Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

Monday, November 30, 2015

JOBS: Pepperdine University School of Law Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

Pepperdine University School of Law seeks applications for its new Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, to launch in January, 2016.  

From the position announcement:

The Supervising Attorney and Adjunct Professor ("Supervising Attorney") will teach and supervise students practicing in the Pepperdine Low Income Taxpayer Clinic ("LITC"). In the LITC, law students learn and train through law practice under the supervision of the Supervising Attorney, and the LITC provides pro bono legal services to clients to settle or adjudicate tax disputes with the IRS. The Supervising Attorney will teach the seminar component of the LITC course with an adjunct faculty appointment. This contributes to the University's mission by increasing the School of Law's capacity to teach, train and form professionals with expertise and integrity, and the LITC increases the School of Law's capacity to serve vulnerable neighbors and communities in poverty. This serves the School of Law's strategic plan by increasing capacity for experiential, clinical and formative education in diverse areas of practice.

The position announcement here contains more information and instructions for applicants.

Please write Prof. Jeff Baker at with questions about the new clinic, the position or Pepperdine’s program of clinical education.

November 30, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Thanksgiving to Get to Know Students

Of the many other reasons clinical legal education is a dream job, the ability to get to know our students in a real way is my favorite. It occurred to me this Thanksgiving that I’ve been taking in students every year for the holiday and it is wonderful.

Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for law students because they are often too far from home to afford to go back. And, even when they can afford it, the short period of time and the proximity to exams means it often isn’t worth it. Even when students choose not to go home for the holidays, they’re often still blue from missing their families. I’ve been taking students in for Thanksgiving since all the way back when I was a student myself.

The tradition began accidentally. When I was a 2L, I was one of four Indian students at the school (which felt like a regular pow-wow compared to my 1L year where I was the only tribal member). Of the four of us, I was the only one who permanently resided near the school. The others lived on or near their tribal land. One student couldn’t get herself back to the Navajo Nation for the holiday, so I told her she could join us. It was one of the best decisions I made in law school. She’s been with us every Thanksgiving since, except for the one year when she foolishly tried to impress the parents of her new partner by cooking for them. She’s become an auntie to my kids and a true friend.

Since that worked out so well I made it a point to invite students who had nowhere to go every year after that, and I continued that tradition once I became a professor. This tradition has become an invaluable way to get to better know and understand my students. They let their hair down a bit, relax, and talk about life outside of their law school pursuits. It’s terrific to learn about what they’d be doing with their families if they’d been able to go home with them. It’s endearing to hear them on the phone wishing their families a happy holiday, or to hear them comforting a sibling who misses them. It’s great to be reminded to see them as people—not just students.

It’s also rewarding to let them get to see me as a person, too. The aura of the professor dissipates for them a little. They watch me interact with my family, cuss at the football game on the TV, and scramble to get the meal out of the oven and on the table without burning it (which I most certainly did not do!). It’s nice to be able to show them that they have a family away from home should they need it. It’s nice to have even more people to be thankful for.

November 30, 2015 in Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


There are precious few jobs in the world, much less in the legal profession, quite like clinical legal education. We clinical law professors may struggle in our institutions about rank and status, resources and misunderstanding, but we have an inimitable seat to observe and participate in extraordinary work. We clinical program directors enjoy the multiplied variety and challenges that come with running an academic department, managing a law firm, collaborating with talented partners and teaching intense students.   I try never to take for granted the opportunity for such engaging work, even when stress and anxiety ramp up.

Today, I am reflecting, as we do, with gratitude on this work.   At Pepperdine, I am in partnership with brilliant, committed, creative and compassionate lawyer-teachers, Profs. Brittany Stringfellow Otey, Richard Peterson, Tanya Cooper, Jeremy Rosen, Stephanie Bell Blondell, Bob Uhl, and Judy Norris, my law partners and friends, who direct clinics and teach students with grace and heart. We are joined by our beloved Prof. Terry Adamson, former prosecutor and judicial commissioner and long dedicated teacher and coach, who is set to retire as our externship director next month. She is a true friend and loves students with unfailing generosity. Supporting us all is Donna Brabec, our clinical program manager, a consummate professional and humble friend who keeps the enterprise running.  

In our clinics, like almost all clinics, we have the unique opportunity to provide pro bono legal services with our students without the worry of generating revenue from our practice because of the support and vision of our school. This is a manifestation of our institutional commitment to education and to access to justice, in an age of outright crisis of accessible legal services. To have the foundation and support of a university gives us the opportunity and power to affect lives for generations. 

I get to direct the Community Justice Clinic. In its third semester, my students have worked with clients on four continents on matters related to homelessness, gender-based crimes, farm worker safety, day laborer opportunities, human trafficking in South Asia, sustainable agriculture, domestic violence, Amazonian rainforest conservation, surgical services in West Africa, indigenous people’s economic development, access to education for English language learners, environmental policy for public schools, and access to water, cooking fuel and sanitation in rural African villages. They blow me away. Never in my life have I enjoyed being a lawyer more.  I didn't dream of a practice like this when I first joined a firm in a small Mississippi town at twenty-four years old. 

My colleagues and our students have represented clients on Skid Row, America’s densest concentration of homelessness; clients with disabilities seeking fair accommodations in education to which they are entitled as civil (and human) rights; clients seeking to expand access to federal courts in forma pauperis; clients seeking to protect their First Amendment rights in prison; clients seeking to recover their life savings from predatory brokers. Our students have mediated cases of housing and employment discrimination and conflicts between pro se litigants to seek justice and reconciliation in Los Angeles communities.   We are launching new clinics in 2016 in which students will represent victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and gender-based crimes, joining the struggle for justice in one of the greatest causes of our age, and in which students will represent indigent clients in tax disputes that can leave them shackled with debt or liberated to pursue new opportunities. What a gift we have to practice law like this.  

I might be boasting a little bit, but mostly I am incredibly grateful for the rare opportunity to get to do this work. In what other job can we witness students in such beautiful, terrifying, stressful and exhilarating moments of transformation? They rise to the occasion with strength, creativity, zeal and competence, and they change the world. With our students, we get to join with righteous clients and partners to bring more light, love and justice to the world. There are setbacks, failures, defeats, death and hardship, but at least we have a fighting chance and the invitation to join in their dignified lives.  

Soon, it'll be back to the fight, politics, struggle and hard work to keep and expand this work.  On Thanksgiving, though, I am grateful for this opportunity and calling. I am grateful for colleagues, students and clients. I am grateful for the community of clinical legal educators. I am grateful to be a lawyer and teacher.          

November 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bryan Adamson Receives 2016 William Pincus Award

Congratulation to our very own Professor Bryan Adamson of Seattle University School of Law who will receive the 2016 William Pincus Award from the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education!

From the announcement by Jayesh Rathod:

The Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education is pleased to announce that Professor Bryan Adamson of Seattle University School of Law has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the William Pincus Award.  We will recognize all of Bryan’s achievements and present the award at the Clinical Section’s luncheon on Friday, January 8, at the AALS Annual Meeting in New York City.

The William Pincus Award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a clinical educator.  The Award recognizes individuals or institutions of clinical legal education for his/her/their/its (1) service, (2) scholarship, (3) program design and implementation, or (4) other activity beneficial to clinical education or to the advancement of justice.  Over the course of a career in law teaching that spans more than 20 years, Bryan has achieved excellence in all of these areas.

Bryan has taken on major leadership roles within the clinical community, including Chair of the Clinical Section, Standing Committee on Clinical Legal Education, Clinicians of Color Committee, and Co-Chair of the Task Force on Clinical Legal Education.  He is also a prolific scholar, having published over 15 law review articles or book chapters across a range of subject matter areas.  At Seattle University School of Law, Bryan has pioneered numerous cutting-edge programs, and spearheaded the creation of a Community Development and Entrepreneurship Clinic and also a Predatory Lending Clinic.  Bryan has led our clinical community in responding to complex challenges, including the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the racial justice concerns that underlie that Black Lives Matter movement.  Indeed, Bryan was the primary organizer for the Black Lives Matter event at the Clinical Conference earlier this year.

In addition to these impressive contributions, Bryan’s nominators also emphasized his personal qualities, including his selfless, giving, and amiable nature.  A colleague from Seattle University shared the following: “Bryan is among the most kind, generous, funny, creative and humble people on the planet.  He is beloved by his students, the staff, and faculty that have the honor of working with him every day.” 

Please join us in congratulating Bryan on this important recognition!

November 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Freedom From Domestic Violence is a Fundamental Human Right

Over at the Human Rights Law Prof blog, we recently reported State College, Pennsylvania's adoption of a resolution protecting victims from  domestic violence

My clinical fellow, recent Penn State Law grad Courtney Kiehl, tells the story in her own words:


November 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nous Pleurons

For the people of Paris

For people around the world who feel equally unsafe

For people who flee their homeland for safety

For people around the world whose lives were lost at the hands of terror

For people who feel marginalized or victimized or excluded as a result of their race/gender/culture/religion/sexual identity/ideas/physical abilities and anything else that prompts others to highlight their differences rather than their similarities

For people who struggle in silence

For people who live in poverty

For all of us, as this heartbreak knows no boundaries across campuses, countries and continents.

Let us be part of the solution, and demonstrate that when we all stand together, evil cannot win.

November 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mark Your Calendars for Next Clinical Writers' Workshop at NYU

This was just announced:

"The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at NYU Law School.

The Workshop provides an opportunity for clinical teachers who are writing about any subject (clinical pedagogy, substantive law, interdisciplinary analysis, empirical work, etc.) to meet with other clinicians writing on related topics to discuss their works-in-progress and brainstorm ideas for further development of their articles. Attendees will meet in small groups organized, to the extent possible, by the subject matter in which they are writing. Each group will “workshop” the draft of each member of the group.

Participation in the Workshop requires the submission of a paper because the workshop takes the form of small group sessions in which all members of the group comment on each other’s manuscripts. By June 30, all applicants will need to submit a mini-draft or prospectus, 3-5 pages in length, of the article they intend to present at the workshopFull drafts of the articles will be due by September 1, 2016.

As in the previous Clinical Law Review Workshops, participants will not have to pay an admission or registration fee but participants will have to arrange and pay for their own travel and lodging. To assist those who wish to participate but who need assistance for travel and lodging, NYU Law School has created a fund for scholarships to help pay for travel and lodging. The scholarships are designed for those clinical faculty who receive little or no travel support from their law schools and who otherwise would not be able to attend this conference without scholarship support. Applicants for scholarships will be asked to submit, with their 3-5 page prospectus, by June 30, a proposed budget for travel and lodging and a brief statement of why the scholarship would be helpful in supporting their attendance at this conference.  The Board will review all scholarship applications and issue decisions about scholarships in early July. The scholarships are conditioned upon recipients’ meeting all requirements for workshop participation, including timely submission of drafts, and will be capped at a maximum of $750 per person.

If you have any comments or suggestions you would like to send us, we would be very happy to hear from you. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Randy Hertz at

-- The Board of Editors of the Clinical Law Review"

November 12, 2015 in RFP, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Law Practicums in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties

This semester in Pepperdine's clinical education program, we launched the Veterans Law Practicum, a pilot program with the Ventura County Public Defender. In the practicum, students apply for structured placements with the PD to work in Veterans Treatment Court. The Vet Court is part of the Collaborative Justice Court Program by the Ventura County Superior Court.

Through the Vet Court, veterans or former members of the military service, regardless of their discharge status, can access alternative sentencing and diversionary programs when they can establish a nexus between their military service and disability with the crimes for which they are charged. The PD represents these clients to advocate for restorative and therapeutic services, like drug counseling, housing, job training, mental health services and increased public benefits, instead of jail time. The students work with clients at every phase of the cases, from identifying potential candidates in local jails, to advice and counsel, to round-table collaborative negotiations with prosecutors, probate, the VA, the Vet Center, addiction and mental health counselors. Students move to arraignment, motion practice, pleas and sentencing, and ultimately their clients' graduation from the program. The Ventura County Public Defender has one of the smartest field placement programs in the country to develop young lawyers, and our students have thrived there.   California's state-wide, interagency task force for veterans is evaluating this practicum as a model for courts throughout California for over two million vets in the  state.

On the strength of the program, we are launching a second course, the Veterans Law Practicum (Los Angeles), with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. In the LA practicum, students will apply for field placements in NLSLA’s Veterans Empowerment Initiative. The Initiative provides coordinated legal services in multidisciplinary collaborations, including expungements and discharge upgrades. By working with veterans on these matters, lawyers may remove obstacles from veterans in cycles of homelessness and poverty and can unlock critical VA benefits to improve physical and mental health, housing and job prospects.

In a season of tight law school budgets and increasing demand for experiential learning, these collaborations are invaluable to the law school. They help us punch above our weight by providing excellent experiences for students and critically useful legal services to vulnerable clients.

To these clients we owe our greatest public trust for sending them into harm’s way for the sake of our nation. We are proud and honored to work beside these heroic lawyers representing our heroic veterans.

November 11, 2015 in New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (1)


Every time my students and I show up for our regular Thursday Students in Court day in the middle of Michigan in a tiny city known as Mason, we get most of the cases of people who have jobs. They are working men and women, struggling to get by, on wages which are too low, and bills that are too high.  Without our clinic though, they would have no lawyer. They make too much to get a legal aid lawyer and not enough to bring their own. 

We are part of a unique program in Mason. It is called the Eviction Diversion Program and was started through a partnership of the District Court, its judges and staff, and several non-profit organizations including our own, the Housing Law Clinic at Michigan State University College of Law. Our clinic tries to keep many irons in the fire regarding our community based legal work but when it comes to actual direct representation of a person, this is our big fish.  The community needed this because the area had too many evictions and not enough lawyers to stop them or at least help people find housing and leave responsibly.

So back to my original point. Our clinic gets most of the consumers who have jobs, who are not destitute poor and broken down because Legal Aid (Legal Services of South Central Michigan) can’t take these cases. They, the consumers, make too much money. People who make sandwiches at Quiznos for barely minimum wage or gas station attendants who have second jobs. Truck drivers. Part time school teachers (substitutes). Last week I had a couple who both had decent jobs but were still caught up in our world of overpriced units and underpaying employment. These are the invisible people who are in between the income trap fixed years ago by the ridiculous guidelines of the federal government that says you can't get legal aid unless you are eating out of a trash can. They need a legal discount. In some cities, these individuals would be called ‘low bono.’ 

The American Lawyer recently defines 'low bono' as "legal services at affordable rates to people with modest incomes who don't qualify for free legal aid because they're not poor enough." Surely, legal clinics at law colleges and schools might be tempted to enter this frontier in the future in various ways. I am sure there are plenty of people waiting. Georgetown University Law Center has done so; I assume other projects are in the works. Why is this? Who knows?

Low wages? They have been repressed for nearly 40 years now. Is the cost of living up? Surely. Fact is, there has never been a plan for this kind of legal customer.  People with means had lawyers and a small number of poor people can get a lawyer these days. Everyone else is at the mercy of the system.

I once worked at a law firm that offered Pre-Paid legal services to clients of this nature. It was kind of a play upon the health care model. Union members paid monthly for the services, if they needed it, and we provided legal services to them. We did everything from drafting legal documents so they could start small business to comprehensive family matters.  I once did a Amazon arbitration for a firefighter with a small hauling business who got shortchanged in the early days of Amazon delivery.I know now this was part of the “low bono” legal world before anyone I knew coined the term. 

Is this kind of legal work for some law school clinics in the future? Only time will tell. 

November 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What if I had no sense of humor? Oh wait, I don’t…

Clinical teaching and lawyering for the poor can both be hard, and having a sense of humor can help with both. Or so I am told. I am also told I have no sense of humor. My family often struggles to explain me to others. They sometimes say to our friends after I tell a joke “Okay, let me explain to you what I think he’s trying to say and maybe you’ll think it’s funny. Then again, maybe you won’t.” My son has his “No Dad Jokes” t-shirt, which I of course bought him to support him for having to listen to way too many of them from me.

            A judge, a prosecutor, two law students, a cow, and a duck walk into a bar, and the bartender says, “What is this, some kind of joke?”

Now you’re seeing it, too.

I tried humor earlier this week in my teaching. I was teaching about letter writing. I wanted to make a point that writing short, clear sentences could be helpful. I also wanted to help students think with me about whether we should express our feelings about the outcomes of cases in our letters to clients when we lose and we are disappointed. I gave my students a letter I wrote for them to edit which included the following portion: “I feel sad that we cannot help. Fair it is not. The law it is.” I was amused. I thought my students would be. They were not. It was a try. I thought it would wake them up as they struggle to focus mid-semester and lead to a good conversation. It led to some discussion. It pointed them to the part of the letter I wanted them to consider. It may not have helped me teach, though, as to some it was distracting and made it harder for them to think about the issue. Maybe I have to be funnier before I can teach with humor.

            An empirical researcher walks into a bar and notices all the patrons are white. He says to the bartender “Don’t you believe in integration?” The bartender replies, “You’re the one that’s supposed to be so great at statistics. Don’t you know that integration never makes a difference?” (Ask you nerdy calculus friends if that makes no sense to you).

Are you seeing the problem yet?

I also have tried black humor in class. How horrible it is for my students to watch the conditions of our clients. Some have a particularly hard time watching as we document disabling and potentially terminal medical conditions for our clients to support their disability claims, all while the clients struggle with no money, no home, and no prospect of improving their world. Regularly, as more evidence comes in describing the clients' deteriorating health, we learn to say to each other “Hurray! He really does have cancer!” a clear black humor defense mechanism to deal with the fact that our clients might win their cases but die in the process. Sometimes it helps, and may later help some deal with burnout of seeing one tragic case after another. It could, however, be thought of as callus, unhelpful, and dehumanizing our clients. Maybe I have to be funnier before I can use humor this way.

In law school, time in meaningless. In time, law school is meaningless.

Perhaps there is value of using humor in teaching. Maybe I am not that funny. And maybe humor can be distracting. Maybe, however, there are times that it can help. In the meantime, to paraphrase my son’s new favorite t-shirt, that my wife bought this time so maybe it really is funny: Calm we will keep. Carry on we must.

November 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lucy Jewel on the Critical Need to Collapse the Doctrine/Skills Dichotomy

Via TaxProf Blog, here is critical work from Prof. Lucy Jewel of Tennessee, calling for the collapse of the doctrine/skills dichotomy and its resulting hierarchies, in her article, Oil and Water: How Legal Education's Doctrine and Skills Divide Reproduces Toxic Hierarchies, 31 Colum. J. Gender & L. 111 (2015):

An excerpt from the abstract:

[T]he antipodal positioning of doctrine and theory over skills and practice harms law schools’ ability to prepare a new generation of law students to engage in both critical lawyering and law reform. As American society becomes increasingly unequal and as its criminal justice system barrels well past the breaking point, we desperately need the next generation of law students to participate in a new era of structural law reform. But unlike the last major era of reform in the United States (the Progressive Era), where ill-conceived top-down solutions were theorized and implemented by a small subset of elite lawyers, this time, reform should emerge from a coalition of lawyers hailing from all law schools and all levels of society. Even in legal education’s current situation, with tenure for law professors on the chopping block due to declining student enrollment and legal employment prospects, law schools should commit to collapsing the false binary between doctrine and skills.

November 3, 2015 in Scholarship, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

CLEA Newsletter Winter 2015-16: Call for Items (Due December 1)

On behalf of the CLEA Newsletter committee, I am happy to announce that it is once again time to send information for the CLEA Newsletter.  We invite you to submit your creative writing and shorter articles on clinical andragogy and social justice topics.  We also welcome your good news: promotions, moves, new experiential teachers, retirements, publications, and awards.  Links to articles and press releases are welcome. 

Please keep your clinician news items as short as possible (50 word limit per news item). Longer submissions are subject to editing by the newsletter. To avoid duplicating information published in the AALS Clinical Section Newsletter, CLEA will publish clinical program news on its Facebook page. 

We hope that you will consider allowing CLEA to feature your writing.  The deadline for submissions for the Winter 2015-16 Newsletter is December 1, 2015. Please e-mail them to, and please contact us with any questions.

Thanks, and best wishes,
CLEA Newsletter Committee

Tanya Asim Cooper, Susan Donovan, D’lorah Hughes & Kate Kruse


November 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Bryan Adamson          

Our Consumer Protection Clinic provides opportunities for students to represent clients in a range of civil mediation and litigation. This year, in addition to helping formerly confined citizens seek relief from their legal financial obligations (more on that in our next post), my clinic students are engaged in other advocacy and policy work. With the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 and Senate Bill 5052 this past July, part of our Clinic advocacy involves working against the consequences of Washington’s cannabis laws on our most vulnerable populations.

These laws have given our students an opportunity to passionately pursue the ends of social justice in a fairly unprecedented legal area. Our students are 1) developing policy prescriptions regarding cannabis regulation and the poor and disabled; 2) developing a tenant advice manual for residents of federally-supported housing, and; 3) analyzing Washington state cannabis advertising for unfair or deceptive representations or regulatory violations through the lens of the our Consumer Protection Act. 

Outside of the criminal law context, a first take may not readily illuminate the panoply of social justice issues underneath the legalization of cannabis (of which marijuana is just one form). To be sure, nationwide there have been mighty efforts advocating changes in our state and federal sentencing laws. In Washington as elsewhere, generations of the most ardent advocates at every turn have, for example, fought against the disproportionate arrest and conviction rates of minorities for marijuana use and/or possession.[1] Initiative 502 has already had a profound effect on the state’s criminal justice system, economy, and overall social welfare of Washingtonians. A closer look however reveals disconcerting impacts upon poor and disabled consumers, and tenants of federally-subsidized housing.

This past July saw a major change in Washington’s existing medical cannabis regulatory framework. One major feature of the new laws prohibits unregulated medical cannabis access points unless the organization obtains a license through the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), and meets all LCB requirements. Essentially, medical marijuana sales will be conducted at recreational retail shops. While in important ways, SB 5052 will benefit medical cannabis patients, the LCB requirements will have detrimental effects on those patients in two main areas:  distance proximity and affordability.

Distance Proximity

One of the most onerous requirements of a licensed cannabis store is that it must be at least 1,000 feet away from “any…public transit center[,]”[2] i.e., bus or rail stop. From the medical cannabis patient’s perspective, the 1,000 feet requirement has harmful implications. Many medical cannabis patients are mobility-impaired, and require the use of wheelchairs, walkers, or canes. As many medical cannabis patients cannot independently ambulate and/or must rely on public transportation, a walk of over 1,000 feet to gain access to their medicine can be a challenge and a health risk. Additionally, because of possession amount restrictions, medical cannabis patients must make more frequent trips to retail outlet—incurring additional costs, times, and physical exertion.


Medical cannabis patients currently enjoy access to a plethora of medical cannabis products in medical cannabis access points. Most importantly, edible products have been developed in access points since 1998, and companies have refined their dosages and recipes to perfection. Under SB5052, all cannabis products must be approved by the LCB and in compliance with its regulations.  Currently, edibles cannot exceed a serving size of 10mg. This presents a serious issue for medical patients, many of whom require dosages ranging from 50mg-800mg. This requires a medical patient to purchase over five times the amount of LCB approved edibles.

Not only do the patients have to purchase more products, but the products themselves are more expensive. For example, a 10mg edible in recreational stores costs upwards of $10, where a 50mg edible in medical cannabis access points only costs $5. Therefore, a medical cannabis patient would have to purchase $50 in edibles at a recreational store, where they used to pay $5 in a medical setting. Currently, there is a 37% tax assessed on all cannabis and related products, which is collected at the retailer’s point of sale. While it is worth noting that medical cannabis patients who are in a state registry are exempt from paying that tax, the higher costs still makes cannabis less affordable to for all medical patients likely on a fixed income (e.g., SSD or SSI), or otherwise least able to afford it.

The 37% tax may also not work to eliminate the black market for cannabis product. While street prices of cannabis usually stay in the area of $10/gram, prices in retail stores are $10-$20/gram, plus the 37% tax and additional 9.5% sales tax. Because cannabis is significantly cheaper to purchase on the black market, cannabis consumers in poorer communities will be inclined to avoid retail stores and procure their cannabis on the street. Consequently, instead of obtaining cannabis at state-approved retail outlets, cannabis consumers in poor neighborhoods may choose to avoid the long travel and additional taxation to obtain cannabis through illicit means via the black market instead. Aside from the uncaptured revenue, the cannabis cost structure will doubtlessly perpetuate crime in the poorest neighborhoods—doing little to solve one problem that I-502 intended to remedy. 


Currently, federal law still classifies marijuana remains an illegal Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. It is a federal crime to possess, cultivate, or distribute marijuana. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that states which implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems will not be high on its enforcement priorities. [3] However, the DOJ has not given carte blanche to those states, as federal law has not changed at all. It’s directive provides no defense to federal prosecution, especially as it regards the DOJ’s expressed enforcement priorities: eliminating channels of access by minors; organized crime; possession, use, procurement, support, or distribution through interstate commerce; trafficking in other illegal drugs; violence and firearms; drugged driving and public health; grows on public lands, and possession or use on federal property.

Federal agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development have not given dispensation to landlords who receive federal housing funds (e.g., Section 8 reimbursements). In other words, it is a crime to possess, use, or cultivate marijuana (in any form, e.g. edibles) in federally financed housing. Tenants of federally subsidized or funded housing, thinking they are lawfully possessing, consuming, and/or growing marijuana (which the law allows in small amounts) risk evictions and even prosecution for violations of federal law. Such outcomes would exacerbate our already disproportionate prosecution and incarceration of people of color. Such actions would also exacerbate the collateral consequences for those people, as it erects another barrier to the ability to secure alternative housing (many landlords will not rent to anyone with a felony arrest or conviction), stable employment, and, if convicted, carceral debt.

Unfair and Deceptive Practices 

Washington’s cannabis regulations establish fairly strict guidelines on permissible means and content of advertising and product labeling.  If a harmful cannabis product enters the market, there is yet no legally-established l mechanism in place specifically tailored to cannabis product recalls. Our students are developing recommendations on that score in reference to the industry best practices, as well as the state and federal Food and Drug Administration’s recall processes.  Moreover, our students are performing image and text analysis of dozens of marijuana advertisements of state retail, production, and processing outlets to ensure they do not make representations that are likely to mislead consumers or specific audiences such as children. The endgame of their research is to present their findings to interested stakeholders to ensure that laws and regulations are followed, but those laws and regulations strike the appropriate balance between governmental interests, commercial interests, and consumer rights.

While impacting all Washingtonians as consumers in general, our cannabis laws and regulations work unique hardships and challenges upon the poor and disabled. Despite the conflict between federal and state law, students in our Consumer Protection Clinic are properly engaging in the practice of law under our states ethical guidelines as they regard giving advice and assistance to parties seeking to comply with Washington laws, or otherwise form and operate business entities pursuant to I-502 and federal law.[4] Students in our Clinic are developing materials and programs aimed at tenant advice and education. Materials and programs will inform tenants about federal and state housing regulations, their rights and risks, as well the duties, rights, risks of landlords. Our students are also articulating policy prescriptions which urge the re-examination of current laws as they relate to the 1000 feet buffer zone rule, taxation, and product misrepresentation. It is our hope that those proscriptions will have a positive, long term impact on this virtually unchartered area of recreational cannabis laws—especially as those laws impact those most vulnerable to the adverse consequences of this new regime.

Special thanks to Bonnie Fong, 3L for her assistance in developing this article.



[1]In Washington State, for example, the African Americans were 2.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.  Report of the American Civil Liberties Union, THE WAR ON MARIJUANA IN BLACK AND WHITE, JULY 2013, Appendix B.

[2] RCW 69.50.331 (8)(a). The buffer zone also applies to “elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park… library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter.”

[3] See, e.g., James M. Cole Memorandum August 29, 2013 (on file with author).

[4] Washington State Bar Association Advisory Op. 201501 (2015).

October 29, 2015 in Clinic News, Clinic Students and Graduates, Housing, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (2)

JOBS: Akron Law Clinical Faculty

Via Prof. Sarah M. R. Cravens:

Legal Clinic Faculty Position

The University of Akron School of Law anticipates hiring a 12-month clinical faculty member (presumptively renewable, non-tenure track) to begin in Fall 2016.  

The new clinical faculty member will join two other full-time clinical faculty, and will add to a rich array of existing programs which include:  Civil Litigation Clinic (cases referred from Community Legal Aid, primarily landlord-tenant), Jail Inmate Assistance Legal Clinic, our award-winning Re-entry Clinics (Expungement, Clemency, Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE), and Human Trafficking), SEED Legal Clinic (providing services for small businesses and 2015 Legal Services Champion Award winner from the U.S. Small Business Administration) and Trademark Clinic. We anticipate that a new clinician will be able to establish one or more new clinical offerings according to his or her substantive interests to complement the Law School’s strategic goals and the particular needs of the community.  Areas of particular interest include International Human Rights, Immigration, Family Law, and Health Law. 

The committee is interested in candidates with a commitment to excellence in clinical teaching, community engagement, and parallel scholarly research. 

The University of Akron School of Law is a public, mid-size law school of approximately 450 students located in the Akron/Cleveland metropolitan area.  Akron Law offers excellent teaching, relatively low tuition and a commitment to student success, as well as a strong relationship with the local and regional bar.  Akron Law prides itself on outcomes including our high bar passage rate (first in Ohio for the Feb 2015 exam), award-winning clinical programs, national championship trial team program and various areas of excellence.

Required Qualifications: Requires a J.D. degree and a license to practice law, as well as professional practice experience.

Preferred Qualifications:  A demonstrated record of or potential for effective clinical teaching and successful scholarship.

For complete details and to apply for this position, visit:  Job ID# 9221.  While all candidates are required to submit their applications via this centralized system, please feel free to direct any inquiries to Professor Sarah Cravens, Chair of the search committee, at Review of applications will begin immediately.  Anticipated start date: July 1, 2016. The University of Akron is committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity and to the principles of affirmative action in accordance with state and federal laws.


October 29, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lessons from the National Canadian Clinical Conference

Our Canadian colleagues are gathering this weekend at the sixth annual conference of the Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE). The conference theme is “The Place of Clinical Legal Education” and is being hosted by the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in Saskatoon.

The ACCLE is a relatively young and vibrant organization comprised of individuals and clinics seeking:

(a) to provide a forum for legal educators across Canada to share best practices, pedagogies and other information related to clinical legal education;

(b) to encourage the promotion and improvement of clinical legal education in Canadian law schools;

(c)  to promote clinical pedagogy and research;

(d) to facilitate the dissemination of information pertaining to clinical legal education to clinicians in Canada; and

(e) to promote or organize conferences or other activities to facilitate the purposes of the association.

The conference was preceded by a community tour and scholarship workshop yesterday, and officially opened this morning with a keynote address by Maria Campbell, an award-winning writer, playwright, and teacher whose Aboriginal heritage informs her work. She spoke about “The Place of Clinics in Reconciliation” and immersed the room in oral tradition (all pens, paper, and devices tucked away) while she led participants through circle after circle of her people’s history and tradition. She described a high-functioning social system in which grandmothers were the “keepers of the law,” animals were regarded as cousins (hunted only with restraint and humility), songs were sung to call babies out of the womb, and kindness and generosity were the most esteemed values.

The community strength endured for hundreds of years in generation after generation until the colonization of the North American continent, which led to the banning of midwifes and community burials; the recategorization of wives and children as property (consistent with the European tradition) and their subsequent beating as taught by the Jesuit priests  according to the “rule of thumb”; and the round up of well-loved children with intact families who were taken away by  “authorities” in large black cars and sent to live in residential schools and foster homes, where many were sexually abused. The consequences of these afflictions remain evident in many communities to this day.

How do clinics help communities to heal after such brutal acts? One way is for the students and faculty who work in legal clinics to be culturally and historically literate and sensitive. It is critical for those who serve others first to know their own history and culture, and to seek understanding of and show sensitivity to the history and culture of others. Another important value is collaboration. If clinical students and faculty want to help others, we must reach out and seek meaningful collaboration—before such projects are launched, not after.  No one understands what is most needed better than those in need.

One of the panels following the keynote presentation further explored opportunities to advance decolonialization through clinical teaching and advocacy. The panelists offered examples of clinics serving First Nations, Indigenous, and Aboriginal peoples, clinics that address some of the consequences of colonialization (for example, clinics addressing poverty, domestic violence, and women’s issues), and legal strategies that incorporate the colonial discourse and narrative into client advocacy so that the court understands the individual’s actions within a larger historical context.

The conference will continue for the rest of today and tomorrow with a series of panels and speakers exploring topics such as improving access to justice, defining communities in human rights clinics, curricular reform in legal education, the role of clinical legal education in the formation of professional identity in emerging attorneys, and the role of law school clinics in bridging the gap between the academy and the legal profession.

The ACCLE’s next conference will be a joint conference with the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education (IJCLE) at the University of Toronto on July 10-12, 2016. The theme will be “The Risks and Rewards of Clinic.” For more information, please visit We hope to see you there! 

October 23, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

JOBS: A Third Position at UDC

Via Prof. Kristina Campbell: 

(See the previous two, current postings here.)


 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications for a tenure track law professor to work in the Immigration Clinic beginning July 16, 2016 and continuing through the academic year 2016-2017.  We will consider exceptionally talented applicants at the assistant professor level. Candidates must demonstrate a record of strong academic performance and excellent potential for scholarly achievement. Relevant experience and a demonstrated potential for outstanding clinical teaching is expected. 

The UDC David A. Clarke School of Immigration and Human Rights Clinic represents clients in Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals.  The Clinic provides legal representation for noncitizens in removal proceedings and assists them in applying for relief from removal and other benefits. Cases include defensive asylum applications, Cancellation of Removal; waivers; appealing of removal orders for detained noncitizens by the Immigration Court to the Board of Immigration Appeals and/or the Circuit Courts of Appeals; and providing other related services.

UDC-DCSL is one of only six American Bar Association accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and is the nation’s only urban, public land grant university.   UDC-DCSL has a three-part statutory mission:

  • to recruit and enroll students from groups underrepresented at the bar,
  • to provide a well-rounded theoretical and practical legal education that will enable students to be effective and ethical advocates, and
  • to represent the legal needs of low-income residents through the School's legal clinics.

The School of Law has been a leader in experiential and clinical education for more than 40 years beginning with its predecessor Antioch School of Law.  Every student completes two 350 hour clinical courses, as well as forty hours of community service.  UDC-DCSL offers nine legal clinics in the following areas: juvenile and special education; housing and consumer; general practice; community development; legislation; low-income taxpayer; government accountability; immigration and human rights and criminal defense. 

UDC-DCSL is recognized for its commitment to diversity and to clinical education.  The Law School ranked 7th in the nation in Law School Clinical Programs (US News and World Report, 2015); 2nd most diverse law school in the U.S. (US News and World Report, 2015); 1st most chosen by older students (Princeton Review, 2014); 2nd most diverse faculty (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th best environment for minority students (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th most liberal students (Princeton Review, 2014); and Top 20 most innovative law school (PreLaw Magazine, 2012).

Although we will accept applications until the position is filled, we strongly encourage interested applicants to submit applications immediately. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume. UDC-DCSL has a strong commitment to diversity among its faculty and encourages applications from minorities and women.

Contact:  Professor Andrew G. Ferguson, Co-Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008.  (email: to Faculty Secretary, Ms. Camille V’Estres –

October 21, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

My Clinical Prof Can Leap Tall Buildings In Single Bounds!

I try not to share too much of my personal life with my students.  I already feel that sometimes the clinic is a little too much all about me.  I tell stories about old cases that I think help prove points.  I teach alone so am the go to person for questions students have.  I select a lot of our client work and share my values with my students by helping them pick cases that meet clinic goals, which as much as I like to say are our goals we develop together are often mine.  Lately, I feel I need rules to decide what personal things I should share.  Is it only things that will help them lawyer?  Is it things that make me seem human or approachable?  What if I just want to?  What helps and what is just forcing them have to learn about me whether they want to or not?

A few years ago, I had no choice about revealing part of my personal life.  On the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer was my wife, a person living through cancer, who in her professional life as a doctor was treating a child with liver disease.  My wife’s condition and extraordinary strength was something I could not hide even if I had wanted to do so and it seemed like most of Philadelphia and all of my students knew about it.  This was not a fifteen minutes of fame thing, either.  As ironically my clinic has always done a lot of work with cancer patients at cancer centers, professionals at the centers remembered the story for several years and came up to me throughout to ask me about my wife when my students were present, prolonging for several semesters what my students knew and forcing me to relive the experience with them.  Student questions abounded.  How do I do this kind of work in light of my wife’s condition became a topic of discussion for many of my students—doesn’t it affect me when I work with cancer patients to be thinking of my wife and her condition?  Do I tell my clients about her condition?  Do I feel I am as good a lawyer for cancer patients when I think about it?  Does it generally distract me?  At that point, I had no choice but to talk about it and it was an interesting learning experience for my students and me.  (Don’t worry, the paper is coming—I am almost together enough to write it!)  To the extent I felt strong enough through my wife’s illness, I had these discussions with students. 

To some extent, sharing that experience when I thought it had to be helpful to students somehow was an easier decision. My students will have to think about how they will face personal family adversity in their practice and I was an example—I would not say a model, but an example.  It was kind of all about me but to a large extent I think they realized through our discussions that we were talking about me but it was a lot about them.

Last week, I shared something very different with my students.  I decided to share my latest and one of my few feats of athletic prowess—I ran the Chicago Marathon.  Well, I sort of ran it, running the first half and struggling through and finishing the second half.  Yes, it drove my family crazy, as many of them thought running a marathon is really an act of self-hatred designed to cause pain.  But I think my family was wrong.  It was an amazing experience—to run in my hometown on a flat (though way too hot and windy) course and test and learn about what my body can and cannot do was incredible. And my students heard about it and reacted.

It was sort of inevitable that I told my students about it.  As anyone can tell you who has run a marathon, it is too extreme a training and life experience to really hide.  In the end, I am maybe teaching my students something good about lawyering when I tell them about thinks like this.  Maybe it helps them think through how an attorney can have personal non-work goals that are worth accomplishing even when they are focused on lawyering.  Perhaps it made them relate to me as a person more and realize lawyers are people, too, who are human with human needs, interests, and goals.  Or maybe it made them think I was superhuman, able to run 26.2 miles and come back on Monday to teach—who can do that? And perhaps I was boasting.

Talking about lawyering through my wife’s illness and then about running the marathon is starting to help me come up with rules.  I think I have to not require my class to live through my life experience unless I think it can help them. Maybe when I can justify that there is something they can learn, it is okay and a good thing to share.  Or maybe sometimes, I can just show off.

October 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

U.S. News Surveys and Shady Standards

This week, I received my annual ballot from U.S. News & World Report to rank law school programs for “clinical training.”  Clinical program directors get to vote on peer schools with notoriously slim guidance and standards.  Each year, CLEA issues a statement criticizing the process and offering some standards for consideration.   CLEA attempts a balance among the idealistic desire to eliminate the entire process, the cynical temptation to utterly game the rankings, and a sincere attempt to guide us all to handle it the best we can.  We are all at once frustrated and complicit with the regime.

This year, however, I note a new and strange oversight that belies the integrity of the enterprise. 

The survey includes instructions and scant standards, but this year’s are extra perplexing.  For the “Annual Peer Assessment of Law Schools Clinical Training,” the instructions include this guidance (emphasis added):

2. Identify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest quality alternative dispute resolution courses or programs.  In making your choices, consider all elements that contribute to a program’s academic excellence, for example, the depth and breadth of the program, faculty research and publication, etc.

Now, my colleagues down the hall in the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution have been ranked #1 in their category for 11 straight years, and I sometimes teach on the Straus faculty.  Maybe this will help our clinical program ranking, but probably that’s not what USN has in mind.

In my pained ambivalence, I will assume that the USN folks mean to inquire about clinical programs, but apparently they are paying us very little attention and care.  I intend to follow CLEA’s much better advice, but perhaps USN should consider whether proof reading might make its product more reliable.     



UPDATE:  We are not alone. 

UPDATE II:  On Oct. 23, 2015, USN sent out revised surveys, correcting for the mistake and seeking rankings on the "highest quality clinical training courses and programs," due on Nov. 16. 

October 20, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2015


We are engaged in the longest war in U.S. history, yet many of us are not impacted at all. Less than 1% of our nation’s population are actively serving, with less than 5% directly impacted by that service. The latest news indicates that existing troop numbers will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, and troops continue to serve in Iraq. Choosing to wear the uniform today brings a very high probability of not only deployment, but repeated deployments. Our all-volunteer force serves bravely, quietly, humbly, and to most of us, invisibly.

In addition to post 9-11 veterans, our nation is enriched by Gulf War veterans, Vietnam veterans, and the increasingly rare Korean War and World War II veterans. Each of them is a trained warrior committed to the ideals of duty, honor and country, and supported in their sacrifices by devoted families. They are alike in their shared sacrifice, purpose, and selflessness; they share experiences and camaraderie that those of us who have not served can only try to imagine.

While very few of us can truly understand the sacrifices made by these brave men and women and their families, all of us can recognize the freedoms and safety we enjoy as a result of those sacrifices. It is time for all of us to consider how we can share the burden and responsibilities of freedom, to create opportunities to do more than say thank you.

Protecting our country and our freedoms is a shared mission; we can all play a part in honoring those who serve through our own actions. These actions can start in our own clinical programs, on the spectrum of modest to grand, yet all impactful. Given that veterans and active duty service members often face legal needs that exceed their financial resources and the scope of services readily available to them, law schools are in a unique position to demonstrate honor through action, while teaching our students the debt we owe to the men and women who preserve our freedoms, and the historical backdrop against which they served.

William & Mary’s Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic recently partnered with Starbucks and their Armed Services Network to start Military Mondays. Twice monthly, Puller Clinic professors and students provide advice and counsel to service members and veterans seeking assistance with disability compensation claims, discharge upgrades related to service-connected disabilities, and preparation for their separation from service. Four hours are scheduled in one hour appointment blocks, with two attorneys and students meeting simultaneously, for up to eight appointments each week in the warm community coffeehouse of our local Starbucks. Alternate Monday afternoons are an opportunity to host For the Love of Country Community Conversations, with a topical speaker and follow-up discussions. In addition to providing us an opportunity to expand our more traditional in-house legal representation by going out into the community, the Starbucks setting helped us to bridge the military-civilian divide by demonstrating service to those who served, and engaging customers and veterans in conversation. More than half a dozen law schools, legal service organizations and Bar Associations are coordinating with Starbucks about replication of Military Mondays in their neighborhoods. If your law school would like to join those efforts, please let me know.

Military Mondays are very rewarding; one student described it as “legal triage,” which is pretty accurate. We can help decipher decisions, share resources, advise next steps, help with form completion, and answer questions. It is a model that could work for any area of the law; given that four of the top ten needs identified by veterans are legal in nature. Sometimes, our afternoons at Starbucks have unexpected and impactful results, personally and professionally. During a recent afternoon, we met with a terminally ill Vietnam veteran who had been awarded a Bronze star for his service; he was at a loss for next steps after repeated denials of his service-connected disabilities. Recognizing he and his family would need more than advice and counsel, we took him on as a client, but before we could meet with him again, he ended up in the hospital. Frantic steps were taken to ensure that he signed the forms we needed to continue his claims in the event of his death, and, when he passed away days later, we were at least consoled by the fact that his claims were preserved and his widow eligible to serve as his substitute. We are told that his last goal was to get his claims into the VA; had we not met with him that Monday afternoon in Starbucks, his claims would have passed away with him.

We chose to define our own Military Mondays by providing advice and counsel to veterans and service members at Starbucks. But whether you choose to replicate the model that we designed with Starbucks; or consider starting your own legal services project or clinic for veterans or service members; or give priority status to any of your clinic applicants who served or are serving; or incorporate the challenges facing our veterans and service members into your course discussions; or hundreds of other ideas you and your students will generate . . . . I challenge you to do something on a Monday to honor our men and women who put on the uniform: any Monday, every Monday, start small and ignite excitement and replication. Encourage your friends, colleagues and students to honor our veterans and service members by taking action on Military Mondays. Let’s start a movement, one that may begin on Veterans’ Day, but does not end there.



October 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

JOBS: UC-Irvine's Director of Externships

Via Laura Fry:

The University of California, Irvine School of Law has posted a position announcement for its Director of Externships. 

Here is the post.


October 14, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)