Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, July 31, 2014

JOBS: Clinical Position at the University of South Carolina

By request of our friends at USC (as we say in the SEC): 

The University of South Carolina School of Law is hiring a clinician.  The official announcement is below.  We are open to a variety of issue areas for a clinic, and clinicians here can earn tenure protections.  Interested candidates can apply via the information below or the FAR forms, and can contact Assistant Prof. Josh Gupta-Kagan (jgkagan@law.sc.edu) directly as well.

Law Professor

The University of South Carolina School of Law seeks applications for tenured or tenure-track faculty positions to begin fall semester 2015. Candidates should have a juris doctorate or equivalent degree. Additionally, a successful applicant should have an excellent academic background, a record that indicates a strong commitment to scholarly research and writing, demonstrable scholarly promise, and a commitment to teaching. Likely curricular needs include entry-level positions in taxation, clinical legal education, contracts and business. Outstanding candidates in other areas will be considered as well. Interested candidates should send a resume, references, and subject area preferences to Professor Ned Snow, Chair, Faculty Selection Committee, c/o Kim Fanning, University of South Carolina School of Law, 701 S. Main St., Columbia, SC 29208 or, by email, to hire2015@law.sc.edu (electronic submissions preferred). The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

July 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

JOBS: Two Clinical Faculty Positions at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law

By request, we are happy to post these two position announcements from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law: 

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CLINIC FACULTY POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a full-time faculty position at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Clinical Professor to teach in and direct the School’s Environmental Law Clinic. While this position is not in the tenure stream, it is part of a system of contracts progressing to renewable long-term contracts.  The position will begin on July 1, 2015.

The mission of the Environmental Law Clinic is to serve the educational needs of our students and the needs of individuals, community groups, and conservation organizations, particularly those in Western Pennsylvania, for legal services relating to environmental issues.   Funding for the Clinic is provided by an endowment from the Howard and Vira I. Heinz Endowments. Duties of the Clinical Professor include classroom teaching, including the possibility of teaching doctrinal courses; supervision of second- and third-year law students as they represent clients and participate in community projects; participation in activities related to the School of Law’s Environmental Law Concentration; administrative duties relating to the Environmental Law Clinic; community outreach and fundraising; and participation in faculty governance of the School of Law.  The Environmental Law Clinic was founded in 2000.  The candidate hired for the position will have the opportunity to shape the future direction of the Clinic.

Qualifications include admission to practice in Pennsylvania or willingness to seek admission to the Pennsylvania bar; substantial experience in the field of environmental law and, preferably, clinical pedagogy; excellent supervisory and communication skills; the ability to work effectively with students, clients, and other constituents; and an interest in developing clinical experiences for students in the Environmental Law Clinic within a community that supports interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative teaching opportunities.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest, resume, and list of two or three references to Professor Ben Bratman, Chair, Clinical Appointments Committee, at beb9@pitt.edu. Write “Environmental Law Clinic Application” in the subject line of the email. The deadline for applications is September 4, 2014.

The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity.  Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost. 

 

HEALTH LAW CLINIC FACULTY POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a full-time faculty position at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Clinical Professor to teach in and direct the School’s Health Law Clinic. While this position is not in the tenure stream, it is part of a system of contracts progressing to renewable long-term contracts. The position will begin on July 1, 2015.

The Clinic’s primary mission is to provide an experiential learning opportunity for our students, while also providing legal services to low-income individuals involved in health-related litigation or advocacy. Duties of the Clinical Professor include classroom teaching, including the possibility of teaching doctrinal courses; supervision of second- and third-year law students as they represent clients and participate in community projects; administrative duties relating to the Health Law Clinic; community outreach and fundraising; and participation in faculty governance of the School of Law.  The candidate hired for the position will have the opportunity to shape the future direction of the Clinic.  Therefore, all candidates should be prepared to present a vision of the type of clinic that they would hope to implement. Examples might include a medical-legal partnership, a clinic focusing primarily on representation of applicants for disability benefits in Medicaid or Social Security administrative hearings, or other focused areas of representation or advocacy.

Qualifications include admission to practice in Pennsylvania or willingness to seek admission to the Pennsylvania bar; substantial experience in the field of health law and, preferably, clinical pedagogy; excellent supervisory and communication skills; the ability to work effectively with students, clients, and other constituents; and an interest in developing clinical experiences for students in the Health Law Clinic within a community that supports interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative teaching opportunities.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest, resume, and list of two or three references to Professor Ben Bratman, Chair, Clinical Appointments Committee, at  beb9@pitt.edu.  Write “Health Law Clinic Application” in the subject line of the email. The deadline for applications is September 4, 2014.

The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity.  Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost. 

July 30, 2014 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Fourth Wave?

The International Journal of Clinical Legal Education just completed its 12th Conference titled “Clinic without Borders,” in Olomouc, a town in the Haná region of the Czech Republic dating back to the 10th Century A.D. The conference was co-organized with the European Network for Clinical Legal Education, and was held at Palacký University, which is nearly 450 years old, and is one of the oldest universities in Central Europe.

The conference was attended by nearly 200 law faculty members and social justice advocates from all over the world. Countries represented included Japan, Cambodia, China, Nigeria, Australia, Belarus, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, Italy, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Poland, Russia, Georgia, Spain, Canada, Kenya, Hungary, Sumatra, Bali, Finland, Turkey, New Zealand, and more. Approximately ten percent of the delegates were from the United States and included faculty from the Catholic University of America, NYU, American, University of California, Cornell, University of New Mexico, University of Georgia, Columbia, Rutgers, Albany, Georgetown, Washington and Lee, George Washington University, Willamette, and more.

Themes included “Clinic in the Wider Curriculum,” “Growing Clinics around the Globe,” “Multi-Disciplinary Clinics,” “The Growth of Clinics in Europe,” and “Virtual Clinics,” and the papers presented ranged from “The Path to Clinics in the Middle East” to “Clinic in an Era of ‘Crisis’ for Legal Education” to “Developing a Cross-Border Clinical Legal Education Project.” It was a rich exchange of ideas, resources, and collaborative opportunities that reinvigorated many of those who participated.

One area of disappointment expressed during a debrief of the conference was the dearth of paper proposals submitted in relation to the theme of “Virtual Clinics.” According to Johnny Hall of Northumbria University (UK), digital technologies could easily become the “Fourth Wave” in clinical legal education. What caused the lack of interest in presenting on this topic?  

One possibility considered is that clinical law faculty members are as uncomfortable with digital technologies as the rest of legal educators. Most of us have not been leaders in integrating education technologies into the law school curriculum, clinical or otherwise. At the same time, we recognized that many clinical faculty and students utilize digital technologies in our law school courses, practices, and lives almost every day in the form of email, course websites, word processing software and files, messaging, social media, digital document storage, internet conferencing, smart phones, tablets, laptops, Internet, scanners, practice management software, social media, clinic websites, digital recordings, and more. We just don’t think the use of these technologies converts our face-to-face clinics into “Virtual Clinics.” Thus, the issue may simply have been one of terminology in the “Call for Proposals.”

After all, we heard stories at the conference of law faculty who were actually operating clinics without a “bricks and mortar” home where students never actually meet their clients in person. Most of us who are integrating these technologies into our law school clinics still rely very heavily on the face-to-face interactions between students and clients and faculty and students that make the clinical experience so rich, especially in certain practice areas such as domestic violence, refugee law, child advocacy, family law, and more.

What would be the consequences both for our students and the populations we serve if we converted a significant number of law school clinics into “virtual” ones? On the one hand, we could better serve rural, disabled, remote, or international clients who normally would not have physical access to our law school clinics, but we also might start to favor certain practice areas such as business law that lend themselves better to remote representation than others. Having a virtual clinic could also exclude those individuals who are too poor to afford the technology needed to access the clinic. These are some of the consequences that we must consider as an educational community in the Digital Age and respond with awareness and intent in designing our courses and curricula within a world of rapidly changing technology and limited resources.

As we met at IJCLE’s 12th Conference and considered the technologies that we already have integrated into our clinical courses and practices in whole or in part, we recognized that many of us have not undergone the thoughtful and intentional design and due diligence that is normally so characteristic of clinical pedagogy. Why? What is it about technology that eschews intention, analysis, and reflection in the clinical community?

We may soon find out. The planners of IJCLE’s 13th Conference are considering organizing next year’s conference around this potential “Fourth Wave” in clinical legal education. The conference will be held July 22-28 in Turkey and will overlap with the meeting of the Global Alliance for Justice Education. Pencil the dates in your calendars now. Regardless of the topic finally selected, if it is anything like this year’s conference, it will be well worth the flight.

July 17, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings, Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Custody Law's Moving Target

In addition to directing Penn State Law's Family Law Clinic, I also teach our Family Law lecture course.  As I graded the 53 essay exams from that course this May, I was struck by the responses to my exam question regarding custody.  When asked to share legal and policy changes that would improve the custody law system's impact on children of divorce, an overwhelming majority of students opined that courts should require children of divorce to meet with a mental health counselor. 

Most noteworthy about this groundswell of opinion, expressed in near lockstep during a traditional, don't-talk-to-or-even-look-at-each-other classroom exam, was that I did not teach them this legal remedy--at least not directly. 

The casebook I use, Weisberg and Appleton's Modern Family Law, certainly covers the use of "special participants" in custody proceedings.  Along with guardians ad litem, custody evaluators, and mediators, mental health professionals are referenced in several cases and notes in the book.  Nowhere, however, does the book suggest or ask readers to consider whether parents should be ordered to have their children seek therapy.  Neither do I in my teaching--although frankly I think it is a sound and thoughtful policy idea, regardless of whether it would, could or should be legally mandated.

These students organically generated the mass "discussion" that played out in my brain as I read response after response saying virtually the same thing--children of divorce need to process the trauma that divorce brings to their lives.  The latter concept--the trauma of divorce--I did teach directly.  The casebook covers it in some detail, including empirical data that raises more questions than it answers.  And my delivery in class stressed that.  The experts cannot agree.  The courts cannot agree.  Comparing systems state by state, county by county, and sometimes even judge by judge, yields a dizzying array of approaches, policies, mandates and procedures just on the issue of utilizing experts in custody cases, not to mention the achingly unhelpful "best interets" standard.

Thus I was struck again a few weeks ago as I delved into the Association of Family and Conciliation Court's April 2014 edition of The Family Court Review.  It is a special issue dedicated to "Closing the Gap" on "Research, Policy, Practice, and Shared Parenting."   Yet as articulated by Dr. Sanford Braver, professor emeritus of psychology at Arizona State whose research has focused for decades on divorcing families, the AFCC's special issue "fails to say very much" and leaves the reader with the message that "the issue of shared parenting is a really good question, but we cannot, at this point at least, agree on how to advise you."

Braver is right on that point.  I am not sure whether I agree with his bolder assertion which follows, that shared parenting should be the jumping off point for custody courts.  What I am sure of is that come August, I will teach my clinic students about custody law by sharing these twin concepts: custody law is mercurial at best, and discussing the potential involvement of mental health professionals with client's lives, regardless of whether it is part of a court-based process, is sound legal advice for a family lawyer swimming through these murky waters.

 

July 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Supreme Court Decision that Went Under the Radar

 There has been rightful focus on the Supreme Court’s most groundbreaking recent pronouncements: rejection of warrantless cellphone searches, establishing for-profit corporations’ rights to religious choices (!), and mandatory union dues curtailments. Because it was not, perhaps as socially consequential as those decisions, last Wednesday’s  6-3 ruling against Aereo, an upstart Over-The-Top (OTT) internet service, went under the radar, so to speak. Speaking to the Media Law and Policy teaching side of my brain, the Court held that Aereo, an internet provider of broadcast programs, directly violated the copyrights of ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, and other “traditional” broadcast networks.  The decision preserved—for now—broadcasters’ exclusive ability to control the re-transmission and licensing of its programs. On the other hand, the decision was a temporary setback for the ‘cord cutters.’ 

Cord-cutters, most of whom are Millennials, are those media consumers who have elected to do away with traditional television viewing, going so far as not just refused to subscribe to cable television, but not own a television at all. As a result, cable companies have seen a marked decline in subscribers. At the same time, broadcast and cable companies have chased viewers onto the internet, their laptops, their tablets and their smartphones.  Television networks, in fierce competition with the likes of online networks such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, have Hulu, Hulu Plus, or their own online channels streaming network content. Aereo posed a real and further threat to cable and broadcast television revenue streams. 

Broadcast networks bring in billions of dollars per year from cable companies by permitting them to air broadcast programs such as ABC’s Modern Family.  In addition, the owners of those shows (which may or may not be the network’s parent company) can yield untold revenue by licensing syndication rights to cable networks or OTT streaming networks such as Netflix.  In that context, it should be apparent why the networks were so concerned about Aereo, whose technology captured broadcast signals by way of miniature antennas on large antenna boards, and provided broadcast program downloading and time-shifted viewing or recording. While charging subscribers between $8-$12 per month for the service, Aereo paid the program owners nothing. 

The broadcasters executed a bold legal strategy that paid off.  They argued that Aereo was legally liable for direct infringement (primarily liable for re-transmitting copyrighted work), as opposed to indirect infringement, or secondary liability. For the Supreme Court, the issues came down to two seemingly simple questions: Was Aereo performing a copyrighted work, and if so, was it performing it publicly? Justice Breyer, writing for the majority, answered both questions “yes.” 

Aereo’s position was that it was simply a “dumb pipe”—like a set of rabbit ears or a VCR—that any consumer could purchase and use to watch or record programs.  Justice Scalia, in dissent with Justices Alito and Thomas, agreed, arguing that Aereo was more like the Kinko’s that provides a patron with the library card: It’s the patron that may violate copyright law when copying the book, not Kinko’s. 

The majority disagreed, and held that Aereo was acting more like a cable company, through which subscribers can elect which shows to watch or record. Moreover, despite the fact that Aereo technology assigned an individual to each antenna, and even if subscribers were watching the same show, a separate copy of the show was made for each viewer, the Court said Aereo was providing the show to the public. Consequently, Aereo was bound to seek copyright permission from the copyright holders—just like cable companies. 

The decision will likely ring the death knell for Aereo and similar streaming servicers (e.g., FilmOn), if Aereo’s weekend decision to suspend its streaming service is any portent. On the other hand, the decision was a tremendous victory for broadcast networks. By ruling not just that Aereo was liable for copyright infringement, but directly liable, the Court spared television program copyright owners the fate that befell the music industry. The Napster and Grokster decisions caused the record industry to engage in nearly a spate of “John and Jane Doe” lawsuits—chasing individual consumers for alleged or actual illegal downloading and sharing of music. Those lawsuits—tens of thousands—proved to be both economically costly and a public relations disaster for the industry.  Copyright holders of television broadcast content, for now, will be spared a similar fate. 

Even if Aereo ceases to exist in its current form, there are other internet businesses that allow consumers to view broadcast programming without the aid of cable or satellite infrastructure. In addition, virtual multiple-system operators are seeking to aggregate television channels and deliver them by broadband connection.  However, under any regime, how the business makes money will be, well, the $64,000 question. In light of the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision, paying for content from television broadcasters will be a given for the foreseeable future. For now, cord-cutting Millennials will have to find another OTT to watch their favorite broadcast show.

 

July 1, 2014 in Supreme Court, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

RFP: Student Life, Relationships and the Law: Confronting Domestic Violence in Higher Education

 

Request for Proposals

            On October 10 and 11, 2014, the Pepperdine University School of Law will host a conference on domestic violence in higher education.  The conference will address domestic and intimate partner violence among college students and its intersections with sexual assault and gender violence.  Speakers and conferees will discuss institutional responses in policy and practice, culture and law.  The School of Law invites leaders, administrators, teachers, professionals and students to participate with speakers representing diverse disciplines and institutions.  Colleges and universities face a critical moment of reckoning and response to violence and abuse among students, and Pepperdine hopes that this conference can advance our communities toward peace and justice.  

            The organizing committee requests proposals for panel presentations to address and explore issues and questions at the intersections of domestic violence, intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, gender crimes, mental health, law, sociology, psychology, pedagogy, student life, and higher education policy.   We seek diverse, collaborative, multidisciplinary, interprofessional panels and panelists.  

            These panels will be 90 minute concurrent sessions.   The organizing committee has confirmed several panels to date, and we invite proposals for up to four additional sessions.    The confirmed panels will address (1) the intersection of Title IX and domestic violence, (2) Cleary Act obligations and opportunities, (3) Greek Life and residence life, and (4) intersectional student perspectives.    The organizing committee requests proposals to complement, contrast and build on these ideas.

            Please submit proposals by July 31, 2014, to Prof. Jeffrey R. Baker at jeff.baker@pepperdine.edu.   Proposals should be 300-500 words and should include contact information for the primary convener and should include the names of anticipated panelists, their respective fields and institutions.  

June 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 16, 2014

What Not to Wear?

Last week an extensive discussion transpired in the cyberspace inhabited by the Women in the Profession (WIP) Commission of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's email list. A diverse set of female attorneys, including some on the bench, voiced their perspectives on attire for women attorneys, particularly in the courtroom, and its link to gender bias.

I reviewed the conversation with fascination as it wended its way through a wide variety of anecdotes and opinions.  The topics ranged from personal experiences of blatant discrimination by male judges based on attire to sighs of exasperation that the group was unnecessarily perpetuating the topic.

Most striking to me was a comment by a successful attorney and writer supporting a meaningful examination of the problem and a set of solutions, by the WIP Commission itself, because law schools don't teach lawyers how to deal with this issue.  Ahem, pardon?

From my perspective of course, the remark was potentially feather-ruffling, because like many reading this blog I actually am a law school teacher addressing this issue, and other professionalism issues, with my students.  Yet as I paused to breathe (thank you, yoga) and consider the source, whom I respect greatly, I realized that for many practicing lawyers and judges, law school in fact did not teach them how to deal with this issue.

As clinical law professors we sometimes task ourselves with trying to teach too much, in my opinion.  We can cram research skills, oral advocacy, legal theory, negotiation, client-centered counseling, social justice, contract drafting, and more into one semester. Is lawyerly attire even worthy of our valuable teaching time?  The tone of some commenters on the email list comes to mind--a sort of "are we seriously talking about What Not to Wear?" sentiment.

I submit that not only are we talking about it, but that it is a critical component of professionalism.  Additionally, it is in some part a moving target due to women's ever-increasing presence in the workplace generally, and more specifically a legal profession that is redefining itself at astonishing speed.

How do I teach "attire"? Professionalism is a large component of my pedagogy --watch this space for my upcoming article on self-aware professionalism--and the issue of attire is a component of professionalism.  I have repeatedly used the phrase "the issue of" attire here because that is the pedagogical question--what bearing does attire have on legal practice, not "which outfit should I choose?" 

In my teaching, the issue of female attorney attire arises in many ways.  I specify to clinic students when we prep for a courthouse tour early in the semester that they should wear business casual attire.  Discussion ensues about what that means--for male students it is simple, and for females it is achingly complex.  Even more complex are gender issues that arise related to student professional behavior concerning attire, occasionally even in their interoffice dialogue.   I model appropriate attire. I ask them for examples.  And I explain my "suits for court" expectation.  Is a pantsuit a suit? In my opinion, of course. Yet as female students, some are terrified to even ask that question. Yet the email list discussion last week included several anecdotes about women lawyers being reprimanded or even prejudiced by male judges for wearing pants to court.  We work in a profession that demands attention to detail.  Our professional behavior impacts clients' liberties, their parenting status, and sometimes their very lives.  Justice is at stake, thus everything we say or do matters.

We are not teaching fashion.  We are teaching professionalism.

June 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children

I just received a copy of Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children, which was edited by Lourdes Rosado, Associate Director of the Juvenile Law Center, and published by the ABA Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee. The book highlights the key role that children's attorneys can play at defining moments in their lives, including in juvenile dependency and delinquency courts, immigration proceedings, school proceedings, and impact litigation, for example. There is a teaching guide available for the book. The ABA is offering a 20% off discount through June 23 with the discount code LIVES20. The ABA may also be able to offer your students a discount code if you want to use this book in your clinic or another course. It is also expected to be published as an e-book, at a discounted rate. Contact Cathy Krebs at Cathy.krebs@americanbar.org for more information. Here is a description:

"The book Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children demonstrates the critical role that lawyers play in changing the life courses of our most at-risk children. Without legal representation, the children profiled in this book likely would have gone down a path that was detrimental to their safety, their well-being, and ultimately their ability to grow into happy and successful adults. Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children well illustrates the difference that a highly trained and skilled attorney can make in the life of a child in need. Each chapter of the book profiles a real child in a variety of substantive areas that include:
• Child welfare (abuse and neglect)
• Juvenile delinquency
• Special Education
• Runaway and homeless youth
• Immigration
The chapters also include practice tips and checklists, as well as resources for developing the expertise needed to zealously represent children in crisis to achieve the best outcome and ultimately help them grow into happy and successful adults.
The authors of Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children hope to raise awareness about the need for legal representation for children and to encourage and support attorneys who advocate for children."

June 13, 2014 in Books, Children, Immigration, Juvenile Justice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to be an Ally

Last week at the Christian Scholars Conference at Lipscomb University, I helped convene a multidisciplinary, intersectional panel on allies, those in positions of relative privilege who seek to act in solidarity with people who do not share it.   In almost all of my native contexts, I enjoy the privileges of being a white, straight, Christian, cisgendered man, yet I hope to be a good ally and collaborator with others in the interest of justice.    My friends on the panel taught us much on the role and calling of alliance with people on the margins of our institutions. 

(These are also critical lessons for empathy and empathetic advocacy necessary for client-centered lawyering.)

The panelists, Dr. Jeanine Thweatt-Bates, Julie Mavity Maddalena, Edward Carson and Scott Lybrand, are respectively and intersectionally, white, black, straight, gay, men and women, across a spectrum of faith and post-faith, speaking from diverse backgrounds of affluence, poverty, education and vocation.  They spoke from various, ambivalent points of privilege and marginalization.   This is some of the wisdom they shared for people who would be allies in solidarity with people without power or voices in our communities.

Listen:  The first and essential rule for allies is to listen to those with whom they would have solidarity.  Listen for stories.  Listen for insight.  Listen for wisdom.  Listen for agency.  Do not reinterpret.  Listen and attend to one’s own internal reactions.   If a friend on the margins speaks and provokes an emotional reaction within the ally, the ally ought to reflect on the dynamics that triggered the response and question it.  

Amplify:  Do not speak on behalf of a marginalized voice but use powerful platforms to amplify her voice.   Allies should use the platforms and means at their disposal to amplify the voices of those on the margins, with their own identity and agency, sharing the stages and podiums we enjoy with those who do not have access to them. 

Move out of the center:  Effective allies will not presume to be the heroic protagonist in the neighbor’s narrative.   The ally should not be on a rescue mission but should strive to pull alongside the friend on the margins, to empower and support, to amplify, but not to eclipse.   No one wants to be another’s project.  

Disagree without condemnation: Build together a context where disagreement does not mean condemnation.   Rather, disagreement ought to lead to acknowledgement for more and better communication and understanding.   The people “on the margins” are not monolithic or univocal, but as humans will disagree, struggle and advance conflicting points of view in their agency.  

Hear stories:   The effective ally will hear stories with an intentional discipline to understand context and with an understanding that one person’s story never is representative of an entire community.   Individuals matter.   Let people tell their own stories, and do not interpret someone’s story for them.    Listen for criticism of oppressive dynamics, but also listen to perceive resilience, beauty, faithfulness, dignity and forgiveness.  

Educate yourself:  “It is not the queer person’s job to educate the privileged ally.”   Friends may seek insight and understanding from friends, but to insist that a person on the margins be the source of knowledge for an ally makes the person on the margin an object yet again.   The person on the margins is not obligated to educate the ally on oppression, although the ally ought to learn from the neighbor on the margins.   

Understand the effects of oppression: Oppression causes harm.  Often the criticism leveled at those on the margins by those in privilege is the result of the oppression, not of the identity of the person on the margins.   “Gayness is not harmful.  The institutional oppression of gay people is harmful.”   The Invisible Man is not weaker, less able, less smart, less worthy, but being made invisible generates harmful and persistent, traumatic effects on spirit, mind and body.  Always ask whom we may be harming by doing what we do. 

Don’t interrupt:  Listen and hear without preparing a response, a defense, an interpretation.   Be willing to give up the initiative and direction of a conversation. 

Recognize default categories of normalcy:  Recognize that inherited notions of normalcy create privileges for those in the default categories, forcing the exceptions to the margins.   Normalcy receives implicit preference and favor.   Honor the exceptional who lie outside the default categories of normalcy but counter their exclusion by inviting them into the privileged and preferred spaces of our conversations and collaborations. 

Don’t confuse the ought with the is: To say that one does not see gender, race, etc., to claim to be “colorblind,” does not reflect reality.   To ignore difference, even with a good will, impliedly adopts the dominant as normal and imposes the default categories.  To ignore difference, even with a good will, denies the gifts of difference and exception, and ignores the beauty and wisdom of variety and experience.  

Recognize movements already in action:  When entering a cause as an ally, avoid the impulse to initiate something new from scratch on behalf of those with whom we would be in solidarity.  Rather, with a posture of humility and caution, recognize movements already in action.   Do not assume that the movement needs an ally but lend aid, power, voice and capacity as the movement invites and welcomes the ally’s effort.

Take a risk:  An ally might better be called an accomplice.   Acting in solidarity as an ally accomplice may require skin in the game, risks to the ally’s self.   It is all too easy to claim to be an ally when it is convenient, then to retire to a place of comfortable safety when the ally needs a respite.   The oppressed don’t get vacations from oppression, so the ally must prepare to sweat and bleed with the friend on the margins.    

Practice epistemic humility:    Be comfortable with ambiguity, fluidity and constructive conflict.   Certainty, clarity and clean resolutions are not realistic in a truly plural, multivocal world.   Admit and accept that we do not know and cannot know everything about the others’ world and experience. 

Be helpful:    Guilt, paralysis and shame are not helpful.  Likewise, the posture of a savior bent on rescue is not helpful.  As Aboriginal Elder Lilla Watson said, “If you've come here to help me, you're wasting your time. But if you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Be angry:  Question institutions without ceasing if everyone in the room looks like everyone else in the room.   Be angry that people are on the margins at all.  Be angry for the poverty of spirit imposed on the privileged and the marginalized by exclusion.  Do not make people invisible, and do not abide their invisibility.  Do not judge the excluded by the standards of the included.  Always question and challenge the exclusion of anyone.  If you would walk into a room and ask, “Why doesn’t anyone here look like me?” then be prepared to ask, “Why does everyone in this room look like me?”

June 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Funding Opportunity for Law School Clinics

Our nation is currently witnessing headlines about the busing of hundreds of unaccompanied children across the Southwest from Texas to Arizona, where they are being warehoused, but there are tens of thousands more unaccompanied children in our nation who are not making headlines.  All need our help.  Tomorrow Gannett is publishing an op-ed I wrote about the need to provide legal representation for these children.  It can be found here

Law school clinics interested in this issue should consider applying for the AmeriCorps grants that the Obama administration announced on Friday to provide legal representation for these and other migrant children who are in similar circumstances (see NYT article).  Information about the grants can be found at this site.  The targeted jurisdictions for the grants are:  Arlington, VA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Bloomington, MN; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; El Paso, TX; Hartford, CT; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Memphis, TN; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

If you need background in preparing your application, an excellent study about these children was just published by UC Hastings with the support of the MacArthur Foundation.  I recently wrote a brief law review article arguing for the appointment of government-funded attorneys and personal representatives to help unaccompanied children navigate the legal labyrinth they face.  If you would like to talk or need help with your application, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You will also find tremendous resources among our our colleagues who are immigration law faculty.  They are a font of knowledge, passion, and commitment.  Good luck!     

June 10, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration, Job Opportunities & Fellowships, Juvenile Justice, New Clinical Programs, Scholarship, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 9, 2014

What do you need to be inspired? Bryan Stevenson on Fred Gray

Via Anne Hornsby at the University of Alabama:

On April 10th, over 200 people turned out to celebrate the 9th Annual Albert Brewer/Bo Torbert Public Service Award presented to Fred Gray by Alabama Appleseed.


Keynote speaker Bryan Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative, paid homage to the perseverance and legacy of Fred Gray. We were particularly struck by the insightful and challenging remarks of Bryan Stevenson as he reflected on and framed the life and career of Fred Gray from the historical perspective of the civil rights movement of the 1950s to the challenges facing us today.

Prof. Stevenson's speech is here:

"We cannot protect justice, we cannot advance rights, until we choose to do uncomfortable things. . . . Until you stand with people who may be disfavored, until you stand with people who everybody else doesn’t like, until you stand with the poor, powerless and disfavored, you don’t get what it means to do the uncomfortable."

June 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 6, 2014

STILL TIME! Southern Clinical Conference RFP

via Anne Hornsby

Hello, all!  Hope summer is proving to be a great time for you, whatever your goal for the break from the regular school year routine.  Please consider submitting a proposal for the Southern Clinical Conference scheduled for October 23-25, 2014, at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, to share your work, ideas and to stimulate discussion to further our collective missions. 

I’ve attached the RFP, the cover sheet and template for proposals. Please send proposals to Laurie Ciccone at laciccone@wm.edu by June 20th.  Feel free to contact one of the committee if we can be of any help.  Presenters from all regions are welcome, and if you haven’t attended before, it is a really fun conference, too.

Thanks and we look forward to your proposals!

Best,

Anne

(on behalf of the planning committee)

Patricia Campbell, University of Maryland

Anne Hornsby, University of Alabama

D’lorah Hughes, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Kendall Kerew, Georgia State College of Law

Lisa Martin, Columbus School of Law

Joy Radice, University of Tennessee

Daniel Schaffzin, University of Memphis

Alex Scherr, University of Georgia

Emily Suski, Georgia State College of Law

Download Southern Clinical Conference - RFP for 2014 - Final

Download Final Southern ClinicalConference- Cover and Template for Proposals

 

June 6, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hybrid Courses and Focused Field Placements

In recent years, the community of clinical legal educators have been imagining courses beyond the classic categories of clinics and externships.  Live-client clinics and field placements are the pillars of experiential learning in law schools.   For pedagogical, curricular, political and institutional reasons, we continue to emphasize these forms as the best, fundamental ways to advance professional formation among our students.  For market reasons, though, we need to consider other forms, hybrid courses and other structures, to accommodate increasing demands for experiential education in eras of relative austerity. 

(The 2013 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education was devoted to this theme, and its materials and speakers were rich with ideas.)

In my experience, especially at Pepperdine, the greatest need for hybrid programs has been to take advantage of opportunities and ideas that arose without a clear identity as clinic or externship.    We have needed to be nimble when someone approaches us with a good idea that may not justify the outlay and hiring lines necessary of a full-fledged clinic but which require more structure and oversight than a new field placement.    To meet these ends, we have established a third species of course (and are experimenting with others).   Practicum courses are courses that combine specialized field placements with a greater measure of faculty oversight and substantive training for students in their field work. 

In the Fall, we will offer two practicum classes.  

In the Criminal Justice Dispute Resolution Practicum, in conjunction with our Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, students work with an adjunct, expert practitioner to learn methods and practices for peacemaking and dispute resolution.    The students’ training will be in an intensive weekend at the beginning of the term.   Then, during the semester, the students will go with their instructor to L.A. County Jail facilities to teach and coach people in detention about these skills.  This is a collaboration with Prison of Peace, and the justice goal is to equip inmates with skills and experience in dispute resolution, negotiation, peacemaking and conflict management, to reduce recidivism and promote better outcomes, in and after prison.   The pedagogical goals are to advance students’ skills and wisdom in dispute resolution, understanding and knowledge of the criminal justice and “corrections” systems, cultural competence, compassionate communication, and engagement with social issues in a demanding environment. 

We will also offer the Federal Criminal Practice Practicum, in which students will rotate during a single term through the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and U.S. District Court.   This is the initiative of U.S. District Judge Beverly O’Connell who approached me with the idea in the fall of 2013.   She perceived a need and opportunity for students to receive a broad spectrum view of the criminal justice system and helped make introductions with the other offices.   In the inaugural term, two 3Ls will rotate through each placement, where they must complete a substantive writing project in the service of the respective offices while working and observing the work of the lawyers from each perspective.   Further, a member of our doctrinal faculty who specializes in criminal law and who once was a prosecutor will provide regular faculty advising for the course.   

In both instances, we are able to provide intensive, meaningful experiences for students, with rigorous oversight, without breaking the budget, and without invading capital (political, financial and otherwise) that we are investing in live-client clinics and traditional externships.  

In the comments or offline, please share your innovations and initiatives that your schools are contemplating to bridge gaps between demand and resources.   We can all benefit from new ideas in our new economy.        

June 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

iDon't type my class notes

A recent Washington Post article (here) outlines findings of a joint Princeton-UCLA study that appeared in Psychological Science (here) in April.  The study found, in the smallest of nutshells, that students who take notes longhand achieve better learning outcomes than students note-taking electronically.  It also seems to find that analytical skills are heightened in longhand note-takers, potentially because the process of taking notes with pen and paper necessitates some analysis of the material because one can't write it all down, while mindlessly transcribing quotes is much easier at 60+ WPM.

Our summer semester is just starting at Faulkner Law, and this week Prof. John Craft and I have been busy with an intensive "boot camp" training for our summer clinic students.  This afternoon, I took the students to OnePlace Family Justice Center, where our Family Violence Clinic conducts initial client intake and conducts client meetings.  Our office there is large and informal, with a couch, a small round conference table, and a desk.  No student desks, no PowerPoint, none of the traditional classroom trappings.  It is (and is intended to be) a law office. That is where we met today.

The training consists of reviewing intake procedures, studying the Alabama Protection From Abuse Act, and a brief introduction to the psychology of abusers and survivors.  I've done the training in a classroom before, and the students would all take out their laptops and iPads to tap out the pearls of wisdom rolling from my tongue.  It's certainly a boost to the ol' ego to have someone taking down your every word, but I find that I end up repeating myself a lot more and answering a lot of questions later on, when students have finally processed the information. 

In my session this afternoon, there were no electronic devices.  My students had paper handouts, took notes on them, and asked some of the most thoughtful and insightful questions I've been asked.  I could see them moving from an information gathering state-of-mind to a preparing-to-practice state of mind almost instantaneously. Even to my clinician's brain, the impact of teaching this material outside the traditional setting was impressive.

The findings of the Mueller/Oppenheimer study will carry over for students beyond graduation--and bar passage.  It's important for all of academia, and law school in particular, to focus more attention on demonstrating responsible and effective use of technology to our students. Today's super-typists will still be tomorrow's lawyers one way or another, but will they be able to sit down, relate to a client, and focus on realtime problem-solving?  Will they feel comfortable truly listening to their clients, absent the distraction of note-taking to the point of taking dictation?  Will they bill any hours the day their computer gives them the blue screen of death? Are we (institutionally) providing them with learning experiences in every course that facilitate their ability to do those things?  After today, I'm rededicated to making sure of it.

May 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Good Teaching: Day 171

Today is the 171st day of school at my daughters’ elementary school.   I know this because our Second Grade teacher sends out an email to all of her classroom parents every day to report on what they have done during the day.    It has been a gift, especially for parents familiar with fairly bland reports from their kids. 

“How was your day?” 

“Fine.”

“What did you do?”

“I don’t know.” 

“Anything interesting?” 

“No.” 

Here is some of her daily email for today, the 171st day:

Happy Wednesday!

You have 4 things to return this week: yellow Field Day permission slip, $10 donation to go towards the inflatables, 3 pages of math homework and the stamped envelope for your child's 10 year letter. 

Friday is the last day to turn in a new toy for …. our project for Children's Hospital.

What did we do today?

double dose of Harry Potter

CGI Math

measuring and graphing activity-- the kids measured objects and showed the data on a line plot

Word of the Week-- the kids alphabetized ALL of their word of the week pages to be bound in a personal dictionary that will come home Monday with our last at-home project

Writer's Workshop

Language Arts--we "popcorn" read Brothers and Sisters and the kids worked on comprehension, vocabulary and phonics

Reader's Workshop

Have a wonderful night!

She does this every single day

Besides being good for teacher-parent collaboration, the pedagogy really is wonderful.   First, the teacher’s organization is incredible.   Of course, all good elementary school teachers need precise lesson plans, but Ms. H pulls off an astonishing and unrelenting feat to execute this every day.    As I have spent today planning for a new clinic course that meets for two hours, once per week, I stand amazed at this teacher who plans down to the minute for over six hours of teaching, five days per week, for 171 days so far.  

Second, she always demurs when I have praised her for these emails, saying that it only takes her a few minutes and that she has the kids’ help.   Not only does this further demonstrate her organizational discipline, it illuminates really good teaching.   At the end of each day, she asks the students to help her fill in the topics of her email, at once making them reflect on their day, helping them learn to communicate and organize, and preparing them for further reflection with the parents.  

Third, it creates accountability for her.   She has committed to this report to parents every day.  She is transparent and pleasant, but it also must generate continuing motivation on days when she must get exhausted.  Although we have never discussed it, I imagine that the looming email motivates her when she’d rather rest or let the kids goof off for a day.     

For this clinical professor, she first inspires me to consider the need for precise, detailed, relentless planning.   Second, she prompts me to integrate constant student reflection on the work of the day but also to invite the students into the work of the classroom itself, to bring them into the pedagogy and the method of the class.  Third, to volunteer to impose such a mechanism for accountability on oneself can be a very powerful tool to maintain the pace and productivity of the  school year.  

Let us all hail the elementary school teachers. 

May 28, 2014 in Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article of Note: “How May We Help? Perspectives on Law Librarian Support of Students in Law School Clinics”

Via Tamar Birckhead on the LawClinic listserv:

Virginia Neisler, a 2013-14 Graduate Assistant in [UNC's] law library and recent UNC Law graduate who just completed her Masters degrees in Library Science at UNC, has won the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Call for Papers Award in the Student Division! 

Her paper, “How May We Help? Perspectives on Law Librarian Support of Students in Law School Clinics,” was written as part of her Master’s requirements at the UNC School of Information and Library Science.  Sara Sampson, Deputy Director of [UNC's] law library, served as Virginia’s thesis advisor and praised Virginia’s work for expanding law library literature with groundbreaking analysis of open-ended interviews of clinic faculty around the country to identify best practices for law librarians to contribute legal research instruction and library collection development to support law students in the clinical setting. 

 Presently, it is unpublished but is available here:  Neisler. How May We Help (via listserv 5.28.14)

 

 

May 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thoughts on Mass Violence, Guns, Sexism, the Law and our Hearts

Last year, my friend, Dr. Chris Dowdy, and I had a dialogue about gun policy, violence and the effect of the law on hearts and minds.  Chris is a brilliant social ethicist and writer, and he asks good questions.  I made a note of it as a potential blog post here whenever it became timely again.   This was not a question of if it would be ever timely, because it would be inevitably current, soon enough. 

In the wake of the Isla Vista terrorism, I point back to that conversation on Chris’s blog and hope that it may be useful:

Yes, people will be violent. People will be cruel. People will murder and maim. Even so, we can and do make the means harder to obtain, and we make the means harder to obtain quite successfully. Automatic machine guns are illegal, and the shooters in Aurora and Newtown did not use them. Rocket-propelled grenades are illegal, and they were not the weapon of choice, because they are much, much harder to obtain. The FBI has been quite successful in keeping terrorists from bombing on American soil since 2001, because gathering the materials for a bomb and assembling it are illegal and because law enforcement is pretty good at enforcing the law.

We are not faced with a binary choice, to either flood the world with weapons or to ban them altogether. That choice is a failure of just and righteous imagination.

Also, this article by Laurie Penny is a strong and right diagnosis of what we saw last week at UCSB:  misogynist extremism.   The killer was a warped man, fed by sexist ideology, armed by society, and unleashed by a subculture that validated his fear.  

This is how extremism works. It takes the valid and substantial anger of the dispossessed and tortures it into something twisted. It promises the lost and despairing that they will have the respect and sense of purpose they have always longed for, if they only hate hard enough. 

As we seek justice and good teaching, we must confront the horror and injustice in our society and prepare our students and ourselves to understand and subvert it.   

May 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Baker's Good Advice and Strong Suggestions for the Bar Exam

Law school graduation is one of the most anticlimactic moments of a student’s life. After years of study, students celebrate a massive achievement on the weekend, then start studying for the bar exam on Monday, knowing that they face months of sedentary stress and boredom, followed by the acute anxiety of the test, followed by months of waiting in suspension for results, followed by 40 years of work. It’s a drag.

I just received news that I passed the February administration of the California Attorneys Exam. This is my third bar in 14 years, so I feel like giving some advice to students climbing down into the bar hole.

Do what you do. The bar exam is an extraordinarily demanding test, but it’s just a test. After college, law school, entrance exams and finals, you know how to take a test. Whatever has gotten you to this point will work; you just need more of it. Do not abandon your study rhythms and techniques. Do not abandon what works for you in a panic for this last, big test. The task is not new, even if the volume, pace and stakes are on a steeper trajectory.

Be confident that you know what you know. You are facing a mountain of information to memorize and digest. You are relearning subjects and maybe learning new subjects from scratch. You do not have time to relearn and drill everything all the time. Rather, as you proceed through practice tests, measure the things you do well and not so well. If you are getting 80% of the Torts questions right, stop studying torts; you’ve got it. You won’t forget it. If you’re killing Con Law; set it aside for Property. Focus increasingly on the subjects where you’re weakest. Start with long outlines of everything, then narrow them progressively until you’re spending the last week drilling flash cards or lists of only the subjects where you’re weakest.

Get to know the test and practice it. In addition to your prep courses, consume all the information you can find on your bar’s website and elsewhere. Devour the bar’s study guides and old exams. Understand the game, the grading metrics, the weights and percentages. You can learn the law plenty well enough, but understanding the test is your secret weapon. You can and should eliminate all the surprises from the exam, except the questions themselves. Practice, practice, practice, and practice every element of the test. Time yourself and learn your pace. If you need to answer a question per minute on the MBE, practice it. If you need to write an essay an hour, practice it. If you are handwriting the test (like I did, see note infra), but you don’t usually handwrite anything, practice. You need to work on your handwriting, and you actually need to exercise the muscles in your shoulder, arm and hands to write for that long. It’s an endurance sport.

Take the simulated NCBEX MBE. About 4 – 6 weeks out from the test, block off a day to take the simulated MBE by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. It costs a little, but the psychological effect is worth it. Your prep courses will offer many practice exams, but there is no substitute for the real thing. Get a feel for real-live MBE questions to calibrate yourself and to compare your progress against the practice tests. It is scaled and timed, so I believe it is the best measure of your actual progress. It will either give you renewed confidence and peace of mind, or it will wake you up and give you increased motivation, which are both good for you. (Try not to freak out, though. Anxiety yields diminishing results.)

Rest for a day or two before the test. The test functions just like an endurance race. I am a runner and train for races throughout the year, and every coach, runner and article will advise the athlete to taper. Tapering is the gradual reduction of training and work in the run-up to a race so that you can start with fresh legs. For the test, rest your mind and your body. You will not forget what you learned, and you will be much, much sharper if you have gotten good sleep and cleared your head. This is not skating on your preparation; rest is the preparation. Be fresh for the test. Seriously, sharpen your No. 2s, get a good night’s sleep, and eat a good breakfast.

Don't forget the rest of your life. Take care of the people you love, and let them take care of you. Take breaks. Don't give up your exercise and fitness. Avoid excessive sugar and alcohol and stimulants. (Except caffeine; there's no such thing as too much caffeine.) Sleep in moderation. Inevitably, all of these parts of your life will degrade as you draw nearer to the test; don't sweat it. Just remember, the healthier you are, physically and spiritually, the better you'll do on the test.

Remove Distractions, Prepare for Everything, Avoid Decision Fatigue. On test day, remove all conceivable, foreseeable distractions that will create stress or impede your timely appearance at the test. Avoid decision fatigue. President Obama famously only wears blue or gray suits and has a certain number of shirts and ties and eats the same meals during the day, to save brain space to make real decisions. Do the same. Before you leave home the day before the test, pack and plan all your clothes and food for every day and time of the test. Make a list, make a chart, make a schedule. Lay out your clothes the night before. Set four alarm clocks. Take food for your hotel room so that you do not have to travel to restaurants before or during the test.

Although it may be more expensive, stay in a hotel adjacent to or within walking distance of the testing site. Arrive the night before, and do not leave. Do not drive to the test the morning of, if you can afford it. Do not risk traffic or accidents. In February, I parked my car in the hotel garage next door to the testing site in Pasadena and did not move it until I finished the test, three days later.

I also did not take elevators on test days, but took the stairs every time to avoid the risk of an equipment failure.

With thanks to my wife, I had a great bag of nonperishable but healthy food in the room so that I did not have to worry about it. Especially during the lunch break during the tests, you should not have to worry about standing in line with scores of other people strung out on fear and talking about the questions they just botched. At my second bar exam, in Alabama, seven years after law school, I ate PB&Js in the parking lot.

I also chose to write my exams instead of risking the complications of using my laptop and relying on internet service in the testing site. If my pen crashes, I have ten more at my seat. If the computer crashes, I would have been in a panicked crisis. In California this year, there were some limited IT issues during the test, and students had to shuttle back and forth to the proctors or to switch to writing and disrupt their flow. Problems are rare and getting rarer, but I was not willing to risk the distraction.

Play the odds. At the risk of being too cynical or cocky, look around the room and imagine the respective pass rate for the test you’re taking. Discount that rate for re-takers, then tell yourself that you’re at least as smart and talented as, say, 20% of the people in the room. Somebody is going to fail, but the odds are that it is not you, especially if you have put in the time, the effort and the miles to load this stuff into your head. You’re smart enough. You’re good enough, and, doggone it, people like you.

You are smart enough for this test, and you know that you are because you have completed law school. The test is about knowledge, but it is also about memory, timing, practice, calmness and sharp writing. Practice, practice, practice.

May 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Time for Summer Writing

By now, most of us have donned our academic regalia for commencement and wished our new alumni well on their bar preparations and the launch of their legal careers.  Time to take a deep breath, plan your well-deserved family vacation, and drop off that seven-pound load of professional clothes at the dry cleaner (finally!).  We now have twelve weeks ahead of us before we start ramping up for the Fall 2014 semester.

Twelve weeks?  Not coincidentally, twelve weeks is just enough time to write a high-quality law review article.  Now you might think that as clinicians we are not bound by scholarship obligations, and at your school you might be right technically, but the fact remains that we have chosen to work in a profession in which scholarship, not practice, is the coin of the realm.  Thus, regardless of your school’s published criteria for the advancement of clinical faculty, you should consider using a substantial portion of your summer for scholarship so that your purse is full of academic currency.

If you want to get "rich" this summer, academically speaking, here are ten basic tips for productive writing:

  1. Even though classes may have ended, do not change your schedule.  Go to the office every day, all day and write.  Our academic associate dean here at Willamette once told me that the first step to being a productive writer is putting your backside in your chair and keeping it there.
  2. Block your time and be disciplined.  I remember reading that we are only highly productive for a few hours per day.  Identify what those hours are for you and schedule your writing blocks during those periods.  During your writing periods, turn off email and close the Internet browsers.  ALWAYS.  Do not open them until your writing time has ended.  Use the other four hours or so for less demanding work such as reading, researching, and answering emails.
  3. Quantify your writing.  Some professors I know mandate that they write a certain number of words per day.  Others require that they write for a certain length of time.  Regardless of how you measure your output, set quantitative writing goals and allocate sufficient time to achieve them.
  4. Set qualitative writing goals.  It is not enough to write a lot or even regularly.  You must improve your writing through researching, outlining, developing, drafting, revising, proofreading, and external editing and feedback.  Develop a 12-week writing plan that includes all of these stages to ensure that your work is high-quality.  A resource to help you can be found here
  5. Don’t wait for days of uninterrupted time.  They will never come, or at least, not very often.  Even during the summer, requests for letters of recommendation and bar references continue to stream in, some clinic cases are still active, and many of us are engaged in summer teaching, supervision, and are presenting at conferences.  Do not let these prevent you from writing this summer.  When I first joined the academy, I read a book about how to be a successful professor.  It referenced a study that showed that professors who worked on their scholarship every day, even for just one hour, were far more likely to get tenure than those who wrote in blocks of uninterrupted time.  So write every day.
  6. Ask for (and offer!) help.  I suspect that many doctrinal law professors are introverts and many clinical law professors are extroverts (which is what makes our conferences such a riot!).  The consequence of this is that we may need to develop writing partnerships or even writing support groups with whom we can talk about our writing, set goals, exchange drafts, and hold one another accountable.
  7. Write your first draft from your own ideas.  One of the criticisms of my early academic writing is that my voice did not come through.  I was lacking confidence and so would hide behind third-party authorities and quotations from “experts.”  The suggestion of Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School, for overcoming this very common characteristic in emerging academic writers is that we should write the first draft without reference to resources.  Simply write your own ideas down and then build out from there.  That way, your voice and ideas form the core of your piece.   
  8. Tap into your passions.  At a workshop for new clinical professors, I remember being in a working group about scholarship led by Philip Schrag.  An intelligent young woman said that she did not have any expertise or ideas to share in scholarship.  Professor Schrag spent just seven minutes asking her about her experiences and background and identified 3-4 topics for law review articles based on her interests and experience.  Don’t undervalue your ideas and experiences.  If you need to brainstorm, call someone.  If you don’t know whom to call, call or email me (916-719-7796; wbinford@willamette.edu) and I will try to help you brainstorm or get you matched with a mentor.
  9. Remember that the prime submission cycles are August and late January/February.  Plan to submit your summer work during those periods for the best placement.  ExpressO is a popular portal for submitting law review articles to numerous journals simultaneously. 
  10. If you would like to present your article in a supportive and scholarly workshop before submission to a law review, consider applying to the Clinical Law Review’s Writers’ Workshop to be held at NYU Law on September 27, 2014.  The deadline for applying is June 30.  More information and the application can be found here.

Now, enjoy your summer and write on!

 

 

 

May 22, 2014 in Books, Conferences and Meetings, New Clinical Faculty, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

One of Inga's "Must See Movies" for the Summer

Below is a trailer for a movie that I am planning on seeing this summer...that is if I can find it within a 300 mile radius of Spokane, Washington.  "The Rules of Racism" is the third movie in the series "Hidden Colors" from New York Times bestselling author, Tariq Nasheed.  The previous two films in the series are "Hidden Colors: The Untold History of People of Aboriginal, Moor, and African Descent" (2011) and "Hidden Colors 2: The Triumph of Melanin" (2012).  

WARNING: If you watch this video on YouTube and glance below the video to the comments section, prepare to be outraged, amused, befuddled, disheartened and a host of other emotions...

  

 

May 21, 2014 in Current Affairs, Interdisciplinary Programs, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)