Friday, August 8, 2014
My friend, Ken Dunham, begins his last semester teaching this week. He is retiring after a long, fruitful career first as an accountant, then a lawyer for decades, then reborn as a mediator and clinical law professor. I met Ken at Faulkner University Jones School of Law where I started teaching as the school’s first dedicated clinical director.
The truth is that Ken had been the clinical director there before there was a clinical program to direct. He started the first clinic there, JSL’s Mediation Clinic, even as he founded the school’s center on alternative dispute resolution and as he helped design and shape Alabama’s systems for alternative dispute resolution. He researched, designed and launched the school’s externship program, all before the school moved from state-accreditation to full approval by the ABA. Ken wisely navigated complex local politics, using his training and experience as a mediator and negotiator to help guide JSL through great and disruptive transitions.
Ken laid the foundation for the clinical program which I led for a long season as a rookie law professor, and he only ever encouraged and empowered me. We became and are fast friends, and he is a wise, calm and committed colleague with a heart for justice. We coached JSL’s ABA Negotiation Competition and the ABA Representation in Mediation Competition teams, and won a national championship in 2013. In these competitions, we traveled the country together with students, and I discovered Ken’s secret weapon. He knew really good restaurants in every single city we ever visited, and this is knowledge not to be underestimated.
Professor Ken Dunham is a loving, funny teacher, and he has had a formative effect on generations of students at JSL. He has transformed Alabama’s system and culture of alternative dispute resolution. He has been indispensable in the building of a strong and scrappy law school that serves Montgomery and Alabama with excellence. He is a great friend to many and is a wise mentor to young lawyers throughout the South. He is devoted as a husband and father, and he tells great stories without end. He is an excellent, practical lawyer.
Thoreau wrote, “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” Ken Dunham is moral, and he is good. He lives a full and abundant life, and he has been good for something. He has earned retirement, but he will strive to teach and love students for one more semester. His legacy is secure.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
If you are like me, summers go way too fast. One of the challenges of being a clinician is that your summers are more often than not filled with roll-over cases/students, summer classes, externships, and miscellaneous writing/vacations/activities. Sooner than we know, it is fall semester again, and we are once again faced with new students, new cases, new challenges and an impetus to energize ourselves and our curriculum. As I am not quite ready to face that yet, and others of you might feel similarly, I thought I would post a distraction instead, to get us through the remainder of summer. My summer ends in 11 days, and I plan on making the most of it!
It's around this time of year that I take a few minutes at work to recycle, clean my office, water my neglected plants and look for new office decorations to get me through another academic year. Some of my favorite works are by an artist called Brandon Bird. Brandon gained a decent reputation when he developed a Law and Order Coloring Book several years ago, which if you haven't seen it, is available here and offers up a few chuckles: http://brandonbird.com/lno_color.html. As further incentive, it contains a dot-to-dot of the cop character Lenny Briscoe, which is always useful on a day you need something to procrastinate with.
My most recent work purchase is a print called "A Night Away" (image below from http://brandonbird.com/lno_camping.html). I like it for its subtlety and because students usually do a triple take once they see the print. And because, let's be honest, sometimes we all just need a night away. Even Lenny Briscoe and Jack McCoy.
Here's to all of us having a good rest of our summer and a fresh start to the new academic year. May your offices be free of clutter, files neatly organized, withdrawals all granted and classes all prepped. Best wishes for Academic Year 2014-15!
Monday, August 4, 2014
This week I am extremely proud to see coverage of some amazing immigration work by my friends and colleagues, Penn State's own Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia; and University of Baltimore's Liz Keyes. Wadhia, who directs Penn State Law's Center for Immigrants Rights is the Samuel Weis Faculty Scholar, developed a toolkit for practitioners representing noncitizens in withholding only proceedings. Read more about this important project she involved her clinic students in here:
In related news, a recent Washington Post story profiled Elizabeth Keyes' Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law. The story explains the clinic's work with Baltimore's Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) on cases involving unaccompanied immigrant minors:
With the national spotlight shining on immigration issues, this important work by our colleagues reminds us why instilling the values of lawyering for social justice are critical to our work with law students.
Today, Prof. Terry Adamson joins Pepperdine’s clinical faculty as our new Director of Externships. Prof. Adamson has been a valuable part of the law school’s community for years, as an adjunct, coach and, most recently, as our Distinguished Jurist in Residence. She is a former Commissioner for the Los Angeles County Superior Court where she served for nearly 20 years. She was a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney after law school at the University of San Diego.
Terry has a teacher’s heart and loves our students. She is an excellent, practical lawyer, and she has cultivated a vital network of friends and colleagues in Southern California. With our Prof. Harry Caldwell, she is the author of CRIMINAL PRETRIAL ADVOCACY.
We are working to expand and improve experiential learning at Pepperdine, with new programs, new space and new faculty. Terry is a vital part of our school and brings new depth and focus to our field placement program. As you have opportunity, please welcome her to the clinical community.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
This summer, Professor Artika Tyner of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, published her book, The Lawyer as Leader: How to Plant People and Grow Justice. Dr. Tyner teaches in the Community Justice Project Legal Clinic at St. Thomas’s Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services.
The social justice challenges of our time are enormous. About one in seven U.S. residents live in poverty and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is wider than at any point since the Great Depression. The poor are largely marginalized from the public policy process and often are unable to assert their legal rights in regard to basic necessities such as nutrition, health, shelter, income, education, and protection from violent physical abuse. More broadly, the poor are perpetually victimized by systems which maintain and uphold discrimination, disparate outcomes, and subordination based upon one’s social identity.
Experienced educator and community advocate, Dr. Artika Tyner shows how you can make a difference in the world. The book is a beacon call for those who wish to join the fight for social and economic justice. Highlights include:
- The three pillars of new social justice lawyering: (1) Origins and theories of social justice lawyering, (2) Principles of servant and transformational leadership, and (3) The lawyer as policy entrepreneur and coalition builder.
- How to build your own leadership platform; how to create communities based on a shared vision of justice; and how to plant seeds to empower future leaders.
The Lawyer as Leader will provide those who are passionate about social justice with the inspiration, ideas, and tools to build and lead coalitions to fight for social and economic justice.
Friday, August 1, 2014
After we launched the blog with a bang at the end of the school year, we slowed down during the summer months. We’re law professors, after all. As we approach the new school year, we are committed to growing this community and contributing good information and ideas for the sake of justice and good teaching.
If you have news to share, please do! We love to amplify stories of clinical programs and teachers, new faculty additions, new programs, expanding initiatives, job postings, student successes, clients, causes and classrooms. Please reach out to any of our contributing editors if you have stories, news and ideas to share.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
By request of our friends at USC (as we say in the SEC):
The University of South Carolina School of Law is hiring a clinician. The official announcement is below. We are open to a variety of issue areas for a clinic, and clinicians here can earn tenure protections. Interested candidates can apply via the information below or the FAR forms, and can contact Assistant Prof. Josh Gupta-Kagan (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly as well.
The University of South Carolina School of Law seeks applications for tenured or tenure-track faculty positions to begin fall semester 2015. Candidates should have a juris doctorate or equivalent degree. Additionally, a successful applicant should have an excellent academic background, a record that indicates a strong commitment to scholarly research and writing, demonstrable scholarly promise, and a commitment to teaching. Likely curricular needs include entry-level positions in taxation, clinical legal education, contracts and business. Outstanding candidates in other areas will be considered as well. Interested candidates should send a resume, references, and subject area preferences to Professor Ned Snow, Chair, Faculty Selection Committee, c/o Kim Fanning, University of South Carolina School of Law, 701 S. Main St., Columbia, SC 29208 or, by email, to email@example.com (electronic submissions preferred). The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
By request, we are happy to post these two position announcements from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law:
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CLINIC FACULTY POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a full-time faculty position at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Clinical Professor to teach in and direct the School’s Environmental Law Clinic. While this position is not in the tenure stream, it is part of a system of contracts progressing to renewable long-term contracts. The position will begin on July 1, 2015.
The mission of the Environmental Law Clinic is to serve the educational needs of our students and the needs of individuals, community groups, and conservation organizations, particularly those in Western Pennsylvania, for legal services relating to environmental issues. Funding for the Clinic is provided by an endowment from the Howard and Vira I. Heinz Endowments. Duties of the Clinical Professor include classroom teaching, including the possibility of teaching doctrinal courses; supervision of second- and third-year law students as they represent clients and participate in community projects; participation in activities related to the School of Law’s Environmental Law Concentration; administrative duties relating to the Environmental Law Clinic; community outreach and fundraising; and participation in faculty governance of the School of Law. The Environmental Law Clinic was founded in 2000. The candidate hired for the position will have the opportunity to shape the future direction of the Clinic.
Qualifications include admission to practice in Pennsylvania or willingness to seek admission to the Pennsylvania bar; substantial experience in the field of environmental law and, preferably, clinical pedagogy; excellent supervisory and communication skills; the ability to work effectively with students, clients, and other constituents; and an interest in developing clinical experiences for students in the Environmental Law Clinic within a community that supports interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative teaching opportunities.
To apply, please submit a letter of interest, resume, and list of two or three references to Professor Ben Bratman, Chair, Clinical Appointments Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write “Environmental Law Clinic Application” in the subject line of the email. The deadline for applications is September 4, 2014.
The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost.
HEALTH LAW CLINIC FACULTY POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a full-time faculty position at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Clinical Professor to teach in and direct the School’s Health Law Clinic. While this position is not in the tenure stream, it is part of a system of contracts progressing to renewable long-term contracts. The position will begin on July 1, 2015.
The Clinic’s primary mission is to provide an experiential learning opportunity for our students, while also providing legal services to low-income individuals involved in health-related litigation or advocacy. Duties of the Clinical Professor include classroom teaching, including the possibility of teaching doctrinal courses; supervision of second- and third-year law students as they represent clients and participate in community projects; administrative duties relating to the Health Law Clinic; community outreach and fundraising; and participation in faculty governance of the School of Law. The candidate hired for the position will have the opportunity to shape the future direction of the Clinic. Therefore, all candidates should be prepared to present a vision of the type of clinic that they would hope to implement. Examples might include a medical-legal partnership, a clinic focusing primarily on representation of applicants for disability benefits in Medicaid or Social Security administrative hearings, or other focused areas of representation or advocacy.
Qualifications include admission to practice in Pennsylvania or willingness to seek admission to the Pennsylvania bar; substantial experience in the field of health law and, preferably, clinical pedagogy; excellent supervisory and communication skills; the ability to work effectively with students, clients, and other constituents; and an interest in developing clinical experiences for students in the Health Law Clinic within a community that supports interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative teaching opportunities.
To apply, please submit a letter of interest, resume, and list of two or three references to Professor Ben Bratman, Chair, Clinical Appointments Committee, at email@example.com. Write “Health Law Clinic Application” in the subject line of the email. The deadline for applications is September 4, 2014.
The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
The International Journal of Clinical Legal Education just completed its 12th Conference titled “Clinic without Borders,” in Olomouc, a town in the Haná region of the Czech Republic dating back to the 10th Century A.D. The conference was co-organized with the European Network for Clinical Legal Education, and was held at Palacký University, which is nearly 450 years old, and is one of the oldest universities in Central Europe.
The conference was attended by nearly 200 law faculty members and social justice advocates from all over the world. Countries represented included Japan, Cambodia, China, Nigeria, Australia, Belarus, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, Italy, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Poland, Russia, Georgia, Spain, Canada, Kenya, Hungary, Sumatra, Bali, Finland, Turkey, New Zealand, and more. Approximately ten percent of the delegates were from the United States and included faculty from the Catholic University of America, NYU, American, University of California, Cornell, University of New Mexico, University of Georgia, Columbia, Rutgers, Albany, Georgetown, Washington and Lee, George Washington University, Willamette, and more.
Themes included “Clinic in the Wider Curriculum,” “Growing Clinics around the Globe,” “Multi-Disciplinary Clinics,” “The Growth of Clinics in Europe,” and “Virtual Clinics,” and the papers presented ranged from “The Path to Clinics in the Middle East” to “Clinic in an Era of ‘Crisis’ for Legal Education” to “Developing a Cross-Border Clinical Legal Education Project.” It was a rich exchange of ideas, resources, and collaborative opportunities that reinvigorated many of those who participated.
One area of disappointment expressed during a debrief of the conference was the dearth of paper proposals submitted in relation to the theme of “Virtual Clinics.” According to Johnny Hall of Northumbria University (UK), digital technologies could easily become the “Fourth Wave” in clinical legal education. What caused the lack of interest in presenting on this topic?
One possibility considered is that clinical law faculty members are as uncomfortable with digital technologies as the rest of legal educators. Most of us have not been leaders in integrating education technologies into the law school curriculum, clinical or otherwise. At the same time, we recognized that many clinical faculty and students utilize digital technologies in our law school courses, practices, and lives almost every day in the form of email, course websites, word processing software and files, messaging, social media, digital document storage, internet conferencing, smart phones, tablets, laptops, Internet, scanners, practice management software, social media, clinic websites, digital recordings, and more. We just don’t think the use of these technologies converts our face-to-face clinics into “Virtual Clinics.” Thus, the issue may simply have been one of terminology in the “Call for Proposals.”
After all, we heard stories at the conference of law faculty who were actually operating clinics without a “bricks and mortar” home where students never actually meet their clients in person. Most of us who are integrating these technologies into our law school clinics still rely very heavily on the face-to-face interactions between students and clients and faculty and students that make the clinical experience so rich, especially in certain practice areas such as domestic violence, refugee law, child advocacy, family law, and more.
What would be the consequences both for our students and the populations we serve if we converted a significant number of law school clinics into “virtual” ones? On the one hand, we could better serve rural, disabled, remote, or international clients who normally would not have physical access to our law school clinics, but we also might start to favor certain practice areas such as business law that lend themselves better to remote representation than others. Having a virtual clinic could also exclude those individuals who are too poor to afford the technology needed to access the clinic. These are some of the consequences that we must consider as an educational community in the Digital Age and respond with awareness and intent in designing our courses and curricula within a world of rapidly changing technology and limited resources.
As we met at IJCLE’s 12th Conference and considered the technologies that we already have integrated into our clinical courses and practices in whole or in part, we recognized that many of us have not undergone the thoughtful and intentional design and due diligence that is normally so characteristic of clinical pedagogy. Why? What is it about technology that eschews intention, analysis, and reflection in the clinical community?
We may soon find out. The planners of IJCLE’s 13th Conference are considering organizing next year’s conference around this potential “Fourth Wave” in clinical legal education. The conference will be held July 22-28 in Turkey and will overlap with the meeting of the Global Alliance for Justice Education. Pencil the dates in your calendars now. Regardless of the topic finally selected, if it is anything like this year’s conference, it will be well worth the flight.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
In addition to directing Penn State Law's Family Law Clinic, I also teach our Family Law lecture course. As I graded the 53 essay exams from that course this May, I was struck by the responses to my exam question regarding custody. When asked to share legal and policy changes that would improve the custody law system's impact on children of divorce, an overwhelming majority of students opined that courts should require children of divorce to meet with a mental health counselor.
Most noteworthy about this groundswell of opinion, expressed in near lockstep during a traditional, don't-talk-to-or-even-look-at-each-other classroom exam, was that I did not teach them this legal remedy--at least not directly.
The casebook I use, Weisberg and Appleton's Modern Family Law, certainly covers the use of "special participants" in custody proceedings. Along with guardians ad litem, custody evaluators, and mediators, mental health professionals are referenced in several cases and notes in the book. Nowhere, however, does the book suggest or ask readers to consider whether parents should be ordered to have their children seek therapy. Neither do I in my teaching--although frankly I think it is a sound and thoughtful policy idea, regardless of whether it would, could or should be legally mandated.
These students organically generated the mass "discussion" that played out in my brain as I read response after response saying virtually the same thing--children of divorce need to process the trauma that divorce brings to their lives. The latter concept--the trauma of divorce--I did teach directly. The casebook covers it in some detail, including empirical data that raises more questions than it answers. And my delivery in class stressed that. The experts cannot agree. The courts cannot agree. Comparing systems state by state, county by county, and sometimes even judge by judge, yields a dizzying array of approaches, policies, mandates and procedures just on the issue of utilizing experts in custody cases, not to mention the achingly unhelpful "best interets" standard.
Thus I was struck again a few weeks ago as I delved into the Association of Family and Conciliation Court's April 2014 edition of The Family Court Review. It is a special issue dedicated to "Closing the Gap" on "Research, Policy, Practice, and Shared Parenting." Yet as articulated by Dr. Sanford Braver, professor emeritus of psychology at Arizona State whose research has focused for decades on divorcing families, the AFCC's special issue "fails to say very much" and leaves the reader with the message that "the issue of shared parenting is a really good question, but we cannot, at this point at least, agree on how to advise you."
Braver is right on that point. I am not sure whether I agree with his bolder assertion which follows, that shared parenting should be the jumping off point for custody courts. What I am sure of is that come August, I will teach my clinic students about custody law by sharing these twin concepts: custody law is mercurial at best, and discussing the potential involvement of mental health professionals with client's lives, regardless of whether it is part of a court-based process, is sound legal advice for a family lawyer swimming through these murky waters.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
There has been rightful focus on the Supreme Court’s most groundbreaking recent pronouncements: rejection of warrantless cellphone searches, establishing for-profit corporations’ rights to religious choices (!), and mandatory union dues curtailments. Because it was not, perhaps as socially consequential as those decisions, last Wednesday’s 6-3 ruling against Aereo, an upstart Over-The-Top (OTT) internet service, went under the radar, so to speak. Speaking to the Media Law and Policy teaching side of my brain, the Court held that Aereo, an internet provider of broadcast programs, directly violated the copyrights of ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, and other “traditional” broadcast networks. The decision preserved—for now—broadcasters’ exclusive ability to control the re-transmission and licensing of its programs. On the other hand, the decision was a temporary setback for the ‘cord cutters.’
Cord-cutters, most of whom are Millennials, are those media consumers who have elected to do away with traditional television viewing, going so far as not just refused to subscribe to cable television, but not own a television at all. As a result, cable companies have seen a marked decline in subscribers. At the same time, broadcast and cable companies have chased viewers onto the internet, their laptops, their tablets and their smartphones. Television networks, in fierce competition with the likes of online networks such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, have Hulu, Hulu Plus, or their own online channels streaming network content. Aereo posed a real and further threat to cable and broadcast television revenue streams.
Broadcast networks bring in billions of dollars per year from cable companies by permitting them to air broadcast programs such as ABC’s Modern Family. In addition, the owners of those shows (which may or may not be the network’s parent company) can yield untold revenue by licensing syndication rights to cable networks or OTT streaming networks such as Netflix. In that context, it should be apparent why the networks were so concerned about Aereo, whose technology captured broadcast signals by way of miniature antennas on large antenna boards, and provided broadcast program downloading and time-shifted viewing or recording. While charging subscribers between $8-$12 per month for the service, Aereo paid the program owners nothing.
The broadcasters executed a bold legal strategy that paid off. They argued that Aereo was legally liable for direct infringement (primarily liable for re-transmitting copyrighted work), as opposed to indirect infringement, or secondary liability. For the Supreme Court, the issues came down to two seemingly simple questions: Was Aereo performing a copyrighted work, and if so, was it performing it publicly? Justice Breyer, writing for the majority, answered both questions “yes.”
Aereo’s position was that it was simply a “dumb pipe”—like a set of rabbit ears or a VCR—that any consumer could purchase and use to watch or record programs. Justice Scalia, in dissent with Justices Alito and Thomas, agreed, arguing that Aereo was more like the Kinko’s that provides a patron with the library card: It’s the patron that may violate copyright law when copying the book, not Kinko’s.
The majority disagreed, and held that Aereo was acting more like a cable company, through which subscribers can elect which shows to watch or record. Moreover, despite the fact that Aereo technology assigned an individual to each antenna, and even if subscribers were watching the same show, a separate copy of the show was made for each viewer, the Court said Aereo was providing the show to the public. Consequently, Aereo was bound to seek copyright permission from the copyright holders—just like cable companies.
The decision will likely ring the death knell for Aereo and similar streaming servicers (e.g., FilmOn), if Aereo’s weekend decision to suspend its streaming service is any portent. On the other hand, the decision was a tremendous victory for broadcast networks. By ruling not just that Aereo was liable for copyright infringement, but directly liable, the Court spared television program copyright owners the fate that befell the music industry. The Napster and Grokster decisions caused the record industry to engage in nearly a spate of “John and Jane Doe” lawsuits—chasing individual consumers for alleged or actual illegal downloading and sharing of music. Those lawsuits—tens of thousands—proved to be both economically costly and a public relations disaster for the industry. Copyright holders of television broadcast content, for now, will be spared a similar fate.
Even if Aereo ceases to exist in its current form, there are other internet businesses that allow consumers to view broadcast programming without the aid of cable or satellite infrastructure. In addition, virtual multiple-system operators are seeking to aggregate television channels and deliver them by broadband connection. However, under any regime, how the business makes money will be, well, the $64,000 question. In light of the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision, paying for content from television broadcasters will be a given for the foreseeable future. For now, cord-cutting Millennials will have to find another OTT to watch their favorite broadcast show.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Request for Proposals
On October 10 and 11, 2014, the Pepperdine University School of Law will host a conference on domestic violence in higher education. The conference will address domestic and intimate partner violence among college students and its intersections with sexual assault and gender violence. Speakers and conferees will discuss institutional responses in policy and practice, culture and law. The School of Law invites leaders, administrators, teachers, professionals and students to participate with speakers representing diverse disciplines and institutions. Colleges and universities face a critical moment of reckoning and response to violence and abuse among students, and Pepperdine hopes that this conference can advance our communities toward peace and justice.
The organizing committee requests proposals for panel presentations to address and explore issues and questions at the intersections of domestic violence, intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, gender crimes, mental health, law, sociology, psychology, pedagogy, student life, and higher education policy. 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. The confirmed panels will address (1) the intersection of Title IX and domestic violence, (2) Cleary Act obligations and opportunities, (3) Greek Life and residence life, and (4) intersectional student perspectives. The organizing committee requests proposals to complement, contrast and build on these ideas.
Please submit proposals by July 31, 2014, to Prof. Jeffrey R. Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Last week an extensive discussion transpired in the cyberspace inhabited by the Women in the Profession (WIP) Commission of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's email list. A diverse set of female attorneys, including some on the bench, voiced their perspectives on attire for women attorneys, particularly in the courtroom, and its link to gender bias.
I reviewed the conversation with fascination as it wended its way through a wide variety of anecdotes and opinions. The topics ranged from personal experiences of blatant discrimination by male judges based on attire to sighs of exasperation that the group was unnecessarily perpetuating the topic.
Most striking to me was a comment by a successful attorney and writer supporting a meaningful examination of the problem and a set of solutions, by the WIP Commission itself, because law schools don't teach lawyers how to deal with this issue. Ahem, pardon?
From my perspective of course, the remark was potentially feather-ruffling, because like many reading this blog I actually am a law school teacher addressing this issue, and other professionalism issues, with my students. Yet as I paused to breathe (thank you, yoga) and consider the source, whom I respect greatly, I realized that for many practicing lawyers and judges, law school in fact did not teach them how to deal with this issue.
As clinical law professors we sometimes task ourselves with trying to teach too much, in my opinion. We can cram research skills, oral advocacy, legal theory, negotiation, client-centered counseling, social justice, contract drafting, and more into one semester. Is lawyerly attire even worthy of our valuable teaching time? The tone of some commenters on the email list comes to mind--a sort of "are we seriously talking about What Not to Wear?" sentiment.
I submit that not only are we talking about it, but that it is a critical component of professionalism. Additionally, it is in some part a moving target due to women's ever-increasing presence in the workplace generally, and more specifically a legal profession that is redefining itself at astonishing speed.
How do I teach "attire"? Professionalism is a large component of my pedagogy --watch this space for my upcoming article on self-aware professionalism--and the issue of attire is a component of professionalism. I have repeatedly used the phrase "the issue of" attire here because that is the pedagogical question--what bearing does attire have on legal practice, not "which outfit should I choose?"
In my teaching, the issue of female attorney attire arises in many ways. I specify to clinic students when we prep for a courthouse tour early in the semester that they should wear business casual attire. Discussion ensues about what that means--for male students it is simple, and for females it is achingly complex. Even more complex are gender issues that arise related to student professional behavior concerning attire, occasionally even in their interoffice dialogue. I model appropriate attire. I ask them for examples. And I explain my "suits for court" expectation. Is a pantsuit a suit? In my opinion, of course. Yet as female students, some are terrified to even ask that question. Yet the email list discussion last week included several anecdotes about women lawyers being reprimanded or even prejudiced by male judges for wearing pants to court. We work in a profession that demands attention to detail. Our professional behavior impacts clients' liberties, their parenting status, and sometimes their very lives. Justice is at stake, thus everything we say or do matters.
We are not teaching fashion. We are teaching professionalism.
Friday, June 13, 2014
I just received a copy of Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children, which was edited by Lourdes Rosado, Associate Director of the Juvenile Law Center, and published by the ABA Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee. The book highlights the key role that children's attorneys can play at defining moments in their lives, including in juvenile dependency and delinquency courts, immigration proceedings, school proceedings, and impact litigation, for example. There is a teaching guide available for the book. The ABA is offering a 20% off discount through June 23 with the discount code LIVES20. The ABA may also be able to offer your students a discount code if you want to use this book in your clinic or another course. It is also expected to be published as an e-book, at a discounted rate. Contact Cathy Krebs at Cathy.email@example.com for more information. Here is a description:
"The book Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children demonstrates the critical role that lawyers play in changing the life courses of our most at-risk children. Without legal representation, the children profiled in this book likely would have gone down a path that was detrimental to their safety, their well-being, and ultimately their ability to grow into happy and successful adults. Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children well illustrates the difference that a highly trained and skilled attorney can make in the life of a child in need. Each chapter of the book profiles a real child in a variety of substantive areas that include:
• Child welfare (abuse and neglect)
• Juvenile delinquency
• Special Education
• Runaway and homeless youth
The chapters also include practice tips and checklists, as well as resources for developing the expertise needed to zealously represent children in crisis to achieve the best outcome and ultimately help them grow into happy and successful adults.
The authors of Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children hope to raise awareness about the need for legal representation for children and to encourage and support attorneys who advocate for children."
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Last week at the Christian Scholars Conference at Lipscomb University, I helped convene a multidisciplinary, intersectional panel on allies, those in positions of relative privilege who seek to act in solidarity with people who do not share it. In almost all of my native contexts, I enjoy the privileges of being a white, straight, Christian, cisgendered man, yet I hope to be a good ally and collaborator with others in the interest of justice. My friends on the panel taught us much on the role and calling of alliance with people on the margins of our institutions.
(These are also critical lessons for empathy and empathetic advocacy necessary for client-centered lawyering.)
The panelists, Dr. Jeanine Thweatt-Bates, Julie Mavity Maddalena, Edward Carson and Scott Lybrand, are respectively and intersectionally, white, black, straight, gay, men and women, across a spectrum of faith and post-faith, speaking from diverse backgrounds of affluence, poverty, education and vocation. They spoke from various, ambivalent points of privilege and marginalization. This is some of the wisdom they shared for people who would be allies in solidarity with people without power or voices in our communities.
Listen: The first and essential rule for allies is to listen to those with whom they would have solidarity. Listen for stories. Listen for insight. Listen for wisdom. Listen for agency. Do not reinterpret. Listen and attend to one’s own internal reactions. If a friend on the margins speaks and provokes an emotional reaction within the ally, the ally ought to reflect on the dynamics that triggered the response and question it.
Amplify: Do not speak on behalf of a marginalized voice but use powerful platforms to amplify her voice. Allies should use the platforms and means at their disposal to amplify the voices of those on the margins, with their own identity and agency, sharing the stages and podiums we enjoy with those who do not have access to them.
Move out of the center: Effective allies will not presume to be the heroic protagonist in the neighbor’s narrative. The ally should not be on a rescue mission but should strive to pull alongside the friend on the margins, to empower and support, to amplify, but not to eclipse. No one wants to be another’s project.
Disagree without condemnation: Build together a context where disagreement does not mean condemnation. Rather, disagreement ought to lead to acknowledgement for more and better communication and understanding. The people “on the margins” are not monolithic or univocal, but as humans will disagree, struggle and advance conflicting points of view in their agency.
Hear stories: The effective ally will hear stories with an intentional discipline to understand context and with an understanding that one person’s story never is representative of an entire community. Individuals matter. Let people tell their own stories, and do not interpret someone’s story for them. Listen for criticism of oppressive dynamics, but also listen to perceive resilience, beauty, faithfulness, dignity and forgiveness.
Educate yourself: “It is not the queer person’s job to educate the privileged ally.” Friends may seek insight and understanding from friends, but to insist that a person on the margins be the source of knowledge for an ally makes the person on the margin an object yet again. The person on the margins is not obligated to educate the ally on oppression, although the ally ought to learn from the neighbor on the margins.
Understand the effects of oppression: Oppression causes harm. Often the criticism leveled at those on the margins by those in privilege is the result of the oppression, not of the identity of the person on the margins. “Gayness is not harmful. The institutional oppression of gay people is harmful.” The Invisible Man is not weaker, less able, less smart, less worthy, but being made invisible generates harmful and persistent, traumatic effects on spirit, mind and body. Always ask whom we may be harming by doing what we do.
Don’t interrupt: Listen and hear without preparing a response, a defense, an interpretation. Be willing to give up the initiative and direction of a conversation.
Recognize default categories of normalcy: Recognize that inherited notions of normalcy create privileges for those in the default categories, forcing the exceptions to the margins. Normalcy receives implicit preference and favor. Honor the exceptional who lie outside the default categories of normalcy but counter their exclusion by inviting them into the privileged and preferred spaces of our conversations and collaborations.
Don’t confuse the ought with the is: To say that one does not see gender, race, etc., to claim to be “colorblind,” does not reflect reality. To ignore difference, even with a good will, impliedly adopts the dominant as normal and imposes the default categories. To ignore difference, even with a good will, denies the gifts of difference and exception, and ignores the beauty and wisdom of variety and experience.
Recognize movements already in action: When entering a cause as an ally, avoid the impulse to initiate something new from scratch on behalf of those with whom we would be in solidarity. Rather, with a posture of humility and caution, recognize movements already in action. Do not assume that the movement needs an ally but lend aid, power, voice and capacity as the movement invites and welcomes the ally’s effort.
Take a risk: An ally might better be called an accomplice. Acting in solidarity as an ally accomplice may require skin in the game, risks to the ally’s self. It is all too easy to claim to be an ally when it is convenient, then to retire to a place of comfortable safety when the ally needs a respite. The oppressed don’t get vacations from oppression, so the ally must prepare to sweat and bleed with the friend on the margins.
Practice epistemic humility: Be comfortable with ambiguity, fluidity and constructive conflict. Certainty, clarity and clean resolutions are not realistic in a truly plural, multivocal world. Admit and accept that we do not know and cannot know everything about the others’ world and experience.
Be helpful: Guilt, paralysis and shame are not helpful. Likewise, the posture of a savior bent on rescue is not helpful. As Aboriginal Elder Lilla Watson said, “If you've come here to help me, you're wasting your time. But if you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Be angry: Question institutions without ceasing if everyone in the room looks like everyone else in the room. Be angry that people are on the margins at all. Be angry for the poverty of spirit imposed on the privileged and the marginalized by exclusion. Do not make people invisible, and do not abide their invisibility. Do not judge the excluded by the standards of the included. Always question and challenge the exclusion of anyone. If you would walk into a room and ask, “Why doesn’t anyone here look like me?” then be prepared to ask, “Why does everyone in this room look like me?”
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Our nation is currently witnessing headlines about the busing of hundreds of unaccompanied children across the Southwest from Texas to Arizona, where they are being warehoused, but there are tens of thousands more unaccompanied children in our nation who are not making headlines. All need our help. Tomorrow Gannett is publishing an op-ed I wrote about the need to provide legal representation for these children. It can be found here.
Law school clinics interested in this issue should consider applying for the AmeriCorps grants that the Obama administration announced on Friday to provide legal representation for these and other migrant children who are in similar circumstances (see NYT article). Information about the grants can be found at this site. The targeted jurisdictions for the grants are: Arlington, VA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Bloomington, MN; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; El Paso, TX; Hartford, CT; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Memphis, TN; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.
If you need background in preparing your application, an excellent study about these children was just published by UC Hastings with the support of the MacArthur Foundation. I recently wrote a brief law review article arguing for the appointment of government-funded attorneys and personal representatives to help unaccompanied children navigate the legal labyrinth they face. If you would like to talk or need help with your application, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You will also find tremendous resources among our our colleagues who are immigration law faculty. They are a font of knowledge, passion, and commitment. Good luck!
Monday, June 9, 2014
Via Anne Hornsby at the University of Alabama:
On April 10th, over 200 people turned out to celebrate the 9th Annual Albert Brewer/Bo Torbert Public Service Award presented to Fred Gray by Alabama Appleseed.
Keynote speaker Bryan Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative, paid homage to the perseverance and legacy of Fred Gray. We were particularly struck by the insightful and challenging remarks of Bryan Stevenson as he reflected on and framed the life and career of Fred Gray from the historical perspective of the civil rights movement of the 1950s to the challenges facing us today.
"We cannot protect justice, we cannot advance rights, until we choose to do uncomfortable things. . . . Until you stand with people who may be disfavored, until you stand with people who everybody else doesn’t like, until you stand with the poor, powerless and disfavored, you don’t get what it means to do the uncomfortable."
Friday, June 6, 2014
via Anne Hornsby
Hello, all! Hope summer is proving to be a great time for you, whatever your goal for the break from the regular school year routine. Please consider submitting a proposal for the Southern Clinical Conference scheduled for October 23-25, 2014, at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, to share your work, ideas and to stimulate discussion to further our collective missions.
I’ve attached the RFP, the cover sheet and template for proposals. Please send proposals to Laurie Ciccone at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 20th. Feel free to contact one of the committee if we can be of any help. Presenters from all regions are welcome, and if you haven’t attended before, it is a really fun conference, too.
Thanks and we look forward to your proposals!
(on behalf of the planning committee)
Patricia Campbell, University of Maryland
Anne Hornsby, University of Alabama
D’lorah Hughes, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Kendall Kerew, Georgia State College of Law
Lisa Martin, Columbus School of Law
Joy Radice, University of Tennessee
Daniel Schaffzin, University of Memphis
Alex Scherr, University of Georgia
Emily Suski, Georgia State College of Law
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
In recent years, the community of clinical legal educators have been imagining courses beyond the classic categories of clinics and externships. Live-client clinics and field placements are the pillars of experiential learning in law schools. For pedagogical, curricular, political and institutional reasons, we continue to emphasize these forms as the best, fundamental ways to advance professional formation among our students. For market reasons, though, we need to consider other forms, hybrid courses and other structures, to accommodate increasing demands for experiential education in eras of relative austerity.
(The 2013 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education was devoted to this theme, and its materials and speakers were rich with ideas.)
In my experience, especially at Pepperdine, the greatest need for hybrid programs has been to take advantage of opportunities and ideas that arose without a clear identity as clinic or externship. We have needed to be nimble when someone approaches us with a good idea that may not justify the outlay and hiring lines necessary of a full-fledged clinic but which require more structure and oversight than a new field placement. To meet these ends, we have established a third species of course (and are experimenting with others). Practicum courses are courses that combine specialized field placements with a greater measure of faculty oversight and substantive training for students in their field work.
In the Fall, we will offer two practicum classes.
In the Criminal Justice Dispute Resolution Practicum, in conjunction with our Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, students work with an adjunct, expert practitioner to learn methods and practices for peacemaking and dispute resolution. The students’ training will be in an intensive weekend at the beginning of the term. Then, during the semester, the students will go with their instructor to L.A. County Jail facilities to teach and coach people in detention about these skills. This is a collaboration with Prison of Peace, and the justice goal is to equip inmates with skills and experience in dispute resolution, negotiation, peacemaking and conflict management, to reduce recidivism and promote better outcomes, in and after prison. The pedagogical goals are to advance students’ skills and wisdom in dispute resolution, understanding and knowledge of the criminal justice and “corrections” systems, cultural competence, compassionate communication, and engagement with social issues in a demanding environment.
We will also offer the Federal Criminal Practice Practicum, in which students will rotate during a single term through the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and U.S. District Court. This is the initiative of U.S. District Judge Beverly O’Connell who approached me with the idea in the fall of 2013. She perceived a need and opportunity for students to receive a broad spectrum view of the criminal justice system and helped make introductions with the other offices. In the inaugural term, two 3Ls will rotate through each placement, where they must complete a substantive writing project in the service of the respective offices while working and observing the work of the lawyers from each perspective. Further, a member of our doctrinal faculty who specializes in criminal law and who once was a prosecutor will provide regular faculty advising for the course.
In both instances, we are able to provide intensive, meaningful experiences for students, with rigorous oversight, without breaking the budget, and without invading capital (political, financial and otherwise) that we are investing in live-client clinics and traditional externships.
In the comments or offline, please share your innovations and initiatives that your schools are contemplating to bridge gaps between demand and resources. We can all benefit from new ideas in our new economy.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
A recent Washington Post article (here) outlines findings of a joint Princeton-UCLA study that appeared in Psychological Science (here) in April. The study found, in the smallest of nutshells, that students who take notes longhand achieve better learning outcomes than students note-taking electronically. It also seems to find that analytical skills are heightened in longhand note-takers, potentially because the process of taking notes with pen and paper necessitates some analysis of the material because one can't write it all down, while mindlessly transcribing quotes is much easier at 60+ WPM.
Our summer semester is just starting at Faulkner Law, and this week Prof. John Craft and I have been busy with an intensive "boot camp" training for our summer clinic students. This afternoon, I took the students to OnePlace Family Justice Center, where our Family Violence Clinic conducts initial client intake and conducts client meetings. Our office there is large and informal, with a couch, a small round conference table, and a desk. No student desks, no PowerPoint, none of the traditional classroom trappings. It is (and is intended to be) a law office. That is where we met today.
The training consists of reviewing intake procedures, studying the Alabama Protection From Abuse Act, and a brief introduction to the psychology of abusers and survivors. I've done the training in a classroom before, and the students would all take out their laptops and iPads to tap out the pearls of wisdom rolling from my tongue. It's certainly a boost to the ol' ego to have someone taking down your every word, but I find that I end up repeating myself a lot more and answering a lot of questions later on, when students have finally processed the information.
In my session this afternoon, there were no electronic devices. My students had paper handouts, took notes on them, and asked some of the most thoughtful and insightful questions I've been asked. I could see them moving from an information gathering state-of-mind to a preparing-to-practice state of mind almost instantaneously. Even to my clinician's brain, the impact of teaching this material outside the traditional setting was impressive.
The findings of the Mueller/Oppenheimer study will carry over for students beyond graduation--and bar passage. It's important for all of academia, and law school in particular, to focus more attention on demonstrating responsible and effective use of technology to our students. Today's super-typists will still be tomorrow's lawyers one way or another, but will they be able to sit down, relate to a client, and focus on realtime problem-solving? Will they feel comfortable truly listening to their clients, absent the distraction of note-taking to the point of taking dictation? Will they bill any hours the day their computer gives them the blue screen of death? Are we (institutionally) providing them with learning experiences in every course that facilitate their ability to do those things? After today, I'm rededicated to making sure of it.