Monday, October 13, 2014
Prof. Luz Herrera returned to her home this year as UCLA's Assistant Dean for Clinical Education, Experiential Learning, and Public Service. She is next in our Five Questions series, and I am happy to post this conversation with my new neighbor in L.A.
1. You’re returning home to Los Angeles. How has time in other cities and other law schools informed your renewed work in LA?
Working at various law schools and in other cities has helped me understand the loving and entrepreneurial spirit of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúncula—the original name of the city of Los Angeles. Innovation abounds here—in the entertainment industry, the nonprofit community, through environmental advocates and the entrepreneurs of Silicon Beach. The spirit of Los Angeles is one that encourages new ideas, engagement and the use of diverse approaches. I am a product of that spirit and I am happy to return to this community.
2. In San Diego, you were heavily involved in moderate-means incubator programs. What is a modest-means incubator, and how do you plan to integrate that work into your new role at UCLA?
A modest means incubator is a program that provides support for attorneys who are establishing law practices to serve low and moderate income populations. The purpose of these programs is to increase access to justice while helping attorneys become self-sustaining. You need both components to foster success. An incubator program cannot solely focus on providing free services because it also has to balance the interests of the individual lawyer participants. If you are interested in my thoughts on the matter, you can find additional information in my last article, Encouraging the Development of Low Bono Law Practices, at
My involvement with modest means programs and my interest in incubators started when I practiced law in Compton. The belief that law schools should support graduates who start their own law practices and encourage the greater provision of services to underserved communities is part of what led me into legal education. I have been fortunate to work with individuals across the country to advance the modest means conversation, particularly as it relates to the role of the solo and small firm bar. I am proud of that work and the implications it may have for increasing access to legal services.
Modest means incubators have deep theoretical roots at UCLA School of Law, and I look forward to working together with our renowned faculty and staff as we advance and tailor a plan for the establishment of such incubators to advance the public interest.
3. What are your new ideas and visions for UCLA’s clinical programs, their roles in the university and in the city?
The vision for UCLA School of Law’s experiential learning program was articulated by the faculty in 2013. It builds on UCLA Law’s strong history of innovation and pedagogical goals for clinical education, and it also offers opportunities for new models that honor that tradition. We are in the process of flushing out the details to implement the vision.
At the heart of the program is the belief that a legal education should equip students with the fundamental skills practitioners need and enable them to use the skills in advanced courses. Our plan is to offer students a sequenced approach to experiential education, introducing ideas and fostering skills that build on one another during the course of a student’s law school training. The academic and hands-on learning will begin on day one. Students will be introduced to the attorney-client relationship in their first year. They will learn critical fact-gathering and interview skills and also participate in a live-client field placement. In their second and third years, students will be guaranteed the option to enroll in each of the following:
(1) foundational skills courses organized around discreet areas of skills of broad applicability; and
(2) an advanced capstone experience that integrates skills, substantive law and a focus on the professional role of lawyers.
We are in the process of mapping out a curriculum and providing a breadth of opportunities that allows students to take an active role in course selection and be agents in their own professional development.
4. What advice would you share with a clinical teacher newly moved to Los Angeles to understand the community and the ecosystem of public interest, social justice and pro bono lawyers?
Advancing social justice has been and will continue to be an integral part of clinical legal education. However, as law schools move to a more inclusive agenda of experiential learning, we must find ways to bridge the needs of our students and those of communities that can most benefit from the increased provision of legal services.
The unmet legal needs in Los Angeles are greater than our clinical budgets and larger than what our institutional priorities enable us to tackle. For this reason, it is important to begin by mapping out existing resources, developing relationships with local partners and assessing the needs of both the community and the students.
A community assessment must complement a self-assessment and must reveal your ability to offer students a strong pedagogical framework for the work you will undertake. After all, we exist because our students entrust us with the responsibility to prepare them for law practice.
In working together with the public interest community, we also have an opportunity to focus on areas that pro bono lawyers or legal services programs do not have the capacity to address.
5. Southern California is a rich environment for social justice causes, but what do you perceive as a bright spot in our city for the advancement of communities on the margins?
There are many bright spots in this city, and many communities interested in partnering with law schools. Together, we can provide critical services to the community while we train the leaders and advocates of the future.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I admit that the one email I dread every September is the announcement of the MacArthur Fellows --nothing like feeling totally inadequate three weeks into the new school year by reading about the exceptional accomplishments of this extraordinarily creative and hardworking group of individuals. I personally much prefer the announcement of the Darwin Awards.
But this year when I saw the dreaded email from the MacArthur Foundation, I quickly noted that the clinical community’s own Sarah Deer has been selected! Professor Deer is on the faculty of William Mitchell College of Law and is co-director of their Indian Law Clinic. She is a tireless advocate who has been instrumental in developing legal protections for Native American victims of domestic violence. A description of Professor Deer’s work can be found here. A full list of this year’s MacArthur Fellows can be found here. Congratulations, Professor Deer, on a truly extraordinary and well-earned distinction!
September 16, 2014 in Clinic News, Clinic Profile, Current Affairs, Domestic Violence, Faculty Profile, Family Law, Job Opportunities & Fellowships, Promotions, Honors & Awards | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, August 8, 2014
My friend, Ken Dunham, begins his last semester teaching this week. He is retiring after a long, fruitful career first as an accountant, then a lawyer for decades, then reborn as a mediator and clinical law professor. I met Ken at Faulkner University Jones School of Law where I started teaching as the school’s first dedicated clinical director.
The truth is that Ken had been the clinical director there before there was a clinical program to direct. He started the first clinic there, JSL’s Mediation Clinic, even as he founded the school’s center on alternative dispute resolution and as he helped design and shape Alabama’s systems for alternative dispute resolution. He researched, designed and launched the school’s externship program, all before the school moved from state-accreditation to full approval by the ABA. Ken wisely navigated complex local politics, using his training and experience as a mediator and negotiator to help guide JSL through great and disruptive transitions.
Ken laid the foundation for the clinical program which I led for a long season as a rookie law professor, and he only ever encouraged and empowered me. We became and are fast friends, and he is a wise, calm and committed colleague with a heart for justice. We coached JSL’s ABA Negotiation Competition and the ABA Representation in Mediation Competition teams, and won a national championship in 2013. In these competitions, we traveled the country together with students, and I discovered Ken’s secret weapon. He knew really good restaurants in every single city we ever visited, and this is knowledge not to be underestimated.
Professor Ken Dunham is a loving, funny teacher, and he has had a formative effect on generations of students at JSL. He has transformed Alabama’s system and culture of alternative dispute resolution. He has been indispensable in the building of a strong and scrappy law school that serves Montgomery and Alabama with excellence. He is a great friend to many and is a wise mentor to young lawyers throughout the South. He is devoted as a husband and father, and he tells great stories without end. He is an excellent, practical lawyer.
Thoreau wrote, “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” Ken Dunham is moral, and he is good. He lives a full and abundant life, and he has been good for something. He has earned retirement, but he will strive to teach and love students for one more semester. His legacy is secure.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Today, Prof. Terry Adamson joins Pepperdine’s clinical faculty as our new Director of Externships. Prof. Adamson has been a valuable part of the law school’s community for years, as an adjunct, coach and, most recently, as our Distinguished Jurist in Residence. She is a former Commissioner for the Los Angeles County Superior Court where she served for nearly 20 years. She was a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney after law school at the University of San Diego.
Terry has a teacher’s heart and loves our students. She is an excellent, practical lawyer, and she has cultivated a vital network of friends and colleagues in Southern California. With our Prof. Harry Caldwell, she is the author of CRIMINAL PRETRIAL ADVOCACY.
We are working to expand and improve experiential learning at Pepperdine, with new programs, new space and new faculty. Terry is a vital part of our school and brings new depth and focus to our field placement program. As you have opportunity, please welcome her to the clinical community.