Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

RFP: Veterans Access to Justice Conference at Pepperdine, Nov. 3-4, 2016

Access to Justice for Veterans: Coordinated Responses of a Grateful Nation

Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, California

November 3 – 4, 2016

Request for Proposals

On November 3 and 4, 2016, the Pepperdine University School of Law will host a conference on access to justice for veterans.  The conference will address coordinated community responses for veterans’ legal needs and complex intersecting issues. Speakers and conferees will discuss public and private responses in policy and practice, culture and law.  The School of Law invites lawyers, academics, and professionals to participate with speakers representing diverse disciplines and institutions.  Our nation faces a critical moment of reckoning and response to a crisis in veterans’ housing, health, and well-being. Pepperdine hopes that this conference can advance our communities toward restoration and honor for these public servants.  

The organizing committee requests proposals for panel presentations to address and explore issues and questions at the intersections of access to justice, government benefits, private services, physical and mental health, housing, addiction, incarceration, and other complex issues affecting veterans. We seek diverse, collaborative, multidisciplinary, interprofessional panels and panelists.  

These panels will be 90 minute concurrent sessions. The organizing committee has confirmed several panels to date, and we invite proposals for up to four additional sessions.    Confirmed panels will address homelessness, domestic violence, and alternative sentencing programs. The organizing committee requests proposals to complement, contrast, and build on these ideas.

Please submit proposals by October 3, 2016, to Prof. Jeffrey R. Baker at   Proposals should be 300-500 words and should include contact information for the primary convener and should include the names of anticipated panelists, their respective fields and institutions.  

Please follow this link for event and registration information:

September 13, 2016 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Midwest Clinical Legal Education Conference: Oct. 6-8 2016 at University of Tulsa College of Law

Via Prof. Elizabeth McCormick:


Teaching for Our Times

October 6–8, 2016

The University of Tulsa College of Law

Tulsa, Oklahoma


The University of Tulsa College of Law invites you and your colleagues to the 31st Annual Midwest Regional Clinical Legal Education Conference. Come to Tulsa to share ideas for engaging and inspiring today’s law students and tomorrow’s lawyers in the midst of a transformational time in legal education.

The conference is an opportunity to offer vision and share ideas for cultivating successful students who are well prepared for a professional career that will sustain them financially and emotionally, serve their clients and communities, and contribute to the quality of justice for everyone.

Among the rich array of topics that will be presented:

The Relationship Between Experiential Coursework and Bar and Employment Outcomes

Empirical Advocacy: Why Clinical Faculty Can and Should Conduct Empirical Research

Incubators: The Next Wave in the Access to Justice Movement

Vicarious Trauma and Vicarious Resiliency: Tools for the Social Justice Struggle

Dinner keynote on Friday, October 7, by Hannibal B. Johnson, attorney and author of Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District.

Register by September 6 to receive the best rate of $140; $155 per person after September 6 or $175 at the door.

See conference schedule & hotel info.

For more information, please contact Barbette Veit at 918-631- 5604 or

September 8, 2016 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

An Alternate Reality

Recently, I stumbled across an essay written by Heather MacDonald, a regular contributor to City Magazine, and a scholar at the Manhattan Institute. In the article, she posited that maybe law school clinics were stuck in the 1960’s. According to MacDonald, law school clinics had “triggered family breakdown” and had “unleashed an epidemic of crime in inner city neighborhoods.” In addition, according to MacDonald, law school clinics had "burdened entrepreneurs with unnecessary regulations.”

I am not surprised by MacDonald’s charges. Her writings in this area are consistent over the years. Her work strikes one as “anti-poor people” and “anti-black.” Yet, that doesn’t necessarily answer the question that her essay presented. What is it that made law school clinics so unique in the 1960’s and what about that period (that clinics continue to channel in their work) makes them unique and important now. It is simple: law school clinics pursue a fair and just system in the U.S. by trying to make the system work for all, not just some.

I am a product of a clinical law school (UDC-David A Clarke) and so for me, I have experienced clinical legal work from a variety of vantage points (clinician, director, colleague). There are all kinds of clinics these days but the clinics I am referring to are the clinics that assist new immigrants with their legal challenges, clinics that provide free representation to indigent individuals accused of crimes, and clinics that prevent (or try to prevent evictions).

There are, of course, many other types of law school clinics that seek equal justice and a fair and just system for their clients, but one still has to also ask: what is MacDonald referring to with her allegations that law school clinics “triggered family breakdowns” and “unleashed an epidemic of crime in inner city neighborhoods.” There is no basis for such allegations. Just as progressive policies were blamed for other problems in the 1960’s, the real failure of the 60’s was the lack of will and resources directed to the problem just when some progress was being made.

For example, many Americans are not aware that the poverty rate plunged from 22 percent to 11 percent during the 1960’s and early 70’s when poverty was attacked aggressively. In addition, black Americans secured, for the first time, basic rights and the criminal justice system was reformed to extend basic rights to individuals accused of crimes during this time period as well because activists and lawyers had the will to succeed and the support of the masses.

Yet, by 1973, under more conservative policies that MacDonald champions, the pushback began in America against progressive ideals, and the pursuit of a fair and just system stalled and receded. A different ideology would take hold in America and soon those who were disenfranchised began to be blamed for the problems created mostly by ideals rooted in 'neoliberalism.' These 'neoliberal' policies and approaches to governing have resulted in a widening gap in inequality in America, the incarceration of millions of people (disproportionately black) for non-violent drug offenses, wage stagnation, the destruction of organized labor, and a deterioration of the quality of life in many communities. 

All of this has potentially created more work for public interest lawyers and many law school clinics, though the damage is so severe now, it is not likely to improve absent a people’s movement for change outside the courtrooms and tribunals of America. Fact is, even with all of the great work each day by law school clinics, the task ahead is daunting and intimidating. We do what we can in the moment but mostly we are just trying to stop the bleeding.

September 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Breaking Into Clinical Teaching (From Jennifer Koh at ImmigrationProf Blog)

Our friend, Prof. Jennifer Koh, at ImmigrationProf offers great advice in her post Breaking Into Immigration Clinical Teaching.  It's good advice for immigration lawyers and others interested in clinical education. 

Here's an excerpt:

  1. Several Different Types of Clinical Teaching Positions Exist, and it Helps to Know Which One(s) You Want. A number of different types of clinical teaching positions at law schools exist today, with varying levels of job security, publication requirements, and additional faculty responsibilities.  They each have their pros and cons, and it’s helpful to know (roughly) which one might be a good fit for a person at the point in their career when they are considering a transition to clinical teaching. Roughly speaking, I’d divide them into the following five categories: (1) tenure-track or tenured faculty positions, (2) clinical tenure or long-term contract faculty positions, (3) adjunct faculty positions, (4) staff attorney positions, and (5) clinical teaching fellowships.  I provide rough explanations of each, with the caveat that every law school is different, such that some of the descriptions below may not apply universally.  Tenure-track positions for faculty typically exist at law schools that have made an institutional decision to create a “unified” tenure-track, in which professors whose primary teaching responsibilities are in a clinic are evaluated and promoted on a path towards tenure with expectations very similar to faculty who do not teach in clinics.  Almost always, tenure-track faculty members are expected to publish in law reviews, serve on faculty committees, and participate in all faculty votes.  Faculty with clinical tenure or long-term contracts, by contrast, may or may not be expected to publish.  Depending on the school and the terms of the position, faculty may be encouraged – but not required (and potentially, not supported) – in their scholarship endeavors.  Clinical tenure and long-term contract faculty may or may not be permitted to participate fully in certain faculty decisions, such as the hiring or promotion of their non-clinical colleagues.  Whether tenure-track, clinical tenure, or long-term contract faculty, the entire faculty of the law school must usually evaluate and vote on the appointment.  Adjunct clinical faculty (like adjunct faculty at any law school) generally have their own practices, but agree to supervise a limited number of students each term within their specialty area.  Staff attorney positions are typically non-faculty positions in which publication is not expected.  Staff attorneys’ primary responsibilities are usually to manage, support and grow the clinic’s docket and advocacy work.  Staff attorney positions often come with student supervision and teaching responsibilities.  Unlike most clinical teaching fellowships, staff attorney positions are typically not designed with an end goal of preparing the attorney for entry into the clinical teaching field.  Many staff attorney positions are permanent (as opposed to time-limited) positions.   Some staff attorney positions (and some clinics) are supported primarily or partly by “soft money,” such as grants and external funders, such that the job security may depend on the availability of outside funding for the clinic or position.  Finally, a number of law schools offer clinical teaching fellowships, which are typically term-limited, full-time positions designed to provide mentoring to the fellow to eventually obtain a clinical teaching position while the fellow provides case coverage and teaching support to the clinic.   At many law schools, adjunct faculty, staff attorneys and clinical teaching fellows do not require full faculty approval. 

    Some questions for one to consider, in light of these differing positions:  To what extent do you enjoy or have the aptitude for research and publishing?  To what extent is your resume consistent with your potential to publish?  What are your primary motivations for going into teaching? To what extent do internal hierarchies within your workplace matter to you?  What stage are you at in your career as a lawyer?  How geographically flexible are you? (Actually, this last point matters enough to warrant #2.). 

  1. Geography Matters. Quite a Bit.  The clinical teaching job market, like the overall job market for academic jobs, is pretty tight.  The drop in law school applications over the past several years has caused quite a few law schools to restrict their faculty hiring, and so being geographically flexible makes a big difference.  For folks who are willing to move anywhere (or most places) for their dream teaching job, participating in the American Association of Law Schools’ Faculty Recruitment Conference may make sense, as a number of law schools have hired for tenure-track and clinical/long-term faculty positions through the conference (also referred to as the “meat market”). But for attorneys who realistically cannot move, then cultivating relationships with the law schools in one’s area may provide a better route to developing some pathway to clinical teaching. If pursuing opportunities within a particular geographic area, personal relationships with existing faculty help, as they might lead to adjunct teaching opportunities or other collaborations with a law school.
  1. Publishing Helps, But May Not Be Critical. PhDs, LLMs are Probably Less Valuable for Clinical Teaching. As discussed in #1 above, whether one publishes really depends in large part on the nature of the position and the law school’s expectations of the clinician.  For tenure-track positions, demonstrating one’s potential for scholarship is generally required for the position.  For other positions, one’s track record as an excellent attorney, an innovative advocate, a leader in the profession, and an effective teacher may be the main criteria for the job.  That being said, I think writing helps, even if in less traditional forums such as practice guides or blogs.  Writing in an area that grows out of one’s practice experience or advocacy work is often a great place to start.  My sense is that obtaining an advanced degree such as a PhD or LLM is not particularly helpful for clinical teaching, since those degrees do not tend enhance one’s ability to teach practical skills (meaning, I wouldn’t recommend obtaining any of those degrees in order to prepare oneself for a clinical teaching position; better to spend the time writing, litigating a cutting-edge case, developing innovative lawyering, seeking out opportunities to work with law students, etc).   
  1. Clinical Teaching Fellowships? A Mixed Bag.  Many of immigration law professors directing clinics at law schools across the country have completed clinical teaching fellowships.  (I did mine at Stanford).  They can offer excellent experience for aspiring clinicians to gain teaching (and lawyering) experience, develop mentors and relationships within the legal academy, and start on their scholarly agendas prior to entering the law teaching market.  But clinical teaching fellowships cannot guarantee a full-time faculty position in this job market, especially if the fellow isn’t geographically flexible.  The pay tends to be low, and thus difficult for candidates without other sources of financial support.  Whether one pursues a clinical teaching fellowship may thus depend on the other factors outlined here.
  1. Don’t Discount the Serendipity Factor. As with much of life, one just never knows how things will unfold.  My sense is that timing and luck matter a lot in determining who gets which clinical teaching jobs.  Maybe a local law school happens to decide in a particular year to expand its clinic or receives funding to expand in the immigration area.  Maybe a full-time clinical faculty person retires.  When I initially interviewed at my own law school (through the AALS “meat market”), they were looking for an entirely distinct faculty role, but as our discussions progressed, a retirement was announced and I somehow had the opportunity to start an immigration clinic in Southern California.  

August 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Seeking New Writers for 2016-2017

The Clinical Law Prof Blog is inviting new voices to join our group of writers.  The vision of this blog is to create a forum and community for clinical legal educators to discuss new ideas, share announcements, reflect on our work, praise accomplishment, seek justice, and promote good teaching.

If you would like to write for the blog for 2016-2017 and beyond, please write me at my email below in the profiles.  We ask that you commit to one post per month at least, and these can range from major academic and theoretical pieces to short posts sharing announcements, events, job postings, or articles of interest.  We enjoy fiction and poetry, too!

Specifically, we would like to identify a writer who will curate and share regular law review articles on clinical education or by clinical professors.  We would also like to identify a writer to carry on the Five Questions series of interviews of clinicians. 

Whether you are new to this or an experienced veteran professor, whether you are at a highly ranked university or a scrappy regional law school, please consider adding your voice to this community. 

If you’re not already, please join the Clinical Law Profs Facebook group and follow @ClinicalLawProf on Twitter.

August 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

JOBS: Stetson Clinical Director

Via Prof. Cynthia Batt:


Director of Clinical and Experiential Education


STETSON UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW may seek to fill a faculty position for Director of Clinical and Experiential Education beginning in fall 2017.


Our main campus is located in Gulfport, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area, the nation’s nineteenth largest metro area.  Stetson was established in 1900 and is Florida’s oldest law school.  Stetson has earned a national reputation for its advocacy, elder law, legal writing, and higher education programs, and has Centers for Excellence in many areas. We encourage potential applicants to visit our website at to learn more about our school, our community and our programs.


We welcome applications from candidates interested in serving as the Director of Clinical and Experiential Education.  Stetson offers our students more than 400 clinic and externships opportunities. Responsibilities include overseeing the development, implementation, and evaluation of the College of Law’s clinic and externship courses, establishing objectives and assessment procedures for clinical courses, working with faculty members who teach externships and clinic courses, and teaching. Stetson encourages applications from women, minorities, LGBTQ candidates, and all others who will contribute to our stimulating and diverse cultural and intellectual environment. All applicants must have a strong academic record and be committed to outstanding teaching and scholarship.


The Faculty Appointments Committee will begin reviewing applications on or around August 15, 2016. Candidates will be interviewed during the AALS 2016 Faculty Recruitment Conference in Washington, D.C., although some interviews may take place at other times and locations.


Contact: Applicants should send a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests, a current CV, and at least three professional references to Professor Candace M. Zierdt at or by standard mail to Professor Zierdt at Stetson University College of Law, 1401 61st Street South, Gulfport, FL 33707.

August 18, 2016 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

JOBS: University of Arkansas - Fayetteville

Via Prof. Steve Clowney


The UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS SCHOOL OF LAW-FAYETTEVILLE, invites applications from both entry-level and lateral candidates for a tenure-track clinical faculty position to begin in the fall of 2017.

The law school is focused on hiring an individual who can build on and expand our successful Immigration Law Clinic.  All applicants for the position should have significant practice experience in immigration or asylum law, and some familiarity with supervising young attorneys.  Candidates should also have demonstrated scholarly promise, strong classroom teaching skills, and an absolute willingness to serve on school committees.  Any successful applicant will be expected to sit for the Arkansas bar examination. 

In furtherance of the law school’s fundamental commitment to experiential learning, clinical professors have full tenure rights and equal voting privileges on all faculty issues.

The University of Arkansas–Fayetteville, located in the northwest corner of the state, is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas. The University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution and welcomes applications without regard to age, race, gender (including pregnancy), national origin, disability, religion, marital or parental status, protected veteran status, military service, genetic information, sexual orientation or gender identity.  Persons must have proof of legal authority to work in the United States on the first day of employment. All applicant information is subject to public disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Applicants with questions may contact Professor Steve Clowney, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee,

August 17, 2016 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

JOBS: South Dakota: Low Income Tax Clinic Director, Lecturer

Via Assoc. Dean Tiffany C. Graham:  

Low Income Tax Clinic Director, Lecturer

The University of South Dakota School of Law invites applications for the position of Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Director. The position is non-tenure track and paid out of a federal grant beginning no later than January 2017. Continued employment is contingent on availability of grant funding.

The Director will lead the only LITC in South Dakota. Responsibilities will include representing low-income taxpayers before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court, teaching and supervising clinical law students in the representation of clients, engaging in outreach to South Dakota communities, developing and coordinating a panel of pro bono attorneys, managing the LITC’s docket, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of an IRS-funded LITC.

We would be especially interested in candidates who have experience with an LITC or have some teaching experience. The grant period ends December 31, 2016, but is expected to be renewed for three years thereafter. The successful candidate must be a licensed attorney in a United States jurisdiction (a state or the District of Columbia) by the time of the appointment.

Applications for all university positions must be submitted through the Board of Regents electronic employment site: Include on the website: application letter, vita, and names and addresses of three current references.  Inquiries may be directed to Ramon Ortiz, Director of Experiential Learning, School of Law, University of South Dakota, 414 E Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069; e-mail; telephone 605-677-3922.  

For application assistance or accommodation, call 605-677-5671.Diversity and inclusiveness are values that are embraced and practiced at the University of South Dakota.  Candidates who support these values are encouraged to apply.  EEO/AA.

August 16, 2016 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tyner: The Leader's Journey

A guest post from Dr. Artika Tyner on her new book, The Leader’s Journey: A Guide to Discovering the Leader Within:


Lawyers are the gatekeepers of justice, democracy, and rule of law. We are called upon to create access to justice and preserve the foundational tenets of fairness and equity. As gatekeepers, lawyers should also utilize their legal training to serve as leaders. This process of social change can be evidenced through the furtherance of social justice, transformation of the legal system, and public policy reform. 

The preparation for assuming the role of lawyer as leader should begin during the formative years of a lawyer’s professional identity- law school. Law schools are in a prime position to aid law students in developing their leadership capacity by connecting their practical experience with an understanding of leadership development and one’s ability to advance social change. The adoption of a leadership development and social justice curriculum is a “new frontier” for legal education by in which the potential of law students to serve as leaders and agents of change can be realized. As a former clinical law faculty member of the Community Justice Project, I was inspired to write my new book which provides law students with a practical guide on how to develop their leadership skills.  

Leadership is a journey often mistaken for a destination. The Leader’s Journey: A Guide to Discovering the Leader Within contains practical guidance and inspiration for that journey. My new book will provide law students with inspiration on how to develop their individualized leadership style and make an impact. This is the foundation of leadership growth. In three parts, the book explores core values of leadership and how these values can inform a law student’s understanding of leadership. 


 Part 1: Leading Change—Planting People, Growing Justice (Why Lead?) 
Leadership is about influence. Law students have the power in their hands to positively influence the world around them. I start each course with asking my students: “What is in your hands to make a difference in the world?”

Part 2: Your Leadership Qualities (What Makes You a Leader?) 
Effective leadership requires developing the necessary tools to lead change, such as:  fostering creative problem solving skills and engaging in community-building in order to eradicate the access to justice gap.

 Part 3: Your Leadership DNA (What Is Your Individualized Leadership Style?) 
One’s leadership style is as unique as your DNA. It is the individualized, unique composition of each student’s leadership skills, technical competency, and life experiences. The challenge on this leadership journey is to discover how to leverage one’s leadership talent. Through the exploration of a range of leadership styles, law students will gain tools for leading more effectively. They can customize these styles to create their very own signature brand.

This collection of quotes serves as a source of inspiration and guidance on each student’s leadership journey. The quotes function as a critical reflection tool. As students take the time and reflect on each quote, they will gain new insights and build their leadership platforms. This type of reflection provides an opportunity for law students to strengthen their leadership skills and share these lessons with others. 

August 12, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

JOBS: Texas A&M University School of Law

Via Prof. Luz Herrera:

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, if only I can see that show somewhere.   

July 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Teaching Law in an Age of Violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are necessary to building a trustworthy system of law. 

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

Let’s teach like it.     

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

Call It a Draw

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

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

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

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

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

June 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

Laila Hlass

Jill Engle

Michele Pistone

Jill Engle

Melanie DeRousse

Carrie Sperling

Susan Brooks

Emily Suski


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

Please Sign Petition for New AALS Technology Committee!

"Greetings from the Section's Technology Committee!! 

We write to announce two new initiatives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valena Beety (West Virginia)

Warren Binford (Willamette)

Michael Bloom (Michigan)

Alyson Carrel (Northwestern)

Jenny Brooke Condon (Seton Hall)

Ron Lazednik (Fordham)

Michele Pistone (Villanova) Chair

Jeff Ward (Duke)

Leah Wortham (Catholic)"

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

Upcoming Deadline for NYU Writers' Workshop

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

The Workshop will take place at NYU Law School on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at NYU Law School.  It provides an opportunity for clinical teachers who are writing about any subject (clinical pedagogy, substantive law, interdisciplinary analysis, empirical work, etc.) to meet with other clinicians writing on related topics to discuss their works-in-progress and brainstorm ideas for further development of their articles. Attendees will meet in small groups organized, to the extent possible, by the subject matter in which they are writing. Each group will “workshop” the draft of each member of the group.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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

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

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

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

From the Introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

An excerpt:

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

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