2015 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education
Leading the New Normal:
Clinical Education at the Forefront of Change
Request for Proposals for:
- Concurrent Sessions
- Poster Sessions
- Session Moderators
DEADLINE: Friday, October 3, 2014
The 2015 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education will be held from Monday, May 4 to Thursday, May 7, 2015, at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California. The bi-annual Clinic Director's conference will take place before the start of the main conference on Sunday, May 3 and Monday, May 4.
The Conference Planning Committee seeks proposals for concurrent sessions, workshop sessions, and posters. We also seek volunteers to serve as session moderators for working groups.
We invite proposals from individuals or multiple presenters for all categories of presentation at the conference.* We encourage faculty who have not presented before or who have not presented in the past few years to submit proposals. We also encourage collaboration across institutions. Proposals are due by the close of business on Friday, October 3, 2014. Selections will be made and participants notified by November 7, 2014. All proposals should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by the October 3rd deadline, and include "Proposal for 2015 Clinical Conference" in the subject line of the email.
* Full-time faculty members and fellows of AALS member law schools are eligible to submit proposals. Fellows should include a CV with their proposals. The following individuals may participate as panel members, but may not submit proposals: faculty members at fee-paid non-member schools; international faculty; visiting faculty (without a full-time position at an AALS member law school); adjunct faculty members; graduate students; and non-law school faculty.
Concurrent session presenters, workshop leaders, poster presenters and session moderators must pay the registration fee and are responsible for their own expenses related to attendance at the Conference.
I. Conference Theme
Legal education confronts a period of intense change. These changes include drops in enrollment, a market downturn in jobs for graduates, transformations in law practice, and a rethinking of the roles of and the need for lawyers. Some argue that law schools must address these changes or lose control over legal education. Proposals to eliminate the third year, to revamp the traditional curriculum, to graduate "practice-ready" lawyers, and to permit students to take the bar early, all act as the forward edge of reform in legal education. A "new normal" seems to be taking hold.
Clinicians have long been at the forefront of change in legal education. From the early years of CLEPR, clinical legal education has led in developing new models for pedagogy and in advancing social justice. The sheer growth of this conference evidences the expanding presence and influence of clinical faculty on legal education. At many schools, clinical and field placement faculty have been asked to take the reins of change: not just in clinical courses but in other parts of the curriculum; and not just in individual courses, but in the sequence and structure of the curriculum as a whole.
This conference will explore whether and how clinicians should lead in the "new normal" of legal education. Definitions of the phrase stress how "a previously unfamiliar or atypical situation . . . has become standard, usual, or expected" or describe "a current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired." We hope to hold conversations that will help us to understand and to engage productively with the situation we now face.
Plenaries and concurrents will be organized along three broad themes: (1) What is the New Normal?; (2) What is the Role of Clinicians in the New Normal?; and (3) What is the Future in the New Normal?
Before turning to specifics, we recognize that many of the most useful sessions at these conferences share ideas about how to keep doing what we do best. Clinicians who have had success in teaching, supervision and service delivery in any clinical setting are now, as always, welcome to present their developing strategies and techniques and to help participants develop their skills as clinical teachers. In short, while we ask you to focus proposals towards the conference theme, we will review all proposals with this more general criterion in mind.
Track One: What is the New Normal?
This track focuses on the new realities that profoundly affect legal education in general and clinical education in particular. We will ask how law schools and clinicians are responding to calls for reform in legal education, the problems of reduced resources, declining enrolments, and an uncertain job market. We seek proposals for concurrent sessions that frame and describe the "new normal", either directly or implicitly, through new approaches to teaching, service delivery or course design. We encourage presenters to describe and assess how they have adjusted their work to new realities, thus helping participants to respond to change at their schools. Proposals can also focus on institutional concerns, including the impact of the "new normal" on staffing, status and diversity of clinical faculty and of clinical legal education.
Examples of possible Track 1 Concurrent Session Topics
- How do or should law schools frame the "new normal"? Clinicians at schools that have struggled with institutional questions posed by the new context could create sessions that help participants understand and contribute to their own school's responses to this new context.
- What effect has the "new normal" had on clinics and externships? Has it altered the role that clinic and field placement courses play in the overall curriculum? Concurrent sessions might introduce participants to ways to rethink and redesign their programs or to integrate them with other parts of the curriculum.
- Have changes in the job market impacted how clinicians design and deliver their work, including course content, interactions with students and partnerships outside the law school? Proposals could focus on the challenges of teaching for transfer beyond the clinic experience, on ways to engage other stakeholders in the training of students, or on the special role that clinicians play in career counseling with students.
- Is "practice-readiness" a useful outcome for legal educators generally and clinicians specifically? Do we mean to create "practice-ready" lawyers in our work as clinicians, or is the concept either too simplistic or too complex to be useful? Presentations might present particular ways that clinics can address the pressure for "practice-ready" lawyers, and help participants understand how "practice-readiness" can help (or hinder) their efforts as clinicians.
- How does the "new normal" affect the staffing of clinical courses, and the status, participation, voice, and compensation of faculty who work in clinics? A concurrent could work with CSALE or other data to help clinicians understand possible alternatives in staffing. Clinicians at schools with different patterns of hiring clinical faculty could help participants identify and deploy strategies for the hiring of clinical faculty at their schools.
Track Two: "What Role Should Clinicians Play in the New Normal?"
Clinical programs are at the center of the reform movement in legal education. We may at last have become "normal." Our methods are now well-accepted and are being adopted and adapted, for better or for worse, in new ways. We are being asked to take leadership roles in legal education in ways that are unfamiliar to many of us and troublesome to some. We must also ask whether and how the "new normal" affects our long-standing commitment as social justice educators. Concurrent sessions can help participants to better identify and achieve the goals of our work in this new context.
Examples of possible Track 2 Concurrent Session Topics
- As teachers with particular expertise in helping students to learn from experience, what roles/responsibilities should we take on in our schools? Teachers who have succeeded or failed in taking on the added responsibility of teaching the traditional faculty and others in the clinical method can help participants to understand how to do this at their own schools.
- What are the potential costs/risks of clinicians taking on a leadership role in the "new normal"? People from schools that have appointed a "Dean of Experiential Education" or that are considering whether to do so might engage us in how the move affects our clinics, our students, our clients, and ourselves.
- What are the risks and benefits of the "new normal" to our clients, their communities, and our social justice mission? Is it possible both to grow our programs to meet student demand and to maintain our commitment to high-quality social justice lawyering? Presenters who have addressed these issues might engage us in strategies for achieving social justice goals while serving a larger, more anxious, and more ideologically diverse student population.
- What are the risks and benefits to our pedagogy of taking on a more expansive role in the "new normal"? Particularly in light of the proliferation of experiential opportunities across law school curricula, is there a risk to the future of the in-house clinic itself? Clinicians might develop a panel that considers the importance of maintaining the traditional model and identifies the various threats to that model that the "new normal" poses. Clinicians could also help participants assess different ways of integrating and sequencing different clinical methods.
- How should we address the challenges of resource limitations in the design of our programs? People who have struggled with creating programs at lower cost or adapting existing programs to accommodate more students might help others who face these questions brainstorm the related problems and to find better solutions.
Track Three: "What is the Future in the New Normal?"
On this track, we look at the future in the "new normal," both for the practice of law and for legal education. Concurrent sessions in this track should help us anticipate and prepare for what's coming next. As to law practice, we hope to address how clinical and field placement faculty can understand the rapid and profound technological change that could well remake law practice and how those changes can advance our work for social justice. We want to explore how changes in service delivery and structure of law practices can and should impact our work both in clinics and in field placements. And we hope to address how clinical and field placement faculty can better use technological advances and insights from learning sciences in their work.
Examples of possible Track 3 Concurrent Session Topics
- Clinics have a role to play in responding to changes in the practice of law as it relates to client representation. A panel in this track could present a particular vision of how law practice will change, and help participants plan their courses to prepare students for that change.
- How can clinicians be at the forefront of framing a "new normal" for legal practice and social justice lawyering in the face of technological change? Concurrents help participants understand ways to integrate new and existing technology into their work for clients: for example, by navigating the physical distance between clients and lawyers. Concurrents on this track could provide tools for clinicians to rethink program design in light of innovations in technology.
- How can clinics prepare students to be entrepreneurial in solving access to justice or other social justice issues? Clinicians could describe how different schools have met success in encouraging a more entrepreneurial approach by students, and help participants to transfer those successes to other contexts.
- The pace of technological change also affects law school teaching generally and clinical teaching specifically. How can clinicians adapt new technology into their teaching? Demonstrations and explanations of particular teaching approaches (the flipped classroom, video, MOOCs, or remote externship supervision) provide potential topics for concurrents. Sessions could also address how different approaches to technology can aid and alter our interactions with students, including tools for clinical practice and for assessing and giving feedback to students.
- How can clinicians use knowledge and experience from multiple disciplines and social perspectives to shed new insight on barriers to legal empowerment? Multi-disciplinary clinics present particular opportunities and challenges; concurrent sessions can help participants understand how these collaborations work, and how to identify and develop multi-disciplinary opportunities at their schools.
- How can clinicians use new ideas in design theory to connect people to law, legal information, and legal services? We encourage proposals that describe new and innovative approaches to making this connection, and that help participants assess ways they might use this approaches at their own schools.
II. How to Make a Proposal
The conference starts Monday, May 4, 2015, with a Law Clinic Director's conference from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The opening plenary for the main conference occurs that evening from 6:00 - 6:45 p.m., followed by the AALS reception with poster presentations. The conference continues with sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, and ends with lunch on Thursday, May 7. It will include full plenaries, mini-plenary sessions along the three tracks, concurrent and poster sessions, working groups, and in-depth, multi-session workshops. Participants may follow along one track, or mix and match mini-plenary sessions and concurrent sessions to best fit their goals for the conference.
A. Concurrent Sessions
The Committee seeks proposals for concurrent sessions to develop the themes presented along the different tracks. The conference provides five time periods for concurrent sessions: Tuesday, May 5 from 9:45 - 11 a.m. and 2:45 - 4:00 p.m.; Wednesday, May 6 from 9:00-10:15 a.m.; and Thursday, May 7 from 8:30 - 9:45 a.m. and 10:00 - 11:15 a.m. Submission of a concurrent session proposal includes a willingness to have that proposal scheduled in any of the concurrent session time slots.
Submission guidelines for concurrent sessions
To propose a concurrent session, send an e-mail to email@example.com attaching your proposal. Each proposal should contain the following four elements:
- Description, including goals and objectives for the session: A one (1) page proposal description. Include how you intend to draw on the theme of the conference and its three tracks. Please specifically identify the goals for the session and the learning objectives for the attendees of the session.
- Takeaways: Where you have in hand documents (such as rubrics, surveys, evaluation forms, or schematics) or materials (such as a syllabus, bibliography, or teaching exercise instructions), please include them with the proposal.
- Structure: Include your ideas about the structure of the session; the ways in which it will be engaging and interactive, which can include time for self-reflection and processing through quick writes or thinking time; and whether you plan to use other teaching methodologies or aids. Whatever teaching methodology you employ, we ask that you do it in furtherance of your goals and learning objectives for the session. The planning committee encourages presenters to be creative in their approaches to these sessions. Ideally, these sessions will deepen attendees' engagement with the conference themes while maximizing individual or group participation and utilizing technology, and/or techniques such as demonstrations, role plays, and audience exercises.
- Presenters: Identify all individuals who you expect will participate in the session, including the identity of their institution, whether the person comes from another discipline or has interdisciplinary experience, and any other information about the person(s) that you think relevant. We encourage presenters to collaborate with clinicians from other institutions. Also, for each presenter, please indicate whether the person has presented at the AALS Clinical Conference in the past two years, and, if so, the title of the session, and whether the session was a plenary or concurrent one.
In 2014, the Clinical Conference offered a small group of people the chance to explore the topic of clinic design over the course of several working group time slots during the conference. The workshop allowed participants to explore the topic in depth, over the course of four sessions, rather than in single concurrent session.
The workshop format was successful. We hope to expand the number of these workshops in the 2015 Conference, which will take place during the working group session time slots. Conference attendees will be asked to identify whether or not they would like to participate in a workshop as part of their conference registration. Workshop groups should convene remotely before the conference to prepare for their in-person work during the conference. Some workshops may take place in two sessions, while others may take four sessions.
We solicit those with an interest in leading a workshop in two ways: for identified topics; and for new topics.
- Identified topics: We have identified several subjects that may be ripe for workshopping, listed below. We solicit people interested in planning, organizing and delivering workshops on:
- Clinic design: setting the goals and structure for a clinical course, including problems of implementation and evaluation;
- Supervision: understanding and developing the working relationship between clinician and clinical student;
- Assessment and feedback: different approaches to assessing student performance and to delivering assessment to students;
- Creating teaching videos: how to create video teaching materials, including both the creative process and advice on technology.
- New topics: in addition to the topics identified by the Planning Committee, we also solicit other ideas for workshop topics. We will review new topics for their breadth of appeal and their suitability to a multi-session format.
Leading these workshops will require more time and preparation than a typical concurrent. Workshop leaders will play a major role in designing workshop content for either two or four 75-minute sessions and in preparing for the workshop before the conference. We plan to enroll participants for workshops in advance, and will encourage workshop leaders to assign materials to participants and to convene them remotely before the conference begins.
Finally, we encourage proposals from groups of workshop planners and presenters. Workshop leaders should be prepared to work with the Planning Committee to identify other participants and session leaders for the proposed workshop. We expect to ask that workshop leaders work in teams with others interested in the same topic.
Submission guidelines for workshop leaders
To volunteer as a workshop leader or to propose a workshop, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org stating your interest. Each proposal should address the following criteria:
- Identify the workshop topic on which you want to present, whether one we identify above, or a new one.
- If you propose a new topic, include a short one-paragraph statement of why you propose this topic for the workshop format. In your statement, please address why you think your topic has a broad appeal and/or why it is particularly suited to the multi-session workshop format. Please also indicate whether you think this new idea requires four sessions, or can work in two sessions.
- Identify the people who will collaborate with you on the workshop, if you know them. Make sure to specify who the contact person for your group will be.
- These workshops will be successful only if workshop leaders have a background with the topic and a history of reliably delivering high quality conference sessions. Please identify your qualifications (and those of other proposed leaders) for leading the particular topic. These qualifications could include: scholarship on the topic; a history of presentations on the same or similar topic; past experience developing sessions for other conferences; and/or a demonstrated experience in the particular subject of your proposal.
The Planning Committee will consider all proposed workshop leaders, and will decide on leaders based on all of the proposals that we receive.
C. Poster Sessions
The Opening Reception on Monday, May 4, 2014, provides an opportunity for presenters to display posters and discuss their materials as conference participants circulate. The posters will remain on display in the general session room during the rest of the conference. Poster sessions, an integral feature of professional conferences for many disciplines, allow for wide participation and for greater dissemination of information beyond a single concurrent session. Posters are particularly useful for presenting descriptive information or other material not well presented in the more interactive format of a concurrent session.
Submission guidelines for poster sessions
To propose a poster, send an e-mail to email@example.com. Please submit a one (1) page description of your proposal, your specific goals for the poster, how the poster relates to the conference themes and the objectives, or takeaways, you have for each attendee who engages with your poster. Please identify all individuals who you expect will be participating in the poster presentation and any other information you believe is relevant. Bear in mind that many universities offer assistance in poster design and printing.
You can find good tips on creating posters, with examples, at http://staff.science.uva.nl/~bcate/esslli03/posters.html and at http://www.cis.udel.edu/~pollock/fse04/posterauthorinst.html
D. Session Moderators (formerly "Working Group Leaders")
Working groups facilitated by session moderators will be organized by clinic subject-matter, affinity groups, and mixed groups to share ideas and reactions and to engage in problem-solving.
The scheduling of working groups will be a bit different from recent conferences. The number of subject area groups that the annual conference can accommodate is always limited by the number of smaller-sized rooms available at the hotel. As a result, small and emerging groups have had difficulty achieving recognition as working groups. This year we will have a larger number of groups, but will only guarantee each group a room for two of the four available time periods. We expect to be able to hold open a group of rooms for those groups who do want to meet for all four sessions. Groups that want to meet more than twice can request additional meeting rooms and times, or can meet in public spaces at the conference facility.
We solicit volunteers to serve as moderators of these working sessions. In the past, we have entitled this role "Working Group Leader," but the designation does not reflect the hard work and importance of the role to the success of the conference. Each session moderator will be identified by the subject matter of his or her session; for example, "Criminal Law Session Moderator" or "Externship Session Moderator."
Session moderators will be asked to talk before the conference to prepare for the group; to facilitate their working sessions; and, if necessary, to arrange for additional meeting space beyond the two slots that we guarantee.
Submission guidelines for session moderators
To volunteer to serve as a session moderator, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please identify the subject areas you would be comfortable moderating. Please state whether you have served as a session moderator (or working group leader) in the past, how often and in which areas. We attach a list of proposed working group subject areas at the end of this RFP.
E. AALS Section on Clinical Education Committee Meetings:
We will reserve three slots on different days of the conference for committee meetings of AALS Clinical Section Committees.
To submit a proposal for a concurrent session or a poster session, and to express an interest in serving as a workshop leader or as a session moderator, please send the information we have requested to email@example.com no later than the close of business on Friday, October 3, 2014.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact any member of the Planning Committee. Thank you for reading this far, for your interest in the conference, and for all the work you do.
2015 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education
2015 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education
List of Areas for Working Sessions
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Community Economic Development
Gender / Gender Identity / Sexual Orientation
Health and Disability
International Human Rights
Juvenile Law (Criminal)
Transactional Law/Small Business