. Williams what she thinks, and I’ll ask some of the older folks if they remember a case like this.”

The student capped her pen and flipped her legal pad back to her class notes.  “I feel bad for her.  I hope she calls back.” 

The doors to the big classrooms opened, and the first-years poured out into the common area.   The professor smiled at the student, “You did a good job. We do what we can.” 

The professor headed back to the faculty suite.   The students packed up, and most of them moved toward the auditorium.  A guest speaker was giving a talk on something, and there was free pizza for lunch.     

April 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CONFERENCE: Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer Conference.

Come experience beautiful Spokane this summer.

The Institute for Law Teaching & Learning will present its summer conference on June 13-14, 2015, at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington. The theme for this conference is Experiential Learning Across the Curriculum.

Benefits to Participants: during the conference, participants can expect to encounter many new ideas about teaching, learning, and incorporating experiential learning across the curriculum so that we can better prepare “practice ready” lawyers. In addition, the conference, which includes long scheduled breaks, is intended to facilitate informal interaction among creative teachers who love their work with students. Participants should leave the conference inspired and informed about incorporating experiential learning into their own classes.

For more information, click here.


April 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

2015 CLEA Award for Outstanding Advocate for Clinical Teachers and Award for for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project

Via Prof. Anju Gupta (emphasis added):

The CLEA Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that Claudia Angelos, Clinical Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, is the recipient of the 2015 CLEA Award for Outstanding Advocate for Clinical Teachers. The CLEA Board is equally thrilled to announce that the Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics are the recipients of the 2015 CLEA Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project for their work on civil rights and criminal justice abuses highlighted by the death of Michael Brown.

Outstanding Advocate for Clinical Teachers:

    Claudia Angelos joined the faculty of New York University School of Law in 1980. She teaches lawyering and litigation and directs the Civil Rights Clinic, the Racial Justice Clinic, and the New York Civil Liberties Clinic at NYU Law. She is a national expert on prisoners’ rights and during her thirty-five years at NYU, she and her students have litigated more than 100 civil rights cases in the New York federal courts. Claudia has also been a long-time advocate for clinic education and has served in leadership positions on the boards of both CLEA and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT). She has been “the guiding force in countless board meetings, committee meetings, conference calls and email loops” in both CLEA and SALT, her nominators noted in their letter of support, and “[d]ozens of comments, letters, briefs and notices have been drafted and issued with her participation and guidance.” They highlight in particular Claudia’s work on behalf of the clinical community in the American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation standards revision process. Claudia has, in the words of her nominators, be an “unflagging, zealous and skilled” advocate for clinicians, helping “lead the successful battle to reaffirm clinical status, to increase the minimum required skills credits, and to identify practical skills as a critical part of the learning outcomes to be expected of all students.” Over the last six years, Claudia has attended virtually every meeting of the ABA Standards Review Committee and many meetings of the Council on Legal Education, developing working relationships with members of the Committee and Council to inform and influence the deliberations. “While many challenges remain and we have not solved all our problems,” Claudia’s nominators conclude, "clinical education has come out of the comprehensive review in a much stronger position than we imagined at the beginning of the process. Claudia was the keystone and well deserves our recognition.”

Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project:

    Located in the heart of downtown St. Louis, the Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics are dedicated to advocating for the disadvantaged and the betterment of the community at large while providing unique and challenging experiential learning opportunities for students interested in public interest law. The Legal Clinics have provided pro bono legal services to the community for more than 41 years and currently provide legal services in six clinical programs (Civil Advocacy, Criminal Defense, Entrepreneurship and Community Development, Externships, Judicial Process Externship and Mediation) that house 10 practice areas.

   In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death, a few things were abundantly clear: their community would forever be changed, deep-seated issues of mistrust and injustice continue to roadblock regional growth and, if there was any community poised to effect change, it was the St. Louis legal community.

    Guided by the University’s social justice mission, the attorneys of the SLU LAW Legal Clinics wasted no time involving their clinical practice areas in the search for solutions. In fact, they have been involved in many of the issues Ferguson brought attention to long before they came under such a bright national spotlight. With a small staff of seven attorneys (Professors Amany Hacking, Brendan Roediger, Dana Malkus, John Ammann, Patricia Harrison, Patricia Lee, Susan McGraugh), one social worker (Lauren Choate), Professor of Practice (Steve Hanlon), two staff (Greta Henderson and LeAnn Upton) and many dedicated clinic students, the Legal Clinics found a variety of ways to engage students, faculty and the community during the 2014-2015 academic year.

    The related legal work and advocacy involved multiple responses on a variety of legal matters including: community outreach and education; national, state and local media awareness of civil rights and criminal law abuses; lawsuits in state and federal courts on municipal warrant and tear gassing abuses; testimony before the governor-appointed Ferguson Commission; municipal, legislative and executive testimony; and leading meetings and panel discussions at the law school and in the community in an effort to seek solutions. Together, these professors, as representatives of the Legal Clinics, continue to bring attention to vital issues, fight for those who seek justice but do not have the means to fight themselves and work towards real solutions for a just future, all while teaching and mentoring their students to do the same.

Both awards will be presented at the AALS luncheon at the Clinical Conference on Wednesday, May 6th. The Committee received an unusually large number of outstanding nominations this year. At Wednesday's luncheon, we will give honorable mention to some schools that had particularly impressive projects.

The CLEA Board acknowledges with gratitude the efforts of the CLEA Awards Committee:

Geneva Brown (Valparaiso)
Anju Gupta, Co-Chair (Rutgers-Newark)
Perry Moriearty, Co-Chair (Minnesota)
Kele Stewart (Miami)
Jane Stoever (Irvine)

April 16, 2015 in Promotions, Honors & Awards | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

JOBS: University of Memphis Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic

Via Danny Schaffizin: 

Visiting Assistant Professor of Law
Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is seeking a Visiting Assistant
Professor of Law to direct and teach a new Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic to be created as part
of the Memphis Children’s Health Law Directive (Memphis CHiLD), an innovative alliance
between the School of Law, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and Memphis Area Legal Services.
The full-time, twelve-month position will begin on July 1, 2015 and will include doctrinal
teaching responsibilities of one course per semester in addition to the teaching and supervisory
duties related to the Medical-Legal Partnership. Subject to approval, funding is available to allow
the position to be renewed on an annual basis for three years.

Under the direction of the Visiting Assistant Professor, the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic will
supervise students in providing legal services to Le Bonheur patients and their families; develop
an interdisciplinary education curriculum focused on the social determinants of health and the
legal, policy, and other issues affecting the well-being and healthcare access of low-income
children; and engage in systemic advocacy that seeks to improve health outcomes for low-income
children. The Visiting Assistant Professor will also partner with and draw on the assessment and
research expertise of the Law School’s Institute for Health Law and Policy (iHeLP), as well as
Memphis community stakeholders, to evaluate the impact of the Medical-Legal Partnership in
utilizing law and policy to advance children’s health.

Candidates should be prepared to present their comprehensive vision for teaching, administering,
growing, and cultivating enduring support for the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic. In addition
to directing and teaching the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, it is anticipated that the Visiting
Assistant Professor will teach two additional courses based on the needs of the law school. For
duties related to the Medical-Legal Partnership, the Visiting Assistant Professor will report
directly to the Director of Experiential Learning, and will work closely with the Dean, Director of
iHeLP, and Faculty on the development of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic.
Candidates must possess a J.D. or equivalent law degree and must be admitted to practice in
Tennessee or willing to seek admission to the Tennessee bar as soon as practically possible
following appointment. See TN Supreme Court Rule 7, Section 10.02 (Attorneys in Clinical and
Related Law School Programs). Among other qualifications, candidates should have a minimum
of five (5) years of legal practice experience; a demonstrated interest in serving lower-income
individuals and communities, substantial experience or interest in working with healthcare
professionals and students; a strong desire to supervise and work with students; and a
commitment to building community relationships and programs.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, and list of three references to Professor
Daniel Kiel, Chair, MLP Faculty Recruitment Committee, at Write
“Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic Application” in the subject line of the email. Preference will
be given to applications received by April 27, 2015, although applications will be accepted until
the position is filled.

The University of Memphis School of Law recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in its new building, the newly restored U.S. Customs House in downtown Memphis. A $48 million project,
the structure offers a magnificent setting for learning and teaching and has been recognized as one of the finest law school facilities in the nation and the world. Memphis is a beautiful and diverse city with affordable real estate and an excellent quality of life. The city is known for its friendly atmosphere, revitalized downtown, and attractions such as Graceland, Beale Street, Opera Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Zoo, NBA Grizzlies, Memphis Tigers basketball team, National Civil Rights Museum, and nationally recognized theatre companies.

While the School of Law does not treat race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age,
disability, or sexual orientation as dispositive in hiring decisions, the School has a strong
institutional commitment to hiring persons who will add to its diversity. The University of
Memphis is an EEO/AA employer.

April 15, 2015 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2015 M. Shanara Gilbert Award to Prof. JoNel Newman of Miami

Read this great news from Prof. Jayesh Rathod:

The Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education is pleased to announce that Professor JoNel Newman, Professor of Clinical Education and Director of the Health Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education's M. Shanara Gilbert Award.  We will honor JoNel and present the award at a luncheon on Tuesday, May 5, at the Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Rancho Mirage, CA.

As you know, the M. Shanara Gilbert Award honors an "emerging clinician," with ten or fewer years of experience who has (1) a commitment to teaching and achieving social justice, particularly in the areas of race and the criminal justice system; (2) a passion for providing legal services and access to justice to individuals and groups most in need; (3) service to the cause of clinical legal education or to the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education; (4) an interest in international clinical legal education; and (5) an interest in the beauty of nature (desirable, but not required).

JoNel’s colleagues and students at the University of Miami submitted a compelling nomination packet, describing her long-standing commitment to social justice, creative pedagogical approaches, and commitment to serving marginalized communities in the Miami area and beyond.  One nominator wrote of the significant contributions of the Health Rights Clinic that JoNel directs, noting that her students “have served over two thousand vulnerable health-impaired clients …. and have secured over two million dollars in entitlements and public benefits for their clients.”  Her nominators wrote of a myriad of innovative and impactful community-based projects that JoNel has spearheaded, including initiatives relating to the Haitian diaspora, veterans’ rights, pediatric care, and more.  JoNel’s students wrote that she “embodies the qualities sought in the recipient of the Shanara Gilbert Award” and her colleagues at Miami herald her “extraordinary efforts and contributions to clinical legal education, service, and justice.”

Please join us in congratulating JoNel on this important recognition!

The Executive Committee also gratefully acknowledges the hard work of the Awards Committee: Professor Sameer Ashar, UC-Irvine School of Law; Professor Margaret M. Barry, Vermont Law School (co-chair); Professor Dionne Gonder-Stanley, North Carolina Central School of Law; Professor Mary Lynch, Albany Law School (co-chair); and Professor Lisa Martin, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America.


April 8, 2015 in Promotions, Honors & Awards | Permalink | Comments (0)