Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I am a bit of a Veruca Salt when it comes to certain things, including books, especially ones that promise to be transformative--“I want it and I want it now, Daddy!” And so last December, I demurely offered to copy edit Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World before it went to the publisher. This was no sacrificial duty on my part. I had the opportunity to read a couple of the chapters in draft form earlier in the year and I was impatiently hungry for more—a lot more, and now! The pedagogical feast did not disappoint.
The editors describe the goals of Building on Best Practices as a “[R]eflection on the best of current and emerging practices in legal education that will guide individual teachers and law school administrations in designing a program of legal education that meets the needs of the lawyers of tomorrow. Today's law students will enter a profession vastly different from the one their predecessors experienced, for which different skills, knowledge and values are necessary. This book is an attempt to synthesize important developments in legal education that have occurred since the publication of Best Practices for Legal Education. It is designed as a resource for anyone who hopes to contribute to the betterment of legal education and wishes to explore positive opportunities for change.”
As promised, the book builds on Best Practices in Legal Education, which was written by Roy Stuckey et al. and published by CLEA in 2007. Building on Best Practices takes into consideration the crisis in legal education, advances in technology, the diversification of students in U.S. law schools, changes in the profession, new accreditation standards, the further development of educational research into how we learn, and much, much more.
Coincidentally, I was reading the book while attending the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting, and as I moved from the sessions and discussions at the Annual Meeting back into the pages of the book, I was struck by the level of synchronicity between the concerns raised by our colleagues at the meeting and the insights and guidance provided by Building on Best Practices. The book is both timely and relevant at a time when legal educators need help—badly. Legal education is at least in flux, and possibly, in crisis, and it is crucial that we recognize our challenges and collaboratively identify and implement solutions to help us move forward into a new stage in history.
That collaboration is evident from cover to cover in Building on Best Practices. Edited by Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (eds.), it includes contributions from more than 50 legal educators from law schools across the country. The publisher, LexisNexis, is making the $50 print book available to every legal educator in the U.S. at no cost and has already made the ebook version available (also at no charge).
Here's the link to the ebook, in case you, like me, just can’t wait to devour more: http://www.lexisnexis.com/store/search/search-results.jsp?_requestid=31396\.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Over the past year, I have been working with my undergraduate institution's Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Initiative (SoTL). Throughout this effort, I have been amazed while learning about various methdologies used among other discplines. Conversley, at times, I have been driven into the depths of despair (slight exageration) at the woefully inadequate measures of my own, and a fair amount of law school, teaching.
I found this most recent article, passed along from SoTL, to be illuminating, and I wanted to share it with my clinical colleagues (who I am now "tagging" with the responsibility of continuing to pass the article along to other educators).
In sum, the article is based on a recent study by Elizabeth Ligon Bjork, professor of psychology at UCLA, and postdoc research associate, Nichoals Soderstrom, who found that pre-testing students (helping them realize how much information they are lacking from the start), can be effective for improving academic performance and retention. "Bjork’s experiment suggests that pretesting serves to prime the brain, predisposing it to absorb new information."
It's incredible how such a seemingly simple flip can have a significant impact in the classroom....This article, along with my SoTL work, have made it very clear that I have "miles to go before I sleep..."
The author of the New York Times article is Benedict Carey. [On a side note, apart from reporting for the Times, Mr. Carey also has a book coming out later this month "How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens."]
Friday, June 13, 2014
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.firstname.lastname@example.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
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."
Thursday, May 22, 2014
By now, most of us have donned our academic regalia for commencement and wished our new alumni well on their bar preparations and the launch of their legal careers. Time to take a deep breath, plan your well-deserved family vacation, and drop off that seven-pound load of professional clothes at the dry cleaner (finally!). We now have twelve weeks ahead of us before we start ramping up for the Fall 2014 semester.
Twelve weeks? Not coincidentally, twelve weeks is just enough time to write a high-quality law review article. Now you might think that as clinicians we are not bound by scholarship obligations, and at your school you might be right technically, but the fact remains that we have chosen to work in a profession in which scholarship, not practice, is the coin of the realm. Thus, regardless of your school’s published criteria for the advancement of clinical faculty, you should consider using a substantial portion of your summer for scholarship so that your purse is full of academic currency.
If you want to get "rich" this summer, academically speaking, here are ten basic tips for productive writing:
- Even though classes may have ended, do not change your schedule. Go to the office every day, all day and write. Our academic associate dean here at Willamette once told me that the first step to being a productive writer is putting your backside in your chair and keeping it there.
- Block your time and be disciplined. I remember reading that we are only highly productive for a few hours per day. Identify what those hours are for you and schedule your writing blocks during those periods. During your writing periods, turn off email and close the Internet browsers. ALWAYS. Do not open them until your writing time has ended. Use the other four hours or so for less demanding work such as reading, researching, and answering emails.
- Quantify your writing. Some professors I know mandate that they write a certain number of words per day. Others require that they write for a certain length of time. Regardless of how you measure your output, set quantitative writing goals and allocate sufficient time to achieve them.
- Set qualitative writing goals. It is not enough to write a lot or even regularly. You must improve your writing through researching, outlining, developing, drafting, revising, proofreading, and external editing and feedback. Develop a 12-week writing plan that includes all of these stages to ensure that your work is high-quality. A resource to help you can be found here.
- Don’t wait for days of uninterrupted time. They will never come, or at least, not very often. Even during the summer, requests for letters of recommendation and bar references continue to stream in, some clinic cases are still active, and many of us are engaged in summer teaching, supervision, and are presenting at conferences. Do not let these prevent you from writing this summer. When I first joined the academy, I read a book about how to be a successful professor. It referenced a study that showed that professors who worked on their scholarship every day, even for just one hour, were far more likely to get tenure than those who wrote in blocks of uninterrupted time. So write every day.
- Ask for (and offer!) help. I suspect that many doctrinal law professors are introverts and many clinical law professors are extroverts (which is what makes our conferences such a riot!). The consequence of this is that we may need to develop writing partnerships or even writing support groups with whom we can talk about our writing, set goals, exchange drafts, and hold one another accountable.
- Write your first draft from your own ideas. One of the criticisms of my early academic writing is that my voice did not come through. I was lacking confidence and so would hide behind third-party authorities and quotations from “experts.” The suggestion of Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School, for overcoming this very common characteristic in emerging academic writers is that we should write the first draft without reference to resources. Simply write your own ideas down and then build out from there. That way, your voice and ideas form the core of your piece.
- Tap into your passions. At a workshop for new clinical professors, I remember being in a working group about scholarship led by Philip Schrag. An intelligent young woman said that she did not have any expertise or ideas to share in scholarship. Professor Schrag spent just seven minutes asking her about her experiences and background and identified 3-4 topics for law review articles based on her interests and experience. Don’t undervalue your ideas and experiences. If you need to brainstorm, call someone. If you don’t know whom to call, call or email me (916-719-7796; email@example.com) and I will try to help you brainstorm or get you matched with a mentor.
- Remember that the prime submission cycles are August and late January/February. Plan to submit your summer work during those periods for the best placement. ExpressO is a popular portal for submitting law review articles to numerous journals simultaneously.
- If you would like to present your article in a supportive and scholarly workshop before submission to a law review, consider applying to the Clinical Law Review’s Writers’ Workshop to be held at NYU Law on September 27, 2014. The deadline for applying is June 30. More information and the application can be found here.
Now, enjoy your summer and write on!
Thursday, April 24, 2014
As a follow up to my blog post on Monday, "Do Women Professors Underperform" (http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/clinic_prof/2014/04/do-women-professors-underperform.html), I wanted to share a tweet I caught late last night from Karen Shook (@TimesHigherArts), the books editor for Times Higher Education: "I receive many confident emails from scholars recommending I cover their books. Some are novices, some are eminent. Almost none are women." Apparently, not only do we write and cite ourselves less, we also do not ask for reviewers to read our scholarly works. If we are uncomfortable because we view these acts as crass self promotion, I suggest that we form circles of support that include both men and women from within and outside our institutions and ask them to read our works and, if they like them, share and promote them with others. We know that women are generally better received when other people promote our work than when we promote our own, so as you are preparing for your summer writing, ask yourself, "Who comprises my circle of supporters?" If you don't have one, start building one. Just as importantly, ask yourself, "Whom can I support and promote?" And then build time into your schedule to do just that.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Bryant, Milstein & Shalleck: Transforming the Education of Lawyers: The Theory and Practice of Clinical Pedagogy
Today Elliott Milstein announced the publication of Transforming the Education of Lawyers: The Theory and Practice of Clinical Pedagogy (Carolina Academic Press). His co-editors are Sue Bryant and Ann Shalleck.
From Prof. Milstein’s message:
Published by Carolina Academic Press, the book focuses on what and how to teach students about being a lawyer as they take responsibility for clients in a clinical course. The book identifies learning and lawyering theories as well as practical approaches to planning and teaching all components of a clinic; it highlights how the four clinical methodologies—seminar, rounds, supervision, and fieldwork—reinforce and complement each other. It illustrates how uniting supervision of students’ fieldwork with teaching in the clinical seminar and in rounds can create ethical, skilled, thoughtful practitioners imbued with professional values of justice and service. With contributions by both seasoned and newer clinical educators, the book addresses issues faced by all who teach in experiential lawyering courses.
All chapters are co-authored. Co-authors include Jane Aiken, Bob Dinerstein, Conrad Johnson and Jean Koh Peters. The book also includes essays about clinical teaching. Essayists include Mark Neal Aaronson, Bryan Adamson, Alicia Alvarez, Claudia Angelos, Sameer Ashar, Beryl Blaustone, Juliet M. Brodie, Elizabeth B. Cooper, Deborah Epstein, Carolyn Grose, Kristin Henning, Conrad Johnson, Donna Lee, and Wallace J. Mlyniec. We have donated royalties from the book to CLEA.
He also notes that the publisher is offering a 20% discount off the purchase price of $49.00 for people attending the 2014 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education, and the discount is good through the end of July, 2014.