October 23, 2008
Primer on Clinical Legal Education: Second Installment (a.k.a. "The Mother Lode")
Since my first installment, Professor Vanessa Merton delivered a wonderfully complete answer to a prospective clinical law prof's query: "What Resources Exist for Folks Interested in Entering the Academy as a Clinical Law Professor?" Professor Merton has graciously allowed me to post her response, which could very well make further posts on this subject superfluous:
Here's a compendium of ideas I've sent to folks over the years. If you’re serious about this academic thing, you need to gear up the way you’d gear up for a heavy trial. Learn some of the history so you better understand what’s happening now: start with overall perspective from Robert Stevens, Law School: Legal Education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s. Then focus on the history of clinical education, e.g., Margaret Martin Barry, Jon C. Dubin & Peter A. Joy, Clinical Education for This Millennium: The Third Wave, 7 Clinical L. Rev. 1 (2000).
Read through Best Practices for Legal Education – all of it – takes about four hours to eyeball the pages, get the basic concepts. (You can get it for free.) Or read it more carefully if you really want to impress (and learn). If you’re determined to wow, do the same with the Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers and Greg Munro’s Outcomes Assessment for Law Schools. Read the MacCrate Report, a/k/a Legal Education and Professional Development: An Educational Continuum, published by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Poke around that website for a while. You could benefit from reading through the ABA’s Standards for Approval of Law Schools and three of the Section's recent Committee reports on Outcome Measures, Security of Position, and Transparency.
Look through the materials generated by the Institute for Law School Teaching at Gonzaga Law, which you should be able to find in any decent law school library.
Go to the CLEA website: Just a wealth of ways to learn the vocabulary -- read the Mission Statement, dive into past CLEA Newsletters to get a sense of current and perennial issues, read through the CLEA Bibliography of Clinical Teaching and Scholarship, read the New Clinicians Handbook, etc.
You should be familiar with LexternWeb and the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, and perhaps Washburn Law's list of Best Law Teacher nominees.
Read some classics: Tony Amsterdam’s Clinical Legal Education - A 21st Century Experience, 34 J. Legal Educ. 612 (1984); Learning from Practice (2d ed.) by Ogilvy et al. and Chavkin’s Clinical Legal Education. If you can get your hands on them, read through The Lawyering Process: Materials for Clinical Instruction in Advocacy, by Bellow and Moulton, and Dvorkin, Himmelstein and Lesnick, Becoming a Lawyer: A Humanistic Perspective on Legal Education and Professionalism.
It'd be useful to skim through as many back issues of the Clinical Law Review as you can -- available at any law school library, and abstracts of most CLR articles are accessible from the CLEA website. Then there's the Journal of Legal Education –- reading through several back issues (you did say this is what you want to do for a living, didn’t you?) can help you pick up on what's happening in legal academe in general.
Go to the Society of American Law Teachers website and browse. Attend a SALT Public Interest retreat where you will meet the coolest law professors.
Natch, if you can find out who is actually interviewing you, it wouldn't hurt to peruse one or two of their latest articles and read their bios.
Also could check out:
Breaking into the Academy: The University of Michigan Journal of Race and Law Guide to Programs for Aspiring Law Professors. The Guide was designed to help law students and lawyers break into legal academics. It contains advice on negotiating the application process, addresses and phone numbers of helpful organizations and citations to articles about the demographics of the law teaching profession. In addition, the Guide contains listings of Law Teaching Fellowship Programs, Graduate Law Degree Programs and Legal Methods Teaching Programs which might be of interest to those considering law teaching. Additional resources are available in Eric Goldman's piece Careers in Law Teaching, as well as Douglas J. Whaley, Teaching Law: Advice for the New Professor, 43 Ohio St. L. J. 125 (1982).
A good way in may be through one of the numerous teaching fellowships now available.
Also you should be aware of, if not regularly following, blogs like:
Write a book or two, of course. Failing that, find a book or two that really intrigues you or pisses you off and write a book review. You’ll quite possibly be able to get it published quickly.
Again, heartfelt thanks to Prof. Merton. -jl
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