Sunday, May 28, 2017
This Fall semester, in addition to teaching my Penn State Law clinical students, I will teach Professional Responsibility. When I was in law school, if memory serves, it was called "Legal Ethics". I really wish I could reclaim that course name.
Professional Responsibility is the industry standard now--I get it. The codes of conduct in most states use some version of that language in their titles. Pennsylvania, for example, has Rules of Professional Conduct, not Rules of Legal Ethics.
But the casebook for my course is called The Law and Ethics of Lawyering (my own emphasis added). And it happens to be the same casebook used in the Legal Ethics course I took long ago and far away, albeit a new edition. I know that for sure because I saved that book. It's sitting on my office bookshelf beside the new casebook I'll soon pore over to prepare to teach the course for the first time. So what? Why am I fixated on the word "ethics" as it relates to this course?
I think our students could benefit from a little more education on ethics. Knowledge of the sources and norms about ethical obligations, a humanistic sense of right and wrong, is fundamental to the legal profession. We owe it to future lawyers to engage them in the study of the underpinnings of our profession's ideals about the outer limits of acceptable human behavior and our systemic regulation of it. To my mind, "professional responsibility" conceptually strikes me as just a few shades lighter than "malpractice avoidance". We must be better than that. Lawyers must not simply avoiding bad behavior. We must cultivate and thus deeply understand good--ethical--behavior.
It's a bit late to rename my course, but I do plan to re-brand it, class by class and student by student. Maybe I'll discover this is is semantics; a distinction without a difference, once I'm engaged in the course itself. Stay tuned . . . .
Monday, May 22, 2017
Pepperdine University School of Law
Director of Externships and Pro Bono Programs and
Adjunct Professor for Academic Success and Bar Preparation
The Director of Externship and Pro Bono Programs responsibilities will include direction of the School of Law's externship program, including extensive student advising, teaching in diverse modes and settings, extensive communication with field placements and supervisors, and records management. The pro bono program direction will involve significant student advising and counseling, recruiting and creating pro bono placements and opportunities, and records management. These responsibilities are anticipated to comprise approximately one-half to three-fourths of the successful applicant's total responsibilities.
The Adjunct Professor for Academic Success and Bar Preparation responsibilities will involve teaching responsibilities and student office hours in the law school's academic success and bar preparation courses, and additional responsibilities for developing, coordinating, and implementing a program that supports the School of Law's commitment to academic success in law school and success on the bar exam. These responsibilities are anticipated to comprise approximately one-fourth to one-half of the successful applicant's total responsibilities.
The successful applicant will report to the School of Law's Director of Clinical Education and to the Associate Dean for Student Success, will work closely with the Clinical Program Manager, will closely direct and monitor more than 100 students per term in externships and pro bono practice, and will supervise ASP and Bar Exam Workshop student teaching fellows.
Friday, May 19, 2017
I’m struggling. But in truth, it’s been that way for quite some time, since foot touched ground in this land of wood and water.
They say there are different Jamaicas, and I no doubt know this to be true. Aptly capturing this sentiment, photographer and creator, Peter Dean Rickards wrote “We are Jamaicans living within and without cultural control. We are at once proud nationalists and critics of our country of origin. A country known for its extremes. A place packed with originality and creative energy that continues to flourish despite the current socio-political state that has removed the personal pride of many. An island filled with beauty unsurpassed and ugliness that would make a rat puke.”
In all honesty, I’m not sure which Jamaica I will leave with in my mind.
The paradox of life here is so astounding -- splendor always brushing up against pain. Fear hovering on the periphery, worry right inside the line of sight; eclipsed momentarily when depth returns to breath and light comes pouring through. Joy heightened by anxiety. Which of these is more genuine? Is one real simply because the other exists? Tangibility through co-occurrence?
Sometimes I’m surprised to learn the new contours of a mind that I believed I knew so well. I thought I had managed my fear only to realize that the fear had often managed me. Ugliness is sneaky that way. Making life myopic. Narrow. Tight. Restricting the range of possibilities imaginable. Causing me to only see a landscape of corruption, chaos and systems failing to function. Moments when I can only focus on Dennis’ nephew, shot ten times in front of a KFC; the grit, filth and cacophony of ramshackle tin neighborhoods; the boy in the taxi cab, shot on his way to school, whose killer could not be prosecuted for lack of evidence; the electric current surging through a frenzied crowd as they run toward and not away from the fresh blood that flows in the street after a police officer was killed with his own gun; the sounds of a neighbor yelling for help as she’s robbed at knifepoint at 8:30 in the morning on her walk to work; the strain in a young man’s face as he momentarily opens to say “Miss, I’m tired of the violence;” a newfound ability to judge gunshot proximity by sound.
How can we continue standing inches from such a precipice?
Sometimes I’m surprised to feel the scowl affixed to my face instinctively smooth into a smile. I thought I had forgotten how to dance only to realize my feet were already moving long before my mind even registered the beat. Beauty is sneaky that way. Making life grander. Expansive. Sweeping. Opening a range of limitless possibilities. Allowing me to see scenes of warmth, fecundity and systems of thriving interconnection. Moments when I can only focus on the sweet, juicy, fibrous taste of an Otaheite apple; the crisp, shocking thrill of sliding into a frigid waterfall after a long, arduous hike; the laughter of boys imitating lawyers, mastering and wielding concepts of cross examination; the pastel painted sky of sunrise across the valley; feeling like Belle walking through the streets of her hometown, waving, smiling and speaking mawnin’ mawnin’ to security guards patrolling, men with machetes for gardening and women carrying bags of fresh fruits and veg; the sound of voices softly singing along anytime music is playing; a discussion of best practices shared among a room full of community volunteers, peacemakers.
How can we drink such goodness into the soul?
In all honesty, I’m not sure which Jamaica I will leave with in my heart.
I struggle because the centrality of this duality is part and parcel of life here, I struggle because the gnawing guilt of privilege that allows some measure of escape, I struggle over all that I will miss. I struggle because this reality has existed long before my arrival and will remain long after I am gone.
I’m struggling. But in truth, it’s been that way for quite some time, since foot touched ground in this land of wood and water.
Friday, May 12, 2017
Friday, May 5, 2017
From Prof. Chris Zawisza upon her retirement from the University of Memphis:
As you make your way to Denver, I wish you a very successful conference. I won’t be joining you this year, unfortunately. I am retiring after 40 years of practicing law and 20 years of teaching clinically. This community has been a source of strength, ideas, inspiration, support, and fellowship during years of calm, years of change, and now tumultuous times. As I reflect back on my times as a social justice advocate, I realize that our community has weathered tumultuous times before. Some of us remember the Vietnam era with the tear gas, the riots, the demonstrations, and the soul searching about our place in the world. I remember well the debates about working inside the system or working outside the system and what each entailed. I remember choosing to work inside the system by taking a job as a Management Intern with the then Department of HEW (now HHS) and then sitting idly at my desk watching the Nixon impeachment hearings. At the very least that era motivated me to go to law school and also gave me the savings to pay for law school! I remember our anxieties and fears as the Legal Services Corporation funding was substantially cut during the Reagan years along with other safety net programs. And I remember well having to find a new home when Congress prohibited legal services attorneys from doing class actions and legislative advocacy. That era led me to a home in clinical legal education which has been a true joy!
As a community, we have found that hard times bring out the best in us. We summon up our creativity, courage, and resilience and find new ways to serve clients, organizations, neighborhoods, and society. I’m sure we will forge a way forward. Thank you for all you have given me.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
"The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 23, 2017, at NYU Law School. The registration deadline is June 30, 2017.
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, 2017, all applicants must 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, 2017.
As in the previous Clinical Law Review Workshops, participants will not have to pay an admission or registration fee but 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 workshop without scholarship support. Applicants for scholarships will need to submit, with their 3-5 page prospectus (which is due 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 submission of drafts by the deadlines identified above, 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.
-- The Board of Editors of the Clinical Law Review"
In Denver this week and next, clinical law profs will gather from around the country for three conferences and all manner of clinical business.
The CLEA New Clinicians Conference is Saturday, May 6, at the Colorado Bar. Download the schedule and directions here. Follow and participate with CLEA for this conference and through the rest of the conferences at #CLEA2017.
The AALS Clinical and Experiential Law Program Directors Workshop begins with a reception on May 5 and continues throughout the day on May 6. Its theme this year is "Leadership in Tumultuous Times." See the program and more information here.
The 40th Annual AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education begins Saturday, May 6, and continues through Tuesday, May 9. Its theme is "Serving the Client in Tumultuous Times: Fostering Responsibility to Individuals, Communities, and Society in Clinical Legal Education." See the program and more here.
Follow along and contribute via social media at #clinical2017.
(Your humble servant/blogger/editor is speaking at all of them and looks forward to seeing our fantastic community again in the Rockies.)
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Monday, April 24, 2017
Please read this message to the clinical community from Prof. Anne Hornsby, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs at the University of Alabama:
By now, many of you know that the Law Clinics at Alabama lost our colleagues, Liz Whipple and Shelly Darling, in a tragic electricity-related accident at Lake Tuscaloosa. We are stunned and heartbroken, as are their families. The two were great friends, and shared a love for their work, rescue dogs, stylish boots, and a quirky and totally irreverent sense of humor that regularly gave way to big laughter. They were our self-appointed social directors, and could find an excuse for a party on any given occasion. For those of you who did not know them, I’ll share a little about their time here.
Liz had been a student in our first Domestic Violence Law Clinic, and was coaxed back to Alabama from her DV work in Atlanta to serve as director of that clinic in 2015. She was a natural teacher, and her legal skills and compassion in dealing with survivors of violence inspired others. Active in the Tuscaloosa community and the larger DV services community, she chaired the Tuscaloosa Domestic Violence Task Force, was on the board of the local women’s shelter, and reached out to train law enforcement on the issues about which she was passionate. She continued to be active in Georgia, as well. Her impact on her students, the law school, and the community will be lasting.
Shelly came to UA Law in 2014 as a staff attorney in the Elder Law Clinic. Due in large part to her bright intellect and high energy, she instantly fit into the work and into the organization. She had a special rapport with clients, some of whom would call her at all hours for advice on all manner of things. Her patience with them was remarkable. Students found her to be an excellent role model as an attorney, a formidable advocate with a practical nature. Aside from her work, she could not resist picking up stray dogs, and, likely as not, keeping them. She will be greatly missed.
Today our law school community gathered for an informal remembrance of Liz and Shelly. The stories shared brought home the importance of the work that we do. We will strive to honor their lives by following the examples of service they set for us.
Sincere thanks to each of you who have reached out with support and a shared sense of loss.
Anne Hornsby, on behalf of the Law Clinics at Alabama
Thursday, April 20, 2017
UCLA School of Law
Assistant Dean for Experiential Education
The position of Assistant Dean for Experiential Education requires a talented and enthusiastic individual to build and oversee the operational excellence of the UCLA Law program of clinical and experiential education. The Assistant Dean will report to and work under the general direction of the Faculty Director and/or Vice Dean of Experiential Education and will be expected to work independently with multiple faculty and staff within the law school. The Assistant Dean will participate in the Law School’s academic and curricular planning and support the Faculty Director and/or Vice Dean in expanding and promoting excellence in the law school’s program of clinical and experiential education. The Assistant Dean will also develop and maintain systems to ensure the provision of excellent legal services to clients and excellent pedagogical opportunities for students. These duties will require the Assistant Dean to build strong relationships within the law school community, as well as with external governmental and nonprofit entities with which the law school is collaborating. The person in this position should have some background and familiarity with clinical legal education, the ability to exercise creativity and good judgment about the law school program, and a deep interest in educating students and providing legal services to clients and communities in the region. The person in this position has the possibility of spending up to approximately 25% of his/her time teaching in a clinical program, to be determined in consultation with the Faculty Director/Vice Dean.
Minimum requirements include an excellent academic record; a J.D. or equivalent advanced degree; at least five years of substantial legal practice or related experience; and demonstrated management, administrative, and organizational skills, with successful prior experience inclinical legal education preferred. The salary and level of appointment will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. This position is a full-time, year round, non-tenure track academic appointment with an expected start date of July 1, 2017. This appointment is subject to the rules and regulations of the Regents of the University of California, which are mostly embodied in The UCLA CALL and the University of California Academic Personnel Manual. (See https://www.apo.ucla.edu/policies/the-call; and http://www.ucop.edu/acadpersonnel/apm/welcome.html.)
Confidential review of applications, nominations and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue until an appointment is made. To ensure full consideration, applications should be received by Tuesday, June 13, 2017 but will be considered thereafter until the position is filled. Please apply online at https://recruit.apo.ucla.edu/apply/JPF02951 by submitting pdf copies of a cover letter, CV or resume, and the names and contact information for at least three professional references. Applicants with teaching experience should also include their teaching evaluations, a summary thereof, or other testimonials concerning their teaching experience.
The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: UC Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy (http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000376/NondiscrimAffirmAct).
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
I have spent most of my education and career in Christian universities. They, like all institutions, struggle with their identities in various ways, wrestling to understand themselves as parts of ancient traditions, within rapidly evolving worlds, seeking the ideals of liberal education while adhering to faith commitments and obligations.
This Inside Higher Ed piece from my friend and colleague, Prof. Michael Helfand, is wise and right. He writes from his experience as an Orthodox Jew at our university affiliated with the Churches of Christ, my home tradition. He discusses a commitment to religious diversity as a core commitment for a university with a faith mission, not as an exception to it. This is one of the things we get right, I think, at Pepperdine Law, and our Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical, Etc. law faculty is all the stronger because of it.
Next year, I will be one of the faculty advisors for our Interfaith Student Council, and I believe Michael's words are true:
The key to maintaining this balance is a university administration and faculty that does not simply expect faculty members of other faiths to work parallel to the university’s faith-based mission. Capitalizing on religious diversity within a faith-based university works best -- both from a student and from a faculty perspective -- when the university actively seeks to incorporate that religious diversity into the faith-based mission of the school. It gives students a more multifaceted educational experience and gives faculty an increased sense of institutional value -- and, in turn, increases buy-in to the institution’s mission.
Monday, April 3, 2017
A few weeks ago, I had a moment. I suppose you could call it a “teaching moment,” since it occurred in the classroom, but really, it felt more like a moment, moment. You know, the kind where the world seems right, even if just for a few minutes. When somehow it all falls into place with stunning alignment and grace and we are a taught a lesson; the kind that resonates deeply in the body, like ancient knowledge that you can’t quite name or fully grasp but you know it when you see it.
At 10:00 pm the night before the first ever REEL (Re-imagining Excellence through Empowering Leadership) Conference, I quickly agreed to jump in and teach a 45 minute workshop on restorative justice when one presenter cancelled. My audience would be teenage boys, who attend the Kingston YMCA alternative education program. Most of the boys live a very difficult reality; they come from garrison communities where violence and retribution are the norm. Looking back, I realize the arrogance and potential foolishness of my haphazard decision, but I’m glad I didn’t have that awareness at the time, as my second-guessing could have easily turned into a “no.” One lesson I will most certainly take with me from my time here in Jamaica is that sometimes I just need to get it done, loosen the choke hold of that perfectionist bent, settle on “some is better than none,” and handle it.
After the haze of the late-night, last minute decision wore off, I acknowledged how stunningly out of my depth I would be. My Americanness, including my comparative wealth, which allows me augmented “safety” and “control” over my environment was directly at odds with the boys’ lived experience. The story I played in my mind was one of doubt: am I going to be able to convey, and in such a short amount of time, an alternative to retribution, another potential way of being in the world, a chance for possible repair instead of reprisal and the creation of more harm. Is that even possible? Is it even my place to try?
Luckily, another story simultaneously played. I’ve attended enough Clinical Law Conferences to have developed a fairly sturdy (even if at times tentative) trust in the power of teaching techniques, and so I would rely on those. Tactile learning, a circle and intuition would be my guides. In the classroom, I was adamant that the chairs, which were in rows had to be in circle. This meant the 20 minute task of re-arranging them prior to the boys arrival, but put those chairs in a circle we did (it must have seemed silly to everyone -- even to myself to a degree -- but I just knew we needed to see each other). Once everyone walked into the room, I patiently but diligently stuck to the format. I made all of us, including the teachers, sit inside the circle and we removed all empty chairs. We started with my request “tell us your name, your favorite junk food (a universally important question) and what you want to be in the future.” Pulling this information was difficult, the boys did not have much confidence or practice in speaking this way. I had to ask several times for quiet, push through the snickering, re-direct, constantly re-affirm the importance of each person’s response and ask countless times for everyone to speak up. And though there were fleeting moments of wondering whether this was the best use of our time together, I felt a strong pull; the act of naming and staking a claim on the future felt important and so even though it was a little tenuous, the circle held.
Next, I had the boys pretend to be actors (victim, police, community members, judge, offender, lawyers, etc.) in both the traditional and the restorative justice systems, using physical space and proximity to illustrate the concepts. The method seemed effective and we had fun. On the grand scale, I moved the room from the immediate “I would shoot his family dead” response to a consideration of “maybe” when asked if anyone would be willing to listen to the offender’s story. I considered this a success, but I’m kind of a glutton; I wasn’t satisfied, I pretty much always want more and because it just didn’t quite feel like enough or like it was done, I scrapped the script and started talking from the heart. It was messy, but it provided the opening we needed.
First, I acknowledged my privilege and then we talked…about anger, about witnessing horrific events, about endless cycles of violence, and about how as a society we instruct people not to do harm often through the use of state sanctioned forms of harm, control and force. The teachers, feeling more confident in this space, joined in, and together we validated feelings and passed along information about the effects trauma can have on our lives. We did our best to try and affirm the worth and dignity of everyone in the room (the future firefighter, graphic designer, lawyer, the one who likes KFC, Lavonte, “Tony,” and the one I ran into at the bus station…) Looking around, I could tell the boys heard it, many even appreciated the sentiment, but there was still a disconnect, a gap that I was desperate to, but didn’t have the words or experience or time to close.
And then it happened, as it often does, at the last minute, when you’ve got nothing left…
One of the teachers, who had been participating and asking questions throughout the workshop (which if I’m being honest, unnerved me a bit because of our tight time frame and because I thought “this is a workshop for the boys, not the teachers”) raised her hand again just in time for the final comment. By her insightful questions, I could tell that she was working through something and so even though the questions took us a little of “my course,” I had done my best to provide space and answer them.
And so in those last minutes of our time together, Ms. Taylor closed us out and brought us home. And somehow, she did it, she managed to fuse it all together: my words, their words, my knowledge, and their lived experiences. She spoke in the way that only a Jamaican woman could, only in a way that someone who has worked for a long time to gain trust and garner respect could, and only in a way that a mother who intimately knows suffering could.
She opened up and told us her story. It was a deeply personal story, one that I’m not sure her colleagues even knew, filled with pain, loss, restitution and redemption; one of those stories where the universe delivers both the poisonous sting and the antidote simultaneously rolled into one bitter-sweet pill. She was restorative justice personified. And we were stunned and silent; the room reverent as the energy shifted and stilled. We heard and finally we understood the power of forgiveness and the healing that can bring. I have no doubt that her story has wedged itself into the hearts of those young men the way it flowed directly into mine. And as we go forward to maneuver the difficulties of this life, I know we will all hear her words echoing inside us, providing us with choices which we couldn’t see before, a wider spectrum of possibilities that now exist in all our worlds.
And so I learned once again about the real value of restorative justice and why I do this work, and I learned once again about myself. Ms. Taylor’s lesson was the re-enforcement of what so many have tried to teach me over and over again...trust the process, trust yourself, check your ego at the door along with those western, hierarchical methods of learning, get out of the way, and just be the bridge, let it simply be an honor to be the conduit that facilitates the real knowledge residing in all of us.
 The nature of poverty in the garrison constituencies in Jamaica, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/095624780501700207
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Via the LawClinic listserv:
Assistant Clinical Professor - Coordinator of Skills and Experiential Learning - College of Law
Responsibilities include teaching and managing all educational tasks necessary to institute and maintain an innovative skills curriculum for all law students; to oversee, manage the academic externship program to include teaching each semester; and to expand experiential practice-based learning experiences for law students.
This position requires: a JD degree from an ABA-accredited law school; substantial experience, including a minimum of 5 years practice and/or teaching experience at an accredited law school; being licensed to practice law in Louisiana; and demonstrated commitment to social justice and working with low income people; a long-term commitment to teaching law students to maintain strong academic credentials and practice experience. Strong preference will be given to candidates with experience with planning, organizing and administering lawyering skills curriculum and experiential learning.
Send resume, writing sample and references with letter of application to:
Associate Director of Clinic
Stuart H. Smith Clinic & Center for Social Justice
Loyola University College of Law
504 Broadway Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70118
Loyola is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Deadline for application is May 1st.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Once again, a Republican led administration is seeking to end federal funding for legal services for the poor by eliminating the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). LSC, founded in 1974, is an important funding source of legal services programs for the poor in the United States.
It is not new for those of us who have been working as legal advocates for the poor in various capacities. If at all possible, law schools (not just the clinical programs and externship programs) should denounce this effort by the current President and speak out in support of equal justice and access for all.
Previously, under the administration of Ronald Reagan, Republicans sought to ‘zero’ out the funding of the Legal Services Corporation. The effort failed and LSC lived to struggle on, terribly underfunded, but yet alive somehow amidst a wave of extreme right wing politics. Ronald Reagan and his cohorts persisted over and years and they pressed on again and again trying to cut the program.
Virginia Knapland, a managing attorney at Westchester Legal Services in the 1980's criticized Reagan's efforts at the time and asserted that if LSC was totally cut, “the courtroom doors will be closed to the poor.” Later in the mid 1980's when Reagan again tried to cut the agency completely, law student, James Cott opined in the Christian Science Monitor that “our democracy can only function if our legal system is available to all citizens, not merely those who can afford private legal services.”
Most of the programs that LSC funded back then survived but barely. They also became so overburdened with regulations and bureaucracy many had to remake themselves. They did not want their work to become meaningless because of the absurdity of our politics.
I was a Staff Attorney at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) in the early 1990’s when again a GOP led effort sought to end LSC's funding. Newt Gingrich led that nasty effort and it resulted in a 56 percent cut to our funding. Several of our offices had to be closed and many attorneys and paralegals had to be let go. I would have been one of those attorneys but so many people at NLSP decided to retire and move on, a number of us were able to retain our positions.
The sojourn of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington is a perfect example of the callous governing that has gone on at time since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 in regards to legal services for the poor funding by taxpayers. NLSP once had 11 offices in the city, scattered throughout the city, and had become one of the model programs for advocacy and change in the U.S. regarding the rights of poor people. After the attacks, it had only two offices. In particular, NLSP was at the forefront of changing the nation's landlord-tenant laws to respect and recognize the rights of not just tenants able to afford legal counsel but poor tenants often living in substandard housing. NLSP remains in operation today but is remarkably different as a result of the various attacks over the years by Republican administrations.
Yet to put it all in perspective, even with the many offices NLSP had been operating with LSC funding at various times, both before and after the cuts, it still did not reach the many poor people in the city who needed a lawyer in a divorce, or landlord-tenant dispute, or small claims matter, or a simple workmen’s compensation claim. The LSC funding, to use a terrible, overused metaphor was a drop in the bucket of what is actually needed and that can be afforded.
That is why to cut LSC, without a replacement program, is an act of political cowardice. It doesn’t save the government much money at all and if it does happen, it will likely cost the court systems across the country much more in time and money in trying to handle the confusion created by a decision which is devoid of real thought and deliberation.
It is hoped that law schools will speak our forcibly on this issue and the deans of the law schools will use their influence to once again stop another misguided Republican effort to end federal funding for legal services for the poor.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Opening Plenary, AALS Clinical Conference – Request for Action Items: What Are You Doing in These Tumultuous Times?
This year's AALS clinical conference happens in early May, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Be a part of the opening plenary session by sharing your work! From the organizers:
We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education. We write with regard to the conference’s opening plenary session, entitled Pushing On and Pushing Through in Tumultuous Times. The conference theme is Serving the Client in Tumultuous Times: Fostering Responsibility to Individuals, Communities, and Society in Clinical Legal Education. As part of the plenary, we would like to hear from you regarding action steps you have taken or plan to take―in response to today’s tumultuous times—during this academic year or action planning this summer with respect to teaching, lawyering, scholarship and/or service. How have these times caused/forced/led/inspired you to change what you have done, what you are doing, and/or what do you plan to do? Please send us a couple of sentences or a paragraph detailing your steps by Friday, March 31, to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line: “Faculty Motivation for Opening Plenary.”
In addition, please ask your students to create brief videos or take photos that we might show during the opening plenary or perhaps at other times throughout the conference or on the conference website in which they address one of the following questions: 1) What have you been doing this academic year to address injustice?; 2) How have you been making a difference this academic year, inside or outside of law school?; and/or 3) In 2017, what motivates you most to become a lawyer? Responses can be sent in a short video format (e.g., less than one-minute iPhone video clip) or on a photo with cue card, as shown in this video of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGxjIBEZvx0, and on the right side of the page here, http://theopedproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=868&Itemid=154. Other examples could include photos or short videos of students meeting with client communities, providing access to legal assistance in new venues such as airports, or meeting with local legislators. Each submission must include the student’s name, law school and year in law school. Submissions may include audio. Please send high-resolution photos and high-definition cellphone videos. Submissions are due by Friday, March 31, and should be sent to email@example.com, with the subject line: “Student Motivation for Opening Plenary.”
We cannot promise to include all submissions in our opening plenary program. We know we will gain inspiration from all of them.
Opening Plenary Presenters:
Craig B. Futterman, The University of Chicago, The Law School
Bill O. Hing, University of San Francisco School of Law
Susan R. Jones, The George Washington University Law School
Moderator: Michael Pinard, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Planning Committee for AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education:
Luz E. Herrera, Texas A&M University School of Law
Margaret M. Jackson, University of North Dakota School of Law
Lydia Johnson, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Paul Radvany, Fordham University School of Law
Alexander Scherr, University of Georgia School of Law
Robin Walker Sterling, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Carol Suzuki, University of New Mexico School of Law, Chair
Send questions to:
Carol M. Suzuki
Professor of Law
University of New Mexico School of Law
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
The National Jurist magazine has released its rankings for law schools' programs for practical training. National Jurist bases its rankings on data reported to the ABA for opportunities available to students in clinics, externships, simulation courses, interscholastic advocacy competitions, and other factors, like pro bono requirements. These are the top 20 schools for practical training according to these rankings:
- Northeastern University
- University of St. Thomas - Minnesota
- Yale Law School
- University of Arizona
- Pepperdine University
- University of California - Irvine
- Valparaiso University
- University of Wisconsin
- University of Denver
- University of Colorado
- Northwestern University
- University of Utah
- University of Cincinnati
- Cardozo School of Law
- Golden Gate University
- Liberty University
- Washington & Lee University
- Pacific McGeorge School of Law
- Brigham Young University
- University of Mississippi
U.S. News has released its annual rankings in higher education, including for law schools and clinical programs. U.S. News bases its rankings of clinical programs on peer-reputation voting. This year, these are the top 20 clinical programs according to these rankings:
- Georgetown University
- American University
- New York University
- Yale University
- University of the District of Columbia
- University of Maryland
- Washington University in St. Louis
- University of Michigan
- Stanford University
- Northwestern University
- University of Balitmore
- University of Denver
- University of New Mexico
- University of California - Irvine
- University of California - Berkeley
- Suffolk University
- Seattle University
- Harvard University
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
"Full Citizenship Project for Law Faculty" was launched on International Women's Day by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD). The initiative is intended to correct gender and other disparities among U.S. law faculty. The decision to launch the project on International Women's Day is based on the fact that women are significantly underrepresented in tenured and tenure-track positions on law school faculties (only 36 percent are women) and over-represented on legal writing (70 percent) and clinical faculties (63 percent). Moreover, as status and salaries decrease with a position, the representation of women increases.
Those who support integrated and diverse law school faculties recognize that equality and security contribute to robust and innovative teaching. Second- and tertiary-class status takes its toll on faculty morale both inside and outside the classroom. Those who share the concern that women faculty members should not be relegated to subordinate positions with regard to security of position and academic freedom are encouraged to sign the Full Citizenship Statement, which can be found here. The signature campaign will end on Equal Pay Day, April 4, which is the day that women have to continue working into the new year to make the same amount of income as men did the prior year. The results of the Full Citizenship Project for Law Faculty will be reported to AALS, the ABA, and the American Law Deans Association.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
This week, at the direction of our university administration, Pepperdine announced several new initiatives to provide focused services on students across the university who are affected by changes and potential changes in immigration law and international travel rules. These services include projects by the counseling center, chaplain's office, and point people in each of our five schools.
They also include the new Pepperdine Law Immigration Clinic. This is not a standard, credit-bearing course in the clinical curriculum but is a pilot project with four clinical faculty supervising students who can earn pro bono credit. We are providing advice and counsel under California's limited-scope representation rules. The representation is limited to basic advice, counsel, and referrals for students with questions and concerns about their visas, residency status, documentation, international travel, and immigration matters. The clients are Pepperdine students who are Dreamers, undocumented immigrants, or international students holding passports from affected nations. (Here is our announcement to the law school this week.)
The university also funded a retainer for an outside, expert immigration attorney to handle more complex matters for students, short of appearing in adversarial proceedings. The retained lawyer is one of our former supervising attorneys in the clinics and is one of the leading immigration lawyers in Los Angeles.
In frustrating times, it has been wonderful to see our university mobilize for its students, to marshal its resources quickly, and gather committed people from across the university ecosystem who are eager and willing to add work their portfolios.
Several other schools and organizations have been at work on similar projects, and their resources have been invaluable to us as we get up to speed on this work. Our colleagues in immigration clinics around the country have been generous in sharing insight, materials, and ideas as we get started.
Here are some important and useful resources from our University of California neighbors for which are very grateful:
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
CLEA has opened registration for the 2017 New Clinicians Conference, May 6, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. The New Clinicians Conference will be on the day before the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education and will be at the Colorado Bar, a short walk from the AALS conference hotel.
From the CLEA description:
The New Clinicians Conference will offer resources for teaching and lawyering in clinics, orientation to the legal academy, opportunity for building networks, and ideas for improving our work. Designed for clinicians in their first year or two of clinical teaching, the full-day program will include multiple plenary sessions, facilitated small groups, and break-out sessions.
The deadline to register for one of the sixty spots at the conference is April 18, 2017.
I have the privilege of working on the organizing committee for this conference and am very excited for the plans. I have benefited and witnessed the great benefit of this conference for the lawyer-teachers who are just joining our work. The experiences and relationships here are invaluable. Deans and directors will receive a great return on their investment for sending new clinicians to accelerate their learning and work here.
As a Transactional Clinical Professor in Appalachia, you may be surprised to learn I recently included this topic in my seminar. I believe it is our duty as lawyers to think critically about the world and systems around us. We may not be experts in immigration or water rights or policing, but attorneys should bear witness and parse through emotional reactions to unpack (or issue spot) legitimate concerns. All lawyers must be engaged in justice and my students, who advocate for economic opportunity, are no different.
My learning goals for exploring the “Muslim Ban” are:
- Connect troubling current events with the law
- Explore the justice implications and human consequences of these events
- Explore our impact as lawyers and the importance of bearing witness (“showing up”)
- Connect these concepts to our clients, their communities, and their realities to engender empathy for all families and individuals at risk.
I always use multimedia as a means to ease into politically sensitive topics. My students find multimedia to be refreshing addition to standard legal reading assignments (statutes, cases, regulations, and even the occasional executive order). Additionally, multimedia forces students to think about laws in action rather than in a vacuum. The voice over the radio or facial expression on film is far more persuasive, often telling a personal and compelling story. Even those who disagree will at least be forced to listen (literally).
For this assignment, I used two podcasts along with the text of the executive order. The premise is exploring how contracts (Powers of Attorney, Guardianship Agreements) could provide some security or protection to families who are separated. In order to discuss the contracts, we needed to understand the situation causing the separation.
We start by discussing the groups targeted by the Executive Order. We explore the colloquial use of “Muslim Ban” despite the word Muslim not appearing in the text. We discuss the underlying national security justifications. I explain that this will serve as our benchmark when considering the collateral consequences and tensions with our understanding of “justice.”
I use the multimedia to illustrate these human collateral consequences. The first podcast is an episode of This American Life, titled “Taking Names.” It chronicles the story of Kirk Johnson, who worked for USAID during the reconstruction of Fallujah, Iraq. Kirk began a list of Iraqis marked for retaliation based on their cooperation with the U.S. Military and other U.S. agencies. It is a heartbreaking portrait of the families and individuals seeking asylum. The podcast also outlines the rigorous, existing vetting mechanisms for refugees. Using a slightly dated podcast also reinforces that the plight of refugees, the vetting process, and national security concerns are not new. I do this because a large percentage of the state supported the current administration. To make sure students listen, I must make it clear that this is a longstanding problem exacerbated by the “Muslim Ban.” We then begin discussing the justice implications of the ban. Are these refugees a threat? When comparing the national security concerns with the existing process and human consequences, do we understand the tensions, problems, and subsequent outrage?
For my students, I must also reinforce that transactional lawyers are not exempt from these larger justice conversations. We may not be immigration lawyers, but can still contribute. The second podcast is an interview with fellow Clinical Professor Sarah Sherman-Stokes and helps my students understand our role in justice. Sarah is one of the stellar Clinicians at Boston University and works in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Sarah discusses her experience in being a lawyer and law professor at Logan. My students were particularly moved by Sarah’s retelling of bringing Entrepreneurship Clinic Students to the airport. She uses the phrase “show up” and reiterates how our legal training, even as students, gives us the skills to interview, fact gather, and be of use. The full podcast is available here.
I conclude the class by discussing ways my Clinic can help communities, families, and individuals prepare for these circumstances through our transactional skills. We discuss how basic contracts like Guardianship Agreements and Powers of Attorney can help families plan for disasters. We discuss the importance of educating the public, helping them understand the guardianship hearings and family law system. Can we collaborate with the family law clinic to create a teach-in or general self-help or legal advocacy tools for families? We discuss who in our communities could benefit from this – individuals seeking in-patient treatment, individuals fearing arrest, etc. We revisit that parents seeking to protect their children exist in all communities. We have the skills to help them understand their rights and even draft basic agreements to protect their loved ones. We must remember - we are in a position of power in a time of great uncertainty.