Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Second National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law

Via Patricia Voorhies:

The Second National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law, organized by the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law, will be June 13 - 15, 2014, at Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina.  From the website:

The symposium will focus innovations to improve legal education and enhance the relevance of lawyers in the rapidly changing 21st century. Presentations and discussions will emphasize effective and integrated experiential education to accommodate financial and structural challenges in law and legal education, addressing the following questions:

  • What do we mean by experiential learning?
  • What are the → Innovations → Barriers → Successes in producing integrated and effective curricula?
  • What ideas have the Alliance Working Groups developed since the Inaugural Symposium?
  • What perspective can other disciplines provide regarding our efforts?

The symposium is being hosted by the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law and Elon University School of Law. Visit to register and to learn more about the symposium. The registration fee is $100. Contact Jane Law at Elon University School of Law with any questions related to registration: or (336) 279-9325.


  • William C. Hubbard, President Elect, American Bar Association; Chair, Board of Directors, World Justice Project; Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
  • Bill Henderson, Professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law; named the second most influential person in legal education by National Jurist (2012 & 2013)
  • Experiential learning leaders from other disciplines including: architecture, business, engineering and medicine
  • Change and innovation experts from: Casa Myrna Vazquez, Inc., ExperiencePoint and Legal OnRamp
  • Law scholars and teachers from: CUNY School of Law; Elon University School of Law; Hamline School of Law; Indiana University Mauer School of Law; New York Law School; Northeastern University School of Law; Notre Dame Law School; NOVA Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center; University of Denver Sturm College of Law; University of Minnesota School of Law; Vermont Law School; Washington College of Law

May 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Five Questions for Tamar Birckhead

Last month the University of North Carolina School of Law appointed Professor Tamar Birckhead as Director of Clinical Programs.   Today she is the first subject of a new series for the blog, Five Questions, in which we ask professors to reflect on their work and life in the academy. 

1. What first drew you to clinical legal education?

I had been practicing as a public defender for ten years (in both state and federal court), and I was ready to take a step back and think about the broader questions and issues raised by my experiences in and observations of the criminal justice system.  Legal academia was very appealing to me, though I wanted to find a way to continue to spend time in the courtroom as well as serve the same client population.  I had loved my clinical experiences during law school and I come from a family of teachers, so clinical legal education seemed to be a natural fit.  Also, I was an English major in college and have always loved writing and research, so I have appreciated the opportunity to write traditional legal scholarship; several years ago, I switched to the tenure track and then became a tenured member of the faculty.  

2.  What advice about teaching would you give to yourself if you could chat with you as a rookie prof? 

I would emphasize that the “political” aspects of serving as a law school faculty member – including establishing good working relationships with administrators, deans, and faculty outside of the clinic – are vitally important, and that the way in which I teach my students to advocate on behalf of their clients is not necessarily the best strategy for approaching advocacy for one’s self or one’s program within the legal academy.  Most of my faculty colleagues are not and have not been practicing lawyers, meaning that the culture and the tenor of the institution can be very different than that which exists among litigators.  I’d encourage carefully picking one’s battles and remaining focused on the aspects of the job that I most enjoy – working closely with and serving as a mentor to my students, advancing social justice, and contributing to the welfare of underserved communities.  In other words, I’ve mellowed and matured within the past ten years; I try to maintain a positive attitude no matter what the circumstance and to enter potentially difficult situations with an expectation that understanding and agreement can and will be reached.       

 3. What adjustments in your own work do you anticipate as you take responsibility for directing the program?

As the director of clinical programs, I now supervise six students per semester in the Youth Justice Clinic instead of eight.  I also still teach the companion course to the Clinic with my wonderful colleague, Barbara Fedders, and I wouldn’t want to give that up.  I do anticipate, however, that given my administrative responsibilities it will be much more difficult to be a productive scholar, though I also don’t want to stop contributing to the conversation around issues of juvenile justice and the criminalization of poverty. 

4.  What plans do you have for UNC’s clinical program?

I served as interim director this past year, and I have tried to develop more collaboration and cohesion among the seven clinical faculty who teach in our five clinics and to improve morale.  We began the school year with an all-day faculty retreat, during which we discussed our short and long-term professional goals, our individual and collective needs as clinical faculty, and our ideas for what it takes to be a great clinical program.  We had nine monthly clinic faculty meetings, focusing on such topics as clinical teaching, scholarship (clinical and traditional), supervisory rounds, and administrative issues and concerns.  We also held meetings with other units in the law school, thereby building bridges beyond the Clinic by opening lines of communication and encouraging collaboration with faculty from the Externship Program and the Writing, Learning, and Research Center as well as meeting with the staff from the Development Office to discuss fundraising for Clinical Programs via an electronic mail solicitation in the fall.

Initiatives that directly benefitted the sixty-five students participating in UNC’s Clinical Programs this year included an all-clinic case rounds session, which was introduced in the spring and will be repeated once/semester next year, and an end-of-year awards celebration and luncheon in which each faculty member spoke of the work their clinic students had accomplished and the Second Annual CLEA Outstanding Student Award was presented.    We also restructured our fall orientation meeting for students and our clinic informational and lottery meetings in the spring so that each faculty member addressed the group and a panel of current clinic students spoke about their experiences and took questions.

As for administration and staff, in July we hired a new program assistant who worked with our current program assistant under the supervision of our business manager to ensure that our program runs smoothly and efficiently.  We successfully implemented a new phone system, allowing for individual voicemail accounts for each student, and we abandoned our old intercom system.  Working in collaboration with Communications, our website has been updated (see  and the work of our clinic faculty and students was highlighted in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of Carolina Law alumni magazine, which focused on the ways in which the law school serves the people and communities of North Carolina.  

In addition to the new initiatives described above, we have several other developments planned for the upcoming year. We recently began a Clinical Programs blog, which will serve as the primary source for a twice/annual electronic newsletter to be distributed to the UNC Law community as well as the national law school clinic listserv (see  Also, we have partnered with faculty in the N.C. State University School of Social Work to serve as a field placement for an MSW student for the 2014-15 academic year.  We have hired a second year MSW student, who will be on site for 24 hours/week, primarily assisting law students in the Youth Justice Clinic with advocacy on behalf of children in the delinquency court and school disciplinary proceedings in which we appear.  We are also in the planning stages of refurbishing the clinical suite and are outfitting two of our rooms with video cameras that will record client interviews for both real-time viewing by faculty supervisors as well as subsequent review by students.  

In short, we are building on the expansion of our Clinical Programs in recent years with initiatives that enhance the quality of the educational experience for our students and, as a result, the rigor with which we represent our clients.    

5. Since 2004, have you cultivated a thorough hatred for Duke basketball?

I can answer that question with only four words: LET’S GO TAR HEELS!

May 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Please Forget Me in the Morning

A high-impact decision was issued by the European Court of Justice today when it held that Google must adhere to the requests of individuals to erase links to information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” (  The case was brought by a Spanish man who did not want an auction notice for a repossessed home he had owned to be retrieved in response to searches of his name.  The emerging legal concept, the “right to be forgotten,” is largely European and grows from the region’s well-established and widely-recognized body of privacy rights.  

George Washington University Law Professor Jeffrey Rosen, who is also the Legal Affairs Editor of The New Republic, calls the “right to be forgotten” the “biggest threat to free speech on the Internet in the coming decade” (  A more comprehensive treatment of this right was published by Steven Bennett and can be found here:  Professor Rosen’s response to the emergence of the right to be forgotten is hardly surprising in a society like ours whose passion for free speech is only matched by our love of guns and money.  But at what price? 

Viviane  Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship praised the ruling as a step out of the “digital stone age.”  That stone age is one in which our children are often among the most vulnerable.  Over ten years ago, Michigan State University Law Professor Kevin Saunders published a book examining the effects of the First Amendment on our nation’s children, Saving Our Children from the First Amendment  (  Since then, we have witnessed an exploding occurrence of cyberbullying, sextortion, sexting, and exchange of sex abuse images involving our children and youth.  While there are clearly exceptions to First Amendment freedoms for some of the challenges our children and youth face in the Digital Age, the fact remains that many of our children will carry a burden that we have never experienced as their youthful impulses, indiscretions, and, in some cases, victimizations, will be forever published and available on the Internet for others to witness again and again, unless the United States begins to more widely recognize a right to privacy.

Who among us isn’t thankful that those cellulose acetate images of a certain Spring Break in the Bahamas or that post-college graduation train ride across Europe or the election night victory party are degrading in someone’s attic right now?  After all, as Scientific American reminded us yesterday, even the brains of mice, Chilean rodents, and guinea pigs know that some things are better forgotten (



May 13, 2014 in Children, Current Affairs, Juvenile Justice, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Criticism and Deconstruction, Imagination and Virtue

A former student, and excellent young lawyer, Ashley Norgard, sent this piece my way with these words:  “This article makes so much sense to me. A liberal arts undergrad and normal law school curriculum teach us to find the weaknesses. It is only through clinics and mediation that we are forced to answer the ‘so what? What's your proposed solution?’”

Michael S. Roth, Young Minds in Critical Condition, in the New York Times's Opinionator blog:

Liberal learning depends on absorption in compelling work. It is a way to open ourselves to the various forms of life in which we might actively participate. When we learn to read or look or listen intensively, we are, at least temporarily, overcoming our own blindness by trying to understand an experience from another’s point of view. We are not just developing techniques of problem solving; we are learning to activate potential, and often to instigate new possibilities. . . . 

Liberal education must not limit itself to critical thinking and problem solving; it must also foster openness, participation and opportunity. It should be designed to take us beyond the campus to a life of ongoing, pragmatic learning that finds inspiration in unexpected sources, and increases our capacity to understand and contribute to the world — and reshape it, and ourselves, in the process.

This is right.  We have become experts in deconstruction and criticism, and this is good.   What we have come to lack is the imagination to turn deconstruction into reconstruction, the building of something better in the place of the flawed, to generate justice in the place of injustice.   We often leave our students in a posture of ambivalence, irony and detachment, rather than empowering them with a vision of what might be.  

Law school has become adept at stripping students of their humane, spiritual impulses for justice, fairness and imagination, yet we have an essential role of professional formation, not just academic deconstruction.   We teach them to think like lawyers, but we also must show them how to be lawyers, public citizens equipped to serve communities so that they flourish and thrive. 

J.N. Armstrong, first president of my alma mater, Harding University, said this about courageous teaching and our visions of justice:  

All progress of truth -- scientific truth, political truth, or religious truth -- all truth -- has depended on free speech and progressive teachers who were not afraid to teach their honest convictions.

Let us take some risks.  Let us be engaged in the pragmatic world and see through others' eyes.  May we teach our students the craft of criticism, but let us not neglect the arts of imagination and virtue.   We may not be able predict or assess what the students and we will learn, but it may be beautiful.  

May 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 12, 2014

CFP for SALT's Teaching Conference

The Society of American Law Teachers has issued its Call for Papers for its annual teaching conference on Oct. 10 - 11.  (It'll be a busy weekend if you're in Malibu and Las Vegas.)


Legal Education in a Time of Change:
Challenges and Opportunities

Call for Papers and Proposals

Society of American Law Teachers—SALT Teaching Conference
October 10-11, 2014, at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Boyd School of Law

Debates over the value of a legal education rage in blogs, in the comment sections across the internet, and even at faculty meetings in law schools.  Although self-examination is a necessary component of any reform in legal education, this critique, often shouted in hyperbolic terms, is discouraging many progressive students from even considering law as a career.

SALT recognizes the importance of increasing access to legal education, especially as income inequality increases, as resegregation impacts public schools and communities, and government becomes more polarized.  SALT remains deeply committed to ensuring that membership in the legal profession reflects the rich diversity of this country, that we engage students throughout law school with relevant and innovative teaching methodologies, and that the academy itself be inclusive and model civil society by building consensus and community.

As we go through these transformational times, we invite you to help envision what law school can and should be.  SALT seeks to reframe this polarized debate about the value of a legal education, rejuvenate legal education, and reform the profession to ensure its path towards social justice and access to legal services for all. 

SALT welcomes a broad range of presentations, particularly those that incorporate the conference theme.  The following questions are illustrative of just some of the issues that could be addressed:

  • How do we ensure that there is a next generation of lawyers and law professors who are committed to social justice? 
  • How will we attract and guide progressive, diverse students who can bring their varied perspectives to define justice, fairness, equality, and democracy in a global age?
  • How and what do we teach to promote the use of law to build consensus and community to solve economic, social, political, environmental, and global issues that perpetuate inequality and exclusion? 
  • How does the current legal education crisis operate within the context of the neoliberal university?
  • How do we contribute to the legacy of how law can and should be used to define civil democracy and global responsibility?
  • How do we help transform the practice of law so that students can engage in careers that are personally and socially rewarding? 
  • How do we unite scholars of doctrine and practice in our common goals of developing the law and its underlying legal theory toward justice?


(h/t Tax Prof Blog)

May 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teaching the Taming of Tigers

While on the plane to Chicago for the AALS Clinical Section conference the last week of April, I began a book that has long topped my "to read" stack: Life of Pi by Yann Martel. On the hotel gym's elliptical and cycling machines during workouts squeezed in between conference sessions, I paged through it, which made the workouts more pleasant by far.  And in the taxi to the airport home I raced to the end, savoring the last pages at the United Airlines counter before stashing it in my about-to-be checked bag. 

Normally I give away books upon finishing them.  I took this book to the conference fully intending to pass it on to a colleague to be determined. Sharing is caring, after all.  But this book I could not share.  Because as I simultaneously experienced the conference and the book I realized I wanted to write about their connections.

The tiger is both character and theme  in Life of Pi, a parable-like novel depicting a teenager lost at sea in a lifeboat with a tiger in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  In an ironic twist that blindsides the reader like a gut-punch [spoiler alert], the novel's ending leaves the reader wondering if the boy was actually ever with a tiger at all.  Or perhaps he is using the story of the tiger to explain his own behavior at sea, which is bewildering at best.  I was struck, as I often am in my work teaching students how to practice family law, wondering what was the truth about this story. 

Upon reflection, of course, I reminded myself the story was just that--a story, fiction.  Several times I actually scrutinized the cover for the words "A Novel" and there they were, every time, just below the title.  Yet the Author's Note at the book's outset describes Yann Martel's journey in writing the book, including a visit with an elderly man in Pondicherry, India (where the book is set) who told the author "I have a story that will make you believe in God."  Martel finishes the Author's Note, which immediately precedes Chapter One, with descriptions of the old man's story that foreshadow the novel's events.  Is this a novel or not?!  my lawyer-brain screamed.  What is the truth here?!  

This naturally led me back to ponder my own teaching about truth, and story, in my law clinic. Storytelling as a lawyering tool and a component of client-centeredness are themes my students hear from orientation throughout their time in the clinic.  As for the concept of truth, I know it's mercurial--I even title one seminar lesson "What is the Utility of a Search for Truth?" 

What did any of this have to do with taming tigers?  Quite a lot.  Earlier I mentioned the tiger was both character and theme.  As a character, the tiger in Life of Pi represents tremendous challenges faced by the lost teen sailor Pi. Pi's objective is to survive.  The tiger stands between him and survival, literally and figuratively.  The boy cannot even get to the lifeboat's provisions at first because the tiger is positioned in the way.  Pi overcomes this first challenge, which paves the way for him to cope with each subsequent challenge.  Without those lifeboat provisions he would have perished in the first few days. 

To overcome the challenges at sea--in other words to Tame the Tiger--Pi uses many of the same methods we teach our students.   He plans out his goals for each task, the options available to pursue those goals, and the pros and cons of each option.  This analysis takes considerable time, but Pi exercises patience.  Pi never begins a task without careful planning.  To better understand The Tiger, Pi uses tactics that in client-centered lawyering we call "walking in the shoes" or "parallel universe" thinking [for more on that, check out the writing of Yale Law Professor Jean Koh Peters].  What is The Tiger experiencing? What is The Tiger's mental and physical nature?  How does that affect the Tiger's behavior?

Throughout this greuling experience, Pi grows and evolves just as our clinical law students grow and evolve.  In one passage after accomplishing something that gave him some space and time without The Tiger, Pi describes a "euphoria.  My skin healed.  My pains and aches left me.  Put simply, I returned to life."  It reminds me of certain journal entries I have received from students, discussing the profound professional growth they have experienced while serving their clinic clients.

Life of Pi is an almost mystical written work.  And although the practice of law is anything but mystical, I believe when we teach law students the resiliency and self-awareness to develop into client-centered lawyers, we are making a little bit of magic happen.  We are teaching the taming of tigers.  

May 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Save the Date: Pepperdine's Conference on Domestic Violence in Higher Education

Pepperdine University School of Law will host Student Life, Relationships and the Law: Confronting Domestic Violence in Higher Education on October 10 – 11, 2014, on campus in Malibu, California.  

The conference will convene experts from across disciplines to discuss the phenomenon of domestic violence and intimate partner violence on campus.    Panelists and speakers will consider institutional responses in law, policy and culture to confront and reduce abuse in intimate relationships in our institutions of higher education. 

Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.   More details will follow as we confirm plans and speakers.     

May 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Immigration Debates: Elizabeth Keyes and the Worthiness Narrative

Following up on my last post, I am learning much from this article by Liz Keyes, Assistant Professor of Law in the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Baltimore:  Defining American: The DREAM Act, Immigration Reform and Citizenship, 14 NEVADA L.J. 101 (2014).

Here is the abstract from SSRN:

The grassroots movement propelling the DREAM Act and immigration reform forward reveals how the definition of citizenship is undergoing a dramatic transformation, in ways both inspiring and troubling. The DREAM movement depends upon the compelling but exceptional stories of passionate, high-achieving, law-abiding youth who already define themselves as being American, and worthy of legal status. Situating this narrative in the rich literature of citizenship, the article shows how the DREAM movement effectively exposes the disjuncture between the DREAMers' identity as Americans and their lack of legal immigration status. The article celebrates how this narrative succeeds as a contrast to the prevailing political discourse and how the movement, led by youth from all corners of the globe, radically upends America’s history of deeming people of color unworthy of (and ineligible for) citizenship. The article also presents some unintended consequences of the movement, however, suggesting that the worthiness-based narrative strategy adopted by the DREAMers is both produced by and contributing to ever-narrowing standards for who is deemed worthy of inclusion. These narrowing standards may have negative consequences for the expansiveness of immigration reform more broadly, and even for citizenship beyond the field of immigration. This article explores how the worthiness narrative, which implicitly acknowledges a concept of unworthiness, inadvertently connects to attempts to restrict notions of citizenship, specifically by limiting the principle of jus soli citizenship, extending felon disenfranchisement and instituting voter identification laws.


May 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Immigration Debates and a Working Theory of Citizenship

I am not an immigration lawyer, not a specialist or a real activist; my life is largely insulated from the burdens of migration and a life without status, except that I enjoy the comfort and sustenance provided by hard-working immigrants. 

I am an American lawyer with an intense interest in the present crisis and the fleeting moments of possibility before us.  My family and I marched alongside our neighbors of faith in Montgomery against Alabama’s awful HB56.   My friends at Alabama Appleseed joined with others in the litigation that ultimately dismantled the law.  

This spring at the 2014 Christian Scholars Conference at Lipscomb University, I will participate in two panels that will engage potential paths for reform.  People of good will may disagree about the options before us, but no one is satisfied with the injustice of the status quo.   In this project, I have considered more closely my own ideas about citizenship, what it means, who deserves it, from which it springs.  

Often in the immigration debates, we seem to assume that citizenship is a prize for the worthy, primarily intended for its benefits, to bestow rights, entitlements, profit and power.  In such a framework, to share citizenship with immigrants means to divide a zero-sum pie, to give them what belongs to us.   If citizenship is a golden ticket to a private club, then whoever does not have it is the less-than Other.   This is short-sighted and destructive.  

Here is an excerpt from my responsive essay prepared for the Christian Scholars Conference, with light edits, on a theory of citizenship and its implications for justice.  These certainly are not original ideas, and I welcome responses, ideas and reflections to make them better.   

            Citizenship is not a prize or gift bestowed on the most worthy.  Citizenship is not merely a means to access the rights and entitlements of the nation.  Almost all of us are accidental (or providential) Americans, and we enjoy the privileges and immunities of citizenship by virtue of our laws and constitution.   Citizenship is something greater than membership in an exclusive club.1    We are a republic, so the benefit of citizenship is also the burden of self-government, participation in our civil society and submission to the Rule of Law because we have the rights make our own.2

            Citizenship in this republic imposes duties and obligations, and it calls us to engagement as our own sovereigns.   Citizenship is not an invitation to the Star Chamber or the Privy Council.  Citizenship is the calling to self-governing, civic responsibility, the high callings of voting, serving on juries, running for office, paying taxes to ensure the elements of peaceful, safe civilization.   Citizenship is making laws by which we all must abide.  

            Just as the owner of property has more incentive to maintain, improve and invest in the property than does a tenant, so does the citizen have a greater incentive and role in the well being of the nation than does the resident alien.   Citizenship indeed is a privilege, but it is also imposes a greater burden.  Citizenship is and ought to be more than a utilitarian means to profit and personal prosperity.   

            Thus, drawing the migrant laborer, the immigrant, toward citizenship is an incentive toward legal compliance, toward greater civic responsibility and investment, toward the virtues of self-government.   For the worker who has stolen across our borders to labor, to learn, to build, we should welcome her to citizenship so that she can be formed with us, her neighbors, by the calling and burden of self-government and social engagement.  To leave her ever on the margins, to leave her ever as a tenant, we leave her without the incentive to invest and to seek the good of the republic.3  She would be essentially stateless forever and subject to the endemic stress of temporary status and instability, all of which reduces her capacity to thrive in and for the nation.

            As a matter of legal policy, to promote the Rule of Law and the virtues of self-governance in the Republic, we should move immigrant without status toward citizenship for their good and for ours.4   The nation grows stronger as more of those within its borders feel the obligations and calling of citizenship.  

        The immigrant who labors, lives and learns in our land will invest more, will flourish more surely, will contribute more to society when they are citizens than if they exist ever on the margins of civil society and public life.   Many immigrants have worked far harder and have risked far more to enjoy the fruits of American society than most of us who were born to it. 

            Therefore, a policy that creates a status between undocumented and citizen may be better than the status quo, but it is not the best policy.    [Some call] for incremental moves toward citizenship that create incentives for the immigrants and safeguards for society.  This is good, because citizenship for the dispossessed is better for the immigrant and for the nation.    Building a massive class of permanent half-citizens will perpetuate injustice and will not create incentives to improve, grow, participate and serve the nation.   A path to citizenship is the more just policy, and it is the best economic, political and social policy, too.   This is not merely justice for the immigrant but justice for the nation, a reconciliation that promotes our common flourishing as a self-governing people.   


1 Citizenship is many things:

Citizenship as a value and a construct has been conceptualized variously as the status and role that define the authority and the obligations of individual members of a community (Cooper 1984); peers who share equally in the distribution of authority (Flathman 1981; Walzer 1970), political status, and role guaranteed in terms of qualifications, rights, and obligations by constitutions and statutes (Lowi 1981); man in society (Mosher 1941); a result of the interaction between the legal and ethical dimensions of the Constitution (Long 1981); an expression of one’s membership in a political community (Kymlicka and Norman 1994); civil “temper” coupled with attitudes and values concerning the nature of political  authority (Sniderman 1981); an institutional status from within which a person can address governments and other citizens and make claims about human rights (Van Gunsteren 1988); an embodiment of virtue and moral character (Hart 1984); and an enhanced and ennobled public motivated by a shared concern for the common good (Frederickson 1991).

Kalu N. Kalu, Of Citizenship, Virtue and Administrative Imperative: Deconstructing Aristotelian Civic Republicanism, 63 Public Administration Review 418 (2003).

2 Alexander Hamilton rested his argument against George III on this principle in his pamphlet, A Full Measure of Vindication of the Measure of Congress (1774):

The only distinction between freedom and slavery consists in this:  In the former state a man is governed by the laws to which he has given his consent, either in person or by his representative, in the latter, he is governed by the will of another.  In the one case, his life and property are his own; in the other, they depend upon the pleasure of his master.  It is easy to discern which of these two states is preferable.  No man in his senses can hesitate to be free, rather than a slave.

If we build a policy that exploits the labor, talent and willingness of the immigrant, without giving her a share of self-governance, we risk imposing the same grievances that gave rise to our own revolution. 

3 Our systems of government determine the shape and virtue of citizenship:

Following Aristotle, Rousseau, and John Stuart Mill, many modern philosophers assume that political participation itself will teach people responsibility and toleration. They place their fate in the activity of participation as the means whereby individuals become accustomed to the duties of citizenship. They believe that as political participation enlarges the minds of individuals, familiarizes them with interests that lie beyond the immediacy of personal circumstances and environment, they will acknowledge that public concerns are the proper ones to pay attention to (Oldfield 1990). However, in light of the political realities of the modern state, political participation can hardly be taken for granted as a universally binding or desirable axiom. Political participation can be a result of the scope or nature of political or civil liberties granted to the citizens by the state. When these liberties are circumscribed— say, in an oligarchy, dictatorship, or other forms of authoritarian systems, or where severe discriminatory practices have become institutionalized—the vigorous exercise of political participation as a  condition of authentic citizenship becomes inconsequential.

Kalu at 421.

4 As a nation, we are deeply invested in the virtue of all of our neighbors among us:

[T]he health and stability of a modern democracy depends, not only on the justice of its 'basic structure' but also on the qualities and attitudes of its citizens: for example, their sense of identity and how they view potentially competing forms of national, regional, ethnic, or religious identities; their ability to tolerate and work together with others who are different from them- selves; their desire to participate in the political process in order to promote the public good and hold political authorities accountable; their willingness to show self-restraint and exercise personal responsibility in their economic demands and in personal choices-which affect their health and the environment. Without citizens who possess these qualities, democracies become difficult to govern, even unstable. As Habermas notes, "the institutions of constitutional freedom are only worth as much as a population makes of them" (Habermas 1992, p. 7).

Will Kymlicka and Wayne Norman, Return of the Citizen: A Survey of Recent Work on Citizenship Theory, 2 Ethics 352,  352-353 (1994).

May 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Southern Clinical Conference: Call for Proposals

Via Patty Roberts at William & Mary: 


Southern Clinical Conference : Call for Proposals

 “Assessment, Outcomes and the Value of Clinical Legal Education”

 Deadline for Proposals: June 20, 2014

 The Planning Committee for the 2014 Southern Clinical Conference invites you to submit proposals for this year’s conference, which will take place from Thursday evening, October 23 to mid-day Saturday, October 25 at the William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia. Details on registration and lodging will follow soon.

 We invite you to submit proposals addressing “Assessment, Outcomes and the Value of Clinical Legal Education.” Clinical legal educators can and do serve as leaders in the current era of reform of law school curricula. Law schools must determine how to meet the American Bar Association’s mandate for an “outcome-measured” approach to legal education. The Best Practices Project will soon issue a major new addition to its recommendations for legal education. Law faculty across the country are seeking to integrate new approaches to teaching law students, under pressure to graduate ‘practice-ready’ lawyers in an era of declining enrollment

 At the heart of these reform efforts lie long-standing questions: How do we assess both our students and our pedagogy? What outcomes do we seek for our students and our schools? How can we measure those outcomes reliably and effectively? These questions lead to more fundamental ones: what value does clinical legal education have in the current reform movement? Are we cost effective, and on what measures? How do we best articulate the value of our work both for the education of lawyers and for the pursuit of social justice?

How do we retain our value in the current era of fiscal constraint?

 We invite proposals that address these and related questions. We encourage applicants to think broadly about the topic. For example, proposals might focus on:

New or updated research on the assessment of experiential and specifically clinical learning.

Workshops on how to influence the transition to an “outcome-measured” curriculum at your schools.

Best practices, novel concepts or just workable approaches for how to assess our students and the effectiveness of our experiential courses.

Critique of the reform movement itself: does the focus on pedagogy and outcomes help or hamper our pursuit of other values, including service and social justice?

Evaluation of different types of clinical design or method (including direct service, field placement and hybrid models) as vehicles for improving assessment, achieving outcomes, or encouraging social justice.

Discussions of how to describe and increase the “value” of clinics as line-items in a law school budget.

Appraisals of integrated or sequenced designs for experiential education as ways of accomplishing designated outcomes.

Descriptions of collaborations between faculty (clinical or otherwise) and other stakeholders in law schools that affect the value of clinical learning.

Assessments of changing bar admission requirements as they affect law school curricula by altering the traditional “bar passage” outcome.

Questioning whether regional differences cause different approaches to assessment, outcome measurement or valuing clinical education? Are these questions the same in the South as opposed to other regions?


We welcome proposals for concurrent sessions, plenaries, works-in-progress and workshops devoted to these themes. With sufficient interest, we expect to offer sessions devoted to scholarly works-in-progress, with commentary and support to both new and experienced scholars. (Proposals for works-in-progress need not be limited to the conference theme.) We expect to offer sessions of varying length, intermingled with plenary discussions and opportunities for free-form discussion and networking.



In general, the organizing committee will favor proposals that address the conference theme, are relevant to conference attendees, are well-defined and focused, are timely and important, and show care and thoughtfulness in development.

We value diversity, both in the composition of presenting teams, and in your topic’s presentation of diversity as a concern in your work. Diversity includes gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, geographical location, years of experience, type of school, type of program and other factors.



Proposals should be submitted by e-mail to Laurie Ciccone at no later than June 20, 2014.  Please contact her for the preferred cover sheet and template for proposals.

May 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Clinics in the Cloud, the "Technology Question," and Teaching Technological Professionalism

If the law clinic listserv is any indicator, the “technology question” is alive and well in clinics across the country.  Many are using the summer months to do the good and complicated work of integrating new and updated client and document management technologies. In addition to the important (and possibly impossible) question of how to set up a “fail-proof” system, I’d like to suggest a second question:

“How might we use the” technology question” to teach technological professionalism?”

As we pour over the professional responsibility rules, work with our University IT departments, confer with each other on the listserv, and choose our management systems, I hope we won't confine the experience to our departmental meetings and summer objectives. Instead, let’s bring it all to the classroom.

I suggest this for a few reasons.  First, our students will often know more about the technology than we do. The Millennial students in our clinics are digital natives, and for them technology is as natural and necessary as breathing. They are the experts on what shortcuts or workarounds will be most tempting to them.  Second, these responsibilities will sit squarely on their shoulders in short time. Part of becoming a lawyer in today’s digital age is knowing the duties that come along with technology use. Out of nature or necessity, many of today’s students are going out on their own. We can no longer expect them to learn the ins and outs of technological professionalism  from their future employer. Third, while our students are familiar with technology, they often use new applications without thinking twice. Our role is to encourage and model critical thinking in regard to technology and its relationship to our professional responsibility. In essence, it is our job to teach that “second thought.”  We have a great opportunity to address these issues by working out the technology question together  in a transparent and collaborative way.

The process, messy as it is, can be a wonderful teacher. Every semester, I present the “technology question” to my students as if it were brand new….because in many ways, it is.  After providing them with the the applicable rules and corresponding best practice articles, as well as a series of technology hypotheticals I created to tease out some of the more frequent missteps, I ask the students to troubleshoot our current solution.  Where are the holes?  What have we missed? What new technologies or applications will weaken our solution or make it obsolete? How would you change our user agreement? What apps do you think would be helpful to our work? How can we assess new technologies? What will you do in practice?

The conversation often results in enlightening observations, pushback on assumptions, and a slew of new issues to short, it does just what I hope it will do. Our clinic conversations then inform our department’s ongoing conversation with University IT. This ongoing process, as technology shifts and changes, challenges us to remain relevant and informed. Clinics, once again, are in a wonderful position to prepare our students for the real world of legal practice.

(As Warren Binford so kindly pointed out in her post "Clinics in the Cloud," I presented on this process with Pepperdine University's Chief Information Security Officer, Dr. Kim Cary, at the 2012 AALS Clinical Conference. I later developed our work into an article, Millennials, Technology, and Professional Responsibility: Training a New Generation in Technological Professionalism, 37 J. Legal Prof. 199 (2013). The article includes teaching tools and a sample user agreement that I hope others will find helpful and improve upon.)

I’d love to know how others are encouraging technological professionalism. Care to share an idea or two?

May 8, 2014 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Problematic Award for Experiential Professor of the Year

Above The Law, in its particular style, here via Tax Prof Blog, reports this story from Washington University, in which Prof. Mae Quinn declined to accept an award as “Experiential Professor of the Year.”   As quoted in the article, Prof. Quinn wrote to the school, “.. . I find being named ‘Experiential Professor of the Year’ both offensive and marginalizing,” calling it “express ghetto-ization and limitation through labeling.”

Context is everything, and, per the article, this has been an on-going discussion at WashU.   I understand and am sympathetic to Prof. Quinn’s point, although I have not decided whether I share it.   No one should venture to judge her stand, the school or its SBA, without direct relationships with them all. 

This moment illuminates some critical, perennial questions, endemic to questions of rank, status, roles and the work of law schools.  

As clinics and experiential education become more central to law school curricula, should we not honor the particular craft of teaching through experience?    On the contrary, in light of historic hierarchies in law schools, does the appellation perpetuate faculty castes and inhibit the reform of legal education? 

Is the award a way to ensure honor to clinical teachers, or does it ensure that we will not be considered "real" professors?  

Does the award rightly praise the important and specialized work of teachers, for employing pedagogy rare among “podium” teachers, or does it really marginalize what should be central?  

Context, institutional culture, personal relationships and motivation all matter when discerning what might be at the heart of the award and Prof. Quinn’s stand, and we all should weigh them carefully as we build programs and teach in our own schools.  Advocacy takes many forms as we seek to discern how to advance justice and good teaching. 

May 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Service-Learning in the Law School Curriculum

In my first post about service-learning, I asked the question: who is serving whom? In this post, I want to reflect on why I think service-learning is important in the law school curriculum, and how it is different from and expands upon the skills and values we teach in law school clinics.

My first experience with service learning was almost twenty years ago, when I was an undergraduate student at Saint Mary's College. As part of our exchange with our neighbor, the University of Notre Dame, I participated in several alternative spring break experiences through Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns. In fact, it was my participation in the Migrant Experiences Seminar as both an undergraduate and as a law student that set me on the path toward immigrant advocacy in my legal career.

Experiential learning generally - and service-learning in particular - has recently gained more traction in the law school curriculum. But what is the specific value of integrating service-learning more fully into the law school experience, and how is it different from other experiential learning opportunities? My UDC-DCSL colleague, Professor Susan Waysdorf - who has written extensively about service-learning in the law school curriculum - describes service-learning as programs that "place primary value on the service contribution and on the humanitarian participation of the students and teachers."

Professor Waysdorf's definition of service-learning resonates with me because it emphasizes the value of service-learning in the law school curriculum not just to our students, but to us as educators, as well. What do we, as teachers, gain by "giving up" our spring break to spend time with our students on these trips? What are we ourselves learning and teaching our students about the skills and values of the legal profession, and how do we distinguish it from what we teach in clinic?

I often describe clinic as a lab - in clinic, our students are able to work on a small number of cases chosen specifically for their pedagogical value, in a controlled environment and under close supervision. In service-learning, the set-up is dramatically different - both students and teachers are taken out of the safety of the clinic environment, and put in a situation where they are required to be vulnerable. Service-learning allows us to learn from those whom we are "serving" in a way that makes the experience powerful and disarming, precisely because of its lack of structure (in comparison to both clinics specifically and the law school curriculum as a whole).

In my final post in this series, I will share some stories of our service-learning experiences on the Arizona/Mexico border, and reflect further on how the addition of such opportunities to the law school curriculum can be profoundly life-changing for both students and teachers.

Recommended Readings:

Teaching the Reflective Approach Within the Service-Learning Model, Laurie Morin and Susan L. Waysdorf, 62 Journal of Legal Education 4 (2013).

Returning to New Orleans: Reflections on the Post-Katrina Recovery, Disaster Relief, and the Struggle for Social Justice, Susan L. Waysdorf, 12 Univ. of the District of Columbia Law Review 3 (2009).

Katrina Disaster Family Law: The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Families and Family Law, Mc-Carthy-Brown and Waysdorf, 42 Indiana Law Review 721 (2009).

May 8, 2014 in Clinic Students and Graduates, Current Affairs, Immigration, Interdisciplinary Programs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

On Surviving Law School

While many of you were engaging in critical discussions about how to become better clinicians last week in Chicago, I was presenting at an attorney training on domestic violence and missing my favorite conference of the year. At the training, I participated (and yes, occasionally eavesdropped) on conversations about law school experiences. Several attorneys disclosed how challenging their law school years had been – not because of the workload or the competition – but because of what they perceived as an environment that was hostile to their personal ideals and values. One participant expressed her belief that her legal education denigrated the same social justice values that propelled her towards that very legal education. Another presenter described her prestigious law school as a boot camp – where they tried to tear down the individual in order to build up the lawyer, stripping students of sentimental ideals such as fairness and justice and discouraging critical thinking about privilege and hierarchy. And no, none of them were familiar with Duncan Kennedy. I asked.

This is not the first time I (nor, I suspect, most of you) have heard such comments. Several law students I interviewed about their volunteer work following a tornado articulated sharp critiques of the values imparted through law school. A student in a Public Interest Seminar told a story of a Torts professor who warned students not to use the “f-word” in his class - by which he meant “fair” - and the profound impact that directive had on her participation and confidence. A 3L recently responding to a request for advice from an admitted student passionately implored her to remember who she is today and to fight to remain that person every day of the next three years.

Public interest drift in law schools is well-documented, as is the depression experienced by many law students, so these are not new observations. Nonetheless, I find myself pondering the same old deep, dark (and admittedly melodramatic) questions. Is law school something that some students simply have to survive or endure in order to achieve their long-term goals? Are we squandering one of our best natural resources – the idealism of bright, young adults? Why can’t we teach students to “think like a lawyer” without destroying the social justice motivations that brought them to law school? Are we complicit in a law school culture that at best remains silent, and at worst, denigrates issues of social justice? What more can we, as clinicians, do to make the law school curriculum more responsive to students who believe a law degree is still a tool they can use (to quote one incoming student) “to make the world a better place?”

May 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Caring Professors and Student Success

In an age of pervasive assessments, technology everywhere, MOOCs and a proliferation of online options for education, perhaps all we need is love.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

College graduates, whether they went to a hoity-toity private college or a midtier public, had double the chances of being engaged in their work and were three times as likely to be thriving in their well-being if they connected with a professor on the campus who stimulated them, cared about them, and encouraged their hopes and dreams.


College graduates had double the odds of being engaged at work and three times the odds of thriving in Gallup's five elements of well-being if they had had "emotional support"—professors who "made me excited about learning," "cared about me as a person," or "encouraged my hopes and dreams." Graduates who had done a long-term project that took a semester or more, who had held an internship, or who were extremely involved in extracurricular activities or organizations had twice the odds of being engaged at work and an edge in thriving in well-being.

May 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Massachusetts: Walking the Walk



Many state bar associations talk about the importance of Access to Justice Initiatives.  At times, there can be more conversation than action around this extremely important and increasingly serious problem.  Needless to say, I was genuinely surprised and excited to learn about Massachusetts’ decision to include an Access to Justice Topic to the list of potential topics that can be tested on the MA Bar Exam. 

The Proposal

In the fall of 2013, the Mass Access to Justice Commission unanimously recommended that the Board of Bar Examination adopt a proposal, recommending the addition of an Access to Justice Topic.  You can read the full proposal here.  The excerpt below highlights some of the Commission’s reasoning:

The Bar Examination’s goal of ensuring that new lawyers are minimally competent to enter the profession also requires that new lawyers are prepared to solve the civil problems most often faced by low and middle income people. Given the changing nature of the legal profession and the Justice Gap, it is essential that new lawyers in Massachusetts be prepared to handle cases and provide assistance in the key substantive areas in which the Justice Gap is most prominent.”  

Substantive Law

A recent article in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reported on the substantive areas of law that could be covered: “According to new Rule 3:01, §3, the areas of law to be tested in the field may include: landlord-tenant, including evictions, affirmative defenses and counterclaims, and fee-shifting statutes; foreclosures; divorce, including child custody, support and visitation; termination of parental rights; domestic abuse; guardianship and conservatorship; consumer matters, including debt collection, predatory lending, and unfair or deceptive practices; health care proxies; power of attorney; advance directives; due process doctrines related to fair hearings, civil commitment and civil right to counsel; representation of nonprofit organizations; and ethical rules, including the Rules of Professional Responsibility 1.2, 1.5, 1.14, 1.15, 4.3, 6.1, 6.5 and limited assistance representation.”

Follow The Leader

While I am giving a huge round of applause to Massachusetts for recognizing the importance of the “Justice Gap” and for implementing a change that will have significant impact on our students, legal education, the profession and in our communities, I would be remiss if I did not urge us to consider submitting similar proposals to our state bar associations.   The Access to Justice Commission recognized that this was an important first step for their state but more importantly that this could be the beginning of a larger movement; the proposal might not only have a positive impact in Massachusetts, but may serve as an important precedent in other states as well.”  I hope this is true, and I commend Massachusetts for going far beyond just talking the talk.     


May 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Clinics in the News

With a hat tip to Carter White, supervising attorney with the UC-Davis King Hall Civil Rights Clinics, see these two good stories from our neighbors in Northern California.

First is this fascinating story of UC-Davis students, under the supervision of Prof. Gabriel “Jack” Chin, and their advocacy to seek posthumous admission to the California bar of Hong Yen Chang, the first Chinese immigrant to be admitted to any U.S. bar. 

Second is this great story on the Stanford Community Law Clinic.  It is good press for the Stanford clinics and a great example of the important work of justice and good teaching.

Updated with better links.

May 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Clinics in the Cloud

Last week, a clinical professor at another law school sent an email to the clinic listserv asking:

“What policies or protocols do those of you who have a cloud based case management system have in place to re-enforce confidentiality and security for students. Is access to the system outside the clinic office part of your policy, and if so, what measures are taken to ensure students remember not to access the system in a non-secure setting, such as the student center, coffee shop, at home, etc.  Pepperdine has a nice series of technology hypotheticals from a few years ago that we have used in training, but beyond that, how are you addressing these challenges?”

As someone who still has a cassette tape player in my 2001 4-Runner (and occasionally uses it!), I waited on the sidelines, but the listserv was silent.  On Friday, someone contacted me off list and prompted me to respond since I had negotiated a contract with Clio last year (here is a copy of the Clio contract and the related state bar due diligence questions 

As I explained in my response, Jack Lerner and I are just beginning to write a short law review article intended to help clinical faculty and administrators with cloud-based practice management systems, but it is not likely to be completed until later this year or sometime next year.  In the meanwhile, I do think that Brittany Stringfellow Otey’s article, Millennials, Technology, and Professional Responsibility: Training a New Generation in Technological Professionalism, is the best that I have seen dealing with the specific concerns raised.  Here is a link to Brittany’s article on SSRN:

Although I am not “high tech,” I explained generally:

“We basically provide students with a fairly detailed manual of policies and procedures that includes confidentiality obligations, review the content in class, and then do another review in a ‘Game Show’ format we call ‘Legal Jeopardy.’  Thus, the students have exposure to what they can and cannot do three times, but then we rely on their own self-discipline.  We have gone through these concerns many times with our tech folks and we have not found a way to impose external controls that still allow for seamless 24/7 access.”

 I offered copies of our confidentiality provisions (, the “Legal Jeopardy” PowerPoint we use for review of our manual's policies and procedures (, and a copy of our clinic manual ( to anyone interested.  I have received dozens of requests for these materials offlist and so decided to upload them all to Googledocs so that anyone with a link can access them.  I decided to add our Digital Technology Usage Policies (, which are part of our clinic manual.

Jack Lerner of USC’s Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic also sent a copy of the confidentiality pledge he requires student to sign in his clinic (, and explained that he also has students run utilities at the end of the semester that erase clinic-related files from their laptops.  I found information on one of the programs he recommended for Windows (  MacOS has its own built-in utility, according to Jack.  I have already begun exploring with our tech support colleagues here at Willamette the possibility of adding this protocol to our end of the semester practices, and encourage you to consider doing the same.

I hope that these resources are useful to some of you, and think it would be wonderful if we could create a database on Googledocs where we could create a digital commons comprised of useful documents (syllabi, manuals, PowerPoints, etc.) for the entire clinical community to access.  Here is an example of what Sandy Ogilvy created for the externship community (  Anyone want to take the next step?

May 6, 2014 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones...and Words Can Hurt: The Case of the Chatty Chalkboard

Just a little Tuesday outrage to go with your afternoon snack via a posting on fellow clinician Margaret Drew's Facebook page.  Perhaps you saw this - then again - perhaps not:

Image: Sign posted outside Bar-Ly in Philadelphia's Chinatown

It seems harmless, right? But upon some reflection, the real problem is the underlying message, which, without being hypersensitive, implies that domestic violence is funny.  After many complaints, the sign was taken down, and the employee who wrote the message was fired, yet for anyone who has experienced domestic violence or worked with survivors, the message touches a significant nerve.  And that nerve smarts a little, even when faced with something seemingly so tongue in cheek.

Humor can be an effective tool - for reflection, for stress relief, for group bonding.  That being said, how do we combat these sorts of larger public messages as advocates working to spread altogether different messages (i.e. domestic violence is a serious issue)?  Is raising awareness enough?  Are there arenas where humor is appropriate for sensitive topics, and if so, when/where/how do we do that?  How do we handle sensitive issues in our clinics, and how do we use humor in that setting? 

May 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Social Media Connections

Following on Warren's post, supra, please join us at this blog's companion Facebook group.  

We are also on Twitter:  @clinicallawprof

Today, our fledgling Facebook group hit 100 members after two weeks, and we would love to see you there. 

May 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)