Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

Friday, August 5, 2016

JOBS: Texas A&M University School of Law

Via Prof. Luz Herrera:

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW in Fort Worth, Texas seeks a full-time faculty candidate to fill a tenure-track or contract position to expand its clinical program. The Texas A&M Clinical Program offers thoughtful practical training for students interested in a range of substantive areas that include family law, government benefits, trademark law, patent law and immigration. Candidates must have a J.D. degree or its equivalent, an excellent academic record; experience supervising law students; and demonstrated practice experience. Candidates will be expected to apply for admission to the Texas Bar. A successful candidate will have demonstrated, or a strong promise for scholarly achievement. Applications for criminal justice, juvenile justice, probate, community economic development, tax, and consumer law clinics are particularly encouraged.

Texas A&M University is a tier one research institution and American Association of Universities member. The university consists of 16 colleges and schools that collectively rank among the top 20 higher education institutions nationwide in terms of research and development expenditures. As part of its commitment to continue building on its tradition of excellence in scholarship, teaching, and public service, Texas A&M acquired the law school from Texas Wesleyan University in August of 2013. Since that time, the law school has embarked on a program of investment that increased its entering class credentials and financial aid budgets, while shrinking the class size; hired nineteen new faculty members, including thirteen prominent lateral hires; improved its physical facility; and substantially increased its career services, admissions, and student services staff. 

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Texas A&M welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of qualified individuals who will enhance the rich diversity of the university’s academic community. Applicants should email a résumé and cover letter indicating research and teaching interests to Professor Gabriel Eckstein, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at Alternatively, résumés can be mailed to Professor Eckstein at Texas A&M University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6509.

August 5, 2016 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Book Review of Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World

This year, I am serving on my law school’s curriculum committee, outcomes assessment task force and our self-study committee for an upcoming ABA site visit. These posts involve many of the most pressing questions of the day in legal education, and they intersect often with clinical and experiential learning.

For these reasons, I was very happy and a bit intimidated to receive an invitation from the Journal of Legal Education to review Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World, edited by Deborah Maranville. Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kass, and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, and written by many others.  I have the privilege of friendship and collaboration with many of these authors and editors, and they are doing innovative, wise work on the hardest issues of our enterprise.  Their work and insight hit home. 

Please read and use the book; it will make our law schools better.  It will make us better teachers and scholars and will promote better outcomes for the students who trust us. It takes its place within the canon of legal education theory and practice, from McCrate to Carnegie to the original Best Practices. It is not the destination of our work, but it is a useful, important stop along the way. 

Here is an excerpt from my review, available on SSRN here and at 65 J. Legal Educ. 988 (2016).

Building on Best Practices charts the path for institutional and curricular reform within the prevailing structure of outcomes assessment. Like the refined demands of new ABA accreditation standards, Building on Best Practices draws from the trend toward objective measurement of identifiable goals. Institutional assessment follows a constructive, progressive cycle: identifying outcomes and goals, developing means to measure progress toward those goals, measuring performance in light of the desired outcomes, evaluating results, and developing and implementing changes, before starting again.

Thus, rather than evaluating a school based on its inputs, like the metrics of an incoming class, the library budget, or faculty research assistance, a school should measure its success based on how well it achieves the goals it sets for itself. Building on Best Practices proposes this process as the means to strengthen and improve the enterprise of legal education. Each law school must reckon what it wants to be in a topsy-turvy environment, then mark out a course to achieve it well within its own contexts and markets. It is not enough for schools to add or remove programs, to build a space, or to invest in a class with higher entrance metrics. Instead, schools must be able to articulate why they should do those things, to have a clear purpose for making the moves they make, and to use good tools to determine whether they work.

August 1, 2016 in Books, Scholarship, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


I have not seen 'Hamilton,' the now legendary Broadway musical yet.  It doesn't look good either. My daughter now tells me that it doesn't matter anyway. Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the show, is no longer in the show so the show no longer matters.  I offered to get tickets  to see 'Hamilton' in Chicago (traveling show) but she declined.  The only show she would see was the real deal in New York City and at $800 a ticket, backed up for months, it just was not in the mix. I hear now that Manuel has stepped aside, prices have subsided.

With that said, it was 212 years ago today that Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in their famous duel. Hamilton died the next day.  Hamilton gone from the republic early had done much. He had been instrumental in the nation writing and ratifying our Constitution. He wrote 51 of the 78 Federalist Papers, which still provide scholars, judges and lawmakers with interpretations for our basic laws.  He is, as the Broadway show tries to show (so I have heard) a giant majestic figure in American history who is critically important to the basic ideals the country continues to struggle with today. 

Since his recent cultural ascent, I have wondered what it is about him that a clinician interested in equal justice and the rule of law could impress upon his students?

Well, for one, I could remind them that Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant, a man born on the island of Nevus in the West Indies, who convinces George Washington of the importance of a federal bank and financial policy controlled mostly by the federal government and not individual states acting outside of the federal government. This view, of Hamilton, that the federal government was ultimately the supreme power in the U.S. over certain affairs, was endorsed in 1819 in the case of McCullough v. Maryland long after his death.  That was when the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal government ultimately had supreme authority over the nation's national bank rather than the state of Maryland. Maryland, the state, had been trying to impose its own laws upon the national bank; the U.S. Supreme Court nixed it. 

This ruling is one of the most important rulings in U.S. judicial history. For me, it says, there is a unspoken pact between the people and the federal government. It might be a metaphorical pact that has to be acted upon but ultimately, the governed, the people should have the last word on how the affairs of the nation will be conducted. If the Court does not make it clear who has the power for the people, there will be fifty separate nations in the U.S. and none of this will matter anymore.  

Lately, we haven't had such clarity.  Everything from interpretations of the Affordable Care Act to privacy rights, this subtle battle most of us take for granted goes on and on.  Texas tries to squeeze abortion rights.  States threaten to secede over immigration.  Individuals are killed in encounters with police and some of us scream for the Department of Justice to act boldly, to get more involved. 

Hamilton's concepts for a clinician like me are important and I plan to incorporate him in some way into my teaching. Equal justice for all is what guides my work. Hamilton, at least, provides possibilities.  It hardly matters if I agree with him in whole; what does matter is he believed in the whole rather than the individual pieces freelancing for their own selfish gain.  Everything from the Flint Water crisis to the current debate over infrastructure across the nation tells me, it is that unspoken pact which shall make our society great not selfish ideals.

Now, if only I can see that show somewhere.   

July 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Teaching Law in an Age of Violence

In America, our founding principle is that all men are created equal, expressed within a legal document declaring independence from a sovereign who did not extend a voice to his subjects. Our pledge of allegiance binds us to a promise of liberty and justice for all. These are American ideals but so often are not American realities. America is and always has been a violent nation, and race and racism are deep in our spiritual, social, cultural, political and legal vernacular. In no season of our national history have we been at true peace, especially in matters of race and racism. 

In fits and starts, we lurch in anguish and hope toward harmony and reconciliation. Inevitably, when we take a step toward inclusion and justice, the forces of exclusion lash out in death throes. The South didn’t secede until after the country elected an abolitionist. The Klan didn’t form until after emancipation. Bull Connor didn’t unleash the dogs until people started demonstrating for justice and dignity. In our present age, we witness the persistent violence of exclusion as voices rise to demand inclusion of the bodies, minds, and souls of people so tired of waiting in oppression. 

This is also deeply American. “No taxation without representation!” was the rebels’ call for inclusion in the process of lawmaking and governance, and the demonstrators followed it up with war. When the sovereign refused to give his subjects a voice in making the laws that governed them, they rose up to toss off the sovereign. Then, tragically, the new republic founded for government of, by and for the people, systemically excluded vast members of the governed.

Those excluded people have taken patient centuries to call America to account for its aspirations, to illuminate the hypocrisy of exclusion in a republic founded for inclusion. Steeped in blood and struggle, they have brought America around to itself, little by little, kicking and screaming, mourning and grieving, insisting on inclusion, demanding dignity.

In lament and anguish, punch drunk, America stumbles toward its better angels, shaking off its ghosts, battling its demons, as we realize that inclusion is our only hope to keep the republic our ancestors won and handed down to us. Generous inclusion is national life. Reactionary exclusion is national suicide.        

When people are excluded, when America denies their dignity by telling them to comply without complaining, to thank God for their liberties, while murdering them if they dare to demand a voice, then the whole edifice will crumble. Who among us Americans wouldn’t object, maybe violently, if we were excluded from the system of laws that governs us? Who among us Americans would not create our own communities of dignity, power and self-determination if we were excluded from a state that makes false promises? Who among us is ever satisfied being governed in the third-person?

As law teachers, we have the privilege to observe and the obligation to train. We observe the law in its promise, success and failings, and we train lawyers to represent the people and their government, to make and improve the law, to sit in judgment with the law.

In an age of violence, what can we do to stem tides of death, cultures of fear, and cycles of vengeance? We can teach like we know how high the stakes are. We can observe exclusion and train for inclusion. We can refuse to ratify laws and systems that deny voice to the aggrieved, and we can train up lawyers who are alert, vigilant and ready to make the law better.     

Teaching civil rights is not academic abstraction; it is the lifeblood of a liberal, constitutional republic of limited government and individual liberty. 

Teaching cultural competence is not political correctness; it is the essential tool to promote inclusion of the excluded, to build bridges instead of bunkers, to make the law responsive, not exclusive. 

Teaching self-reflection is not coddling; it creates wisdom and awareness that will inoculate against blindness to the others outside our field of vision. 

Teaching ethics is not for passing an examination; it is to prepare students for a profession that must be much, much more than utilitarian and mercenary. 

Teaching alternative dispute resolution is not a trendy distraction from real lawyering; it equips peacemaking and creativity and dialog among opponents. 

Teaching critical thinking and criticism is not partisan; it is essential to conscious, thorough understanding of our laws, their sources, their effects, their realities.

Requiring pro bono is not charity; it is the transmission of a virtuous legacy of public citizenship that is historically necessary to the profession, demonstrating to law students the power of lawyers to empower the excluded.    

Morality and virtue are not electives. Justice is not secondary to power.     

Inclusion and plurality are necessary to democracy and justice. These are not liberal luxuries.  Diversity is not a vague objective of democracy but is an essential component of democracy.  The rule of law is sustainable only when everyone governed by the law has a voice in the law. The rule of law is only operable and just when the law embraces all of the governed with equity. 

In America, we are governed and government. We are subject and sovereign. We are citizen and state. When we neglect those roles, we invite violence. When we exclude any of our neighbors from law making, law enforcement, or the legal system, we dare the excluded to take care of their own social order, and that inevitably generates violence and oppression in the shadows of society. 

Not all problems are legal problems. The law exists within an ecosystem with constant cycles among culture, society, politics, religion, and economics. But we can do our part as law teachers with an obligation to our nation and communities.

We can train up lawyers who understand their critical role in sustaining our society and the rule of law in a liberal, constitutional republic.

We can study the law to improve it and promote inclusion.

We can promote access to justice, not as charity, but as civic morality.

We can illuminate weaknesses and places of exclusion and prepare our students to confront them.

We can listen and learn from those who are excluded and follow their lead in struggles for dignified inclusion.

We are necessary to building a trustworthy system of law. 

Our students become lawyers who become leaders, representatives, advocates and public citizens. We inherit an ancient project that will continue long after we are gone. The stakes are only as high as life and death and justice. 

Let’s teach like it.     

July 8, 2016 in Current Affairs, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Call It a Draw

It is a rare moment in time when the Supreme Court of the United States contains only 8 members, and this week's decisions deserve close attention.  As teachers and mentors to future lawyers, we should watch closely and prepare to analyze, discuss and critique with our students whether they return in early Fall or tomorrow morning.  

Over at The Conversation, my Penn State colleague Liliana Garces is blogging about the Fisher decision on race-conscious admissions policies in higher education:

At Human Rights at Home, Prof. Irene Schart of U.Mass Law discusses the Court's immigration decision:

And at SCOTUSblog, former assistant to the Solicitor General John Elwood explains the mundane but equally important "relist list" of cases, and those the Court announced this week it will remand, grant petitions in, or vacate judgments in:

Clinical law teaching may not often involve appellate practice, but lessons from the Court abound if we dig deeper than the outraged or relieved headlines.  Lessons on civil procedure, legal writing, and even practice management can be gleaned from the Court's decisions.  The Court is no longer in session, but the lessons remain.

June 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Judgment By Social Media and Tweeted "Expertise" - Three Cases From The Cincinnati Zoo, The Forests of Japan, and Amber Heard's Marriage

As lawyers we oftentimes have to suspend our personal judgment of our clients, their choices and their circumstances.  As clinicians we regularly train and remind our students on this suspension.  Not only does this suspension preserve rapport, but it also allows for better representation of the person, as we just have to take them for who they are, not who we think they should be.  Best practices and professional rules also remind us of client-centered representation, directing that choices are the client's choices and not ours, and that's its not all about us. Professionally this suspension of judgment can be a struggle - as a lawyer you may know "what's right" or "what's best" but the client chooses otherwise.  And we must accept that. 

If only we as a society were charged with this suspension of judgment - but as anyone can tell from the news this week, people are quick to judge others, and their choices, and proffer various social media statements to tout their judgment and expertise.  (Ironically we also have a process for declaring and establishing expertise in the legal field, via our rules of evidence, which Twitter appears not to follow).  Anyone can judge or be an expert in social media - just take a look at this week's fodder:

1) The Death of Harambe:  Let's face it.  Everyone loses in this situation.  If the zoo didn't kill the gorilla, the child might have died and folks would be standing outside the exhibit with candles and posters in memoriam of the boy.  Instead the zoo kills the gorilla, and even though they saved a child, someone must be to blame - distracting iPhones, parents, zoo architecture - you name it.  Mom apparently is an administrator at a preschool, leading many to now call for her resignation.  Because the two go hand in hand. 

2) Abandonment in Hokkaido: To leave or not to leave a seven year old boy on the side of a mountain road in deep bear country forest for throwing stones? That was the question.  Parent's call? To leave. Is it neglect or within the boundaries of discipline? You decide. Everyone else is. 

3) Let's all kick Amber Heard while she's down: Maybe, in a couple of weeks, we will forget doing so, just like her husband allegedly did. It's times like these that make those us of doing domestic violence work cringe. Who is Amber Heard? If you hadn't heard of her (no pun intended) you certainly have now. Heard is the much younger wife of actor Johnny Depp who filed for, and was granted, a restraining order against him. Various photos of her with injuries have emerged, injuries that were allegedly caused by Depp - but where does the public support lie? Mainly with Depp. Why? Because it's her fault, of course, that this happened. She "exacerbates Depp's 'jealousy issues'" as allegedly Depp is incredibly insecure about her. She's also just in it for the money apparently, there being no prenuptial agreement and their divorce filed in California (the laws in California entitling her to fifty percent of what he has made during the marriage). Lastly, her bringing these issues out publicly just confirms that their marriage, and her involvement in it, have just been "nonstop drama". 

As lawyers we have standards for these sorts of judgments and admissible statements. We also have a saying, "innocent until proven guilty". Yet as social media shows us time and time again, judgement is swift, fleeting and generally contained within 140 characters. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that #glasshousesarefullofhotair.

June 3, 2016 in Children, Current Affairs, Domestic Violence, Film, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Get "Building on Best Practices" for Free Only through 2016!

"As you may know, when Building on Best Practices:  Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World was published by LexisNexis, we had an agreement that it would be available for free as an e-book, on line, with printed copies for sale. However, Carolina Academic Press recently bought out Lexis Nexis’ print inventory, causing some confusion regarding availability. Negotiations are still underway.  The  book is currently available in hard copy for sale for $50 ($45 internet discount – to order, go to )  We expect that the ebook will remain available at no cost from Lexis Nexis through the end of 2016.  In order to obtain a free copy, the instructions have changed.  Please submit a request for a free copy of the eBook by sending your request to  After December 31, 2016 there will likely be a fee to obtain a copy of the e-book.

We hope you will strongly encourage your Deans, Academic Deans, Experiential Deans, and your school’s curriculum committee members to read the book.  The book provides helpful guidance and answers on the most important topics in legal education, even the dreaded learning outcomes and assessment projects that are underway at every law school."

Lisa Radtke Bliss and Carrie Kass and the Best Practices Implementation Committee:

Laila Hlass

Jill Engle

Michele Pistone

Jill Engle

Melanie DeRousse

Carrie Sperling

Susan Brooks

Emily Suski


June 1, 2016 in Books, Teaching and Pedagogy, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Please Sign Petition for New AALS Technology Committee!

"Greetings from the Section's Technology Committee!! 

We write to announce two new initiatives.

First, we are in the midst of creating a new webinar series that will focus on using technology in our teaching and our clinics.  The webinar will begin in September and run through the academic year, with one webinar a month.  Stay tuned for more details.

Second, we are petitioning the AALS to Establish New AALS Section:  Leveraging Technology for the Academy and the Profession.  We are seeking signatures of those in the academy who support the creation of this new section.  If you are interested in joining the section as a founding member, please add your name to the list, available here. (AALS requires that we obtain at least 50 signatures from full time faculty members and/or professional staff from at least 25 different schools).

The new section would bring together academics and staff who share a common interest in the advancing scholarship and teaching about role that technology is playing and will continue to play in legal education and the practice of law.  We believe that it is important that members of the legal academy become familiar with and take a lead in driving the changes being made and affordances provided by technological innovations in the delivery of legal services.

The new Section will work with this committee to advance understanding within the academy of these two topics:

 Technology and the practice of law:   The Leveraging Technology Section will provide space for legal academics to consider and shape how evolving technologies are impacting and could impact law and legal systems.  It will encourage law professors to engage in cutting edge research and scholarship that can help to craft the new normal and create a space to share that scholarship with the broader community.  The Section hopes to address how law school faculty can understand the rapid and profound technological change that could well remake law practice and how they can be at the forefront of framing a “new normal” for legal practice and lawyering.   The section will also help law professors access materials that will assist them in preparing law students using emerging technologies in the practice of law.

Technology and legal education: The Section will (1) lead a conversation about whether educational technologies that have been developed and used successfully in legal education may be able to scale to other law school classes; (2) introduce law professors to new educational technologies being developed for use in other areas of education so as to inspire this group of educational leaders to be at the forefront of change as it relates to technology and the legal academy, and (3) introduce law professors to pedagogies used to expose students to emerging technologies that are being used in the practice of law.

If there are others on your faculty who may be interested in this initiative, please feel free to distribute this to them.

We look forward to working with you to advance this agenda.

Valena Beety (West Virginia)

Warren Binford (Willamette)

Michael Bloom (Michigan)

Alyson Carrel (Northwestern)

Jenny Brooke Condon (Seton Hall)

Ron Lazednik (Fordham)

Michele Pistone (Villanova) Chair

Jeff Ward (Duke)

Leah Wortham (Catholic)"

June 1, 2016 in Conferences and Meetings, Current Affairs, Teaching and Pedagogy, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Upcoming Deadline for NYU Writers' Workshop

"This is a reminder that the registration deadline for the Clinical Law Review’s Clinical Writers’ Workshop is June 30, 2016.

The Workshop will take place at NYU Law School on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at NYU Law School.  It 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.

Information about the Workshop – including the Registration form, scholarship application form, and information for reserving hotel rooms – is available on-line at:

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"

June 1, 2016 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Guide for Public Defender Law Clerks in Veterans Court and Veterans Sentencing Programs

Over recent semesters, the Ventura County Public Defender’s Office and Pepperdine University School of Law have been developing the Veterans Law Practicum.  In the Practicum, upper-level law students from Pepperdine work with the Public Defender to represent clients in Veterans Treatment Court. Vet Court is part of the Collaborative Court Program of the Ventura County Superior Court.  Pepperdine law students work in a rich, immersive experience alongside expert attorneys to improve and expand restorative justice for veterans. 

I have rarely seen a field placement as committed, organized and expert in the supervision of law students while ensuring that their work is effective and useful for clients.

Chief Deputy Rod Kodman, other attorneys at the Public Defender’s Office, and Pepperdine law students have prepared the attached guide for Public Defender Law Clerks in Veterans Court and Veterans Sentencing Programs. This is a detailed kit with standard operating procedures, forms and guidelines for students in the practicum.  The Ventura Public Defender has been generous to share this material with defenders throughout California, and we are making it available nationally through several communities committed to veterans’ services. 

From the Introduction:

This guide is designed to assist other jurisdictions in making optimum use of Public Defender law clerks as part of programs that give effect to veterans sentencing statutes, including Veterans Courts. The goal of such programs is to establish a secure pathway for veterans to restorative, alternative sentencing, which greatly increases access to justice for vulnerable veterans. The Ventura County Veterans Court is a collaborative effort, but other jurisdictions can implement the practices outlined here as part of a more adversarial process. Also, this guide refers throughout to the activities of “law clerks.” Other jurisdictions may wish to assign some of these roles to social workers, paralegals, sentencing mitigation specialists, or other professionals. In doing so, they should be careful to follow all applicable rules regarding the unauthorized practice of law.

The guide informs students’ work at arraignment, in the defenders’ office, at the Vet Court team meeting, before and in court, then in the delivery of legal or other benefits to clients. 

Download Vet Law Practicum. Ventura PD. SOP final (5.31.16)

We hope these materials can be helpful, and we welcome questions, suggestions and ideas to make them better.

May 31, 2016 in Clinic Profile, Criminal Defense, New Clinical Programs, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Night in Question, a guest post at the Pepperdine Scotland theater company blog

Pepperdine Scotland is a company in our theater department, and they are producing an original play for debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. Irish playwright Lynda Radley is developing an intense, complex story of sexual assault on American college campuses, with production and direction from Alex Fthenakis and Cathy Thomas-Grant. I have had the singular opportunity to serve as a consultant for the play and to share time with the cast and crew.

Stepping out of our clinics and law schools to participate with other  disciplines in other departments can yield invigorating results. Consulting on the play has made me think more deeply about narrative structure and storytelling.  Thinking about this play and this story has reminded me that these issues and relationships always exceed the bounds of legal definitions and invoke cultures, structures, societies, and deep histories. Working with creative artists, writers, and students reminds me that we can always have more and different ways to do our work. To see a production take flight from scratch inspires me to create and gives me courage to take on new endeavors with faith that we can speak to the world.    

The Interference will be a powerful, important work. I can't wait to see it next year at Pepperdine.

I have the honor of contributing this guest post to the company blog, and I'm very proud to play even a small part in this production.

An excerpt:

I am grateful and proud to contribute some ideas for The Interference this year. Lynda Radley, Alex FthenakisCathy Thomas-Grant, and the Pepperdine crew and cast are undertaking a critical and hard project. The night in question will always matterthe facts, the tick-tock, the actions. But the night in question only really matters in the context of the lives and communities in question. 
The Interference is an ambitious attempt to explore the hyper-local relationship, on the night in question, between the young man who wants possession of the young woman’s body and the young woman who loses possession of her body to him. It is even more ambitious to explore the lives in question all around them, the life of the university, the life of fraternities, the life of friends, the life of the team and its fans, the life of the law, the life of the family. 

May 25, 2016 in Domestic Violence, Interdisciplinary Programs, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 20, 2016

RFP: 6th Annual Southern Clinical Conference - DEADLINE: July 15, 2016

Via Prof. Rocky Cabagnot of Charlotte and Prof. Kendall Kerew of Georgia State:


Please find attached the Request for Proposals for the 6th Annual Southern Clinical Conference, which will be held on October 13-15, 2016, at The Charlotte School of Law in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Also attached is the cover sheet and template for proposals.  Please send proposals to Rocky Cabagnot (  by July 15th.


This year's Southern Clinical Conference theme is Celebrating The Work: Innovations, Traditions, and Disruptions in Clinical Legal Education.  


Registration and hotel information can be found here -  


We hope that you will submit presentation proposals and join us for a wonderful conference in the Queen City of Charlotte, North Carolina.


Download 2016 Southern Clinical Conference - RFP for 2016 FINAL

Download 2016 Southern Clinical Conference Cover and Template for Proposals

May 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Great News for Alex Scherr and UGA

Dean Rutledge at UGA this week shared this good news about our friend and co-blogger here, Prof. Alex Scherr, newly appointed as Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning.  Sometimes I feel like I have never been to a clinical conference or been part of a project in this community that Alex did not lead or serve.  Congratulations, Alex!


I am pleased to share with you that Professor Alex Scherr has agreed to serve as Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning. Alex is a longstanding leader in the clinical legal education community. He is the co-editor of the nationally and internationally distributed Learning From Practice: A Text for Experiential Legal Education, 3d ed. (West Academic, 2016) in which he authored several chapters, and he served as chair of the planning committee for the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference that had more than 725 participants and over 200 presenters. He also played a large role in the successful launch of our Atlanta Semester in Practice Program. I know he will build on the good work that Erica has  undertaken in the last year and a half in this role.

Please join me in congratulating Alex on undertaking this important service as part of the law school's commitment to provide first-rate legal training.

May 17, 2016 in Faculty Profile, Promotions, Honors & Awards | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Clinical Costs: Separating Fact From Opinion, Bob Kuehn in the Best Practices Blog

Prof. Bob Kuehn of Washington University has  posted a well-cited, data-driven analysis of the actual costs of experiential learning at the Best Practices blog.

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” When it comes to expanding clinical legal education, the knee-jerk opinion is that it is too expensive for legal education to follow the lead of other professional schools and ensure that every student graduates with a clinical experience through a law clinic or externship. Even the richest law schools couldn’t resist playing the cost card to scare the ABA out of requiring additional professional skills training: “Requiring all law schools to provide 15 experiential credit hours to each student will impose large costs on law schools, costs that would have to be passed on to students. . . . Even a law school with significant financial resources could not afford such an undertaking.”

Yet, the facts show otherwise — every school, from the well-heeled to the impecunious, can provide a clinical experience to each student without increasing tuition.

. . . .

It is time to put to rest the canard that costs prevent the expansion of experiential courses or a required clinical experience for all students. Every school can afford to provide 15 credits of experiential coursework for its students, including a mandated law clinic or externship experience. The facts show that it is the wills of the ABA, state bar admission officials, and law school deans and their faculties, not the costs of clinical legal education, that are obstructing that progress.

May 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

The one thing you need to know...

Over the course of the semester, I give out countless pieces of advice to my students. You should use a Boolean search. Keep the timekeeping function open as you work. Stop using semicolons like glitter; they are not decorative.

In the end, who knows what sticks and what is instantly forgotten? Often, students ask me during our last meeting if I have any parting advice. Some say this simply to be nice and some are genuinely interested in my response. Either way, I recognize the opportunity. I know this is a chance to say something they will likely remember. I always give the same response: you need mentors.

Many of my students have not put much thought into mentorship. My advice gives us an opportunity to discuss their career ambitions and identify individuals who can help them achieve these goals. Generally, I encourage students to take the following active steps:

  • Create a mentorship strategy
    • As mentors are offering to help you during their free time, it is important to be respectful and considerate. Spend time identifying the areas in which you would like advice. Be sure to share your long term and short terms goals with your mentors.
  • Create a network of mentors
    • One mentor is never enough. You may start your legal career and then move into a different market or field. You will need mentors at every stage to help you.
    • The above point should not preclude you from finding mentors in your area or workplace. Do you know you want to become In House Counsel for the World Wildlife Federation? It is probably not helpful to be mentored by a Big Law Partner in Patent Litigation. Find mentors in your field, or better yet – in the job you want!
    • Be aware that your mentorship needs will change and be prepared to add new mentors to your network accordingly. After having my first child, I struggled with balancing work and motherhood. I was fortunate to have many wonderful mentors who offered advice on everything from the glass ceiling to managing travel with an infant.
  • Strategies for finding mentors
    • Reach out to the State Bar Association
      • The State Bar often has formal programs matching mentors with new attorneys.
      • Minority Bar Associations and Diversity Committees are also an excellent resource for connecting mentors and mentees.
    • Reach out to your Alumni Association
      • Be expansive! Do not limit your mentor search to your law school. Reach out to your undergraduate or other institutions for potential mentors.
  • Listen & Learn!
    • Sure the market has changed drastically in the last decade, but mentors have also weathered these tumultuous economic times. You do not need to follow all of their advice. However, it is in your best interest to hear what they have to say.

Finally, I encourage all my students to give back. I tell them not to wait until they have “made it.” There will always be a recent grad looking for guidance. There is no one better to help them than you.

May 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Rebellious Lawyering and Clinic Interference

By Virgil Wiebe

Early in the life of our immigration clinic we represented a human trafficking victim and sued the trafficker in federal court under the 13th amendment and various other grounds. One day, the defendant (then a doctor at a prominent hospital) walked into the dean’s office demanding we drop the suit because, among other reasons, she, too, was Catholic. The dean heard her out, and then politely showed her the door. I appreciated that support, and now strive to provide similar support quietly to our faculty engaged in advancing social justice.

Rebellious Lawyering marks its 25th anniversary this year, with a number of events scheduled at the AALS Clinical Conference in Baltimore. Another important piece for those supportive of rebellious lawyering is Robert Kuehn and Bridget McCormack’s Lessons from Forty Years of Interference in Law School Clinics,, which came out in 2011. I revisited the piece recently.

As clinic director at a Catholic institution with faculty that straddle a wide swath of the political spectrum, I sometimes field the flak provoked by actions taken to advance differing visions of social justice. More often, our dean absorbs and responds to inquiries, consulting with me to provide accurate information about what’s happening.

On the most divisive political and social issues of the day, our faculty and clinics may take very public stands or work very quietly in behalf of clients. Whether with a megaphone in the middle of an interstate, at a public event at the White House, at the UN, in amicus briefs, or in small civil actions, our clinics are not unique in sometimes provoking intense anger, indignation, and opposition.

Our faculty include a self-described agitator deeply engaged in Black Lives Matter and the new civil rights movement, a former federal prosecutor who has turned against the death penalty and the over-incarceration of drug offenders, a defender of religious liberties, and a former congressional candidate and defender of traditional Catholic values. As you might imagine, their work and the work of their students occasionally stirs the pot.

Bob and Bridget’s piece is worth another read, especially for clinical faculty, deans, directors, university presidents and others who stand behind the scenes.

April 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CLEA Newsletter Spring 2016


Together with the CLEA Newsletter Committee, I am very happy to announce that the Spring 2016 issue of the CLEA Newsletter has just been posted here:

In this issue, you'll find lots of interesting content, including a tribute to Gary Palm, articles on clinical teaching, CLEA committee and advocacy reports, and several announcements about upcoming events at the AALS Clinical Conference in Baltimore.  Plus, you'll find good news from our colleagues around the world.


CLEA Newsletter Committee

Lauren Bartlett (Ohio Northern)

Tanya Asim Cooper (Pepperdine)

Susan Donovan (Alabama)

D'lorah Hughes (Wayne State)

Kate Kruse (Mitchell Hamline)

April 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sailing in Circles

“Prepare to…No, I mean…. Ready about!” I shouted as I glanced up, around and behind me, then up again at the wind vane on the top of the mast. We were in a close reach, or close haul, or maybe a pinch.


“Ready!” My two crew mates grasped the jib sheets.

“Helms-a-lee!” I remembered that call properly and pulled the tiller left toward me, then corrected myself.  We were turning to port, so I needed to push it to the right, I mean, to starboard, toward my instructor. 

The mainsail swung across the cockpit in a short arc, the main sheet catching the boom. The jib luffed then fell as one crew mate eased off her sheet while the other hardened up as we passed through the wind. 

I glanced up at the wind vane to stop the turn in a close reach, focused intently on the little arrow and its v-shaped indicators to tell me when I was out of irons and into my starboard tack.  While my brain processed that little vane, it was not focused on the wind on my face or the kayaker or the sail boat or the piers, at least for a few seconds of forced decisions and information overload.

I was at the helm of a Catalina 22 in the middle of Marina Del Rey, thinking a lot about clinical pedagogy.

Our instructor sat across from me, kicked back against the stern pulpit, nonplussed, a salty-dog sailor, who was also a screenwriter with some work in IT (in LA, naturally), and with, as I would later learn, degrees from Yale and Harvard. He said, “Pick a landmark, keep it in the middle of the pulpit. Don’t steer too much. Your sail is luffing.  Harden up.  Okay, steer a little more than that.  Keep on this line. Watch out for that boat. What tack are they on?”

“Um. Port? Port.”

“Right, so do we stand on or give way? “

“Um, we… Um, we, we stand on.”

“Right. Who’s next? Let’s rotate.”

So I shifted up to take a jib sheet while a class mate took the helm before we fell away to a beam reach, then to a broad reach, before we prepared to jibe, then actually jibed. She yelled, “Jibe ho!” which I had not gotten to do yet but which sounded cool. I relaxed my shoulders and saw everything I couldn’t notice while I was at the helm.


For my fortieth birthday, my wife got me sailing lessons, Basic Keelboat, the 101 course for the American Sailing Association at Bluewater Sailing. Since we had moved to our university overlooking the Santa Monica Bay three years ago, I had been pining for the sea, so she gave me a shot. For four days over two weekends, my crew of four and our instructor learned and practiced the basics. For a week, I had stress dreams about tying knots.   

In the first week, I noticed that the terminology was my greatest distraction. Conceptually, I was getting it, but articulating all of these things quickly took the most mental focus. When we got underway, then started making way, after just an hour or so of basic orientation on shore, I was thrilled to be on the water. But when I was at the tiller, in a crowded marina, I had near-sighted tunnel vision on every task.

I had to focus on that wind vane constantly to reckon my point of sail, but I couldn’t do that while I was trying to remember to push the tiller in the opposite direction we needed to turn, while trying to remember whether to harden up or ease off the sail, to head up into the wind or to fall off, while all the time remembering the sailing words to use for all of those things. Our instructor made us narrate them every time, making us say what we were going to do before we did it, then to say it was we did it, then to do it all again. I sure hoped he or someone was paying attention to whatever we might hit, because I surely wasn’t. 

He would have made a great clinical teacher, demanding but never worried we would collide with anything, even as he let us drift awfully close to disaster.     

Prepare. Perform. Reflect. Prepare. Perform. Reflect.

We sailed in circles for the entire first day, through all the points of sail.  Heading up from the broad reach to the beam reach to the close reach, coming about through the wind, into a close reach, falling off to a beam reach, to a broad reach, jibing away from the wind, then back again. Round and round and round, while all the other boats headed out to sea. 

It reminded me of my first judicial hearing in real life, when a partner needed to tell me where to sit in the courtroom. How I was intently focused on the judge and my notes and how everything else dissolved into fuzzy notions of bailiffs, clerks, opponents, who were all there but who I couldn’t recognize while blood rushed through my ears. It reminded me of sitting in a law library in my firm, surrounded by books that I swore someone had once taught me to use when I was a 1L but that I now felt incapable of using like an expert.     

It reminded me of a 3L who would ask me whether he has to cite the case he’s discussing in the memo. Yes, you always cite everything. Yes, cite it in a footnote. Yes, with the Bluebook. LRW was more than just sitting on the pier with a model.  You have to take this thing out in the water and use it.     

This is experiential learning.

The fourth and final day of the course, we sailed out into Santa Monica Bay with my crew, on a boat without a wind vane on the mast. We felt the wind. We could see it on the sails. We were in a port tack, and I needed to ease up that main sheet to keep our line on a broad reach. I knew how to sail that little Catalina 22 over six-foot swells and around that racing buoy and back again, because I had sailed in circles for days, chanting the turns and orders like a mantra. The final day, I didn’t have to dig deep to remember what to say. I just said it, and I knew what it meant because I could see where I wanted to go, could feel the wind on my face and could watch those sails react.   

We could have talked all day about points of sail with a white board and a model, but we didn’t learn to sail on the ocean until we worked together under real sails in real wind on real water.  We began confused, confounded and exposed in our novice ways, but by sailing we were becoming sailors.


The last day, I didn’t have tunnel vision. I saw all the other traffic on the water while our crew shared stories about our lives and work. We jibed all the way into the marina with the wind at our backs, calling out orders and turns while hardening up and easing off our sails, judging distance and angles, laughing and answering questions, giving and receiving advice.  I was making plans to get my family out on the water as skipper of my own boat.    

That reminded me of the student who was terrified to meet with a client alone for first time in a semester, who shrank from the weight of a client’s trust, who doesn’t trust herself to make a real-time decision, but who, just weeks later, is briefing her fourth client on the law with confidence in her own preparation.  It reminded me of the student who is utterly stymied when he realizes his facts don’t come in a hypothetical and who can’t even identify the issue he’s supposed to spot, but who, ten weeks later, argues in court with a precise, prepared, creative presence of mind.   

They were stumped by the jargon then stupefied by all of the information they needed to process as their instructor told them to sail in circles. After turning through the points of sail, over and over, reciting their lines, learning the wind, watching the sails, feeling the tiller, taking in more and more of the boat’s reaction in the water, the instructor finally said, “Come about and head to sea.” Then the horizon opens up, and the glittering water reflects a bright sky. The sails fill, and the boat cruises out of the harbor. 



"To study the phenomena of law in society without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study the law without clients is not to go to sea at all." - Professor Charles Henderson Miller, founder of the University of Tennessee legal clinic in 1947.



April 24, 2016 in Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)



  • able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
  • involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources
  • able to last or continue for a long time[1]

“Remember you are not a sustainable resource.” A mentor told me that several years ago at an AALS clinical conference as we were in the midst of adding our fourth in-house clinic in as many years. It stayed with me, but unfortunately I did not heed his warning. Now, as the semester is ending, and I am closing my 8th year in clinical teaching, it seems like a perfect time to be more reflective and consider personal sustainability.

As clinicians, we play a different role than our doctrinal colleagues, and it takes a dissimilar toll. Often times it also involves a different schedule. The 24/7 unpredictability of lawyering and client representation, during the academic year and, for many of us, the summer, and student supervision that goes far beyond the physical and emotional boundaries of the classroom, can be as much of a strain as it can be a source of energy. Clinical teaching is the very definition of multi-tasking – juggling the needs of clients, students, the community, and the institution, while seeking to maintain some sort of work-life balance. It is both incredibly rewarding, and exceptionally demanding, work, becoming even more so as legal education is being challenged to produce lawyers with more practice-readiness and professional responsibility.

When classes end and we celebrate our graduating students, we not only revel in their success and wish them well, we also roll up our sleeves and turn back to the task of representing the clients our clinic graduates leave behind. The pace is slower in the summer, but the client needs remain, and it can be a challenge for clinicians to recharge and help ensure their sustainability unless they have assistance in the summer. Between client needs and academic preparation for the coming year, and scholarship or other professional endeavors, the summer can pass with lightning speed, with eager new students knocking at the door before we know it.

This year, unlike year’s past, I am going to try something new to ensure my long-term sustainability. Following a particularly demanding year, internally and externally, I have seen warning signs of the destruction of my own natural resources, and it worries me not for myself, but for those who rely on me, at work and at home. Just like the flight attendant who tells us to put on our own oxygen mask before we put on the mask for a small child, we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. I have started to delegate a little more, said no a few times (this one is particularly difficult for me!), and taken some time out of the office. It turns out I have started to relax a bit, enjoyed my students more, been reminded how lucky I am to have a career that I love, and even started to laugh again.

I challenge each of you to take this summer to reflect, on what you need to do, and what you want to do, and what you can jettison from your already full plate in an effort to ensure your sustainability. If you find it difficult to do this for yourself, do it for your students, your clients, and those who love you. That’s going to be the top priority on my summer to-do list; but first, I’m going to go listen to the ocean waves . . . which always makes everything better!



April 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Coachella - The Next Pop-Up Tax Clinic Opportunity?

Ah Coachella.  California's yearly music and arts festival affords lot of opportunities for its attendees - amazing music, lots of star sightings, entire websites devoted to the fashion strategies to employ while attending, and being able to file your taxes unsuccessfully.  Wait?  What? 

At least ten people tried to file their taxes from the Coachella campground post office this past weekend.  Ironically the "post office" isn't a real post office, nor sponsored by USPS, and "acts more as an intermediary" between the festival "and the real local post office" according to the California Mercury News.  Megan Hampton, who runs the Coachella "office, was quoted as saying "No, I can't 'just take it...How do they have their taxes here? I don't know." 

Jeff Baker @JRBProf - better get that clinic outreach #JusticeBus ready for this weekend.  Sounds like there are folks who could use your clinic's help - maybe even Kanye or Kesha.  If not this year then perhaps we need to plan a road trip and ask Prof. Paul Caron @SoCalTaxProf to tag along.  As long as actress Vanessa Hudgens @VanessaHudgens can tell us what to wear.  I'm in @hagan_carrie.  Maybe I'll have a #Suitsy by then. 



April 20, 2016 in Community Organizing, Current Affairs, Television, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)