Friday, February 26, 2016

Mandatory Attendance at Campus Talks?


A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon talk by Anne Anderson, Ireland's Ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Anderson covered a range of topics, including Ireland's place in and commitment to the EU, the financial and political situation in the EU, and Ireland's success in attracting international businesses. 

At Belmont, we require our undergraduate students to attend 60 hours worth of campus talks/presentations/workshops over their four years. When I first heard about this requirement, I must admit that I thought it a bit paternalistic. But looking back on my college experience, I do wish I would have been nudged (or even required) to attend more of the wonderful talks that took place on campus. To be clear, our students get to choose which talks they attend and there are many options. 

While I have come around on these requirements for undergraduates, I am not sure if I would require campus talk attendance of law students -- to my knowledge we don't. Given that graduate students are, or should be, more mature, I don't think I would require them to attend campus talks, but I might give them some sort of certificate if they attended a certain number.

Somewhat similarly, when I was in law school, my school started a pro bono recognition program. Basically, you received one of three levels of "pro bono recognition" depending on the number of pro bono hours you worked for external public interest organizations. The results of this small recognition program were impressive; only 1 of my 10-15 closest friends was doing pro bono work before the program, but about 80% of us were doing pro bono work afterward. This is admittedly a small sample, but the program seemed to impact the entire school. 

That said, maybe by graduate school we should try to teach students to do things for their own sake, and not merely for recognition.

Business School, Clinical Education, Haskell Murray, Law School | Permalink


Nice ideas here, Haskell. I want to pick up on the pro bono point in this comment. We also recognize pro bono efforts in a similar way at UT Law. I was on the relevant committee when we started that program.

Of course, you are right that it would be nice if folks did public service, including pro bono, work without recognition. The reality is, however, that students engage in cost-benefit analyses in allocating their time just like the rest of us. Recognition that can be included meaningfully on a resume is a palpable benefit. And one cannot deny the benefit of the good feeling that pro bono and other public service legal work offers many. But I do think the recognition tips the scales.

Thanks for posting.

Posted by: joanheminway | Feb 26, 2016 9:41:47 AM

Post a comment