Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

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)