Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, July 13, 2015

Atticus Finch's Causes in To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee is publishing Go Set A Watchman this week, and I am worried about it. I am worried about its provenance, its timing and its quality.  I am not worried that we will learn that Atticus Finch is a racist.  If we read To Kill A Mockingbird closely, that will come as no surprise.   

I have a tendency to talk about Atticus Finch and the events of To Kill A Mockingbird as if they are historical.   TKAM is my canon, and Atticus is a hero.   I’m an Alabama lawyer. I wear seersucker, even in California.   I avoided seeing the Gregory Peck movie until well into my 30s because the images in my head from the novel were too sacred to interrupt with a Hollywood vision.   I taught Law & Literature one summer in Montgomery, and my students joked that it should have been the Law & Atticus Finch.  My second daughter’s middle name is Scout.  I love me some Atticus Finch and take these matters seriously.

My love for the novel and its people and places certainly isn’t rare.   It is transformative, holy writ in American letters, law and justice.   Along with so many other adoring readers, the late release of Go Set A Watchman has troubled me much.   I am relatively satisfied now that people and powers are not exploiting Harper Lee, although releasing the once rejected book now is bizarre and problematic.   Even so, I am excited to read it, unless, as Maureen Corrigan suggests that this new-old-revised-previous Atticus is “different in kind, not just degree.”

Some, however, appear to be shocked to discover that Atticus Finch is a racist who doesn’t mind segregation all that much and just wants to treat his neighbors kindly without rocking the boat, a Southern white man alarmed at the Supreme Court’s intrusion into the equilibrium of Southern culture.   We often give folks a pass on complicity by saying they are people “of their time.”  Atticus is a man of his time, a thriving presence in his town, a pillar of his community.  That time, town and community are all manifestations of reconstructed, impoverished, racist, segregation, and it’s not Atticus’s plan to disrupt it.  His plan is to get Tom Robinson to trial alive and to try hard to make that trial fair.   He does this on the strength of his own reputation, not by indicting Jim Crow. 

In TKAM, Atticus is a hero lawyer, but he is not a hero for racial justice.   He was a courageous, kind, benevolent, paternal white man on the top of a segregated social order, and he did nothing to change that.  He’s not really offended or outraged by it.  He did not challenge it among his neighbors, and his defense of Tom Robinson was not a crusade for racial reconciliation.  Atticus’s heroism was in the service of the law, the rule of law, procedural fairness and access to justice.   Atticus was decent and true, honest and courageous, but the causes that led him to risk his reputation and his family’s safety were his own honor as a lawyer and his devotion to the rule of law.  He was no agitator, no prophet. 

The New York Times’s early review susses out the new ideas of Go Set A Watchman, that Atticus Finch, decades after the Tom Robinson trial, is not a radical warrior for racial justice.   Scout returns to Alabama from New York as a hard working 20-something woman to find her father and her fiancé angry about Brown v. Board of Education.  Atticus resists integration and is a common white professional in Alabama in the 50s, conservative and reticent, stoic and diligent, benevolent but not interested in uprooting a social structure reliant on white supremacy and segregation.

This should not be a huge shock.  When Atticus tells Jem that he shouldn’t judge a man until he has walked in his shoes, he’s talking about their white neighbors, not the black folk.  When he says it’s a sin to kill a songbird, it’s a patriarchal metaphor rooted in chivalrous noblesse oblige.     Atticus makes sure his white peers are not made unduly uncomfortable by his court appointed case.  He wants a fair trial for Tom Robinson, but he doesn’t mean to offend anyone by it.  He soft sells the town’s racism to keep the jury engaged.  

Atticus guards the jailhouse from the lynch mob with astounding courage and inspiring pacifism.  He guards it literally with illumination (the lamp), knowledge (the newspaper) and himself.  But he was standing his ground in the defense of the American jury trial and the client to whom he owes loyalty and zealous advocacy.   He was willing to put himself, unarmed and guarded only by his own ethos and honor, between the mob and his client, but it wasn’t to dismantle segregation.  He and his children guarded the mob from itself, too, pulling the culture back from the brink of lawless violence to make sure the work of the court could go on.   

If Atticus had tried to lead a movement against segregation and white supremacy, he very likely would have lost the trial worse than he did, and along the way, he would have lost his practice, his seat in the legislature and his standing in the community.  He would have exposed his client’s family and his own to terror.  It would not have served his client, even if it was the righteous cause, so even if he would have railed against racism, he made a savvy move to craft a different narrative. 

In the trial, Atticus’s principal move to seek an acquittal was to pit Tom’s credibility against the Ewells.  Here he tries to pit one bias against another, hoping that disdain for the white-trash, irreligious rednecks will overcome the blunt racism against a black man who works hard for his family.   The jury can’t do what he asks, and he never really expected them to.   He fought to give Tom a fair trial, like the best kind of public citizen lawyer, and he called on the jury to do their democratic duty under the law.  He did not call out their own racism or impugn the segregated system that funneled them all into the courthouse in the first place.

Atticus knew he would get an appeal and intended to take it, but Tom was shot and killed trying to escape because he realized there were forces beyond his lawyer’s control, finally.   Ewell got his justice when he tried to defend his own honor on the Finch children, but even then, the Sheriff forced Atticus to concede that to prosecute or celebrate Boo Radley would be unfair to Boo and disruptive to the balance of the town.  It was the hardest pill Atticus had to swallow, admitting that the law and process might not render real justice, but he realizes it only when it affects his own.    

Atticus Finch is the personification of Southern duality: hospitable, honorable, generous, honest and profoundly committed to community and family, and complicit in systemic injustice, self-destructive mythology and a strong preference for nostalgic stasis.   Peace, order and stability trump the disruptions and discomfort necessary for real justice and reconciliation.  

Atticus Finch is my hero, but he is not a perfect archetype.  He is flawed, tragically.   He is a great lawyer, a great neighbor, honest and true, the kind of person and attorney who does the work that must be done regardless of the price.  The lawyer whom everyone trusts to do the work they will not do themselves.   He sacrificed himself and his family for his client, for the law and for the fairness of the justice system.  He called his community to its better angels. He is creative, dogged and deeply devoted to the law, demanding by his presence that his client receive a fair trial.    

In all of that, he does not publicly critique segregation or the systems that oppress and divide.  He doesn’t call people from their inherited ways.  He knows who he is, who his neighbors are, what the system is, what the culture wrought, but his is the way of a lawyer with a client.  He is not a prophet with a cause.  He provides comfort and courage within the boundaries of his own world and people, making an incremental nudge towards decency, not a revolution.  

Go Set A Watchman may change all this and call Atticus into disrepute. I hope it doesn’t.  Atticus is already plenty nuanced, human, striving and failing.   As with most mythology, the reality is much more compelling than the pleasant stories we choose to remember. 

July 13, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Vacation, all I ever wanted...or needed?

It’s July. Let’s talk about vacation. More specifically, have you booked yours?

I’d like to invite us to consider vacation as a matter of professionalism. Vacation as duty to ourselves, to our clients, to our students and the profession. A bit too far-reaching? I actually don’t think so.

I’ve spent the better part of the past two years researching, thinking, talking and writing about well-being, self-care and work-life balance.  The way I see it, we are a part of a profession with a longstanding tradition of workaholism and compromised mental health, one that leads other industries in depression, alcoholism, substance abuse and career dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, we are doing far to little to turn the ship. It seems that it's a ship that we would want to turn for our own sakes, of course. However, the task seems all the more important for us as clinical professors, given that we spend our days teaching and mentoring the next generation of lawyers. 

The causes and remedies to these problems are by no means uncomplicated, but one central theme continues to surface in these kinds of conversations: the need for self-care. Taking care of ourselves can feel selfish or privileged, especially as we serve clients and communities who cannot imagine such luxuries as paid vacation time or holiday travel. However, thanks to work being done in other people-centered fields like social work, I have become convinced that the best gift I can give my clients and the community that I serve is for me to be alert and energetic, thoughtful and ready to take on the day's work. For me, failure to recharge and step away from the difficulties of my practice results in a burnout that dances dangerously on the border of malpractice.  And I don't think I'm alone. We're finding that, for both individuals and for companies, failing to recharge "simply isn't sustainable." And according to a recent study cited in the Harvard Business Review, it is those who take vacations that are more likely to be promoted.

 Which brings us to summer: the perfect time to take stock of our work-life rhythms and to hit the reset button on our self-care. Studies show that we typically leave over a week of paid vacation unused. In fact, advertisers have begun to realize that few Americans are convinced to take time away for their own sakes, and have begun to use the “kid angle.” Last summer’s Mastercard "One More Day" campaign featured children citing the benefits of even just one more day of vacation per year. The ad featured kids reacting to the fact that over 400 million paid vacation days go unused each year. This year, homeaway.com partnered with internet sensation “Kid President” to promote the idea of a "whole vacation." Clever as always, Kid President contrasts a whole vacation with it’s common competitors: “vague-cations” and “fake-cations,” insisting that parents must unplug from work and other responsibilities and fully engage with their loved ones for the vacation to "count." Apparently, Kid President would not be in favor of the" work-cation" recently suggested in the Wall Street Journal. Those lovely days in Palm Springs for our AALS Clinical Conference do not count.

Much has been said about the fact clinicians have the opportunity to guide students as they learn how to "act like lawyers." Lately, I've been thinking about what it looks like to guide them in how to" live as lawyers." I want to instill and demonstrate a reflective practice that considers what it is to fully live while practicing law. What does a full or satisfied or multi-faceted life look like?  What are healthy rhythms of work and rest in the midst of a productive career? How do we perform differently when we are well-rested and recharged? Do we have any personal experience upon which we might make such a comparison? As we look toward a better balance in our full lives, these are the kinds of questions we need to be processing with our colleagues and our students.

 So take a break, good colleagues! Find a weekend getaway or a last-minute trip abroad on your favorite discount travel site, skip out early for your local concert in the park, book a massage, buy those summer concert tickets, go for a hike or a stroll this weekend. And then, reflective practitioners that we are...let's jot down a few notes about what these practices did for us and to us. How did time away affect the way we relate to those around us? How long did it take us to unwind?  Did any new ideas come to us as we stared aimlessly at the ocean/lake/forest? (Or while daringly climbing Mt. Hood as our colleague, Warren Binford, wrote about last month?) Finally, let's share our reflections with our students and encourage them to do the same. Let's normalize the idea of getting away and encourage our students to embrace opportunities to both work hard and recharge.

I’m gearing up to turn my email to auto-reply, turn my phone on airplane mode, and cram my family of six into a tent cabin in Yosemite. Relaxing? No, not a bit. But we'll have stories to tell! And I’m convinced that my family, my clients, my students, and I will benefit from the time away.

Where are you headed this summer?

 

July 9, 2015 in Teaching and Pedagogy, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

RFP: Externships 8, March 3-6, 2016 at Cleveland-Marshall (deadline Oct. 2, 2015)

Via Carole O. Heyward:

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: EXTERNSHIPS 8 CONFERENCE
March 3-6, 2016, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland, Ohio
DEADLINE: Friday, October 2, 2015


Externships 8:


Building on Common Ground: Externships, Clinics and Practice-Based Legal Education
Externships have become a steadily more prominent component of experiential
education, drawing increased attention from the ABA, from scholars and from law
schools. The recently adopted ABA standards on experiential courses chart new paths
for field placement teaching while recent scholarship has produced a new statement of
best practices for externships, resources for teaching externship seminars and works on
outcomes, assessment, and evaluation of student learning. Finally, externship courses
continue to grow in number and to diversify in approach, from full-time
semester-in-practice programs to externship components in traditional classes.

The Externships 8 Conference, to be held March 3-6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio, will focus
on the roles that externship courses play alongside other forms of experiential legal
education, including in-house clinics and simulation classes. It will address the distinct
features of externship courses, discuss how they relate to other kinds of experiential
courses and explore the many different ways to assess and enhance their unique
aspects.

The conference will also focus on the fundamentals and best practices of externship
teaching. Separate tracks for new and for experienced externship teachers will offer
both familiar and new ideas on core externship challenges: how to deliver a seminar;
how to train and collaborate with site supervisors; how to teach the skill of reflection
and use it in the course; and how to translate what students learn into transferable skills
and values for the future.

Topics

We encourage you to propose a topic that will develop the dual conference themes of
externships’ relationship to other forms of experiential education and best practices in
externship design and delivery. We append to this RFP a list of specific ideas as
prompts for proposals.

Attendees

Externship teaching involves an increasingly broad range of law school personnel:
tenured or tenure-track faculty; long-term or short-term contract clinicians; part-time
faculty; administrators; field supervisors; career services professionals; and others. The
conference theme focuses on the common ground between externships and other
clinical experiences; accordingly, we invite participation by those who teach in-house
clinics and simulation courses and who are interested in integrating practice-based
learning into the curriculum. We also solicit active participation by international
clinicians, both as participants and presenters.

Proposals for New and Experienced Clinicians

The Organizing Committee expects to offer programming both for those new to field
placement work and for experienced clinicians. We plan to offer sessions in each time
slot that will attract attendees in each group. We ask that you identify which audience
you plan to address – new or experienced or both - in your proposal.

Formats and Publication

The Organizing Committee seeks proposals in several different formats. We solicit
proposals for concurrent sessions to last a full concurrent time slot. We also seek
suggested topics for and facilitators to convene affinity groups, designed for those
attendees who would like to meet with others to discuss common issues. Groups may
form according to geographical region, subject matter (e.g., prosecutorial externships),
or concerns (e.g., ABA issues).

We may also offer sessions consisting of short, “TED Talk-like” presentations of 10 to 20
minutes. We also invite proposals for poster presentations.

Lastly, we welcome proposals to present scholarly works-in-progress, to last 20
minutes. The Clinical Law Review has agreed to consider papers emerging from the
conference (whether from a works-in-progress session or any other conference session)
for publication in a special issue. No guarantee of publication exists; all papers will be
reviewed in accordance with the Clinical Law Review’s normal standards. Potential
authors must submit final drafts of manuscripts no later than June 1, 2016, for
consideration.

Proposal Selection Criteria

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

– demonstrate innovation, either in the choice of topic or in the angle of
approach to a familiar topic;

– include presenters who have significant expertise in the topic or a base of
experience that provides a unique or useful vantage point on the topic;

– indicate specifically how the presentation will encourage active learning,
including specific methods for engaging in interaction with the audience; and

– describe how attendees will be offered strategies for implementing new ideas
when they return to their schools.

Finally, we value diversity, both in the composition of presenting teams and in your
topic’s presentation of diversity and inclusiveness as a concern in field placement work.
The Organizing Committee will consider diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity,
disability, sexual orientation, geographical location, years of experience, type of school,
type of program and other factors.

Deadlines and Instructions:

Consultation:

We encourage you to contact members of the working group responsible for conference
content to discuss your ideas as you prepare a proposal. This group includes:

Carole O. Heyward, c.heyward@csuohio.edu
Bob Jones, rjones1@nd.edu
Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, Carolyn.Kaas@quinnipiac.edu
Alex Scherr, Scherr@uga.edu
Beth Schwartz, bschwartz@fordham.edu
Kelly Terry, ksterry@ualr.edu

Application:

This document includes both a cover sheet for proposals and a template for a more
detailed description of the proposal.

Complete the Cover Sheet AND the Detailed Proposal and submit them no later than
Friday, October 2, 2015 to:

externships8@csuohio.edu

By Friday, October 30, 2015, we will notify the contact person for each proposal. We
may contact you sooner to discuss modifications or to suggest collaborations. After
confirming your participation, we will assign a member of the Organizing Committee
to your group to help you to prepare and to assure that your eventual presentation and
materials meet the expectations stated in the criteria for selection.

POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR PROPOSALS

-- Ideas about best practices in externship teaching.

-- Integration of externship courses into the experiential curriculum, including the
sequencing and scaffolding of externships, in-house clinics and other courses.

-- Distinctive features and opportunities of externships as practice-based education.

-- Participation and status of externship clinicians in law schools, alongside in-house
clinicians and other faculty.

-- Employing externship teaching methods in non-externship classes (e.g., hybrids,
practicums, pop-ups, and add-ons).

-- Working effectively within law schools to promote externships and to secure the
resources necessary for effective program operation.

-- Management of the complex administrative tasks associated with externship courses.

-- “How to” sessions on externship pedagogy, including:

- Student supervision by both site supervisors and externship teachers;

– The classroom experience, both traditional and non-traditional, as a vehicle for
reforming students’ experiences of law school;

– The role of field supervisors as teachers, the training of and ongoing
collaboration with supervisors, and the selection of field placements; and

–Reflective practice as an important aspect of education reform, including
methods for encouraging, teaching and assessing reflection.

--Design and delivery of externship opportunities for students in part-time programs.

–Field placement courses in other countries, and a comparative assessment of those
courses, including differences in cultural, structural and financial pressures.

– The impact of newly revised ABA and state-level standards.

-- The growth, role and administration of semester-away programs.

– The use of technology in field placement programs.

Cover Sheet for Proposal for Externships 8

Send this cover sheet and proposal via e-mail by October 2, 2015 to:
externships8@csuohio.edu

The Organizing Committee will use the information on this cover sheet both to review
proposals and to prepare the conference brochure. Please include a contact person and
the name of all known presenters. We will correspond only with the contact person.

Make sure that all information is complete and accurate.

Please note: Presenters must pay the same conference registration fee as participants.
Program Title:
Contact Person’s Name:
Name of School (as listed in the AALS Directory):
Address:
E-mail:
Voice:
Fax:
Others Presenters and Schools (as listed in AALS Directory):

Format (check all for which you are willing to have your proposal considered):
_____ Full concurrent session
_____ Workshop/affinity group discussion by geographic region (e.g., urban,
Southeast U.S., international)
_____ Workshop/affinity group discussion by topic or practice area (e.g.,
judicial, criminal defense, semester-away)
_____ Scholarly work-in-progress (20 minutes)
_____ Short presentation (10–20 minutes, TED Talk or similar format)
_____ Poster presentation

New or Experienced Clinicians Track:
_____ New
_____ Experienced
_____ Both

Will you prepare a paper based on your presentation? ____ Yes ____ No

Detailed Proposal for Externships 8

Title:

Abstract of your presentation: Describe the content of your presentation. In doing so,
identify the points of innovation in the topic or in your approach and describe the
expertise or experience base of the presenters. For concurrent sessions, specify the
preferred length of the session. We are considering sessions ranging from 60-90
minutes. If you propose to convene a workshop or discussion for an affinity group,
identify the potential participants and the goals for your gathering.

Method of presentation: Describe how you propose to present your material. In doing
so, describe how you will assure active learning by your audience and discuss how you
will provide strategies that attendees may use to implement your ideas when they
return to their schools. Finally, describe any materials you propose to distribute before
or during your presentation.

 

July 9, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2015

New Veterans Initiatives at Pepperdine

At Pepperdine, on the foundation of a generous gift from a private foundation, we have been able to build some exciting new programs to serve veterans and other former service members in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in California.   These projects began with a year-long needs assessment for veterans legal needs.  The study then helped us identify new collaborations with hard working, creative professionals in these communities which in turn have led to new opportunities for law students to expand and improve access to justice for this critical population. 

Here is the news release this week describing our projects for veterans at the School of Law.

Happy Independence Day!

July 3, 2015 in Clinic News, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Terry Wright Moves to Willamette

The dean of the Willamette University College of Law announced today that the university has hired Terry Wright as the law school's new Externship Director. Willamette began a complete renovation of its externship program ten years ago, which increased the number of credits students can earn, the variety of placements available, and added a more rigorous academic component. Willamette's clinical law faculty played key roles in this expansion and overhaul.

Most recently, Professor Gwynne Skinner both taught and supervised the Externship Program, while further redesigning it to increase enrollment and add a full-time offering. She did this over a two-year period while directing her human rights, immigration, and refugee law clinic and teaching non-clinical courses. Professor Skinner also chaired the search committee that resulted in the recommendation of Professor Wright as the law school's first permanent Externship Director.

Professor Wright is a Willamette alumna who taught in the clinical law program in the late 1980's.  She then moved to Lewis & Clark where she spent the next 25 years as a popular and highly respected Clinical Law Professor. She has been a leader in the clinical community for decades, especially in the Northwest. The Willamette community is thrilled to have Terry Wright return home! 

July 2, 2015 in Clinic News, New Clinical Faculty, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tying Knots

One of the dangers of living in the Northwest is that you occasionally attend a school fundraiser and become the winning bidder on a climb to the summit of Mt. Hood. Now I have climbed a fair number of mountains in my day, but none technical and only one recently. Thus, after the semester ended, I found myself in the unusual role of student.  Mine was not a class about law or writing or education; rather, this was a class about tying knots, which I know nearly nothing about.

Don’t get me wrong: I have been tying knots for well over forty years. Well, actually, one knot and it involves bunny ears, but if needed, I can even tie it in a double knot! However, in this class, we were not being asked to tie knots that will keep on your Disney princess tennis shoes with red flashing lights as you run across the playground. These were life-saving knots. The kind that get you out of crevasses and keep you from falling off cliffs. Knots you want to--need to--know how to tie in the dark without thinking. Prusiks. Clove lines. Bow hitches. Double eights.

And so there I sat with one of my climbing partners to my left, and the other to my right. Both had a vested interest in my mastery of these skills. Indeed, their life might depend on it. No longer the one in charge, I was suddenly a student well outside of my comfort zone learning a high stakes skill that I needed to master with peers watching and evaluating. The pressure was on.

The course was well designed. The instructors sent us a manual before class, listed online demonstrations to watch, went over a quick PowerPoint in class, and then broke us into small peer groups  of 3-5 learners, plus one instructor, and handed us each a length of climbing rope to practice and demonstrate our knot-tying mastery. Our instructor quickly tied a couple of the assigned knots and then directed us to try. I panicked.

Here it was seven o’clock at night. I had not had dinner. I had worked all day. I had just met a publication deadline, returned from a business trip, and closed out the school year. I had two young children at home and not enough sleep. I was driving over two hours roundtrip at night to attend this class. I had not done my homework and was running on fumes. And it hit me.

The tables were turned. All year long I had provided my students with a variety of resources, assigned them work to support their learning, delivered content in multiple settings with a variety of media. I had created opportunities to work in different group sizes, and yet, when it came time to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, to apply their knowledge, they would sometimes look at me hungry, exhausted, and confused like they had no idea what they were doing.

Humbled, I meekly handed my rope back to the instructor and asked him if he could demonstrate how to tie just one knot, and this time more slowly. He did, but not nearly slowly enough. I still didn’t get it. I tried, but he quickly untied my jumble of climbing rope, and directed me to watch him again. He quickly tied it so fast that I could not break down all of the steps. I tried again, but it was clear I had failed. I asked him if he could let me tie the knot and coach me through it one step at a time. He agreed, but after the second step took the rope back and quickly tied it again. At this point, all of my teammates were done with this knot and were ready to move on.

He offered to teach me a different method for tying the knot for people "who struggled." I was being offered remedial knot-tying! "No!" I insisted, and then I dropped the H-bomb in a moment of panic and defensiveness. I had a doctorate from Harvard, and if they just gave me a few more minutes, I could catch up. One of my peers, reached out to assure me. She was a D.O., but this is different, she said.

The instructor suddenly felt uncomfortable and said that now he was intimidated. He was obviously doing something wrong. I assured him that it was my fault: I hadn’t done my homework. I just needed him to slow down and coach me through each step of the tying of the knot, which he did. Once we broke it down step-by-step, with me (the learner) as actor, we both identified what I was doing wrong. Like so many things in life, I had been overcomplicating the knot. Rather than tie it once, I was tying it twice, perceiving it as more complex than it really was. The problem was suddenly untangled.

After the class took a break and I grabbed a quick bite to eat, I quietly slipped into a different group, where I could escape the shadow of my double figure-eight failure and start fresh with a new instructor. I eventually mastered all five knots, and developed such a great rapport with my second teacher (who knew nothing about my near miss with remedial knot tying instruction) that after our field training, he offered to join us on our climb up Mt. Hood. Perhaps he just loves climbing mountains, or maybe, although he witnessed how much I learned in class, he also saw how much I do not know, how much I still have to learn, and knows that some students still need teachers to be ready to support and watch over them, even after class ends.   

   

June 24, 2015 in Teaching and Pedagogy, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Southern Clinical Conference Update

Here is an update from the Southern Clinical Conference Planning Committee:

We are touching base with more exciting news about the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference, which will be held at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law on October 22-24, 2015.  First, please be reminded about the July 17, 2015 deadline to submit a proposal for plenary, concurrent, or workshop sessions related to our conference theme of Confronting Issues of Race and Diversity in Clinical Legal Education (see Request for Proposal materials attached to D. Schaffzin e-mail of May 26, 2015).

Apart from plenary, concurrent, and workshop sessions, the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference will also include a time slot dedicated for participants to present works-in-progress.   We invite works-in-progress proposals from new and experienced scholars, on all topics, at all stages of development, from completed drafts to half-baked ideas.  The work-in-progress topic does NOT need to relate in any way to the conference theme.  

We also are looking for volunteer discussants to facilitate dialogue about each work-in-progress project during the sessions.  Work-in-progress presenters will have an opportunity to work with discussants in advance of the conference to tailor the session to meet their goals -- whether receiving detailed feedback on a draft, developing particular ideas, or devising a publication strategy. 

For more information, please consult the attached work-in-progress request for proposals, cover sheet, and template.  

Prospective Work-in-Progress Presenters: please send proposals to Sandra Love (stlove@memphis.edu) by August 15th.  

Prospective Work-in-Progress Discussants: please send an email to Sandra Love (stlove@memphis.edu) by August 15th indicating your interest and listing any topic areas in which you have a particular interest or expertise.  If you would be open to serving as a discussant with regard to a paper of any topic, please note that, too.

Please contact the Planning Committee if we can be of any assistance.  Work-in-Progress presenters from all regions are welcome.  Join us and present your work in a fun and supportive environment!

 We look forward to your proposals. Registration details and other reminders regarding the Southern Clinical Conference will be coming later this summer.

 Danny (on behalf of the SCC Planning Committee) 

 

Daniel M.   Schaffzin 
  Assistant   Professor of Law 
  Director of Experiential Learning
  Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

June 22, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

JOBS: Qualified Tax Expert, Low Income Tax Clinic, Columbus Community Legal Services, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America

Via Prof. Faith Mullen: 

Qualified Tax Expert, Low Income Tax Clinic

Columbus Community Legal Services

Columbus School of Law

The Catholic University of America

Columbus Community Legal Services, the clinical program of the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America welcomes applicants for the Clinical Supervising Attorney-Qualified Tax Expert position in its Low Income Tax Clinic (LITC).  The successful candidate will represent clients and teach law students.  The LITC is the newest of four clinics comprising Columbus Community Legal Services, one of the District of Columbia’s oldest legal services providers.  Experience in a clinical environment—either as a law student or as teacher—is strongly preferred.  Applicants should also have a demonstrated commitment to working with low income individuals. 

 Responsibilities of the LITC QTE will include

 

  • Provide law students with closely supervised agency and courtroom experience on behalf of Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents on personal federal and local income tax matters
  • Provide law students with practical instruction on federal and local income tax law, Internal Revenue Service regulations and procedures, and United States Tax Court rules and procedures
  • Expose law students to the opportunities of providing pro bono services to needy individuals in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia
  • Develop and conduct limited advice and referral clinics for Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents on a range of personal federal and local income tax matters
  • Develop and conduct community education outreach programs for Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia organizations, their members, and fellow practitioners on a range of personal federal and local income tax matters
  • Provide low-income Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents with direct case representation before the United States Tax Court, the Internal Revenue Service and local tax authorities

The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • A Juris Doctor degree
  • A license to practice law in the District of Columbia, or be eligible and willing to waive into the District of Columbia Bar
  • Admitted or eligible to be admitted to the United States Tax Court
  • A commitment to instructing and supervising law students
  • A working knowledge of personal federal income tax law
  • A mature, self-starter, with an ability to work independently
  • Ability to work collaboratively with others
  • A demonstrated commitment to social and economic justice

Compensation: The position is full-time with a salary of up to $50,000 plus benefits, which include medical insurance and other benefits.

 Applications will be considered on a rolling basis starting July 3, 2015 or until filled. The anticipated start date is August 1, 2015, although a later start is possible.

 For more information contact Paul Kurth at 202-319-6788.

 

June 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

JOBS: UDC Fellowship in General Practice Clinic

Via Prof. LaShanda T. Adams:  

Master of Laws (LL.M.) Degree Program With Concentration In Clinical Education and Systems Change

To Provide Family Law Services to Women Veterans

Dear Colleagues,

U.D.C. David A. Clarke School of Law is pleased to announce a fellowship opportunity in the General Practice Clinic.

The fellow will supervise law students in the representation of women veterans in family law matters.

The U.D.C. David A. Clarke School of Law has an excellent and nationally ranked clinical education program. Each law student (J.D. candidate) must complete at least two seven-credit clinics (a minimum of 700 hours of clinical work) to graduate. Each LL.M. candidate will work closely with an experienced faculty member in a clinic to teach and supervise J.D. candidates in substantive law and practice skills. In addition, over the course of the two-year program, Fellows in the LL.M. program will complete a culminating project in the form of a scholarly work of publishable quality or a project designed to stimulate systems change.

The two-year LL.M. program includes coursework in clinical pedagogy, legal scholarship, public interest law, and systems change. The focus of the program is to provide the Fellows with a foundation in clinical education practices and to strengthen their lawyering and advocacy skills.

L.L.M. candidates will receive an annual stipend of $51,157 plus benefits.

The program begins on August 1, 2015.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Specific clinic descriptions are at: http://www.law.udc.edu/?page=ClinicIntro

Admissions Process

Please submit the following:

A response to the following questions in no more than 1,000 words (two pages):

In your area of concentration, what systemic problems have you identified? How do you envision using the law to transform the system?

Resume, Writing Sample, Law School Transcript (official), Two letters of recommendation from persons with personal knowledge of your capabilities and commitment to social justice.

Please send materials, except transcript, electronically to Jordana Arias, Clinic Staff Assistant,jarias@udc.edu. (Please enter “LL.M. Application” in the subject line.)

Mail transcript to:

Jonathan Smith, Associate Dean
Clinical and Experiential Programs
University of the District of Columbia
David A. Clarke School of Law
4200 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Building 52
Washington, DC 20008

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Questions? Please contact Jonathan Smith: jonathan.smith2@udc.edu.

Candidates should have a minimum of two years relevant practice experience and be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any state possession, territory, or Commonwealth of the United States, or the District of Columbia. A person chosen to enter the LL.M. program who is not a member of the D.C. Bar will have to apply to waive into the D.C. Bar or otherwise apply for membership in the D.C. Bar.

June 4, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Clinical Writers' Workshop--Upcoming Deadline

Here is the announcement for the Clinical Writers' Workshop from the editors of the Clinical Law Review:

The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 26, 2015, at NYU Law School.  The registration deadline is June 30, 2015.

The Workshop will provide 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, 2015.

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:

http://www.law.nyu.edu/journals/clinicallawreview/clinical-writers-workshop

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 randy.hertz@nyu.edu.

-- The Board of Editors of the Clinical Law Review

June 2, 2015 in Clinic News, Current Affairs, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

RFP: Southern Clinical Conference, October 22-24, 2015, in Memphis

Via Danny Schaffzin

Southern Clinical Conference 2015
Request for Proposals
October 22-24, 2015
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Memphis, Tennessee

Confronting Issues of Race and Diversity in Clinical Legal Education

Deadline for Proposals: July 17, 2015


The Planning Committee for the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference invites you to
submit proposals for this year’s conference, which will take place from Thursday
evening, October 22nd, to mid-day Saturday, October 24th, at the University of Memphis
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis, Tennessee. Details on registration and
lodging will follow soon.

The committee is open to receiving proposals for plenaries, concurrents, workshops or
discussions formatted in other ways. The deadline for proposals is July 17, 2015. We
will notify those who make proposals no later than August 14, 2015. A solicitation
for a devoted Works-in-Progress session will go out under separate cover.
We invite proposals that address how to teach and advocate about race and diversity in
clinical education. We encourage applicants to think broadly about this topic. We
solicit proposals from teachers of in-house clinic or externship courses, and other
courses that offer real practice experience.

For example, proposals might focus on any of the following topics:

Programs or initiatives that address racial justice in distinctive or compelling ways.

Responses to the emerging public debate about race relations across the nation,
including the #BlackLivesMatter and other similar movements.

Ways that clinical programs and teachers can leverage their position in two worlds
(the legal academy and law practice) to confront issues of race and diversity.

Specific courses or classes or pedagogical methods that offer effective ways to
introduce race and diversity issues into clinical teaching.

The influence of teaching about race and diversity on clinic design and vice versa
(e.g. choosing long-term vs. one-semester cases; representing groups vs. individuals;
focusing on political vs. litigation vs. transactional strategies; selecting and
sequencing of externship vs. in-house vs. other real practice experiences.)

The distinctive dimensions of confronting race and diversity in a southern historical
and political climate.

The challenge of teaching race and diversity as a pervasive concern, regardless of the
practice areas into which our students will graduate.

Addressing issues of race and diversity as they arise within our law schools and
impact students, faculty, staff, and other internal stakeholders.

The contributions that we, as clinical teachers, can make to a larger discussion of
race through service and scholarship.

The challenges confronted by both newer and more experienced teachers in
integrating race and diversity as topics into newly-created or long-standing courses.

Successful proposals might combine one or more of the suggestions above, or discuss
none of them. We encourage you to think creatively and flexibly in addressing the
conference theme.

CRITERIA

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

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

SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS

Proposals should be submitted by e-mail to Sandra Love (stlove@memphis.edu) no later
than July 17, 2015.  Please use this cover sheet and template:  Download Southern Clinical Conference - Cover and Template for Proposals - 2015

Here is the complete RFP for downloading:  Download SCC RFP - FINAL



May 26, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Opportune Moment

Building on Warren’s post, here is the National Law Journal’s declaration that this is the moment for clinics:   

Law school clinics are having a moment. They have become an increasingly important part of the law school curriculum during the past five years, as schools faced pressure to provide students with practical, hands-on experience. In this special report, we highlight six law school clinics taking new approaches to student learning, breaking into new areas of the law or that have impressive track records of success.

Whether this is overdue or just getting started, we have expanding responsibility and genuine opportunity now to contribute to the reformation of legal education with creativity, courage, optimism, compassion and excellence.   All hands are on deck, and clinicians have been preparing for this storm for a long while.    Let's make history.  

Profiled in the story are clinics from Brooklyn, Cardozo, Chicago, Loyola-LA, Suffolk and UVA.   Good work, y'all.  

May 19, 2015 in Clinic News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Let's Make History

It’s been a heck of a year. Three people in my life died unexpectedly and I am witnessing four friends and colleagues battling cancer. Commencement was yesterday and I, for one, am ready for this year to end. It was my own personal annus horribilis, and so no one was surprised when I stood on the law school steps after our graduation party, tore off my academic regalia, and shouted joyously, “Bring on summer!” before heading straight to the last remaining video store in town and loading up my arms with all those movies I didn’t have time to watch this past year. 

The Theory of Everything? Check. The Imitation Game? Check. American Sniper? Check. My pop culture deficit is so deep and accelerating so rapidly, it should qualify for its own deficit clock. In the past semester alone, I missed two student references to the District 12 finger sign from The Hunger Games trilogy and a case rounds cameo by Viggo Mortensen from The Lord of the Rings. If I wanted to remain a relevant authority in my students' eyes, I knew that I had to commit to a summer long bender of kettle corn binges and movies at midnight. The sacrifices one has to make for professional development….

And so last night, there I was watching The Interview. Who wasn’t curious about the movie that purportedly led to the Sony email hack and brought down Amy Pascal? Bad reviews aside, I like to laugh, so it doesn’t take much to convince me to watch a comedy, especially to kick off a private summer movie festival on my very own couch.

But the movie was bad, really bad, and morning came too quickly. The phone was ringing, our preschooler burst through the bedroom door dressed and ready to go to school, and it seemed the sun was shining even brighter and earlier than usual. For some reason, my head was hurting despite the fact that I had washed that kettle corn down with nothing more than water and a splash of Martinelli’s. Had I finally reached that age when staying up past midnight could have this effect?

As if the sobering after effects of one bad late night movie in middle age was not painful enough, I sat down to nurse my morning coffee and began flicking through my emails on my smartphone when I was jolted awake in a moment of panic by the National Law Journal headline proclaiming, “This is the Moment--for Clinics”! Now?! I was only 16 hours into the summer following my annus horribilis, and was still wearing fuzzy pajamas. Right now?!

As my thoughts began to race about this moment--our moment--in history, I began to resent the cruelty of fate. “Couldn’t we have another moment?” I wondered. Why didn’t we have 1998, before the tech bubble burst, the Twin Towers fell, the Long War began, Enron went bankrupt, the housing market collapsed, the financial crisis of 2008, and the crisis in legal education began? Who got that moment?

Why does our moment have to be now when law school enrollments are down? Budgets are being slashed. At least two law schools are merging, and another is on the cusp of closing. One of the oldest and largest law school clinics in the Northwest was closed unexpectedly last fall due to a budget deficit at the law school. Our most senior clinical faculty are retiring from coast to coast. Others are dying. Many are not being replaced with tenured or tenure-track appointments. Law school deans are throwing in the towel after 2.8 years on average, leaving us without stable leadership. Our students are less qualified, and need more remediation. We have more foreign students enrolling in our LLM programs, some seeking clinical experiences. Our schools need students and our students need jobs, and so we work to recruit, teach, train, place, and mentor them in a market that bears little resemblance to when we graduated from law school.

All the while, our nation’s clinical faculty continue to grow and adapt and lead as the market forces legal education to adapt to a new century with different needs and unique challenges including globalization, digitalization, and a rapidly changing environment. It might not have been our first choice, but this is our moment in time. 

Oh well. The film festival was off to a bad start anyway. Who needs summer when there is work to be done? Let’s make history.  

May 18, 2015 in ABA Standards, Clinic News, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Clinic Effect

Yesterday, I received an email from the “LexisNexis Law School team” about the release of a new white paper, commissioned by LexisNexis, on how law schools can develop writing and transactional skills “to address the demand for more practice-ready graduates.” The white paper, Hiring partners reveal new attorney readiness for real world practice, surveyed 300 law firm partners and supervising associates, and its “key findings include:

• 96% believe that newly graduated law students lack practical skills related to litigation and transactional practice.

• 66% deem writing and drafting skills highly important with emphasis on motions, briefs and pleadings[.]

• Newer attorneys spend 40% – 60% of their time conducting legal research[.]

• 88% of hiring partners think proficiency using “paid for” research services is highly important[.]

• Students lack advanced legal research skills in the areas of statutory law, regulations, legislation and more. . . .

• The most important transactional skills include business and financial concepts, due diligence, drafting contracts and more. . . .

• [L]aw firms spend[] approximately $19,000 per year, on average, to train a new associate[.]”

Without a doubt this survey can be helpful just as the white paper claims: “Law schools are presented with a great opportunity to improve upon the employment prospects of their graduates by focusing on certain practical skills that law firms most desire.” While critically important to practice, legal research and writing and drafting pleadings are not enough to ready law students to enter the profession. So-called “soft skills” like client-centered and culturally competent lawyering are equally important, not to mention ethics, and law students must know how these operate in practice. Not only do law students need to learn legal theory, but they also need to apply it in real world contexts, as the study recommends. Not all law students want to enter Big Law, but many feel pressure to do so, as the New York Times well.blogs reports. Integrating practice skills in legal education is precisely what clinical law does, and the effect is undeniable.

Just this week, as several of my clinic students graduate, I received this note from one woman who took one year of the domestic violence law clinic:

“I also want to say thank you for a wonderful year. Clinic was by far the best experience in law school for me. I learned more in Clinic practicing with you than in any other class during my three years. Thank you for teaching me to be a practical and ethical lawyer. I learned to keep my cool in stressful situations and most importantly, how to be a passionate advocate for my clients while maintaining a client centered approach.”

My clinic colleagues are posting similar expressions of gratitude from their students. Our students even report satisfaction in learning how to talk to court clerks, opposing counsel, and especially clients. They appreciate knowing how to navigate the courthouse and where to file pleadings and request transcripts. Not all of my former clinic students were happy, in full disclosure. Some complained clinic was too much work, or the subject matter was too emotionally taxing, and that is okay. There is value in ruling out what you don’t want to do.

This is my seventh year of clinical teaching, and I still feel incredibly lucky. What a privilege to guide the next generation of lawyers. My first former student is about to become a clinical teacher herself, and many others have asked me for guidance on how to get into clinical law. Not only does this make my heart swell with pride and gratitude for the best job on earth, but I also see this as proof of the clinic effect. It’s real.

May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Welcoming Tanya Cooper to Pepperdine University School of Law

I am very pleased to announce that Tanya Asim Cooper is joining the faculty at Pepperdine University School of Law this summer to design, launch, teach and direct the new Restoration & Justice Clinic.   In the new clinic, Tanya and our students will provide legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes.   She will build collaborative relationships with professionals in Southern California to facilitate comprehensive services for our clients and to provide experiences in multidisciplinary practice for our students.  

Prof. Cooper joins us from the University of Alabama where she has led and taught the Domestic Violence Clinic with extraordinary clinicians and where she was instrumental in expanding the local task force on domestic violence.  Before teaching at Alabama, Tanya trained in the clinics at American, and taught in the clinics at UDC.  She is a great fit at Pepperdine.   We are thrilled to welcome her back home to California, and I can’t wait to see her great work to come. 

May 3, 2015 in Clinic News, New Clinical Faculty, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 1, 2015

The CLEA Newsletter Spring 2015 is out!

The CLEA Spring Newsletter is out! Read about upcoming CLEA events, articles on clinical teaching, social justice creative writing, Clinical Conference updates, and more.

May 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Next for Social Justice?

Today I had the opportunity to discuss clinical law teaching as a method to advance social justice in a private meeting I can't say much about except that I left it invigorated.

Over the past three days I have felt anything but invigorated as I watched, read, listened to, and pondered media coverage and expert commentary on the massive implosion of community non-development and public non-safety in the much beloved and misunderstood Charm City of Baltimore

This month, my students have been stressed out and frustrated but they have also filed a petition to help a client get access to a vehicle to travel the 30 miles to her job as a maid; counseled a client through issues about her own life-threatening illness and how it may or may not impact her potential filing for divorce; and researched best practices on reporting gender-based violence on campus to advocate for its victims.

What is next for social justice can seem elusive in our world of declining law school applications, a wounded economy that may never fully recover, violence in our streets, and a social media-centric culture that distracts our students and ourselves constantly and often lacks any meaningful results.

Yet we adapt.  We listen to the call for legal assistance for Baltimore that went out on this blog and hundreds of other online lists this week.  We listen to our students when they put down their phones and ask us to review their draft petition.  We listen to our clients when they vent about the system, and we nod and say we agree and we mean that.  We do agree.  The system is porous.  It is messed up.  

Social justice is hard to hear.  It whispers.  But when we stand still, in these spaces we create to cultivate it, we hear that whisper.  And stand ready to start anew each day in our journey through this work, and we respond to that whisper in the words of the brilliant Maya Angelou: "Good morning."

April 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Clinical Law Prof Meet-Up in the Desert: May 6 at 8:30 p.m.

UPDATE:  We're meeting on the patio outside the Fireside Lounge at the Westin.  See you soon.

 

Friends, Writers, Readers,

The Clinical Law Prof Blog community will gather for an informal, not-hosted, meet up at the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, May 6, somewhere in the Westin.   (Watch this space, the Facebook page and @ClinicalLawProf for the location TBD).

It is impossible to plan a gathering that does not conflict with other worthy gatherings at this mighty conference, but if you can, please save the time and join us for conversation, refreshments and pleasantries.  

April 28, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings, Food and Drink, Games, Music, Religion, Science, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Call for Help.

Baltimore-freddie-gray-police-protest-1

We have just received a call for help from our fellow clinicians in Baltimore.  

"Lawyers and law students are needed for jail support and legal observing for demonstrations in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. We are building an infrastructure to support community organizations in Baltimore who are exercising their civil and human rights." 

There is a immediate need for attorneys licensed in Maryland with criminal defense and civil rights experience. 

If you would like more information, please see the following website: http://www.fergusonlegaldefense.com/baltimore

The website has information on: News & UpdatesTraining Materials and a place for Donations.  

 

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2015 in Clinic News, Clinic Students and Graduates, Community Organizing, Criminal Defense, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

What the Best Law Mentors Do: A Request for Nominations

Via Prof. Kelly Terry, a request for nominations for the best law mentors in the country:

 I am writing to ask for your help with a new research project.  A team of my colleagues here at University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law, Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz, Professor Terri Beiner, Professor Kelly Browe Olson, and I, are launching a study of the best law mentors in the country. We recently signed a contract with the Harvard University Press to publish our results.

We need your help finding the best mentors.  Our goal is to identify attorney mentors who transform junior lawyers’ careers and even lives, study those mentors in depth, and understand why they are so effective. Based on this research, we will identify and describe a set of behaviors, attitudes, and habits that are characteristic of the best law mentors.   We hope to produce a work that is a manual for attorneys who aspire to be transformative mentors, a benefit to legal employers for hiring and training mentors, and a tool more junior lawyers might use to find good mentors.  Thus, anyone (you, your colleagues, or your alumni) who contributes to our study by nominating a mentor will both honor a great colleague and help move the profession forward by improving lawyer mentoring.

The methodology for the study will be qualitative and similar to the approach Dean Schwartz and his co-authors used for What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013).  We will solicit nominations, gather evidence of nominees’ excellence, and pare the list to the most extraordinary legal mentors. We will then study the mentors where they work, interviewing both the mentors and focus groups of current and former mentees.  We also hope to observe mentoring interactions.  We will sift through the information we gather, identify what the best mentors have in common and areas of important difference, and organize the book by the common themes identified through this process. We plan to finish our research over the next three years and complete the book, What the Best Law Mentors Do, by January 2019.  

Here is a link to the website we have created for the book, http://www.bestlawmentors.com, and here is a link to the page we are using to solicit and receive the nominations, http://www.bestlawmentors.com/nominate-a-mentor.html.  Please feel free to make nominations yourself.

We are hoping you will share the links with your colleagues, alumni, large local employers, and state bar associations.  We would be very grateful for your help with our efforts to find great mentors.  We suspect the mentors nominated for the study will be flattered by the nominations, and the ones we choose to study in depth will appreciate the publicity resulting from selection as one of the best mentors in the country.  If a nominated mentor chooses to remain anonymous or does not wish to participate, however, we will not pursue the nomination.

April 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)