Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I am so excited to be boarding a plane in the morning to participate in LegalED's Igniting Law Teaching 2015 on Friday, March 20, 2015, at American University Washington College of Law. CALI is a co-sponsor of the event. Live viewing will be available by webcast or, if you are in the region, join us in person by registering here: Registration.
The conference will feature talks by 35 law school academics and practitioners from the US, Canada and England – including several clinicians -- in a TEDx-styled conference to share ideas on teaching methodologies. LegalED’s Teaching Pedagogy video collection includes many of the talks from last year’s conference, which have been viewed collectively more than 5000 times.
The panels for this year include: Law Teaching for the 21st Century, Applying Learning Theory to Legal Education, The Art and Craft of Law Teaching, Using Technological Tools for Legal Education, and Pathways to Practice.
The Igniting Law Teaching conference is unlike other gatherings of law professors. Here, talks will be styled as TEDx Talks, with each speaker on stage alone, giving a well scripted and performed talk about an aspect of law school pedagogy. In the end, we will create a collection of short videos on law school-related pedagogy that will inspire innovation and experimentation by law professors around the country, and the world, to bring more active learning and practical skills training into the law school curriculum. The videos will be available for viewing by the larger academic community on LegalED, a website developed by a community of law professors interested in using online technologies to facilitate more active, problem-based learning in the classroom, in addition to better assessment and feedback.
I hope you can join us on March 20th, either live or virtually.
The State Bar of California has approved new admission rules that require applicants to perform 50 hours of pro bono and to complete 15 academic units of experiential courses. (These rules are pending before the California Supreme Court and the State Assembly before they are finally in effect.)
Some critics have leveled extraordinary indictments of the new rules. For example, like Prof. John O. McGinnis of Northwestern here and like the commenters on Paul Caron’s blog here, these critics variously declare that these requirements (1) are protectionist rent seeking from the guild, (2) are schemes for leftist, socialist ideological indoctrination, (3) are too expensive, (4) are only useful to students interested in litigation or public interest, (5) are slavery or involuntary servitude, (6) are ineffective to address access to justice, and (7) are unconstitutional.
At the heart of these complaints is a flawed conception of the policies. That flawed conception flows from an impoverished perception of the profession and a diminished view of lawyers’ roles as public citizens.
To hear these complaints from conservative voices is puzzling, because the call for pro bono is a call for a basic good: access to justice and the expansion of the Rule of Law through the ancient institution of the bar, provided privately and locally by citizens in their own communities. This is wholly consistent with the Catholic social teachings of subsidiarity and its Calvinist cousin, sphere sovereignty. It is a conservative virtue that civil society ought to respond to these needs rather than leaving them to government preemption, but here are critics calling the bar’s policies some kind of shady, redistributive scheme.
For centuries, our profession has embraced its calling for pro bono work, as its deepest cultural and social obligation. Pro bono draws the marginalized into the Rule of Law and the justice system, to expand republican order and to extinguish self-help, vigilantism and anarchy. Lawyers should instill trust in the system, thereby promoting the credibility of its institutions and working to ensure that the institutions of law and order sustain themselves by including everyone in the land. If lawyers live up their reputation as cynical, mercenary parasites, bent on lucre and avarice, then the Rule of Law fails when the people opt out. These moral and social obligations appear in every lawyer’s oath upon admission to the bar, in various forms.
In California, lawyers swear “to faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counsel at law,” which includes the duty “[n]ever to reject, for any consideration personal to himself or herself, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed.” Calif. Business and Professions Code §6068 (h).
In 2005, the Supreme Court of Mississippi, my home and the bar of my first admission (and no liberal bastion), imposed aspirational rules and mandatory reporting of pro bono when it adopted a new rule that “[e]ach member of the Mississippi Bar . . . should (1) render pro bono legal services to the poor and (2) participate, to the extent possible, in other pro bono service activities that directly relate to the legal needs of the poor.” Miss. R. Prof. Conduct 6.1. The Court provided this comment:
Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer. All lawyers are urged to provide a minimum of 20 hours of pro bono services to the poor annually. Pro bono legal service to the poor is an integral and particular part of a lawyer's pro bono public service responsibility. As our society has become one in which rights and responsibilities are increasingly defined in legal terms, access to legal services has become of critical importance. This is true for all people, be they rich, poor, or of moderate means. However, because the legal problems of the poor often involve areas of basic need, their inability to obtain legal services can have dire consequences. The vast unmet legal needs of the poor in Mississippi have been recognized by the Supreme Court of Mississippi. The Supreme Court has further recognized the necessity of finding a solution to the problem of providing the poor greater access to legal service and the unique role of lawyers in our adversarial system of representing and defending persons against the actions and conduct of governmental entities, individuals, and non-governmental entities. As an officer of the court, each member of The Mississippi Bar in good standing has a professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal service to the poor.
The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, in the Preamble, call us “public citizens.” Public does not mean governmental. Public refers to what we do together within our social order to take care of each other. It’s not socialism. It’s human decency necessary to sustain the republic.
Now the critics may say that these merely are aspirational, not mandatory, obligations and that no authority on earth can compel someone to be moral, generous or charitable against their will. Perhaps this is so, and perhaps this is why pro bono is not mandatory anywhere for licensed lawyers. But if pro bono service is a central virtue of the profession – and it is – then it is wholly appropriate for law schools and the bar to make it mandatory for students entering the profession, to teach them how, to inculcate the virtue and value of our vocation, to transmit our common, cultural norms, and to prepare them to do it well.
Simply, it is the role of law schools to teach and train lawyers, and we legal educators are remiss if we do not teach our students the virtues of our profession and train them how to do exercise them. We make law students do things against their will and inclination all the time, every day, because we have decided somewhere along the way that they need to know it. We force them to take torts, contracts and property. We force them to write long memos and briefs. We require them to endure relentless reading assignments. We subject them to stressful exams, and we cold call them to test their critical skills under pressure. We do all of these things, and more, to prepare them to be lawyers. We make them take a bar exam. We erect barriers to the profession for good reasons. Why would we not require them to render service to the poor so that they learn about the great calling of lawyers and so that they learn how to do it well?
(Remember, these students are not free-lancing on a street corner. All of the pro bono required by the California and New York rules must be supervised by licensed attorneys who bear the professional responsibility for the client they engage, either in full or limited-scope representation. The only real criticism here is that 50 hours is not enough.)
Pro bono requirements are not slavery; they are pedagogical assignments to teach and show students how to be good lawyers. Pro bono is as essential to our profession as are zealous advocacy and confidentiality. It is fundamental to our work. It also gives the students more experience with lawyers and client, more contacts in the bar, resume enhancement, perspective on the application of law, practice interviewing and counseling, a deeper understanding of professional responsibility, and good stories to tell.
Some critics proclaim that pro bono programs or law school clinics are inherently liberal or politically ideological. These critics either lack exposure to enough programs or lack imagination to see how these programs can be empowering to the communities they serve, regardless of politics. Schools across the political spectrum - from Berkeley to St. Thomas, from Harvard to Pepperdine, from Vanderbilt to Faulkner, from American to Notre Dame - have clinics and programs committed to the professional formation of students, as lawyers of integrity, compassion, humanity and hope, led by teachers of diverse convictions and causes.
Although my politics have evolved, primarily for reasons of faith, I was reared a conservative in conservative communities. My people taught me that caring for the poor was indeed an obligation, just not the obligation of the government, that people should learn to fish for themselves to escape the “welfare mentality.” In these new pro bono requirements, we see an effort to equip lawyers to take up the cause of the oppressed and the poor, the fatherless and the widow, the least of these, as a social and moral obligation of a privileged profession. These pro bono requirements will promote better outcomes, better access to justice, and better service to clients, which will lead to less dependence, more stability, and more virtue in the commonweal.
These are not just traditional poverty law, litigation or legal aid cases either. Just this week, I have approved a pro bono project in the legal department of a nonprofit film studio producing films for children's education for a student interested in entertainment and corporate work. I have approved a pro bono project for students conducting research for international human rights policies and law reform efforts in south Asia. Lawyers are doing great work in every field of practice, and our students will learn from them.
Indeed, the call for pro bono is a call for a community of local professionals to take care of our neighbors as a mark of civil society, to address our neighbors within the system of law and to not render them up to the state (and to call the state to account). To prepare law students to do this work, so integral to the profession, is a rising tide to lift all ships. This effect is multiplied as law students become lawyers who know the responsibility of pro bono and have experience in the field.
California’s new rules are good and worthy. They may be disruptive to old models of legal education, but that disruption is righteous and useful. The requirement for pro bono will promote and sustain the profession as class after class of law students better understand the public virtue of the profession. The requirements will promote access to justice by expanding and improving the capacity of pro bono lawyers to do more with law student help, then preparing those students to take on the work themselves when they enter their rich practices.
The Clinical Legal Education Association Announces
2015 New Clinicians Conference
Monday, May 4, 2015
Westin Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage, California
CLEA’s biennial New Clinicians Conference (NCC) will take place May 4th at the Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, California, also the location of the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference.
The full-day NCC program will begin with breakfast at 8 AM and will include multiple plenary and facilitated small group sessions, as well as break-out sessions. The last session will conclude no later than 5 PM.
Thanks to the generous financial support provided by UCLA School of Law, Pepperdine School of Law, and the authors of Transforming the Education of Lawyers, The Theory and Practice of Clinical Pedagogy – Sue Bryant, Elliott Milstein, and Ann Shalleck – the NCC registration fee this year is only $50.
Registration for the NCC is separate from the AALS Clinical Conference. The $50 registration fee includes a one-year CLEA membership, CLEA’s New Clinicians Handbook, a full day of programs, and meals (breakfast, lunch, and mid-afternoon snack).
The registration form can be completed on the CLEA website at:
Credit cards may be used through a PayPal link found on the website.
Payment by Check:
If you prefer to pay the $50 registration fee by check, please register first on the CLEA website and then mail your check (payable to “Clinical Legal Education Association”) to:
Professor Beth Schwartz
Fordham University School of Law
150 West 62nd St. Room 9-102
New York, NY 10023
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
On behalf of the site selection committee (Liz Solar, Ann Vessels, Lisa Smith, Nancy Maurer, Danny Schaffzin and myself), I am very excited to announce that Cleveland-Marshall College of Law will be hosting Externships 8. The conference will be held in Cleveland, Ohio!
We want to thank all of the schools who applied to host Externships 8. We considered a variety of factors including ease of access for participants, diversity of location, prior interest, and resources available to the host school. The proposals that we received were excellent and showed a level of commitment to and engagement in the externship community that is truly outstanding.
We look forward to having a terrific conference in Cleveland, Ohio. For those of you who don't know, Cleveland was recently named to: 1) the New York Times List of 52 Places to Visit in 2015; 2) Fodor’s Go List 2015; 3) Travel & Leisure’s Best Places to Travel in 2015; and, 4) the LA Times 15 Destinations for 2015.
Further details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact:
Carole O. Heyward
Director of Engaged Learning
Clinical Professor of Law
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Your AALS Externship Section Chairs,
Inga Laurent and Lisa Smith
Friday, February 20, 2015
This week, the Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education (CSALE) released its massive 2013-14 Survey of Applied Legal Education. The survey results are available here.
This work is critically important to the community of clinical legal education. The data provide detailed views of clinical faculty hiring and status, clinic design and practice, pedagogy and practice in clinics around the country. This information is invaluable for schools making strategic improvements to their programs.
The 43-page report provides the summary results of CSALE’s third triennial survey of law school clinics and externships and the faculty teaching in those clinical courses. Over 88% of ABA-accredited law schools participated in the survey, which included the Master Survey, Law Clinics Sub-Survey, Field Placement Course Sub-Survey, and Faculty Sub-Survey.
We want to thank the hundreds of clinical faculty who participated in the surveys and the many people who helped us develop and analyze the questions and results, including CSALE’s Board of Directors: Charles Auffant (Rutgers - Newark); Jeanne Charn (Harvard); Brad Colbert (William Mitchell); Deborah Epstein (Georgetown); Paula Galowitz (NYU), Peter Joy (Washington University), Sue Schechter (Berkeley); and Chuck Weisselberg (Berkeley). We are also deeply indebted to Lewis Downey at Cicada Consulting Group, Inc., and to our research assistant at Wash U., Greg Jones.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Via Kate Kruse:
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 workshop. Full 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:
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 email@example.com.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
In May, the movie Noble will open; it is a biography of Christina Noble, Irish children's rights activist. In advance of the debut, the producers solicited stories from women doing courageous work.
Prof. Brittany Stringfellow-Otey received a nomination. Here is her profile.
These are my favorite quotes from my colleague and friend:
“My goal is for poverty to bother you for the rest of your life . . . I don’t want you to be able to walk the block to your office and not be completely troubled by those asking for money or suffering from addiction. I want you to do something about it, with your time and resources.”
“I want to be an old lady working on skid row. I will always be here.”
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
The Clinical Legal Education Association will be holding its full-day New Clinicians Conference on Monday, May 4, 2015, immediately before the start of the AALS Clinical Conference at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, CA. Please make your travel plans accordingly for what will be an exciting and insightful conference. Registration information is forthcoming.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Twice a year I have that Academy Awards moment when the envelope arrives in my inbox and my hands start to shake. An image of Sally Fields pixelates in my mind as I wonder, “Did they like me? Did they really like me?” It is a humiliating image, but there it is, every January and May, year after year, as much as I fear and despise it.
Clinical teaching is a bare your guts kind of experience. Raw and intense, our students see us at our best and our worst. They see us at our clients’ funerals, holding our clients while they vomit after losing custody of their young children, cranking out briefs side-by-side with our students at 3:00 a.m., and being berated by judges--on the record, no less. It is not always a pretty picture.
Despite being sincere and hard-working and deeply devoted to supporting our students as they emerge as attorneys, many of us hold our envelopes in our hands and wonder what our course evaluations will say. What did they really think of this exhausting clinical course that is so very real--immersed in real life and real learning and real law?
A pattern has emerged such that I have come to expect much of what I read—the high expectations I have for my students, my directness, and intensity. What I was not expecting this semester was the warning about my, shall I call it “girl talk”? For years, I have very consciously and openly talked about gender equality both in and out of the classroom. I am familiar with the voluminous research that shows the inequality that emerges between genders in academic settings from a young age.
Girls are called on less, speak for shorter periods, and are interrupted more than boys. This gender inequality begins at least in elementary school and continues on into college and even graduate school, before embedding itself solidly into lifelong workforce inequality, as demonstrated by both pay and position.
The issues created by gender discrimination are multifold. Not only is it a violation of our female students’ rights, and compromises their learning, it will have a significant economic impact on them individually, on organizations that fail to fully engage their minds and professional energies and talent, and on society overall.
And so I talk about these issues openly and directly when gendered dynamics appear in my classrooms or clinics. For example, both in and out of class, I look for discussion participation that is representative of the population by gender (and race). If the class is fifty percent male and fifty percent female, I expect the discussion to be approximately representative of those figures. When discussions become lopsided, I expressly invite members of the underrepresented group to talk more, and often draw the students’ attention to gendered dynamics and their negative consequences.
In clinic, I often witness gendered dynamics in client interviews or weekly meetings. It is not unusual, especially at the beginning of the semester, for me to observe client interviews where a female student is thoroughly prepared, sometimes more prepared than her male partner, and yet he does most of the talking. I see female students who talk quietly or hesitantly or infrequently, sometimes using a high pitched voice, accompanied by a sorority head tilt, and a few filler words such as “like.” Afterwards, we debrief and explore together why the female student did not participate more actively in the interview, especially if she is lead on the matter or was the most prepared. We work on voice and body language and volume for both men and women, but I witness these issues with my female students more.
In our weekly meetings, the students prepare the agendas and facilitate the discussion. I usually remain silent about roles until and unless we are in our third meeting and the female student still has not led or facilitated the meeting, which happens with at least one team almost every semester. We talk about the importance of attorneys conveying leadership and confidence, when and how best to demonstrate these traits, and why and how women and men need to support each other in developing professional personas and leadership skills.
And yet, there it was, at the very end of my very last evaluation. The anonymous student wrote that he or she did not say this or necessarily agree with this point of feedback, but thought it was important for me to know that another student said that, in advocating for women, I needed to be careful not to create a situation that placed male students at a disadvantage.
Does trying to provide and nurture and support equal participation by our female students place our male students at a disadvantage? Or is it the advantage of inequality that some are afraid of losing? In trying to rid our classrooms of gender bias, are we creating a classroom that some of our students feel are biased against them? These are just a few of the questions that I have been asking myself since nervously opening my envelope two weeks ago, now wondering if we should stop talking openly and directly about these issues.
Or maybe the issue is that there is not enough “girl talk” in clinics and law schools and higher education. As Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant pointed out in their December editorial in the New York Times, when people are told that discrimination is widespread, it can actually make discrimination worse by legitimizing it. The only way to actual reduce discrimination is by acknowledging its widespread existence and then changing the message slightly to add, “and most people want to overcome their biases.” But, do we?
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The LA Times just reported that The US Supreme Court has denied stay to Warren Lee Hill. "A man with the emotional and cognitive ability of a young boy," according to Brian S. Kammer, Mr. Hill's attorney.
If you aren't aware of this case, here are a few quick links to bring you up to speed:
For an external perspective, see these pieces from the UK (a country who seems to be providing more coverage than our own):
My head and heart hurt, and I am so very exhausted from the many battles we have been fighting these days on issues surrounding #Blacklivesmatter. I suppose this is just one more horrific story to add to that growing list. So for now, I have little to say except this...I am making a commitment to my clinical colleagues to talk about this with the faculty, staff and students here at Gonzaga and in my community.
Despite the wrongs you may have committed, your life matters Warren Lee Hill.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Experiential Learning Across The Curriculum
Call for Presentation Proposals
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law teachers are incorporating experiential learning in all types of courses. With the rising demands for legal-education reform and "practice-ready" lawyers, this topic has taken on increased urgency in recent years. The Institute takes a broad view of experiential education, encompassing learning that integrates legal theory and knowledge, practice skills, and guided reflection, with the goal of teaching students how to learn from experience. Accordingly, we welcome proposals for workshops on incorporating experiential learning in doctrinal, clinical, externship, writing, seminar, hybrid, and interdisciplinary courses.
The Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. The workshops can address experiential learning in first-year courses, upper-level courses, required courses, electives, or academic support teaching. The workshops can present innovative teaching materials, course designs, curricular or program designs, etc. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice in designing their presentations to be interactive.
To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:
- The title of the workshop;
- The name, address, phone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
- A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods.
The Institute must receive proposals by February 1, 2015.
Submit proposals via e-mail to:
Associate Dean Sandra Simpson
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning
For more information, please contact:
Associate Dean Sandra Simpson
Professor Emily Grant
Professor Kelly Terry
The conference workshops will take place on Saturday, June 13, and until the early afternoon on Sunday, June 14 at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga is hosting a welcome reception on the evening of June 12, 2015, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barrister Winery, located in the downtown area.
The conference is self-supporting. The conference fee for participants is $450, which includes materials, meals during the conference (two breakfasts and two lunches), and a welcome reception on Friday evening, June 12, 2015. The conference fee for presenters is $350.
Friday, January 16, 2015
The Los Angeles Incubator Consortium Program, a collaborative project among Pepperdine, Southwestern and UCLA and others, is seeking applications for a part-time Attorney Development Director.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Via a note from Co-Presidents, Profs. Janet Thompson Jackson and Mary A. Lynch, CLEA has filed an amicus brief in the case of Rogers v. McDonald in the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The case involves a successful claim by Harvard's Veterans Clinic and the VA's refusal to pay attorneys fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
From the introduction:
A federal judge once said, “[W]hen all else fails . . . , consult the statute.” Here, the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”) is clear. Under the terms of the statute, Mr. Rogers is the prevailing party, the government’s position was not substantially justified, and there are no special circumstances that make an award unjust. The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) does not dispute any of these points. Therefore, the plain language of the statute dictates that the “court shall award . . . fees and other expenses.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A).
VA fails to identify any statutory text modifying this clear directive or otherwise supporting its position that the EAJA does not authorize recovery for work performed by law students in law school clinics. Instead, VA relies on misapplied law and misplaced policy in proposing a bar on EAJA awards that would decrease access to legal counsel, disincentivize work done by law school clinics, and diminish law students’ ability to serve unrepresented citizens. . . .
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Conference: Engaging the Entire Class: Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning
Engaging the Entire Class - Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning
From the website:
The UCLA School of Law and the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning (ILTL) present a one day teaching workshop conference in which all law faculty (full-time and part-time) can learn more about developing techniques for engaging diverse and distracted law students. Each workshop session will be presented by a teacher featured in the recent Harvard University Press book, What the Best Law Teachers Do.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
On January 1, 2015, there was one fewer law school clinic in America. The Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic, one of the oldest and most well-respected clinics in the Northwest, silently closed its doors.
The Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic provided debtor-creditor, landlord-tenant, and family law services, including a significant amount of work representing victims of domestic violence. The clinic was founded in 1971, and together its full-time faculty, Dick Slottee, Teresa Wright, and Mark Peterson had spent approximately fifty years combined at Lewis & Clark. All had security of position; in fact, Professor Slottee, who was the clinic director, had tenure. The clinic served approximately 230 low-income and indigent clients per year and involved 35 to 70 students.
As recently as last summer, Lewis & Clark Law School touted the clinic’s work in Advocate Magazine. In the words of one recent Lewis & Clark alumna, “The value derived from the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic is immeasurable. It teaches practical skills and it provides students a special opportunity to put the legal theories we learn in an abstract manner in the classroom into practice . . . The focus is on the students and the students are wholly supported.”
According to the Lewis & Clark Law School Dean, Jennifer Johnson, the decision to close the clinic was driven by budget constraints. She indicated that the goal was to offer lawyering skills and opportunities “for all students in a cost effective manner” and stated that “Going forward, we must focus our in-house clinics on those with significant fund raising potential,” while asserting that “current budget realities-for both the law school and our students-make this move necessary.” The rumor is that Lewis & Clark had an unexpected million-dollar shortfall and had already significantly cut the library budget (the largest budget item other than personnel), and so moved to the next largest item in the budget: the law school’s clinic. True or not, Johnson’s own framing of the decision exclusively as a financial one is worrisome.
In Pricing Clinical Legal Education, 92 Denver University Law Review 1 (2014), Robert Kuehn of Washington University Law finds that offering clinical opportunities to law school students has no net impact on tuition and concludes that offering clinical opportunities to students is determined by the law school’s will to offer such opportunities to students. As law schools consider how to balance the budget and keep the lights on during the worst downturn in law school enrollment in modern history, it is natural that some administrators may be tempted to conduct a casual analysis and conclude that high enrollment courses are the answer and try to cut costs by reducing smaller experiential courses.
However, a familiarity with effective pedagogies and the retention yields of various methods reveals that not all courses are equal when it comes to learning outcomes. The value of courses and teaching methods should not be measured predominantly by teaching or staffing inputs, but rather by learning efficiencies, efficacies, and outcomes. After all, if we hold ourselves out as educators, we owe it to our students to have a reasonable familiarity with effective educational methods and to utilize and prioritize those, rather than continue to offer course and curricula designs that have been scientifically proven by study after study to be ineffective.
Accepting tuition in exchange for enrollment in courses designed around learning methods that have been scientifically proven to be ineffective is unconscionable. Those simulated practice courses, externships, and clinics may cost more than placing 80 students in the room with a single lecturer, but they are far more likely to produce better learning outcomes for our students. Can you imagine a law school committed to designing and offering courses according to learning outcomes rather than cost input?
Even if one is not motivated by effective pedagogy, from a business perspective, we know that students care about clinics. A recent survey indicates that clinics and externships are one of the most significant factors students consider when deciding where to attend law school (location is number one).
After the decision to close the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic was announced in September, another faculty member, Kathy Hessler, sent an email to the national clinic listserv informing the members of our community. She pointed out that the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic was the only one at the law school that was funded directly by the law school. It is hard to imagine other law school courses being expected to go out and procure their own funding.
When one considers the effectiveness of clinical pedagogy, as well as the new ABA accreditation standards mandating experiential education, it is deeply concerning that an educational program built around one of the most effective learning methods known to us would be singled out to be "self funded."
Even more concerning, though, was the resounding silence of the national clinical community to the news of the decision. Just a handful of emails were sent in response. At the Northwest Clinical Conference in October, attendees voted to send a letter to the Lewis & Clark Dean expressing our deep concern over the decision and offering our support to reverse the decision. In response, Dean Johnson emailed each signatory and the dean of the person’s home law school, and directed them to have our dean contact her if we would like “further input into this issue.” Was she trying to intimidate us into silence with this power play? Perhaps, but apparently, there was no need. I have said nothing since. Have you?
This is the way a clinic ends. This is the way a clinic ends. This is the way a clinic ends. Not with a bang, but with silence.
PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites qualified and experienced candidates to apply to teach and direct its new Restoration and Justice Clinic to commence academic year 2015-16. This is a long-term contract position with rank of position to be determined in light of a candidate's qualifications and other factors.
The School of Law seeks a talented, creative professor to launch, teach and direct the Restoration and Justice Clinic. The Clinic’s practice will provide legal services to victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, prostitution or other gender or sex crimes, including matters related to civil protection orders, civil and human rights, family law, immigration, consumer protection, or housing. Along with the School of Law’s administration and faculty, the professor appointed to direct the Clinic will have significant responsibility for initiation and coordination in defining the clinic’s mission, parameters, clients and scope of practice. The Clinic will develop curriculum and cultivate multidisciplinary partners in the university and community with whom to collaborate formally.
The new Clinic is part of Pepperdine’s expanding program of clinical and experiential education. Pepperdine law students must complete 50 hours of pro bono service and 15 units of professional skills classes, and they can receive dual credit in clinics, practicums and qualifying externships. The Restoration and Justice Clinic will promote diverse curricular offerings with a multidisciplinary, client-centered practice with various and intersecting forms of advocacy. The Clinic’s director will have opportunities to participate in the School of Law’s Global Justice Mission and to collaborate with existing clinics to serve local, national and international clients.
The successful candidate will be responsible primarily for teaching and directing the Restoration and Justice Clinic, will also teach externship workshops periodically and will likely have opportunity to teach other courses.
The position is a 12-month appointment.
Candidates must hold a J.D., be licensed to practice law in California (or be willing to obtain a California license as soon as possible), and preferably have experience working with law students on client cases in a clinical, externship or similar setting. The candidate’s record should demonstrate superb lawyering skills, leadership and management experience, strong teaching ability, and the communication and interpersonal skills essential to being an effective clinical teacher. Scholarship in the field will be a positive factor in considering candidates.
The School of Law is an ABA accredited, AALS member law school located in Malibu, California. Pepperdine is a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. The School of Law welcomes applications from people of all faiths and is particularly interested in receiving applications from candidates who may bring greater racial, ethnic, and gender diversity to the faculty of the School of Law.
Interested applicants should submit letter of interest and current resume or curriculum vitae to Professor Richard Cupp via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, January 9, 2015
Congratulations to our friends at the Best Practices for Legal Education blog, edited by Prof. Mary Lynch. The ABA Journal named it among the Top 100 Blawgs for 2014. (You can find it under the Careers/Law School tab.)
It is a terrific, thoughtful resource for teaching materials and ideas and contributes much to contemporary discourse about American legal education.
Well done, y’all.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
There are few better ways to start the New Year than with a smooth, slow descent over the Potomac at night with the Capitol and the Washington Monument illuminated in the distance. It provides a few moments to reflect on the past year, and to try to envision what we need to do to ensure that our students, children, and grandchildren have the same professional, personal, and economic opportunities with which we ourselves have been blessed. Our world is changing.
In 2014, the China overcame the United States as the world’s leading economy. But don’t worry. We still have a number of other distinctions. For example, we continue to lead the world in environmental pollution per capita (China leads when measured by total volume). We also remain the world’s largest military power. In fact, our military spending is more than the next ten highest military spending countries combined. We also are far ahead when it comes to the percentage of our population in prison (700 inmates per 100,000 people), and the U.S. population continues to experience the greatest inequality in the world among developed nations. We remain a world leader in some ways, unfortunately.
So when I walked into the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting boasting the title, “Legal Education at the Crossroads,” I was hopeful that there would be discussions rich and lively focusing on the ways that we, as legal educators, can provide leadership—through scholarship, teaching, and service—to a nation in decline. The crisis that we are witnessing in legal education is not unique to us. But our opportunity is. Would we embrace it, I wondered?
A “Hot Topic/Bridge Program” focused on our nation’s racial issues kicked off the annual meeting on Saturday, but as I talked to colleagues from around the country in the hallways of the Wardman Park Hotel, I heard tales of lukewarm responses by many law schools to racial inequality issues, and at least one tenured colleague at a Midwestern law school told me of her experience being aggressively criticized by her law school administration for providing legal advice to students who were arrested during Ferguson-related protests.
As I sought panels and presentations focused on diversity, inclusivity, and justice, I was greeted with a variety of sessions focused on overcoming persistent discrimination in legal academia, strategies for nurturing diverse leaders in law schools, and the identification of higher education as a public good whose integrity must be protected from the widespread corporatization of America and transformation of our democracy (at least ideally) into a plutocracy. But, at times, even these disappointed as some panelists conveyed a deep entrenchment in a defensive position of academic entitlement that none of us can afford to embrace.
This is not 1973 and none of us is Professor Kingsfield. No longer can we stand at the podium and look down at our students, assured that both their futures and ours are assured. They are not. Law school teaching in the 21st century requires us to stand next to our students, and to partner with them. Our success is tied to theirs, as is America’s. If we cannot effectively and efficiently train the next generation of attorneys to understand the rule of law without burying them in massive debt, they will be unable to promote and passionately defend that same rule of law, which underpins our entire civilization.
Instead of asking these big questions, many discussions focused on travel funding and course loads and the potential of externships to save us from our obligation to create “practice ready” law school graduates. Don’t get me wrong. I had a fabulous time hearing marriage advice from Justice Ginsburg and getting a hug from Anita Hill—two of my heroines. But when the excitement of legal celebrity sightings wears off, I couldn’t help but return to room number 4216, and wonder how many more smooth landings I will be able to enjoy over the Potomac. There seems to be rough weather ahead, at least to me.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
In most courses I teach, I have taken to distributing a list of writing guidelines at the first class meeting. This began as guidance for students on graded written assignments, so that when I bled red ink on their passive voices they would be on notice. Admittedly, some of these are personal bugaboos, but I am not shy about my subjective preferences. Students will have to write for picky partners and cranky courts for their careers, so conforming their writing to my rules is good training.
I have expanded and contracted the list over time. Here is the Spring 2015 edition for Negotiation Theory & Practice of Baker's Advice and Strong Preferences for Good Writing:
To improve your writing is one of the great purposes of this course and law school. This course requires varied writing assignments, and your grade will depend on the quality, craftsmanship, strength, purpose and effect of your writing. I will grade your written work product on form and substance, compliance with instructions, correct and fruitful use of legal authority, compliance with proper citation authorities where necessary, style, grammar and spelling.
For your continued education, improvement as writers and insight into my preferences, please consider these principles of good writing style. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are common errors and weaknesses which you should seek to eliminate from your writing. I will penalize your grade for deviation from these virtues, unless your meaning and context demand deviation. Be prepared to defend your style choices with very good reasons.
1. Write intentionally, and do not assume that what you have written first and quickly is good. Good writing is deliberate writing. Good writing is a craft that requires practice and discipline.
2. Ensure that all words, sentences and paragraphs have a purpose and that you understand their purposes. If a word, sentence or paragraph does not have a purpose or if you cannot articulate its purpose, strike it. As The Elements of Style teaches, omit needless words.
3. Almost always, shorten what you have written to convey your point better. Mark Twain reportedly once wrote to a correspondent, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Stephen King, in his book On Writing, explains his practice of shortening every work by at least 10% after he has completed a draft, without regard for the pain. This is good practice, and the process of making your completed work shorter, while retaining its essence, will make you a better writer.
4. Use strong and diverse verbs. Verbs are the crux of strong writing.
5. Avoid passive voice, almost always. You should use passive voice only in the most discrete instances when the passive role of the object is integral and necessary for your meaning. Inevitably, passive voice weakens your writing, and it provides a lazy dodge for writers who seek to obfuscate their meaning. For instance, “Mistakes were made,” is a weak and dishonorable way of saying, “I made mistakes.”
6. Avoid beginning your sentences with “There are. . . ,” “There is. . .” and “It is. . .” Similar to the use of passive voice, although not as fatal, these are weak phrases that dilute the effect of your writing. We speak this way, but you almost always should find a better, clearer and stronger way to express your meaning.
7. Use parallel sentences and serial clauses. For example, this is not parallel: “As lawyers, we should write with honesty, wit and clearly.” “With honesty, wit…” is a prepositional phrase, but “clearly” is an adverb. This is parallel: “As lawyers, we should write with honesty, wit and clarity,” or “As lawyers, we should write honestly, wittily and clearly.” For another example, this is a poor, unparallel sentence: “Today, the place of women in the world is in a transitional age, presenting an affront to many fundamentalist religions and in that traditional societies have certain presumptions about gender.” This is better and parallel: “Today, the place of women in the world is in a transitional age, presenting an affront to many fundamentalist religions and challenging presumptions of gender in traditional societies.”
8. Avoid adverbs. Use stronger verbs instead. For example, this is poor: “The baby cried loudly.” This is better: “The baby wailed.”
9. Prefer simple, shorter sentences. Use compound or complex sentences if you must, but almost always avoid compound-complex sentences. For example, this sentence should be two or three independent clauses, not one sentence: “Although they had fallen for each other, she tried to avoid sitting too closely to him at the end of the day, because of the potential for airborne infection, and he hoped that she would consider stocking up on hand sanitizer.”
10. Show your work. Write for the ease of your reader. Do not assume that your conclusion flows obviously from the facts and the law without your own analysis. Always consider the reader and examine whether the reader can understand and follow what you have written to the conclusion you intend. Demonstrate how the facts and the law inform each other and explain how they work together to justify the conclusion for which you argue.
11. Cite every factual and legal proposition with appropriate, authoritative sources, every time. This practice makes you more careful and accurate and makes your work more persuasive and reliable.
12. Write in context. Context is everything. Write to serve your readers, not to punish them.