Tuesday, July 3, 2018
In one of my first years in legal aid the late 80’s, I sat in my office with a client who was wondering how he was going to feed his family. His union had gone on strike. He supported the union’s position—he felt his employer was walking all over its workers and convinced me and himself that the strike was necessary due to cuts his employer wanted to make—he wouldn’t be able to feed his family on his full-time salary. But now, he was in my office with no salary due to the strike and when he had gone to the welfare office seeking help, he was told he was entitled to nothing. My job was to explain to him why he was entitled to nothing: a conservative Supreme Court had decided Lyng v. Auto Workers in 1988, upholding a law passed by a conservative Congress and President denying Food Stamps to striking workers. The local office applied that law to his union’s strike and denied his and his co-worker’s claims. All I could do was send him and his wife and kids to a food pantry. He would have to find another way.
It hurt to watch. The Congress, the President, and the Supreme Justices did not have to talk to this man—I did. I saw this was not an abstract problem but a starving worker and family. I was new to lawyering for the poor and my new lawyer idealism was being toppled. How was I going to do anything with such conservative laws being interpreted so conservatively? It could not be my job to just watch and explain to poor people that they were powerless in a heartless world. I needed to figure out how I could matter.
Fast-forward to the mid 1990’s and I am sitting in a different office, now a private attorney trying to help low-income people by taking contingent fee cases like disability cases and court appointments. Another man is in my office. Just a few months before, I had helped him get Social Security Disability benefits after he had worked for 30 years and his COPD compounded by an alcohol addiction had finally caught up with him. In his hand was his cutoff notice, as Congress had decided that his and anyone else’s alcoholism was no longer an illness but a self-inflicted lifestyle. A computer code that noted he drank had generated his notice and the cutoff procedures. He asked me how he was going to live. I again had to face my client. My congressman didn’t. The President didn’t. I had to explain to my client that his government did not believe him worthy of help. It did not matter the struggles that I had seen him live through influencing how he had become an alcoholic, the lack of effective alcoholism treatment perhaps for anyone but certainly for low income people, and that he would starve. I again needed to decide how I could matter. I couldn’t stand it. The purpose of my job could not just be to reflect helplessness and pain.
I came up with a plan. People who write laws may not feel or care. Supreme Court Justices may not either. And clients definitely know without my reflecting back to them that poverty stinks. However, I could do two things. First, I could put clients in front of decisions makers and force them to see my clients—perhaps those decision makers would bend laws or interpret them as humanely as possible for my clients’ benefits, even when the law is not humane. Second, I could find people working in the system who cared and seek their help for my clients.
So fast forward again to two weeks ago, when for three days this worked. On the Thursday, I found myself representing an abused woman who struggles horribly with depression and also has an addiction problem. It was the same issue still rearing its head that faced my client in the 1990’s of the law refusing to help people with addiction illnesses with income benefits. However, my client was lucky—we found the right judge administering the law. The judge chose to explain her symptoms not as some willing attempt to hurt herself through alcoholism but as stemming from abuse, ptsd, and depression, even if she sometimes relies on alcohol for relief and ruled she was eligible.
On the Friday, in front of a different judge, a woman struggling with colon cancer that metastasized to her lung was given help. The law has been tightened to deny even cancer patients benefits in most cases unless they can demonstrate they have terminal illnesses through fortunate medical testing describing unfortunate likely outcomes. However, after a hearing we did, a judge leaned toward accepting that this woman who cannot even go to the bathroom comfortably might need some help.
And on Saturday, I received an email from a client that we had convinced an administrator in a state disability office to help award benefits after her breast cancer had metastasized to her brain and who was displaced by the Puerto Rican hurricane. Her records had been bureaucratically scattered between Puerto Rico, New York, and Pennsylvania while she traveled between Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico so her family could tend to her during her treatment. The case was decided in her favor but just as easily could have been passed on between other disability agencies until a person in our disability office decided the client mattered, and the case had to be decided now. What mattered more was making decision makers feel the suffering of the people in front of them and getting them to help.
I hate this. I do not want to tell my clients they have to appear pathetic or desperate to get help, and sometimes it feels more like forcing them to share their stories than helping them do so when they want to. But these decision makers and legislators need to feel what these people feel and maybe they will help them and others like them.
And then came the recent Supreme Court news. There is no doubt—my clients will hurt. Again, unions will struggle to protect workers’ rights against government employers after the Court in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 ruled that public employees who do not want to join a union can also refuse to pay their share of what it costs the union to negotiate their wages and benefits. My 1988 client could not strike to feed his family and my 2018 clients will have no union stand up for them. Rights of people of all religions and nationalities are likely to be more curtailed than they were already curtailed in what have been called “Muslim bans” after the Court in Trump v. Hawaii described the broad leeway a president has to limit immigration on what seems to be very light review. This will sadly not be my problem, as these people will not even make it into my office to have me reflect that I cannot help them—they will not be in the country at all and will have to fend for themselves in sometimes horrible situations. More is likely to come—the Court in Janus seemed quite ready to overrule precedent without giving it much weight at all. Many of the public programs and protections that we have taken for granted, from the establishment of graduated income taxes and Social Security and health benefits to discrimination protections since the XIV amendment come into question.
So today, like many, I am struggling to make sense of what is happening in Congress, in the executive branch, and in the Supreme Court and with what is likely to happen with a new Supreme Court justice nomination. I don’t know that my helping individuals to try to find caring decision makers can work much longer. I remain thankful for those I have found, those that are helping that I have not found, and consider other ways I can maybe help.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Via Prof. Tim Iglesias:
ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law
Call for Papers
Abstracts due August 1, 2018
Drafts due October 1, 2018
The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays exploring any of the Journal’s traditional themes: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development. Topics could include important developments in the field; federal, state, local and/or private funding sources; statutes, policies or regulations; and empirical studies. Articles and essays could analyze new issues, tell success stories and draw lessons, or explore problems and propose legal and policy recommendations. The Journal welcomes essays (typically 2,500–6,200 words) or articles (typically 7,000-10,000 words).
The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law. The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.
Interested authors are encouraged to send an abstract describing their proposals to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Tim Iglesias, at email@example.com by August 1, 2018. Submissions of final articles and essays are due by October 1, 2018. The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
The 2018 ClassCrits Conference will be held at West Virginia University (Morgantown, WVU). Details on the theme, submission process, and logistics are below. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2018, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ClassCrits XI: Rising Together for Economic Hope, Power and Justice
West Virginia University College of Law
and ClassCrits www.classcrits.
Morgantown, West Virginia
November 2-3, 2018
The current administration continues its reactionary campaign to “Make America Great Again” by rolling back progress in key areas of labor, environmental, health, and civil rights. A rising and brazen alt-right movement, with its calls for a white ethnostate, empowered by Trump’s victory, continues to grow ever more vocal at campuses across the country. Immigrants are being targeted for deportation, building on authority laid down by the past administrations. Trump’s saber rattling creates the real possibility of a military showdown between the US and North Korea. And the new federal tax law, fueled by plutocratic influence, will exacerbate income inequality by shifting even more money from working Americans to wealthy people and corporations.
How did we get here? The liberal technocratic class at the heart of the Democratic constituency was stunned at the election of Trump, despite a lackluster, campaign based on stale ideas. Despite all this, many were shocked the morning of November 9, 2016, not only because of Trump’s crass mannerisms and reactionary and divisive politics, but because he won against an anointed insider candidate with strong support from mainstream institutions.
What lessons emerge from Trump’s election? The Democrats seemed to have learned little from one of the most humiliating losses at the ballot box in American history, reiterating their centrism and calls for bipartisanship and value-free governance. Worse still, elites have doubled down on their politics of condescension, offering What’s the Matter with Kansas explanations pondering why working-classwhite workers voted against their own interest, without pausing to consider the elite neoliberal consensus that has alienated voters, providing them with little real choice at the ballot box.
Mainstream media outlets have looked for answers in the “economic anxiety” of the white working class, without much substantive analysis of what this means, or how the situation faced by millions of white and non-white Americans is the result of decades of bipartisan policy agreement in favor of austerity and a low-wage economy. Discontent with neoliberal globalization creates serious risks of a resurgent right organized around its own neo-nationalist agenda. But it also presents opportunities for new constituencies to form around concrete struggles such as Medicare for All, the Fight for Fifteen, investments in infrastructure and other public institutions that represent our democratic commons. We cannot afford to leave this in the hands of politicians who counter atavistic racial appeals and billionaire populism with the claim that “America is Already Great.” For a generation of young people facing stagnant wages, decreasing upward mobility, and an uncertain future, there needs to be a political agenda that speaks to their sense that things need to change fundamentally.
The good news is that we have seen a surge in democratic participation, including widespread and persistent political mobilization that succeeded in defeating efforts to repeal Obamacare. New progressive candidates are running for state and federal offices, much to the chagrin of Democratic gatekeepers. We have seen sporadic protests that attest to a growing dissatisfaction with the centrist status quo. Catalyzed by the movement for Black Lives, the West Virginia teacher’s strike, the Women’s March, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and the #MeToo movement, an unprecedented number of people are speaking up to challenge workplace sexual harassment, wage disparities, and other forms of patriarchal economic and social oppression. Now is the time to rethink issues of basic political economy to form the basis of a new politics that seeks to reduce inequality and wealth disparity, and reinvigorate civil rights protections for disadvantaged communities.
We invite participants to submit applications to present at the 11th Annual ClassCrits conference, to be held at West Virginia University College of Law. We invite panel proposals, roundtable discussion proposals, paper presentations, poetry and fiction reading, and art that speak to this year’s theme, as well as to general ClassCrits themes. We also welcome proposals from law clinicians who engage in activist lawyering as a core part of their curriculum design. See the following page for details.
Finally, we extend a special invitation to junior scholars (i.e., graduate students and non-tenured faculty members) to submit proposals for works in progress. At least one senior scholar, as well as other ClassCrits scholars, will provide feedback and detailed commentary upon each work in progress in a small, supportive working session at this year’s workshop
We invite panel proposals and paper presentations that speak to this year’s theme of “economic hope, power and justice,” as well as to general ClassCrits themes. See the following page for details.
In addition, we extend a special invitation to junior scholars (i.e., graduate students or any non-tenured faculty member) to submit proposals for works in progress. A senior scholar as well as other scholars will comment upon each work in progress in a small, supportive working session.
Proposal Submission Procedure and Deadline
Please submit your proposal by email to email@example.com by June 1, 2018. Proposals should include the author’s name, institutional affiliation and contact information, the title of the paper to be presented, and an abstract of the paper to be presented of no more than 750 words. You are also encouraged to submit entire panels to the conference. Junior scholar submissions for works in progress should be clearly marked as “JUNIOR SCHOLAR WORK IN PROGRESS PROPOSAL.
We invite panel proposals that speak to this year’s theme of “economic hope, power and justice,” as well the general ClassCrits themes, including:
—The legal and cultural project of constructing inequalities of all kinds as natural, normal, and necessary.
—The relationships among economic, racial, and gender inequality.
—The development of new method
s (including the interdiscipli nary study and development of such methods) with which to analyze and criticize economics and law (beyond traditional “law and economics”).
—The relationship between material systems and institutions and cultural systems and institutions.
—The concept and reality of cl
ass within the international l egal community, within interna tional development studies and welfare strategies, and within a “flattening” world of globalized economics and geopolitical relations.
Logistics & Fees
The venue for the gathering is the West Virginia University College of Law in Morgantown, West Virginia,see details here. Theconference will begin with continental breakfast on Friday, November 2 and continue through the afternoon of Saturday, November 3. Arrangements are being made for conference hotels.
For updates, check www.classcrits.org, wher
e you can also sign up as a ClassCrits member to be on our contact list and to post a profile that will build our network and showcase your work. Associate membership is free; full membership dues are $25 for 2018 (includes ClassCrits, Inc. voting rights and 2018 conference discount).
The registration fee is $215.00 for accepted presenters who are full-time faculty members; ClassCrits members get a discounted registration fee of $200. Registration is free for students and activists. Participants who do not fit into these categories, and/or who for individual reasons cannot afford the registration fee, should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshop attendees are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses.
Who We Are
Eleven years ago, a group of scholar-activists organized a series of conversations about law and economic class. Building on “outsider” jurisprudence that has moved inequalities of race, gender, and sexuality from the margins to the center of law, the group proposed a jurisprudence of economic inequality. To foreground economic justice, the group sought to critique mainstream law and economics and to focus on the lives of poor and working-class people.
Rejecting the neoliberal ideology of scarcity, and reclaiming the possibilities presented by the commons and by collective action, ClassCrits was born. Our name “ClassCrits” reflects our ties to critical legal analysis and our goal of addressing economic class in the multiple intersecting forms of subordination. We confront the roots of economic inequality in divisions such as race and gender and in legal and economic systems destructive to the well-being of humanity and the planet.
Conference Planning Committee:
Danielle Kie Hart, Professor, Southwestern Law School, email@example.com
Wendy Bach, Associate Professor, The University of Tennessee College of Law, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lua Kamal Yuille, Associate Professor, The University of Kansas School of Law, email@example.com
Stacey A. Tovino, Founding Director, UNLV Health Law Program, Lehman Professor of Law, Stacey.firstname.lastname@example.org
John Whitlow, Associate Professor, CUNY School of Law, email@example.com
Victoria J. Haneman, Professor, Concordia University School of Law, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Pruitt, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor, U.C. Davis School of Law, email@example.com
Lucy Jewel, Professor, The University of Tennessee College of Law, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chunlin Leonhard, Leon Sarpy Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law, Leonhard@loyno.edu
Angela P. Harris, Distinguished Professor of Law, Boochever and Bird Endowed Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom of Equality, U.C. Davis School of Law, email@example.com
Tonya Brito, Burrus-Bascom Professor of Law, The University of Wisconsin Law School, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saru Matambanadzo, Moise S. Steeg Jr. Associate Professor, Tulane University Law School, email@example.com
Athena Mutua, Professor, Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar, SUNY Buffalo Law School, firstname.lastname@example.org
René Reich-Graefe, Professor, Western New England University School of Law, email@example.com
Matthew Titolo, Professor, West Virginia University College of Law (co-chair), Matthew.titolo@mai
Jay Varellas, PhD Candidate in Political Science, University of California, Berkeley firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, April 26, 2018
CLEA Newsletter Committee
Lauren Bartlett (Ohio Northern)
Tanya Asim Cooper (Pepperdine)
Susan Donovan (Alabama)
D'lorah Hughes (UC Irvine)
Kate Kruse (Mitchell Hamline)
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Whether you’ll be at home, on the road to the conference, or already in Chicago, take a moment to celebrate a fave of most of us – the independent bookstore!
Celebrated on the last Saturday in April every year, IBD honors these special stores that act as sources of knowledge and imagination, community centers, and places of respite. Each store will party in its own way with exclusive books, giveaways, author events, and more - so feel free to visit more than one!
Check out the link below to locate an indie bookstore wherever you are:
Hope to see y’all in Chicago!
Monday, April 2, 2018
Calling all fans of clinical education and warm weather: mark your calendars for the 8th Annual Southern Clinical Conference “Overcoming Divisions.” The conference will be hosted by the University of South Carolina School of Law on Friday October 19th and Saturday, October 20th, 2018.
Requests for proposals coming later this Spring. We look forward to seeing you in Columbia next Fall!
For more information please contact Emily Suski at email@example.com.
The Southern Clinical Conference planning committee:
Danny Schaffzin, Memphis,
Alex Scherr, Georgia
Kendall Kerew, Georgia State
Susan Donovan, Alabama
Lauren Aronson, LSU
Bob Lancaster, LSU
Crystal Schin, Virginia
Lisa Martin, South Carolina
Emily Suski, South Carolina
Ken Gaines, South Carolina
Annie Eisenberg, South Carolina
Claire Raj, South Carolina
Josh Gupta-Kaga, South Carolina
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Our always amazing West Virginia College of Law colleague, Valena Beety, Professor of Law and Director of the West Virginia Innocence Project, is featured on the March 16, 2018 Undisclosed podcast, State v. Ronnie Long – Addendum 1 – Projecting Innocence. Professor Beety is interviewed by Colin Miller, Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina College of Law and noted expert in the fields of evidence, criminal law, and criminal procedure. Professor Beety discusses her evolution from an Assistant United States Attorney to an innocence advocate, then addresses the eyewitness identification that caused Ronnie Long to spend forty years in prison. She identifies multiple factors that render the eyewitness identification unreliable in Mr. Long's case, while also acknowledging how research has reformed police protocols on interviewing eyewitnesses today. Professor Beety wraps up the interview by sharing her experience litigating habeas corpus cases in which the admission of faulty bite mark and shaken baby syndrome expert evidence led to wrongful convictions.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Via Prof. Tim Iglesias:
ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law
Call for Papers
The Interconnections between Health and Housing
For its next issue the Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays exploring the interconnections between health and the Journal’s traditional themes: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development. Topics could include creative housing developments; federal, state, local and/or private funding sources; statutes, policies or regulations; and empirical studies. Articles and essays could analyze new developments, tell success stories, or explore problems relating to issue such as affordable independent/assisted living, aging in place, or in-home care, and propose legal and policy recommendations.The Journal welcomes essays (typically 2,500–6,200 words) or articles (typically 7,000-10,000 words) on the theme.
The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law. The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.
Interested authors are encouraged to send an abstract describing their proposals to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Tim Iglesias, at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15, 2018. Submissions of final articles and essays are due by May 1, 2018. The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Okay, I get cranky a lot. I find lots of reasons to be so, and that's not so good. Lately, my crankiness has come when students come in and ask for help with writing and have a different agenda then I want them to have. I want them to think about good ways to write—what they want to express; differences in writing for judges, clients, and policy makers; grammar and writing structure; persuasive writing in all contexts; purposes of writing; and many other things. They, however, want to talk about what I want to read so they can get a better grade. Do I agree with their position, which they think will raise their grade? Do I demand a certain writing style or I will grade them badly? In short, they don’t want to write well—they want to write what they think I want them to write so I will think they write well and they want and A. It drives me insane—I know it is a strategy that gets them through law school, and I know grades are important, but I want them to think and develop their own writing style
Now, I am getting my comeuppance as I realized I am thinking the same thing. Last week, I submitted a law review article to 109 law reviews. 109 separate groups of 2L, 3L, and 4L students are reviewing my work. Some have already or will soon dismiss it out of hand as unworthy of publication based on its topic not being doctrinal enough. It’s about teaching social justice by asking law schools to determine that all competent lawyers must see the social justice consequences in all of their work. It suggests learning objectives for law schools to adopt. It describes ways social justice can be taught in all classes that allows students to come up with their own definition of social justice, and it asks teachers as part of each class to help students create and modify a credo that includes their definition and the way they will practice toward it on graduation. This is great, right?
I think so, but that’s not what matters. It matters whether the 2L, 3L and 4L law students reading it think it is great. They may not. It’s not the hard legal analysis that law reviews are often seeking. Further, although I cite law reviews in the paper, I also cite educational theorists’ and other professions’ definitions of social justice—it may make it seem less lawyerly to them. Further, I tried to publish a similar work this fall under another title with a different focus. It may seem to some law reviews that look at both submissions as not a substantial enough revision to take another look. Whatever they think, I think it’s good. I want these students to read it and feel like their eyes are newly opened to a new and different perspective—mine—and that they want to publish it and live with it a few weeks as they edit it and share with me their ideas about it as we review it together and make it a better piece of work their input. I find it an original and interesting work but many law review editors may not.
Maybe that will be the tenor of 109 law review editors’ meetings—wait, 107, as two rejected it within 72 hours. They likely could not have assessed it that much—that’s why they turned it down, right? Or maybe I don’t understand what they want me to write. Maybe if I just was better at guessing or understanding what these editors wanted a little more, they would accept it. Maybe they didn't like the few typos I made—I sure hope they don’t rate me lower because for them. Maybe they are just comparing me to people with bigger names in the academy who probably get lots of help with writing and editing from their schools. Maybe one of the 107 schools—one of which responded and said they are reviewing me soon!—will think that an article about social justice teaching school wide is just what the law review needs.
Those 107 reviews—wait, 106, as another just emailed that they received many exceptional submissions and that although mine may or may not be one of them, they have to turn down several great articles and mine did not make the cut—maybe one of those 106 law reviews will decide to join me in my academic quest. And they may not. I’ll sit and wait on their whim.
And as I wait for the now 105 law reviews to decide whether they will publish me, I am reminded of my student meetings. Just like me, students want to know how they will be assessed so that their work will be valued. It is hard for them to break away and think that I or another teacher will just want them to dive into a topic and write well. I also wonder if the way I want to write matters, and know that if I could go into their editors’ meetings and learn what they wanted, I would write it. I would try to write what I wanted, but I would frame it how they wanted. And my work would get out. And I would have expressed at least part of what I wanted, even if it was their way and not mine.
And maybe I will be more empathetic when my students come and ask me what I want in their papers—I may not tell them, but I’ll understand it and try to help.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
One of the panels that I sat on at the Transactional Clinical Conference in Philadelphia last year focused on designing transactional clinics for impact. Professors Alicia Plerhoples of Georgetown and Lynnise Pantin of Boston College led the panel with me. Of particular interest to the attendees and panelists was balancing student desire for exposure to individual client matters with building capacity to help broader client communities and participate in policy initiatives. The folks at the Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law were kind enough to let me to publish thoughts from that panel in their recent edition.The panel was well attended and many clinicians reported that both they and their students had an interest in making impact work part of their clinics. Panelists and attendees shared their experiences with different kinds of clinic designs and tradeoffs that they perceived with different designs. They also shared the benefits to their students and feedback they received from students who had participated in these programs. The conversation was lively and, in light of recent developments, urgent.
The SSRN abstract reads as follows:
The 2016 presidential election was met immediately around the country with calls to action for lawyers to provide legal representation and resources to vulnerable populations that would inevitably be affected by the incoming presidential administration. Lawyers showed up en masse, for example, at airports to offer services to travelers and families impacted by the executive order banning individuals from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country. Those lawyers were not alone. Calls also went out around the clinical community to use clinicians’ positions and resources in ways that further our work on behalf of communities which suddenly found themselves potential targets of a new administration. Many transactional clinicians saw the outcry as an “all hands on deck” alarm and asked themselves how they could help.
Transactional clinics, compared with other law school clinics, face unique challenges in responding to threats facing client populations. Our colleagues in other clinics offer students the opportunity to work on advocacy projects, community education initiatives, impact litigation, or other work designed to achieve outcomes beyond individual client representation. Many transactional clinics, however, are structured entirely around representing individual entrepreneurs, businesses, and charities in a range of legal issues. This focus is the result of two phenomena. First, a disproportionate number of law students plan to pursue a transactional practice after graduation compared to the number of transactional experiences available in law school. Second, all clinical experiences are time-limited, and students generally have relatively little transactional law experience to draw on, limiting the amount of work that a transactional clinic can take on during the course of a semester. Representing individual businesses or nonprofits seemingly restricts the impact of students’ work — they can only represent one or two clients per semester. Many businesses and nonprofits remain unserved.
Every clinic faces trade-offs between directly representing individual clients and taking on projects with broader policy and advocacy goals. For transactional clinics, that trade-off is between giving students hard to obtain transactional experience through representing individual entrepreneurs and organizations and allowing students to assist a wider group through other initiatives. Balancing these trade-offs is particularly important for clinicians interested in leveraging student resources to make their clinics agents of change in a community.
This commentary explores different options for accomplishing these broader goals, trade-offs that these options pose, and how clinicians navigate those challenges. The following summarizes ideas and challenges, and suggests ways to balance trade-offs and further integrate change-making into clinic design. In the wake of the 2016 election, transactional clinicians will undoubtedly increasingly design clinic work around impact. This commentary aims to help those clinicians in that effort.
I hope that this essay allows transactional clinicians to assess options when it comes to clinical design with an eye towards expanding the reach and impact of the work we all do. Thanks to all who participated.
Joe Pileri is a Clinical Teaching Fellow with the Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. More information about Joe and the SENLC is available here.
Friday, February 23, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where they share their perspectives on their own experiences with clinical education.This post is from Lydia Cash, a current 2L at Columbia Law School. Lydia was a student in Columbia's Mediation Clinic last semester and is now in the Advanced Mediation Clinic.
Conversation, and conflict for that matter, is like an onion. At first, conversation is seemingly whole as it stands, requiring no additional work to derive functional benefit. However, if equipped with the right tools, conversation unfolds into hundreds of layers waiting to be peeled. When peeled back, these layers of conversation reveal copious moving parts, each containing essential information about an individual’s positions, feelings, and interests. These hidden moving parts contain the gems of human emotion and psychological motivators that fit together into the puzzle of conversation and conflict. Mediation has taught me that when faced with conflict, one must learn to identify, process, and differentiate each level of conversation in order to piece together a broader understanding of personal stories. Through mediation and clinical education, I have slowly developed a toolset to analyze and clarify conflict in order to bring about unique resolutions. In daily life, I often feel like a kind of “speech scientist,” tuning into conversations and automatically separating words and sentences into the moving parts of positions, feelings, and interests that drive conflict. I am always fascinated that this simple exercise helps me decipher issues and emotions that are hidden just beneath the iceberg-level conversations people often restrict themselves to when interacting with colleagues. If only everyone could learn to dive below the iceberg-level surface of conversation to discover the hidden gems beneath. We would be much better off attempting to clarify conflict in this way, rather than avoiding conflict altogether and running away from human emotion.
This tool of active listening is the greatest gift the Mediation Clinic gave me, and I was thrilled to present on this topic to the United Nations Youth Assembly last week. The room was filled with eager young professionals and students of a wide range of ages. They were brilliant, successful individuals from all over the world, from countries as far as Saudi Arabia, Malta, Ecuador, Ghana, and Norway. Walking into the presentation, I was admittedly terrified. How could I, a 2L from Columbia Law School, impart knowledge to these incredibly talented young professionals in a way that kept them engaged? I expected the audience to subside into boredom as the presentation elapsed, but to my surprise, the audience was eager, intrigued, participatory, and full of electric, contagious energy. I felt myself relax and laugh with the crowd as our presentation continued, and I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face as the crowd raised 20+ hands every time we elicited responses. It was phenomenal to teach these young individuals some of the key skills I had learned as a clinical student; it was even more poignant to witness their eagerness to engage with the material and ask questions about implementation in their own countries.
Even though some of the skills we taught seemed basic, such as active listening, reframing, and separating conversation into facts, interests, and feelings, many of the students approached me after the presentation concluded to thank me for this new knowledge and to ask me about my time in the Clinic. I was overjoyed when the students asked me how they could further their use of mediation skills after they returned home. This 1.5-hour presentation is one I will always remember, because through teaching basic mediation skills, we somehow inculcated and established a culture of open-minded willingness to express emotion and engage with others on a personal level. I was uplifted by these young professionals’ positive energy and eagerness to apply mediation skills in their own lives. As I left the U.N. that evening, I reflected on a life-changing consequence of presenting to the Youth Assembly – Simply imparting my own knowledge of mediation gave me more confidence in my public speaking abilities and in my ability to enact positive change in the lives of others.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where they share their perspectives on their own experiences with clinical education.This post is from Argemira Flórez, a current 2L at Columbia Law School. Argemira was a student in Columbia's Mediation Clinic last semester and is now taking the Advanced Mediation Clinic.
One of my main goals while taking the Mediation Clinic last semester was to make a judgment as to whether mediation produces better justice than adjudication. While the lawyer in me found valid claims for both, the citizen in me found that mediation more closely aligns with my view for “better justice.” In my view, mediation produces better justice because it empowers people to be agents of their own change. It returns power to people whose main complaints are usually founded on a loss of power, or agency in some capacity.
Robert A. Baruch Bush is an author whose discussion on mediation vs. adjudication informed my views on why I think mediation produces better justice. In one of his pieces, Bush wrote an imaginary conversation between a judge, law clerk, law professor, and a court administrator, on the legitimacy and need for mediation. Through his realistic, albeit fictional, depictions of the goals of each player in the legal process, I became acutely aware of how the legal system is often much more loyal to its processes than to the people whom it is supposed to be serving through those processes. For example, Bush highlighted the goals of a court administrator as saving time and money. He presented the goals of a law professor as protecting the court as a public institution and promoting its values. Bush contrasted those goals with that of a mediator, which was to reach the best possible substantive result or solution to the parties’ problem. Admittedly, both litigators and mediators are loyal to a process. However, it seems to me that mediators are loyal to a process that more readily cedes to its parties’ will. In ceding to the parties’ will, mediation becomes a process that both protects, and empowers parties as they advocate for themselves. To me, that is better justice.
Unfortunately, I must admit that there are some cases that cannot be resolved through the mediation process. For example, there are many obvious reasons as to why mediation might not be the best means of resolving immigration disputes. Challenges might include power imbalances of the parties at the table, confidentiality concerns, and a heavy influence of law in the mediation However, I should note that the 9th Circuit has approved the use of mediation in some cases in the past (e.g. cases where a change in a petitioner’s situation might allow for an adjustment in status). It is my opinion that in issues of a polycentric nature such as these, the mediation process may fall short of what is actually needed (i.e. policy reform). Nevertheless, I agree with Michael Cardozo when he says that ADR may not be the answer to the resolution of every government problem, but it can play a major constructive role in resolving social policy disputes.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where they share their perspectives on their own experiences with clinical education. This post is from Kate Joohyun Lee, a current 2L at Columbia Law School. Kate was a student in Columbia's mediation clinic and is now taking the Advanced Mediation Clinic.
It rains a lot in Indonesia; 4 pm on most days, and it’s usually a downpour. Water skips down the windows, trees dance in the wind, and my dog has tracked mud onto the porch again. I’ve always loved rain. I’ve always loved watching the water come from nowhere and wash things clean. And at the end of it all, the world smells brand new.
Meeting another human being is like looking out the window of your car on a rainy day and noticing the car next to you. You see the shape and perhaps the color of the car, but the details are always changing as you or the other car zooms by. Sometimes you and an unwitting neighbor stop at a red light together, and only then can you sort of see that the paint job is scratched, the side mirror is a bit bent, and is that a dog in the back seat? A university sticker on the back window—a proud mom.
That’s how I felt whenever I mediated. The people sitting at the table and I had stopped at a red light together. We were discussing the effects of human flaws, things that had broken down through a lack of communication, generational poverty, racism, loneliness, anxiety…the list goes on. It’s one thing to conceptually know that people fall through the cracks. It’s another thing to meet them, face-to-face, to shake their cold hands or to offer words of encouragement that hits them in a way you never expected. To find yourself at the copy machine on the third floor of Brooklyn Housing Court, fielding questions from desperate strangers about how to file a complaint. To mediate mundane problems like leaks in the roof and abandoned cars caused by people who were just being human.
Something beautiful about meeting people in their worst place is that a lot of masks come off. In life outside of the mediation room, peaks are endlessly advertised; glimpses of the valleys are rare. But in the mediation room, you’re in the valley with them. This isn’t about victories, it’s about patching up failures and navigating the broken systems that have brought the parties to court.
It would be too simple and naïve of me to say, “this clinic changed me because I saw that so many people found life difficult.” Because I saw in myself flaws and failings, too. I’ve found myself in the valleys. I think of my snap judgments, my impatient moments, my misguided emotions. I think of the many times I assumed people were just rude or unkind, instead of tired, anxious, or lonely. I’ve always hoped that people wouldn’t look at my worst 1% and judge the rest—but I failed to extend that same grace to other people.
I walked into this clinic hoping to come out of it comfortable with conflict. But more than being comfortable with conflict, I am now a bit more comfortable dwelling in the valleys with people. I am a bit more comfortable with being human. A bit more comfortable with sleepless nights, with angry and bitter mornings. With failings and shortcomings and chips on my shoulder and on my nails.
My reconciliation with the broken parts of life have made the beautiful parts of life shine brighter, and now the broken parts hurt less. In becoming comfortable with conflict, strangely, I have found peace.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where they share their perspectives on their own experiences with clinical education. This post is from Yoon Won Song. Born in Seoul Korea, Yoon is currently a third-year student at Columbia Law School. She has taken both Mediation Clinic and Advanced Mediation Clinic in the past and is continuing her third semester of the clinic.
Mediation clinic taught me to view law in a very special way. It taught me to accept the imperfections in the legal system and showed me how to navigate and overcome those deficiencies. As a law student, I used to believe that the legal system effectively reflected the principles of justice, but the more I studied the traditional black letter law, the more I became aware of the system’s shortcomings. Different people have different conceptions of justice and such complexities cannot be reduced into some master-value rule. Oftentimes, legal system fails to account for various definitions of justice people have and court judgments do not offer the best solutions.
Mediating real parties in real life disputes showed me that there are ways to fill such gaps in the traditional legal system. Court-referred mediation is one of such instruments. Usually, by the time parties appear in court, things have become so adversarial that parties would not independently suggest mediation or negotiation, but many parties I have mediated were open, and even eager, to the idea of mediating and settling. They wanted to try mediation, settle the matter, and move on. What made them so eager to try mediation? Perhaps it’s the anxiety that built up while waiting for a judgment or the crude reality that the judge will side with only one of the parties. By the time parties appear in court, parties may have become doubtful of their claims than when they initially decided to file their claims in court. I realized that parties to a lawsuit don’t necessarily seek court judgment and may wish for a different method of resolution.
Court-referred mediation offers parties a second chance to opt-out of the traditional law and resolve their conflicts through open and honest conversation. It allows them to find a win-win solution tailored to their specific case that court judgments cannot offer. Had the judge not refer their cases to mediation some of the most successful settlements I have seen would never have been possible.
As a student in Advanced Mediation Clinic, I also participated in Columbia’s partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), where we learned that even global scale conflicts, complex business disputes, and multi-cultural tensions could be resolved peacefully through mediation and negotiation.
After being exposed to various types of mediation, I came to realize that mediation can successfully fill the gaps that are present not only in legal system, but in society as well. Clinical education has shaped the way I view law and society and imparted me with important skills that I will carry personally and professionally after law school.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
From the Field is a recurring column written by current clinical students where we get to hear their perspective on their own experiences with clinical education. This post is from Ayisha McHugh, a current 2L at Columbia Law School. Ayisha was a student in Columbia's mediation clinic and is now taking the Advanced Mediation Clinic.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
The Transactional Clinical Conference Planning Committee is now accepting proposals for the 17th Annual Transactional Clinical Conference. The full RFP is included below.
17th Annual Transactional Clinicians’ Conference
Breaking Barriers to Entrepreneurship
April 27-28, 2018 – Chicago, Illinois
Conference Website: http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/
The Conference Planning Committee invites your proposals for the 17th Annual Transactional Clinical Conference in Chicago, Illinois on April 27 and 28, 2018. Proposals can be for workshops, panels, or poster presentations.
PROPOSAL DEADLINE IS FEBRUARY 23, 2018
Every year, the annual Transactional Clinicians Conference (“TCC”) provides clinicians rare opportunities to up their game, both in teaching students and in assisting entrepreneurs. In 2018, 100+ transactional clinicians will join forces in Chicago to take on traditional barriers in teaching and practice that have kept new businesses from accessing the high quality legal representation they need to succeed.
The theme of the 2018 TCC will be “Breaking Barriers to Entrepreneurship.” We encourage clinicians to propose topics that take a broad and inclusive view of “barriers” to entrepreneurship and innovative approaches to breaking those barriers. For instance, proposals could address the following:
Barriers for Teachers:
- Few opportunities for teachers to learn about innovations in teaching
- Limited law school resources to open and sustain transactional clinics
- Competing priorities to juggle in teaching, supervising students, institutional service, marketing, administration, fundraising, and scholarship
Barriers for Entrepreneurs
- Uncertainty as to whether and how to seek legal counsel or legal knowledge
- Access to legal help and legal knowledge restricted by wealth, geography, language, immigration status, and computer competency
- Student entrepreneurs unable to translate innovations from the classroom into the marketplace
- Challenges in accessing capital and other resources, particularly in underserved areas and among underserved populations
Barriers for Communities Wanting to Support Entrepreneurs
- Limited public knowledge about the legal needs of new businesses
- Limited public education opportunities to learn about the legal aspects of starting a business
- Insufficient connections between transactional clinics, law firms and legal service organizations
- Insufficient connections between transactional clinics and other business support organizations, such as chambers of commerce, incubators, and Small Business Development Centers
The two-day TCC will be organized around workshops, posters, panels, and plenaries that address the above barriers while sharing best practices. The 2018 TCC Planning Committee invites your proposals for presentations that highlight innovations in:
- teaching practices
- expanding access to legal assistance to diverse communities of entrepreneurs
- helping entrepreneurs find capital, arrange relationships with workers, and protect IP
- involving students in education efforts to improve public knowledge about how to start a business
- helping student entrepreneurs translate innovations into new products and services
- integrating alumni and local bar members in student education
- utilizing web technology to reach entrepreneurs in remote areas
- gathering and analyzing case data about entrepreneur clients to assist policymakers
- Proposals should not exceed 2 pages.
- The committee welcomes individual and group proposals.
- For individual proposals, we may endeavor to assemble presenters on panels organized around a common theme.
- Given the involvement of digital media in students’ and entrepreneurs’ daily lives, presenters will be encouraged to leaven their content with videos, topical news, pictures, and other content.
- Proposals for workshops or panels should plan for approximately 40 to 50 minutes of presentation time. Proposals for poster presentations should describe, in general terms, the poster that will be prepared, and presenters should plan for short, continuous conversations with attendees at the poster reception.
- The TCC this year will be designed to provide CLE credit for participants. Speakers and panelists will be required to submit materials required for CLE accreditation.
Please submit proposals online at http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/presentations/ . If you have difficulty with any online submissions, contact Heather Harper at email@example.com. Feel free to contact any committee member with questions on the proposals.
If selected, you will be required to submit your conference materials online by March 23 (for sessions intending to generate ethics CLE credits) or April 20 (for all other materials).
Conference & Hotel Registration
Please register online at http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/rsvp/ .
In your registration, please note any dietary restrictions or special requests (lactation rooms, etc.).
Group hotel accommodations are available at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603.
When booking your travel, please keep in mind that the conference will begin with a poster presentation and reception hosted by Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in the evening on Friday, April 27th. The conference will begin early on Saturday, April 28th, and there will be a group conference dinner on Saturday, April 28th. The AALS Clinical Conference will begin on Sunday, April 29th.
As has been our tradition, we hope to secure funding support to defray at least some hotel expenses. In the event our support is insufficient to cover one night for all participants, we will allocate sponsorship first-come, first-served based on the date of registration for the conference.
To be eligible for this benefit, you must register for the conference, and indicate the nights you will need a hotel room in Chicago. Once funding is secured, those who received a free night will be registered directly for that night, and any additional attendees who do not receive this benefit will be given a conference code to take advantage of the discounted block rate, which will be available until April 5, 2018. Please give us your indication as early as possible, as we may need to increase the hotel block for Friday, April 27th to secure a lower rate.
This year’s conference will be paperless. All information and materials will be available online at the TCC 2018 website – http://blogs.kentlaw.iit.edu/2018tcc/ . Please check back frequently for updates on scheduling and materials.
Your Planning Committee:
Heather Harper (IIT Chicago -Kent)
Esther Barron (Northwestern)
Priya Baskaran (WVU)
Bill Kell (Berkeley)
Lynnise Pantin (BC)
Jennifer Prusak (Indiana)
Vicki Phillips (American)
Steve Reed (Northwestern)
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Prof. Bob Kuehn's Post on the Demographics, Diversity, and Salary Data Within Clinical Legal Education
Here's the introduction:
Though clinical faculty have largely moved out of the proverbial basement, they remain a distinct sub-group within most law faculties. Often labeled as something other than law professors (“clinicians”) because of their teaching methods and goals, faculty that teach law clinic and externship courses also differ as a group by gender, race, employment status, and salary from “podium” faculty teaching doctrinal courses. And unlike the movement out of the basement, it’s not clear that clinical and doctrinal faculty are moving closer to each other on those attributes.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
By request of Prof. Tim Iglesias of the University of San Francisco, please see the attached announcement for the ABA's 2018 Affordable Housing and Community Development Law Law Student Legal Writing Competition. For interested students, the deadline is March 3, 2018.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
I am cross-posting my message as CLEA's president for 2018. This message appears in CLEA's Winter 2017-2018 newsletter.
I am grateful to begin service as CLEA’s President in 2018. This community empowers, equips, and inspires. Together we will continue to improve legal education and our work with students and clients. In my first address as CLEA’s President I want to urge us to remember the high calling of clinical legal education. We have important work to do this year.
Clinical legal education has never been more important. Legal education itself stands at a crossroads alongside the nation. We bear an immense responsibility to the public and to the Republic. Law schools and law professors have profound, generational influence on the bar, the judicial system, and the laws that govern the land.
The rule of law is essential to justice within a constitutional order, and it requires constant vigilance. Without the robust rule of law, democracy can become a dodge to pillage the people and profit pirates. The foundation of our American experiment rests on the demand that the governed participate in their own government, that no one will live outside the law established with the consent of the governed.
The rule of law depends on the trust of the governed. Trust in the law requires trust in lawmakers and the legal system. Trust in the legal system requires trust in those who operate and enforce it. Lawyers are the operatives of the rule of law, and if the people do not trust lawyers, they will not trust the system. If the system violates that trust, the rule of law will unravel and become vulnerable to poachers.
Trust in the legal system requires expansive inclusion of the governed. This has been our great, national failure since the founding, the exclusion of people from the system that presumes to govern them. Just as the colonists insisted that they be included in the making of laws that governed them, so do all those disenfranchised across our history.
The rhetorical aspirations of a more perfect union ground the fierce urgency of expansive inclusion in the United States. The founding virtues, however flawed in execution, provide a moral foundation for inclusion and empowerment. Progress toward justice comes in fits and starts, and the jealous powers of exclusion never give ground willingly. The revolutionary United States rejected the idolatry of blood-and-soil nationalism for an order built on laws and ideals. Those laws and ideals must propel us toward inclusion and thriving human dignity.
If we are true to the founding notes of liberty, justice, and equality for all, we will reckon with our laws, lawmaking, law enforcement, and legal systems to guard against exclusion. Justice in all its forms - social, economic, political, legal - rests on the dignity of every person. Human dignity demands inclusion and voice in government and courts that sustain the rule of law. Inequality and inequity in all their forms undermine the experiment and erode trust and reliance in the rule of law. Inequality and inequity threaten the foundations of justice. If the nation is interested in justice under the law, then lawyers must be keen to promote and protect human dignity, equality, and equity wherever we can.
Inclusion gives life to the rule of law; exclusion kills it.
This is the urgent work of legal education. We teach and train lawyers to be public citizens, operatives of the rule of law. To be effective lawyers, our students must have a deep knowledge of the law, expertise in the tools of the trade, and wisdom to apply them both in the service of clients. To be fruitful public citizens, law schools must teach students to criticize the law and improve it, to understand its relationship with lawmakers and the governed, and to witness the nature of justice. Our students must be worthy of trust. They must dignify their neighbors and work for the ever-greater inclusion of all people.
For twenty-five years, this has been CLEA’s mission, to improve legal education, to promote better law teaching, to cultivate the virtues of public citizenship in law students. Pioneering generations of lawyer-teacher-scholars have organized, advocated, and pulled alongside eager students to teach them how to be excellent attorneys.
In 2018, the second year of our five-year strategic plan, we continue their work in this critical institution that binds together schools, clinics, professors, and practices. In each of its committees, CLEA members contribute to the work of justice and good teaching. CLEA’s strategic plan, membership dues, conferences, newsletters, social media platforms, advocacy memos, best practices resources, research, and gatherings all promote the missions of clinical legal education. As we teach students and serve clients, CLEA works to improve the enterprise of legal education and to promote the just rule of law in the United States.
The work of self-government and the rule of law never ends. CLEA continues and accelerates its work to ensure law students become excellent lawyers who promote justice, inclusion, and dignity throughout their long careers at the bar.
Thank you for your work and vision. Thank you for your commitment to our common mission.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Edited by Prof. Tanya Cooper with the CLEA newsletter committee, here is CLEA's Newsletter for Winter 2017-2018.
This first issue of Volume 26 includes articles on clinical teaching by Robert Kuehn (Washington Univ.-St. Louis), Joshua Medina (Alabama), and Millicent Newhouse (Baltimore); messages from the outgoing Co-Presidents and incoming President; CLEA committee reports; several announcements about upcoming events at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego; and clinical news from our colleagues around the country.
The CLEA Newsletter Committee is Lauren Bartlett (Ohio Northern), Tanya Asim Cooper (Pepperdine), Susan Donovan (Alabama), D'lorah Hughes (UC Irvine), and Kate Kruse (Mitchell Hamline).
(This year, I'm serving as CLEA president and as editor of this blog so will make my interests and roles clear when our content requires it.)