Thursday, November 7, 2019

CLEA: Social Justice in Legal Clinics: Social Justice Audit

Cross-posted from CLEA's series on Social Justice in Legal Clinics

 

By Prof. Paul Radvany

At the 2014 Clinical Conference, Professors Donna H. Lee, David J. Reiss, Carol M. Suzuki, and I presented a concurrent session entitled:  “Just Do It?  Whether to Incorporate Social Justice Theory in Every Clinical Experience and If So, How?” In this session, we explored how social justice is implicit in any clinic’s casework.  We also thought it might be helpful to provide a means to examine the elements of social justice that may arise in a clinical context recognizing that students come to clinics with differing levels of commitment to social justice.  In light of the proliferation of clinics that do not focus on poverty law or represent poor clients, such as some transactional clinics, securities arbitration clinics (representing low-income investors against Wall Street brokers), intellectual property clinics and tax clinics, we presented and explored pedagogical rationales for incorporating social justice into these clinics and critically examined what techniques for doing so are effective. 

At the session, we distributed the attached “Social Justice Audit for Your Clinic,” a guide to review systematically a clinic or externship to determine whether or not it explicitly addresses social justice issues and, if not, where it could address these issues. 

We are including the audit here as a resource for professors.

Two trends make this topic timely.  The private sector is increasingly demanding that students graduate “practice ready,” and there has been a push to incorporate pro bono work into law schools to fulfill bar admission requirements.  These trends may lead to an increasing number of clinical students who are not interested in pursuing a career in government or non-profits, but are more focused on learning skills and fulfilling a pro bono requirements.

We hope the audit guide is helpful, and invite your thoughts: radvany@law.fordham.edu.

 

 

 

 

November 7, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Scholarship Round-up!

Once again, so many of our incredible clinical colleagues have produced a number of important and timely articles. The full list along with ssrn or other links are below. 

 

ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION

Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer and Hillary Rich: A Step Too Far: Matter of A-B-, "Particular Social Group," and Chevron, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19-30. This paper describes the 2018 Attorney General decision in Matter of A-B-, a case that severely reduced protections for asylum seekers fleeing gender-based violence. Using statutory interpretation, we argue that A-B- is a misinterpretation of the refugee definition term "particular social group" and does not merit Chevron deference.

Jason Cade: Restoring the Statutory Safety-Valve for Immigrant Crime Victims: Premium Processing for Interim U Visa Benefits, 113 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 120 (2019). This essay focuses on the U visa, a critical government program that has thus far failed to live up to its significant potential. Congress enacted the U visa to aid undocumented victims of serious crime and incentivize them to assist law enforcement without fear of deportation. The reality, however, is that noncitizens eligible for U status still languish in limbo for many years while remaining vulnerable to deportation and workplace exploitation. This is in large part due to the fact that the agency has never devoted sufficient resources to processing these cases. As a result, the potential benefits of the U visa remain under-realized and communities are left less safe. In an era of sustained focus on enforcement and increased instability within immigrant communities, the situation becomes ever more urgent. This Essay introduces and defends a simple administrative innovation that would dramatically improve the process: a premium processing route for interim approvals and employment authorization. Although our proposal cannot resolve all the underlying problems, it is pragmatic, easily implemented, and superior to the status quo.

Lindsay M. Harris: Withholding Protection, 50.3 Columbia Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 1 (2019). Exploring split-second decisions made by CBP officers at our border to deny access to asylum protection and render individuals eligible only for withholding of removal. Considering the use of body-worn cameras to provide a measure of process and oversight.

Jean C. Han: The Good Notario: Exploring Limited Licensure for Non-Attorney Immigration Practitioners, 64 Vill. L. Rev. 165 (2019). This article proposes a way to safely and significantly close the justice gap for immigrants in the United States on a more effective scale: to harness an existing resource and call for the accreditation of non-attorneys through more robust regulation by the Department of Justice.

 

CLINICAL AND LEGAL EDUCATION

Carolyn Grose & Margaret E. Johnson: Braiding the Strands of Narrative and Critical Reflection with Critical Theory and Lawyering Practice, 26 Clinical L. Rev. 203 (2019). This Essay builds off of our previous work on narrative and critical reflection, including LAWYERS, CLIENTS & NARRATIVE: A FRAMEWORK FOR LAW STUDENTS AND PRACTITIONERS. Lawyers with clients braid together narrative, critical reflection and normative theory in a double-helix spiral to create normative narratives that further their clients' goals and strive toward justice. Critical reflection and narrative theory work together to guide us to ask questions and broaden our perspectives in gathering information and constructing cases and projects. By intentionally adding in the strand of normative theory, comprising client-centeredness, justice and professionalism, and critical theory, we create a spiral of lawyering focused on the client, aware of power dynamics and attentive to structural forces, designed to achieve client's goals, and consistent with making the world a more just place. This Essay walks through each component of the double-helix spiral and explains how they work together to create normative narratives.

Jason Cade: Teaching Tomorrow’s Lawyers Through a (Semi-)Generalist, (Mostly-) Individual Client Poverty Law Clinic: Reflections on Five Years of the Community Health Law Partnership, 53 Ga. L. Rev. Online 143 (2019). Design options when starting a live-client clinic from scratch can be somewhat overwhelming. Should the clinic focus on systemic impact or individual representation? Appellate work or hearings? Should the clinic specialize or cover multiple legal issues? Another set of issues concerns how the clinic should find and accept its clients, and whether students should have a role in the intake process. The list of choices goes on. In this Essay, written for the Georgia Law Review’s Online Issue celebrating 50 years of clinics at the University of Georgia School of Law, I describe how I have navigated these and other choices in designing the Community Health Law Partnership Clinic (Community HeLP), which just completed its fifth year of operation. My experience suggests that there may be significant pedagogical benefits to forging a middle-path through some of the central divides in clinic design. Specifically, there are deep service and learning opportunities for students who engage in a combination of individual representation and larger advocacy projects concerning multiple — but not unlimited — areas of poverty law. This Essay unfolds as follows. Part I describes the origin and development of Community HeLP in its first five years. Part II outlines the trade-offs between specialization and generalization, and evaluates the middle path thus far taken by Community HeLP. Part III then explores the value of a clinic that primarily engages in individual representation, but in which students also take on larger advocacy projects that flow from the clinic’s case work.

Jeffrey R. Baker, Christine E. Cerniglia, Davida Finger, Luz E. Herrera, JoNel Newman: In Times of Chaos: Creating Blueprints for Law School Responses to Natural Disasters, 80 La. L. Rev. __ (Forthcoming 2019). Drawing on their experiences in responding to natural disasters, the authors examine the legal needs and community contexts of natural disasters, describe the distinct responses to natural disasters in their clinics and schools, offer methods and models for disaster response, suggest best practices, and consider systemic and justice needs in these moments of crisis and rebuilding.

Clinical Legal Education Association Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion: The Diversity Imperative Revisited: Racial and Gender Inclusion in Clinical Law Faculty, 26 Clinical L. Rev. 127 (2019). This article describes trends in the racial and gender composition of clinical faculty since 1980. The percentage of people of color has grown from 10% to 21%, but the percentage of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous faculty has been stagnant. Women were underrepresented on clinical faculties in the 1980s, but now outnumber men in clinical faculty positions. The article recommends better data collection and best practices for more inclusive clinical faculty hiring and retention.

Robert Dinerstein: The Clinical Law Review at 25: What Hath We Wrought?, 26 Clinical L. Rev. 147 (Fall 2019). This article takes a look at the Clinical Law Review's 25-year history and examines the extent to which it has implemented the visions of clinical scholarship that some of those involved in its founding had for it.

Robert Kuehn: A Study of the Relationship Between Law School Coursework and Bar Exam Outcomes, 68 J. Legal Educ. (forthcoming 2019). This article reports the results of a large-scale study of the relationship between experiential and bar-subject coursework and bar exam outcomes. It finds that the number of experiential courses or credits taken by a student did not correlate with passage, positively or negatively. Enrollment in bar courses correlated positively, but modestly and only for students who are at heightened risk of failure. The results indicate that efforts to improve bar passage by capping experiential credits are not supported by empirical evidence.

 

COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSACTIONAL LAW

Jennifer S. Fan: Woke Capital: The Role of Corporations in Social Movements, 8 Harv. Bus. L. Rev. (forthcoming). The contribution of this Article is three-fold: it discusses how court cases and changing norms about the role of the corporation in society led to the rise of the modern business corporation, which in turn laid the groundwork for corporations’ involvement in social movements; provides an original descriptive account of the role of corporations in social movements using three case studies and the ways in which corporations have helped or hindered such movements; and tackles the underlying normative question about the appropriateness of the involvement of corporations in social movements in light of the legal framework in which it resides. This Article concludes that despite the perils, corporate law holds the promise of being a force for social change.

Jennifer S. Fan: Employees as Regulators: The New Private Ordering in High Technology Companies, Utah L. Rev. (forthcoming). This Article builds upon my prior work on the role of corporations and social movements, and analyzes how employees in high technology companies have redefined the contours of private ordering and, in the process, have also reimagined what collective action looks like. Because these workers are in high demand and short supply, they are able to affect private ordering in a way that we have not seen before. As a result, they have the potential to be an important check on the high technology sector.

Ted De Barbieri: Lawmakers as Job Buyers, 88 Fordham L. Rev. 15 (2019). Discusses attempts by state and local governments to influence private business location decisions for large employers, detailing policy proposals for state and local govts to mitigate associated risks.

Ted De Barbieri: Urban Anticipatory Governance, 46 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 75 (2019). Placing focus on involving the public before large urban redevelopment projects are approved can improve the quality of those projects and their ability to respond to future challenges.

Ted De Barbieri: Connecting Community Control of Infrastructure and Economic Development with Race and Privilege, 28 J. Aff. Hous. & Cmty. Dev. L. __ (forthcoming 2019): This brief essay will address the connection between community control of local development and race and privilege within the context of community economic development.

Ted De Barbieri: Thematic Overview: Race, Place, and Pedagogy in Achieving Access to Justice Through Community Economic Development. 28 J. Aff. Hous. & Cmty. Dev. L. 467 (2019). Through discussion groups at the AALS Annual Meetings in 2017, 2018, and 2019, the annual Transactional Clinics Conference, and elsewhere, scholars and practitioners have advanced the conversation in a meaningful way. What follows here is a brief thematic overview of the discussion that occurred in January 2018, and a synopsis of the abstracts that follow.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL

Rachel E. Deming: Protecting Natural Resources - Forever: The Obligations of State Officials to Uphold "Forever" Constitutional Provisions, 36 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 202 (2019). This Article analyzes the attacks on Florida’s constitutional conservation lands program since the election of a governor and state legislature opposed to environmental regulation in 2010 – a precursor to current happenings at the federal level under the Trump administration. I examine this issue of deliberately violating constitutional requirements through the lens of state constitutional provisions that protect natural resources, focusing on Florida and New York. Both states have explicit protections for conservation and forest lands.

Jason Parkin: Dialogic Due Process, 167 U. of Pa. L. Rev. 1115 (2019)

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

J.D. King: Privatizing Criminal Procedure, 107 Geo. L. J. 561. Many states now impose a surcharge on defendants who exercise their constitutional rights to counsel, confrontation, and trial by jury. As these “user fees” proliferate, they have the potential to fundamentally change the nature of criminal prosecutions and the way we think of constitutional rights. This intrusion of market ideology into the world of fundamental constitutional rights has at least two broad problems: it exacerbates structural unfairness in a system that already disadvantages poor people, and it degrades how we conceive of those rights. This Article proposes solutions to ameliorate the harshest effects of these rights-based user fees but also argues for the importance of resisting the trend of the privatization of constitutional trial rights.

Dustin Marlan: Beyond Cannabis: Psychedelic Decriminalization and Social Justice, 23 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 851 (2019). This Article provides background on psychedelics and a historic overview of the laws surrounding them. It then considers several potential justifications for decriminalizing psychedelics: (1) medical value; (2) religious freedom; (3) cognitive liberty; and (4) identity politics. Lastly, the Article proposes a reframed justification rooted in principles of social justice, namely neurodiversity.

Jenny Roberts: Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction: Law, Policy and Practice (Third Edition), MARGARET COLGATE LOVE, JENNY ROBERTS & WAYNE A LOGAN, COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES OF CRIMINAL CONVICTION: LAW POLICY & PRACTICE (2018-2019 ed. 2018). This book covers general types of collateral consequences, attorneys’ duties regarding consequences, constitutional challenges to consequences, access to and the use of criminal records, regulation of employment and occupational licensing, and restoration of rights after a conviction. Insights on practice guidance, historical background and future trends are discussed.

 

EDUCATION AND SCHOOLS

Kate Sablosky Elengold: The Investment Imperative, 57 Hous. L. Rev. 1 (2019). This Article names and identifies the “investment imperative” as the widely-held belief that higher education is necessary to increase one’s financial prosperity and social standing in America. Drawing on interdisciplinary scholarship, empirical studies, and original interviews with student loan borrowers across the country, this Article argues that the investment imperative drives and distorts students’ financial behaviors and decisions in ways that leave students vulnerable to exploitation and ignore the effects of systemic inequalities related to race, gender, and class.

Emily Suski: The Title IX Paradox, 108 Calif. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2020). This article argues that the courts’ assessments of Title IX’s actual notice standard create an impossible paradox for students suffering sexual harassment in the public schools. Drawing on empirical research in behavioral psychology and child and adolescent neuroscience, it contends that the courts require students to make particularized reports of their sexual harassment they naturally cannot make.

Claire Raj: Disability Law as an Agent of School Reform, 94 Wash. L. Rev. (forthcoming Dec. 2019). This article critiques recent class action litigation aimed at expanding disability rights coverage for students who have experienced “complex trauma.”

 

 

FAMILY LAW

Deirdre M. Smith: Keeping It in the Family: Minor Guardianship as Private Child Protection, 82 Conn. Pub. Interest L. J. 51 (2019). Minor guardianship has been transformed from a probate tool used to protect orphans’ property interests to a strategy to keep children out of foster care when a parent is in crisis and to address their care within the family as a form of “private child protection.” The article examines the implications for children, parents, and relative caregivers of this use of guardianship and proposes changes to better serve the needs and interests of these families.

Lisa Martin: Litigation as Parenting, 95 N.Y.U. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020). This Article proposes that constitutional doctrine establishing parents’ protected decision-making authority should make parents the default representatives for their children in federal civil litigation under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c).

 

HOUSING

Josh Gupta-Kagan: America’s Hidden Foster Care System, 72 Stan. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2020). Critically examines the common child protection agency practice of causing changes in children's physical custody by demanding that parents agree to "safety plans" calling for others to take their children, and recommends various due process and administrative oversight reforms.

Deborah N. Archer: The New Housing Segregation: The Jim Crow Effects of Crime-Free Housing Ordinances, 118 Mich. L. Rev. 1 (2019). Crime-free housing ordinances are local laws that either encourage or require private landlords to evict or exclude tenants who have had varying levels of contact with the criminal legal system. Though formally race neutral, these laws facilitate racial segregation in a number of significant ways. The Article contends that crime-free housing ordinances enable racial segregation by importing the racial biases, racial logics, and racial disparities of the criminal legal system into private housing markets. While scholars have examined the important role local laws played in effectuating racial inequality, they have not paid attention to crime-free housing ordinances. In addition to foregrounding how crime-free housing ordinances reinforce and perpetuate racially segregated communities, this Article proposes an intervention: a “segregative effects” claim, an underutilized cause of action under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, to challenge this segregative impact. While this intervention would not end the pervasive nature of housing segregation across the United States, it could eliminate at least one of the causes of this persistent problem: a body of law whose formal race neutrality has obscured its racially segregative effects.

Deborah N. Archer: Exile from Main Street, Harv. Civ. Rts. – Civ. Liberties L. Rev. (2019). This Article examines how the entanglement of policing-based housing policies and the criminal legal system threatens to push already marginalized people further to the edges of society, while also circumscribing the mobility of people of color who have the means and desire to live in integrated spaces. The Article encourages a more holistic analysis of these policies and a de-coupling of the criminal legal system from housing policy to prevent unnecessary burdens on the “right” to housing.

Nadiyah J. Humber: In West Philadelphia Born and Raised or Moving to Bel-Air? Racial Steering as a Consequence of Using Race Data on Real Estate Websites, Hastings Race & Poverty L. J. (forthcoming 2019). Current fair housing laws are not entirely equipped to deal with housing discrimination on the internet, particularly the practice of racial steering. My article examines real estate websites, like ZillowGroup, and suggests that race data that has been posted on these platforms are problematic. Two recommendations for addressing the use of race data on these websites include using discriminatory effect theory as a litigation strategy and amending the FHA to cover online real estate marketplaces.

 

TAX AND NON-PROFITS

Jaclyn Fabean Cherry: Nonprofit Governance: Who Should be Watching? A Look at State, Federal and Dual Regulation, 13 Ohio St. Bus. L. J. 145 (2019). Recent scandals in the nonprofit sector have once again called into question the issue of nonprofit governance. Who is governing these organizations and are they doing so appropriately? Who is regulating and what law applies — federal, state, or both? This Article discusses nonprofit governance, board of director fiduciary duty, and federal, state, and common law as they pertain to nonprofit governance suggesting that dual jurisdiction with established roles and mandatory information sharing may work best.

 

WOMEN AND THE LAW

Jennifer S. Fan: Innovating Inclusion: The Impact of Women on Private Company Boards, 46 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 345 (2019). This Article documents the exclusion of women from the boards of nearly all the major private high technology companies currently influencing American business, and it explains why this male-only hegemony matters. It then offers a new paradigm, the innovation imperative, for creating a business culture in which people of all genders can make valued contributions. It analyzes two potential arenas for change: the legal and business realms.

Tanya Asim Cooper: #SororityToo, Mich. St. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020). Sexual violence is an epidemic affecting millions of students, and those who participate in collegiate Greek life are especially vulnerable. As social societies bent on secrecy, Greek life hides violence in its midst. Laws and campus policies when accessed offer little help to victims, and often secondarily traumatize them. Publicized scandals on campus and social media campaigns, however, have raised awareness and sparked public outrage against the widespread problem of sexual violence and high-risk Greek life. Systems change theory offers a useful framework to reform high-risk Greek life from many angles: education, reporting, litigation, and collective action of its system actors. Effective strategies exist to create safer Greek organizations for students but without reform, we will continue to jeopardize the education and health of millions of students.

 

 

 

October 31, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

News and Reflections from the Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law

We’re having a big week at Pepperdine Law. Our alumnus, Rick Caruso, has donated $50 million to the law school with commitments for another $50 million over the next decade. This would be big enough news, but we are excited and grateful that he and the law school are committing these resources to scholarships for underrepresented students and loan forgiveness for students in public interest and public service careers. As our slogan says, we have a mission of preparing students for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. It’s a rare and good moment to watch all of these interests align in such a significant way.

We’re in an exciting season in many ways while we navigate toward national excellence and a deep commitment to our missions and communities. This year, we’re offering eleven, diverse clinics, several practicums with regional partners, and an ever expanding national and global externship program. These collaborate with the Sudreau Global Justice Program, our Global Programs, the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law, and a robust stipend program for students in summer public interest work.

This all comes during years of reduced class sizes, so our clinical opportunities for students are greater than they ever have been. With more diverse students with greater scholarships and more opportunities for debt relief, we hope that our training and teaching yields ever greater fruit for justice, equity, inclusion, community development, and the rule of law.

Legal education, law practice, and the justice system often stoke cynicism and skepticism. There’s a lot to fix. I’m not immune to anger, frustration, and creeping despair. But in this polarized age of conflict, when the Republic shakes under the weight of corruption, racism, nationalism, and dishonesty, there’s never been a better time to set our sails to the wind and get to work.

It’s a good day at our law school. At the risk of seeming maudlin and sentimental, I am mindful of our university motto, from the Gospel of Matthew, “Freely ye received, freely give.” I am feeling that today. Even in dark days, we have bright gifts to receive and give, and we seize the moments we are given to carry on the important work of education, advocacy, empowerment, and justice.    

As Rick said in the LA Times today, “If I get a bunch of these really smart lawyers who understand real social justice and real fairness in life, and you put them back in the system, I think it’ll be a real game changer.”

October 23, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

CLEA's Updated Statement on U.S. News and World Report Rankings for Clinical Programs

CLEA co-Presidents, Lisa Martin and Danny Schaffzin, shared this note today with CLEA's updated statement on the U.S. New Rankings for Clinical Programs and its suggested guidance for voters: 

In the coming days, we expect that U.S. News and World Report will circulate the ballots on which it will base its 2020 "specialty" rankings of law school clinical programs.  Last year, U.S. News changed its process so that voters now may rate every ABA-accredited law school instead of choosing just a select few.  With this change in mind, and upon the recommendation of CLEA's Advocacy Committee, we convened an ad hoc committee to consider whether, and if so how, CLEA’s prior statement on the USNWR Rankings (issued in October 2011) should be updated or replaced.  We are grateful to CLEA's Immediate Past President, Jeff Baker, who volunteered to serve as chair, along with fellow CLEA and clinical community leaders Caitlin Barry, Bob Kuehn, and Donna Lee, for their service on the ad hoc committee.
 
We have . . . copied below CLEA’s updated statement on USNWR Rankings, which was recommended by the ad hoc committee and adopted by CLEA’s Board this month.  The statement retains the values and guidance of CLEA’s prior statement, while incorporating additional principles for navigating the new U.S. News ballots.
 
While we are aware that the rankings remain concerning and controversial, we hope that CLEA's updated statement will provide helpful direction to those law schools that choose to participate in the forthcoming balloting process. Please know that CLEA will continue its ongoing, critical examination of the problematic U.S. News rankings and the process used to determine those rankings.

 

CLEA Statement on U.S. News and World Report Rankings for Clinical Programs

 

The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) recognizes that many who receive U.S. News & World Report ballots in their capacity as clinical program directors find this ranking process uncomfortable. There are a number of problems with the ranking of clinical programs. First, it places us in competition with each other, when we as a group see ourselves in a shared struggle for social justice, equality, and improved legal education. Second, there are no articulated factors for ranking clinical programs, so the voting can be arbitrary to a degree. Third, some schools may unfairly suffer because they do not have the budget or the support of their administration to market their program or send their clinical faculty to annual conferences.

 

While we might wish the rankings did not exist or hope to solve the collective action problem that bedevils creative responses, the USNWR rankings have remained a feature of our collective landscape. So, since rankings presently exist, what can we do now as faculty who teach clinics? 

 

CLEA, through its Board of Directors, urges those ranking clinical programs to focus on factors that promote the principles for which CLEA advocates, namely the increased presence of clinical education (law clinics and externships) in law school curricula, security of position for clinical faculty, and diversity and equity. In evaluating clinical programs, CLEA urges voters to consider: 1) the number of law clinic and externship slots available relative to the student population at a school; 2) the breadth and quality of clinical curricular offerings available to students; 3) the school's security of position, academic freedom, and governance rights for faculty who teach clinics or externships; and 4) the extent to which the school has committed to diversity and equity in hiring for clinical positions with long-term security and retaining and promoting diverse clinical faculty.

 

CLEA urges voters to score only those programs for which they have sufficient information to make informed decisions. It urges voters to choose the “No Answer” option when they have insufficient information to assess a particular clinical program.  

 

Last, CLEA also urges those who receive ballots to consult their clinical colleagues for their views to increase the range of informed opinions reflected in the balloting.

 

 

October 22, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 23, 2019

CLEA: Social Justice in Legal Clinics: The Mercer Habeas Project

Cross-posted from the CLEA series on Social Justice in Legal Clinics. 

Each member of the CLEA Social Justice Issues Committee has been writing or soliciting projects to highlight in this series. For my contribution this semester, I reached out to my friend, Prof. Sarah Gerwig-Moore, now the academic dean at Mercer University School of Law, who founded the Mercer Habeas Project. This year, Brian Kammer, former director of the Georgia Appellate and Resource Center, assumed its leadership. They contributed this good report on the clinic’s work:


The Mercer Habeas Project was created in 2006 by Professor Sarah Gerwig-Moore, who was hired in that year to help create and teach in Mercer’s experiential learning program. The State of Georgia provides no right to counsel in post-conviction matters, so the clinic was created to help fill a void in legal services and because of Mercer’s particular strengths in legal writing. The course operates as a capstone clinic in which students put to use skills and prior coursework in constitutional law, criminal procedure, appellate practice, evidence, client counseling, and legal writing. A core value is to visit, spend time with, listen to, and partner with clinic clients—to provide client-centered representation and creative, attentive advocacy.

 

Most of the clinic’s cases involve entering and providing counsel in pro se criminal or habeas cases pending in the Supreme Court of Georgia. Since 2006, the Clinic has represented more than 80 clients, including dozens of oral arguments, court hearings, parole petitions, and appellate briefs (and often a number of those vehicles in cases over long periods of time). Over the years, the clinic has had major successes in areas of due process, affirmative defenses, provision of effective assistance of counsel, and access to the courts (including provision of effective translators in court proceedings). The students' work has been recognized with two "Case of the Year" Awards from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and in SCOTUSblog's "Petitions We're Watching." Sarah Gerwig-Moore was the 2013 recipient of the AALS Clinical Legal Education Section's Shanara Gilbert Emerging Clinician award, in large part because of her work with this clinic.

 

The clinic has also weathered some hard losses, especially given the difficulty of overcoming procedural hurdles and statutes of limitation in older cases. Students and faculty have helped clients walk out of prison and rebuild their lives, packing suitcases with essentials and bringing them to the Greyhound Bus station. And students have stood vigil outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison while faculty witnessed their clients’ wrongful executions.

 

The Project provides client-centered representation, which means we spend a lot of time in prison with our clients—and then talking and processing about those visits in local food joints. The work doesn’t stop when students leave the classroom, and it is not uncommon for students to work on our cases over weekends and breaks. Prison visit days start early in the morning. Whether or not the clinic sees a positive outcome of its cases, an intentional focus of the clinic is reflection upon systemic injustices in how poor people are charged in and treated by the criminal system.

 

When Professor Gerwig-Moore moved into the role of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in summer 2019, Mercer brought in Brian Kammer, former director of the Georgia Appellate and Resource Center, a nonprofit focusing on post-conviction litigation in Georgia’s capital cases. He brings with him more than twenty years of experience in habeas and appellate litigation, as well as a fresh perspective on the future of student work in the clinic.

 

September 23, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Diversity Imperative Revisited: Racial and Gender Inclusion in Clinical Law Faculty

The CLEA Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion (Profs. Deborah Archer of NYU, Sameer Ashar of UCLA, Caitlin Barry of Villanova, G.S. Hans of Vanderbilt, Derrick Howard of Valparaiso, Alexis Karteron of Rutgers, Shobha Mahadev of Northwestern, and Jeffrey Selbin of Berkeley) have published this essay in the Clinical Law Review

The piece calls on law schools to continue to improve demographic diversity among clinical faculties and calls for more research to better understand hiring and other dynamics. 

Here is the essay on SSRN with its abstract: 

The demographics of clinical law faculties matter. As Professor Jon Dubin persuasively argued nearly twenty years ago in his article Faculty Diversity as a Clinical Legal Education Imperative, clinical faculty of color entering the legal academy in the 1980s and 1990s expanded the communities served by law school clinics and the lawyering methods used to serve clients in significant ways that enriched legal education and the profession. They also broadened clinical scholarship to include deconstructions and reconstructions of clinical teaching, offered crucial role modeling and mentorship to students of color, and helped to elevate cross-cultural communication and multiracial collaboration as core lawyering skills.

Professor Dubin catalogued these contributions while pointing to data that showed that clinical faculties remained overwhelmingly White, and he urged law schools to recognize the urgency of diversifying clinical faculty. While there has been some research and scholarship devoted to the gender composition of clinical faculties, to our knowledge, there has been no substantive reexamination of the importance of racial composition since Professor Dubin’s article in 2000, nor any examination of clinical faculty diversity beyond race, ethnicity, and binary gender.

The Clinical Legal Education Association created the Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion to draw attention to the crisis of diversity among clinical faculties, and to urge law schools to take proactive steps to remedy this longstanding failure. This Essay from the Committee assesses what progress has been made since Professor Dubin’s intervention and interrogates historical trends in the racial and gender composition of clinical faculty from 1980 to 2017, using existing data.

We found that there has been limited progress on racial and ethnic inclusion in clinical law faculties. While the total percentage of people of color has grown from 10% to 21%, the inclusion of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous faculty has been largely stagnant. Black clinical faculty members reached 7% of all clinical faculty in 1999 and have never exceeded that percentage. Latinx clinical faculty representation, at 5%, is the same as it was in 1981. Indigenous faculty have never constituted even 1%. Overall, White faculty continue to hold nearly 8 out of 10 clinical faculty positions.

With regard to gender, whereas women were underrepresented among clinical faculty in the 1980s, women now outnumber men in clinical faculty positions by nearly 2 to 1. Given that women remain underrepresented in law faculties as a whole, this seemingly positive development in the gender composition of clinical instructors nonetheless raises concerns about internal status inequities and the clustering of women faculty members in non-tenured positions with lower salaries and less job protection, including on clinical, legal research and writing and library faculties. Therefore, this trend may be a cautionary tale for the inclusion of other underrepresented groups moving forward.

Acknowledging the limitations of existing data, we offer recommendations for future data collection that would recognize more inclusive identities and backgrounds. We suggest that future research assess job satisfaction and sustainability of faculty positions for people from historically disadvantaged groups to ensure that we are not just providing access to clinical law faculties, but also offering equitable and supportive working environments. New research will be crucial to developing a more meaningful understanding of inequities among clinical faculty, and to assessing equity and inclusion beyond descriptive representation.

We conclude with a discussion of best practices for inclusive clinical faculty hiring and suggestions for future initiatives that may make the profession more accessible. Looking back on Professor Dubin’s arguments, we are disheartened by the lack of subsequent scholarship on clinical faculty diversity, particularly with regard to racial and ethnic representation. We are concerned that it reflects a degree of complacency with structural racism at our own institutions and a failure to recognize the dissonance between the values we promote in our lawyering and our participation in maintaining barriers to the profession. We hope this Essay will disrupt that complacency and revive Professor Dubin’s arguments for a diversity imperative, which are even more resonant in the current moment.

September 21, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

JOBS: Tulane’s First Amendment Clinic and Immigrants’ Rights Clinic

Via Prof. Laila Hlass:

 

Tulane Law is thrilled to announce that we are hiring for a director and professor of practice to lead a soon to be established First Amendment Clinic. The Stanton Foundation, created by a longtime president of CBS News, has committed nearly $1 million to cover the full operating costs of the new clinic. To learn more about our plans, please read recent news about this initiative.

 

To apply, please submit materials here: https://apply.interfolio.com/68076The description of the position and qualifications are listed below. Tulane Law also is hiring for a director and professor of practice for a newly established Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, and applicants for that position can apply here: https://apply.interfolio.com/63659, and read more about the position at the end of this email. 

 

Director of Tulane Law First Amendment Clinic & Professor of Practice

Tulane Law School seeks highly qualified applicants for a full-time position as Professor of the Practice of Law leading its newly created First Amendment Clinic. The position would begin during the 2020-21 academic year, starting on July 1, 2020, and would be on the non-tenured faculty track, with an initial appointment of three years. 

The candidate who fills the position will have primary responsibility for developing the new First Amendment Clinic; engaging in case selection, litigation, and other advocacy to promote the clinic's mission and goals; supervising clinic students in all aspects of the clinic’s work; teaching a related subject-matter seminar or course; convening an advisory committee of First Amendment faculty experts; and managing development activities in support of the clinic. As a Professor of the Practice of Law, the successful candidate will participate in and vote at faculty meetings and serve on faculty committees within the School of Law.

 

Qualifications

Qualifications for the position include:

  • A J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school and a strong academic record;
  • Experience in First Amendment and/or Constitutional matters;
  • Licensed bar membership in good standing in any one of the 50 states; 
  • 5 years of post-J.D. legal experience; and
  • A proven record of (or clear demonstrated potential for) successful teaching and professional engagement.
  • Candidates who teach in a law school legal clinic, who have prior experience supervising or teaching law students, or who have prior experience supervising attorneys in the area of First Amendment and/or Constitutional law matters are strongly preferred.

 

To apply, please complete the application form here https://apply.interfolio.com/68076.

Tulane Law School is committed to faculty diversity and welcomes expressions of interest from diverse applicants. To learn more about the law school, visit our website at https://law.tulane.edu

 

Inquiries about the clinic should be directed to Professor Catherine Hancock chancock@tulane.edu, the chair of the First Amendment appointments committee.

 

Director of Tulane Law Immigrants’ Rights Clinic & Professor of Practice

TULANE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW seeks highly qualified applicants for a full-time professor of practice position leading its newly created Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. The position would begin during the 2020-21 academic year, starting on July 1, 2020, and would be on the non-tenured faculty track, with an initial appointment of three years.

The candidate who fills the position will have primary responsibility for developing the new Immigrants’ Rights Clinic; engaging in case selection, litigation, and other advocacy to promote the clinic's mission and goals; supervising clinic students in all aspects of the clinic’s work; teaching a related seminar course; and leading development efforts in support of the clinic.

Qualifications

Qualifications for the position include:
• A J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school and a strong academic record;
• Experience in immigration and/or immigrants’ rights matters;
• Licensed bar membership in good standing in any one of the 50 states;  
• 5 years of post-J.D. legal experience;
• A proven record of (or clear demonstrated potential for) successful teaching and professional engagement.
• Candidates who teach in a law school legal clinic, who have prior experience supervising or teaching law students, or who have prior experience supervising attorneys performing immigration work are strongly preferred.

To apply, please complete the application form here: https://apply.interfolio.com/63659.  Inquiries may be made to Professor Laila L. Hlass, Appointments Committee Chair by email: lhlass@tulane.edu.

 

 

 

September 18, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 16, 2019

Jennifer Lee Koh: Reflections on Elitism After the Closing of a Clinic: Justice, Pedagogy and Scholarship

Read this important, insightful essay from Prof. Jennifer Lee Koh. She reflects critically on the ecosystems of legal education and the importance of legal clinics in all kinds of law schools. For access to justice, a better profession, and more vibrant public life, we need law schools serving communities and states that are not "elite," that exist on every plane of our unfortunate hierarchies. 

I began my teaching career at Faulkner Law, a regional, newly accredited, relatively small law school, in a state with great needs and fewer resources. Faulkner had a real, valuable commitment to clinical legal education, because the clinics were important to students who needed to be practice- and client-ready for their communities and because clinics advanced its faith-driven mission to serve its communities. In many regional, "unranked" law schools, clinics are more important than ever in preparing great lawyers to serve their neighbors and clients. 

Prof. Koh's essay and her experience at Western State is important. We all should reckon with the gravitational effects of elitism and its pursuit. 

Here's the essay at SSRN and its abstract: 

In this Essay, I reflect upon my experience directing the Immigration Clinic at Western State College of Law for nearly a decade, including my decision to close the Clinic after financial crisis put the law school’s ability to continue operating in serious jeopardy in the Spring of 2019. The Essay focuses on the themes of pedagogy and the viability of non-elite law schools, teaching and doing social justice in the clinical context, and the integration of theory, doctrine and practice in legal scholarship. By memorializing a portion of the Clinic’s work, the Essay seeks to give voice to stories that might otherwise go unheard during a time of institutional crisis. In doing so, I hope to disrupt the easy narratives that may otherwise dominate our understanding of Western State’s record and offer a perspective on the value of clinical legal education and clinic scholarship at non-elite law schools.

September 16, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 9, 2019

JOBS: Saint Louis University Clinics

SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW is a Catholic, Jesuit institution dedicated to student learning, research, community engagement, social justice, and service.  Located in the city of St. Louis, the School of Law has a nationally recognized and award-winning clinical program through which students represent both individual and group clients in litigation, administrative, advocacy, and transactional matters.  The School of Law is looking for someone to join the clinical program in a full-time clinical law faculty position.  More information about the clinical program is available here: https://www.slu.edu/law/experiential-learning/legal-clinics

 

The successful candidate will direct all aspects of an in-house law clinic (including the classroom component, student supervision, and client selection) and may teach one or more additional courses.  Candidates should have appropriate expertise and relevant practice experience in the area of law they propose to be the focus of the clinic.  In their application materials, candidates should include a one-page description of the clinic they propose to teach as well as an explanation of how the proposed clinic will meet the needs of both the School of Law and the larger community.        

 

We welcome entry-level and lateral candidates. Candidates should have distinguished academic and practice records, as well as an understanding of clinical teaching methods.  A J.D. is required.  Qualifications also include admission to the Missouri Bar, eligibility for reciprocity, or a willingness to sit for the first Missouri bar examination after being hired.  The successful candidate should have at least three years of recent law practice experience.  Ideally, candidates will also have experience and training in clinical teaching methods, either through prior experience as a clinical faculty member or through supervision of law students in other settings.

 

Please apply online at https://jobs.slu.edu/.

 

Inquiries should be addressed to:

                                                Brendan D. Roediger

                                                Chair, Clinical Faculty Appointments Committee

                                                Saint Louis University School of Law

                                                100 North Tucker Boulevard

                                                St. Louis, MO 63101

                                                Brendan.Roediger@slu.edu                          

 

Saint Louis University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  All qualified candidates will receive consideration for the position applied for without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military/veteran status, gender identity, or other non-merit factors.  We welcome and encourage applications from minorities, women, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities (including disabled veterans).  If accommodations are needed for completing the application and/or with the interviewing process, please contact Human Resources at 314-977-5847.

 

September 9, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

CLEA: Social Justice in Legal Clinics: Baltimore's Family Law Clinic

Cross-posted from CLEA's series on Social Justice in Legal Clinics. 

By Shanta Trivedi, Clinical Teaching Fellow, Bronfein Family Law Clinic

In May 2019, University of Baltimore Bronfein Family Law Clinic (“UB FLC”) and the ACLU of Arizona jointly filed an amicus brief in the Arizona Supreme Court in support of Juan P., a Mexican father fighting to get his son out of foster care in the United States and back to his family in Mexico where he belongs.

The UB FLC represents indigent clients in custody, visitation, divorce, and other family law proceedings and engages in litigation regarding important family law issues. It also partners with community organizations to tackle larger systemic issues through advocacy, education, and legislative work. The fundamental, constitutionally protected liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of one’s children is a core principle of the UB FLC’s work and the community it serves. Juan P’s case was particularly compelling because it presented significant and timely issues of child custody and child welfare law that have broad implications for many children and parents, particularly during the ongoing family separation crisis at the Southern border.

Juan P’s son, S.P., was born in the United States. When S.P. was only a year old, Juan P. was deported and S.P. returned to Mexico with his father to live with his father and siblings. The following year, S.P. came to the United States to visit his mother in California. Juan P. had daily contact with S.P. for several weeks until S.P.’s mother abruptly ceased contact. Despite repeated attempts to contact the mother and find out his son’s whereabouts, Juan P. was unable to locate them. Unbeknownst to Juan P., S.P.’s mother had moved to Arizona and had been embroiled in child welfare proceedings where she had been found an unfit parent. S.P. was placed in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety (“DCS”) and ultimately with a foster family.

Juan P. only learned that his son was in foster care the next year and immediately contacted DCS to seek his son’s return to Mexico. Shockingly, instead of returning the child as required by law, DCS filed a motion to terminate Juan P’s parental rights. That motion was ultimately dismissed without a hearing, but the Arizona Court of Appeals twice denied reunification based on concerns that S.P. had bonded with his foster family and reunification with his biological family might cause him harm.

Juan P. through his attorneys at the Maricopa County Office of the Public Advocate (“OPA”) filed a petition for review in the Arizona Supreme Court. UB FLC students Nathan Adams, Nell Fultz & Henry Lloyd, under the supervision of Clinical Teaching Fellow, Shanta Trivedi and Clinic Writing Instructor and Assistant Professor, Cheri Levin, researched and drafted a supporting amicus brief in conjunction with the ACLU of Arizona.

The brief argued that, under the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, Juan P. had a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of his son. The brief asserted that the state had no compelling interest in interfering with the parent-child relationship unless the parent was deemed unfit. In this case, the lower court had explicitly found Juan P. to be fit on more than one occasion. Thus, the state was unconstitutionally infringing on Juan P.’s fundamental right to parent his son.

The brief also argued that, overall, the child welfare system disproportionately affects children of color and that this case was just one example of a larger systemic problem. Prejudice against minorities pervades the child welfare system, impacting which children are removed and which families are reunified. While this bias is often implicit, in this case it was overt and unapologetic. DCS had placed S.P. with a foster family who did not speak Spanish and repeatedly violated court orders requiring the child to receive Spanish lessons so that he could better communicate with his father and siblings in Mexico. Worse, DCS had made disparaging remarks about Mexico on the record in arguing why S.P. should remain with his foster family. The brief asked the court not to sanction such open and hostile discrimination.

While the petition was ultimately denied, the students gained legal research and drafting experience and had a wonderful experience collaborating with a community partner. Most importantly, they learned a larger lesson: family separation isn’t just happening at the border. Legal systems within this country separate families every day. And Juan P., like the thousands of other parents separated from their children is continuing his fight.

September 4, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 2, 2019

CLEA Board and Officer Nominations Due Oct. 1

The CLEA Elections Committee (Melanie DeRousse, Benjie Louis, Shobha Mahadev and Lynnise Pantin) is soliciting nominations through October 1, 2019, of individuals to serve on the CLEA Board starting in January 2020. This year, there are several Board positions open.  All positions require a three-year commitment.  I am attaching a memo prepared by the CLEA Elections Committee, which sets forth the activities and responsibilities of CLEA Board members in more detail.  Current CLEA members are invited to nominate themselves or other CLEA members as candidates for one of these open positions.  The committee also encourages "new clinicians" (defined as clinicians with fewer than 6 years of experience) to run for the CLEA Board.  Our Bylaws create a separate election process for candidates identified as "new clinicians," to ensure that the identified "new clinician" candidate who receives the greatest number of votes will be assured a place on the Board.

 

The Committee strongly encourages CLEA members to nominate individuals from groups that are currently underrepresented within the leadership of various clinical institutions, including CLEA, the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, and the Clinical Law Review.  The nomination process is simple.  Nominate yourself or someone else by contacting the chair of the CLEA Elections Committee, Lynnise Pantin, lynnise.pantin@law.columbia.edu. If you are nominating yourself, please include a paragraph or two about why you are running and a link to your faculty profile, which will be included with the election materials to be sent later in the fall.  If you are nominating another CLEA member, there is no need to include such a paragraph; the name alone will suffice, and the Elections Committee will contact the nominee for further information.  If you have less than six years of clinical teaching experience and wish to be identified as a "new clinician" candidate, or if you want to nominate a candidate for the "new clinician" category, please indicate that as well.

 

Although the process of nomination is easy, our Bylaws set a strict deadline for receiving nominations.  All nominations must be received by October 1, 2019.  If you have questions about the CLEA Elections process, please feel free to contact Lynnise Pantin at lynnise.pantin@law.columbia.edu.

 

September 2, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

JOBS: UALR Bowen's Veterans Legal Services Clinic

Via Prof. Terry Kelly

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

William H. Bowen School of Law

Assistant Professor of Clinical Education (R96904)

 

The UA Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law seeks an Assistant Professor of Clinical Education (R96904) to develop and direct its new Veterans Legal Services Clinic.  The Clinic will provide free and low-cost legal representation to Arkansas veterans seeking VA disability benefits or reconsideration of discharge status.

 

The Clinic Director also will design and teach a weekly class, plan outreach events, design continuing legal education programs, and develop future funding opportunities.  This position currently is funded for five years with possibility for continuation dependent on funding.

 

Candidates must hold a J.D. from an accredited law school and be either a member of the Arkansas bar in good standing or capable of admission to the Arkansas Bar within one year of hiring.  Salary and rank are commensurate with qualifications.

 

Three years of litigation experience is preferred, along with VA accreditation, practice in veterans’ benefits, clinical teaching experience, and experience supervising other attorneys.  

 

This is a 9-month, full-time position. This position is not eligible for tenure, but upon completion of certain requirements, the Clinic Director will be eligible for promotion to Associate Professor of Clinical Education, with a three-year term, and subsequent promotion to Professor of Clinical Education, with a five-year term that is presumptively renewable depending on Clinic funding.

 

For more information, please refer to https://ualr.peopleadmin.com/postings/8689.

 

Interested parties should apply online with a curriculum vitae, together with a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests and three references. Applications will be considered until the position is filled.

 

This position is subject to a pre-employment criminal background check. A criminal conviction or arrest pending adjudication alone shall not disqualify an applicant in the absence of a relationship to the requirements of the position. Background check information will be used in a confidential, non-discriminatory manner consistent with state and federal law.

 

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is an equal opportunity affirmative action employer and actively seeks the candidacy of minorities, women and person with disabilities. Under Arkansas law, all applications are subject to disclosure. Persons hired must have proof of legal authority to work in the United States.

 

August 21, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CLEA: Social Justice in Legal Clinics: The Economic Justice Clinic at Notre Dame

Cross posted from CLEA's series on social justice advocacy in legal clinics: 

 

EVICTION CRISIS:  A CALL TO ACTION - by Judith Fox

Matthew Desmond is instrumental for bringing the devastating effects of eviction to the public in his award-winning book, Evicted.  The praise is well deserved.  While those of us in the clinical world have been all too aware of the issues, Desmond has given us platforms unlike any in the past.  People in power are now listening and we should make our voices heard. Matthew Desmond’s research had identified South Bend, along with Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, as one of three Indiana cities whose eviction rates placed them in the top twenty cities in America with the most evictions. This is the time for bold action.

For the past twenty years, my clinic students and I have battled against a particularly bad slum lord in our community.  He was the ultimate Teflon-man.  He rented properties he did not own.  He rented properties that were not only in bad shape, many had been condemned by the city and issued with demolition orders.  Spurred on by the call to action, we decided it was time to put an end to these practices once and for all.  We set up a careful strategy, working side-by-side with local governmental entities and not-for-profits not only to stop this particular bad actor, but to combat the systemic issues that allowed him to continue for decades.  Our first target:  the lax Indiana laws that allowed this man to rent such deplorable properties.

It is illegal in Indiana to rent a property that does not comply with housing codes, there is just no effective way to enforce that obligation.  My students and I worked with the city of South Bend to draft the Rental Safety Verification Program (RSVP), an ordinance that requires every rental home in South Bend to be certified safe.  My students brought their clients to hearings, testified to their experiences and met with local advocates, including landlords.  In the end, the ordinance passed.  We are now assisting families who have been displaced because the home they rented is not habitable. Our parallel efforts with the Indiana legislature were not so successful, but we will be back this year to try again.

The second target of our efforts were the small claims courts that handle most of the evictions in our community.    Looking closely at the cases our targeted slumlord was filing, we noticed some peculiar things.  He did not own many of the parties he was renting.  The L.L.C. he was using, was not a valid company.  In one case, he used the L.L.C. of a competitor!  We thought this must be anomalous, considering this man’s history.  It was not.   We were appalled to discover how many landlords and rental companies were filing evictions using fictitious names.  We began challenging every eviction on standing grounds, and won.  As a result, the court instituted a local rule requiring parties in eviction to document their right to bring the case to court. Our slum lord has not brought an eviction case since.

We had shown a light on eviction hearings and our new crop of Magistrates began to do the same.  They began to question why St. Joseph County allowed landlords to post their property as opposed to the cash bond required by State law.  This is significant because, in Indiana, there are essentially two proceedings in an eviction.  There is an immediate possession hearing which is quick and usually does not afford a tenant much of a chance to defend herself, followed more than a month later by a trial.  If someone is evicted in the immediate possession phase, even if they win at trial, they have already been displaced.  A landlord must post a bond at the immediate possession stage to reimburse a tenant wrongfully convicted.  A tenant can post an equivalent counter-bound to stay in the home pending trial.  The St. Joseph County courts were allowing the bond to be the rental property, completely precluding the posing of an equivalent counter-bound.  That practice too has ended.

Our next target is the lax enforcement of licensing laws.  Federal and state law requires leasing agencies and others who buy and sell property or rent property they do not own to be licensed.  We discovered that almost none of them are.  Again, we have systematically began to file counterclaims using our state UDAP laws.  So far, these challenges have incentivized settlement in nearly every instance.

We have made real progress in a year, but we are far from done.  This semester my students have teamed with the ACLU, Professor Florence Roisman at I.U. McKinney Law School and a Notre Dame Student chapter of the Roosevelt institute to do a court watch study of evictions across Indiana.  Anyone who has ever witnessed these hearings knows that the due process violations are mind-boggling.  We intend to shine a light on those practices.  The ultimate outcome will surely be a white paper and perhaps litigation.

Eviction is an issue facing clients throughout our clinical programs.  Ann Juergens, Mitchell Hamlin Law School, recently reached out to the clinical community to suggest that we join forces across states to collaborate on solutions.  Ann and I will be giving the opening plenary at the Midwest Clinical Conference being held in October at the Michigan State Law School to formally begin this conversation.  This is no less than a call to action.  Whether you can come to Michigan in October, or simply want to send us an email, we welcome the entire clinical community to this issue.  The clinical community had a tremendous impact on homeowner’s rights during the foreclosure crisis.  It is time to turn our eyes to eviction.  As Michael Desmond has so eloquently said, eviction is not a symptom of poverty, it is a cause.  Clinical programs are uniquely placed to meet the challenge and make a dent in this crucial social justice issue.

 

Judith Fox, Clinical Professor, Notre Dame.  Judith Fox and Linda Fisher, recently released  The Foreclosure echo:  How the Hardest Hit Have Been Left Out of the Economic Recovery (Cambridge, 2019).

August 20, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

JOBS: LSU Immigration Law Clinic

LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, PAUL M. HEBERT LAW CENTER seeks to hire a full-time faculty member with security of position to direct the Immigration Law Clinic as part of LSU Law’s Clinical Legal Education Program. The Immigration Law Clinic is a fully in-house, one-semester, 5 credit clinic in which students represent non-citizens in their defensive proceedings before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) and affirmative applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Applicants should have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, superior academic credentials, substantial experience in Immigration practice and be admitted and in good standing in a U.S. jurisdiction. Prior clinical teaching experience and fluency in Spanish is preferred.

The Paul M. Hebert Law Center of LSU is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Employer and is committed to building a culturally diverse faculty. We particularly welcome and encourage applications from female and minority candidates.       

Applications should include a letter of application, resume, references, and teaching evaluations (if available) to:

 

Melissa T. Lonegrass and Christina M. Sautter

Co-Chairs, Faculty Appointments Committee

c/o Pam Hancock (or by email to phancock@lsu.edu)

Paul M. Hebert Law Center

Louisiana State University

1 East Campus Drive

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803-0106

July 24, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

CLEA: Social Justice in Legal Clinics: The Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic at New York Law School

Cross posted from the CLEA series on Social Justice in Legal Clinics

A post by Anna G. Cominsky, Visiting Associate Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney at New York Law School

Social justice is an integral part of Associate Professor of Law Gowri Krishna’s Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic at New York Law School. “I think of my clinic broadly as a social justice clinic,” Krishna says, “We support people and organizations that work towards economic, racial, social, and environmental equity.” Students in the yearlong Clinic provide transactional legal assistance to nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Under close faculty supervision by Krishna, students interview and counsel clients; plan and strategize on matters; research relevant questions of law; draft correspondence, memos and legal documents; manage client relationships; and negotiate agreements. Students take primary responsibility for work with multiple clients on a variety of matters such as entity formation, governance, contracts, intellectual property and regulatory compliance.

The Clinic is comprised of seminar and fieldwork experience for both fall and spring semesters. During the fall semester, twice-weekly seminars focus on substantive areas of law, ethics and lawyering skills. Students prepare for and lead case rounds in which they discuss issues raised in and reflections on their fieldwork

Clinic clients range from start-ups to more mature entities. Clients generally come from or benefit low-income communities, and all are unable to afford market rates for legal services. “We represent nonprofit groups and small businesses on non-litigation matters such as entity structure, formation, governance, contracts, leases, etc. The nonprofit organizations have varying missions that aim to improve the lives of and build power for the most vulnerable in some way, whether it is providing preschool programs for children in public housing, training immigrants for jobs in the culinary sector, or developing affordable housing policies (a sampling of this past year’s clinic clients).”

The Clinic helps students explore and understand a new economic system, commonly referred to as the solidarity or cooperative economy, which is a movement to build a just and dependable economy. “Many of the small businesses we assist are ones that fit into the solidarity economy. They value democracy and cooperation and operate their business according to these principles. Transactional lawyers adapt existing legal structures and create new ones to meet their clients’ goal of prioritizing labor over capital. They counsel clients on governance structures that offer democratic participation by all of the workers in a business. This type of legal work is cutting-edge, requiring attorneys to think creatively and lawyer in novel ways. Law school clinics, nonprofit legal services, and private law offices should seek and embrace opportunities to support a more democratic economy.”

This is a critical time in our history. Clinics, like Krishna’s, now more than ever have the ability to promote social justice by training future lawyers. The Clinic helps prepare students for work with organizational clients and introduces students to opportunities for transactional lawyers to further economic, environmental, racial and social justice. “My hope is that by getting to know their clients and their clients’ broader objectives, students will sharpen their critical thinking and creative lawyering skills and consider their role in effecting social justice.”

 

July 23, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Conditions of Democracy: Interdependence, Dignity, Resistance

I have the great privilege of spending this week talking about justice and society with a lot of very smart, conscientious, justice-minded people from across the American political spectrum. It's refreshing and good and reminds me of some very important lessons for our democracy and society.
 
First, we must absolutely remember and hold in mind our outright interdependence on each other. Like gravity and the atmosphere, we cannot opt out of it. Everything we do individually and collectively has an effect on everyone else, so we must measure everything we do individually and collectively with a moral sense of our place and relationships. If we ever begin to believe that we owe nothing to anyone else, we will die, individually and collectively.
 
Second, the only way that works is to acknowledge the dignity and capacity of everyone, even our adversaries and rivals. We must extend benevolent assumptions to our neighbors, even in competition. If we believe that everyone who disagrees with us is evil or stupid, we devolve into a horrible state of nature and rhetorical violence that fractures our culture. Love your neighbor. Love your enemies. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they mean well, until they demonstrate otherwise.
 
Third, compromise is an essential American virtue, a necessary ingredient to our enterprise. Principles are, too, but to advance those principles requires working toward compromise with well intentioned, principled rivals. If we don't, we either make no progress, or we invite total war and domination by one side over another. If I would not be dominated, so I cannot seek to dominate. If we are going to live together - and we have no other choice - then we have to work together. We cannot work together if we are unwilling to compromise and seek common ground.
 
This requires a faith, the hope in things unseen, that most people, however much they disagree, are doing their best and trying to do good. This requires some humility and empathy. This is not soft, and it's not a surrender. It's the hardest thing of all, and it requires real, genuine toughness and discipline. It requires courage and guts to trust our counterparts and rivals, but trust begets trust.
 
By all means, let's advocate and agitate for justice. Let's protest and fight, and let's do it well. Vilifying and destroying a rival or political counterpart can seem like a tempting option, but it does not ultimately advance justice. We have a duty to fight for freedom, and we have a duty to win. We don't have a duty to destroy and eviscerate. Our own dignity depends on everyone else's. True justice resists all oppression and will not oppress.
 
The other options are tyranny or anarchy, so we must do all we can to bring every voice to the table so that we can ensure inclusion, diversity, dignity, and resilience in our society and democracy. We cannot permit anyone to be excluded from our national, political, social, and community discourse and decision making. Law is only legitimate if the people whom it governs have a voice in the lawmaking.
 
Last, if our goal is the full dignity, justice, and flourishing of everyone in our interdependent, complex, diverse, and prosperous democracy, we will make very different choices than if we are only interested in our own, individual profit, comfort and power. The trick is that we will profit most individually when we give great care to our interdependent world.
 
It is very easy to embrace all of this, then give ourselves a pass when the "other side" acts up and is difficult, but extremity begets extremity, and it is very hard to walk ourselves back to a peaceful pace of progress together. We might have to turn another cheek or walk an extra mile, but we reap what we sow. This does not mean submitting to abuse but insisting on our own dignity by demanding the dignity of all the others.
 
We cannot sit still with injustice, but destroying norms and exploding relationships does not help the cause. Unless we will risk anarchy and tyranny, we must tend to these relationships with discipline so that we can build better worlds together. Our democracy is at stake under threats of a demagogue and the extreme voices he provokes. Our calling can only be to resist the temptation to rise to his hatred and cling fiercely to love for each other.

July 12, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Storytelling and Pedagogy, or, Haven, my novella

I’m a Southern lawyer, and that suggests a double pedigree in storytelling.  My mom was an English teacher for years, and she jokes that Southerners always start their stories at the very beginning.  “Let me tell you about this hilarious self-deprecating thing that happened yesterday, but first I have to tell you about the family trees and life-stories of every single person involved in my otherwise pithy anecdote.” We don’t need better editors; we just take our time.

That legacy led me to a deeply rooted love of literature and storytelling as a craft (and an English minor). I’ve written about that before on this blog. When teaching law students how to be great advocates, I often teach the elements of narrative, rhetoric, and storytelling. In class, we talk about narrative structure: setting, character development, rising tension, conflict, climax, resolution, and the rest.  We talk about Aristotle’s elements of ethos, pathos, and logos.  We talk about the Hero’s Journey and other Joseph Campbell ideas.

These ideas are powerful elements of advocacy, negotiation, counsel, and communication in every context. I deploy them in trial, appeals, representation in mediation, negotiations, and policy advocacy. Creating good stories is an essential skill that we too often neglect in legal education.  

One my favorite experiences as a law teacher has been teaching Law and Literature. Through novels, short-stories, essays, poetry, plays, and film, the students and I examined narrative forms and elements, the structure of arguments and rhetoric, the use of literature to understand and critique the law, and the law’s presence in our cultural consciousness. My students joked that it should have been called Atticus Finch and the Law, but that’s because we were in Alabama and had a vested interest.

But like a lot of Southern lawyers, I really want to write novels, not just teach about them. Atticus is just barely fiction to me. 

After we moved to California, my wife, who constantly encourages this dreaming, pointed me toward the Writers Program at UCLA Extension. I took a course, and it reignited my hope and drive to write. I started a story in 2015 without a clear sense of its destination. That story has evolved in various iterations since then, and I have tested it in traditional markets and with a lot of generous readers. I was never quite ready to launch it into the world until recently.

I took the fiction writing course to exercise the craft that I discuss often in law school classes. The end is a novella that I am publishing this summer myself via Kindle Digital Publishing. It’s a little bit gut-wrenching to share creative writing with the world, but trying circumstances in our world have prompted me to share it.

The story began as a short-fiction exploration of one of my parental nightmares but became something bigger. It became a story of war, displacement, fear, refugee struggle, exploitation, and love. It quietly demands justice for children, girls, and women shattered by the arrogance of great powers. It looks to the anonymous lost to recover our souls in an era of gross bigotry and violence.

So, at the risk of unseemly self-promotion to my beloved clinical community, here is my novella, Haven. 

You can read it digitally or order a paperback. If you like it, I’d be grateful for a positive review at Amazon or Goodreads. If you don’t like it, I’d be grateful for your gentle, private critiques.

Thank you for reading. Our stories define us and explain us to ourselves. They may be the most powerful tool we have for justice and peace.

 

June 30, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

JOBS: Detroit Mercy: International Intellectual Property Law Clinic

Via Prof. Julia Belian

International Intellectual Property Clinic Director

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law seeks applicants for a tenured or tenure-track position to teach in and direct the International Intellectual Property Law Clinic starting with the 2020-21 academic year.

The Clinic

The International Intellectual Property Law Clinic is certified by the USPTO for both patent and trademark law and serves the burgeoning creative and entrepreneurial community in Detroit. In 2012, the USPTO chose Detroit as the location for its first satellite office because Detroit and its surrounding communities are home to one of the largest concentrations of intellectual property attorneys in the United States. Part of a growing Intellectual Property program at Detroit Mercy Law, the International Intellectual Property Law Clinic hosts the annual International Patent Drafting Competition, which is held at the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional USPTO each February. The Competition attracts teams from law schools across the United States and Canada. Detroit Mercy Law also offers an on-line Certificate in Law - Intellectual Property. This non-JD program meets the needs of professionals and organizations for knowledge of intellectual property and cybersecurity laws.

Requirements

Applicants must

Have a law degree and strong academic background.


Demonstrate either a record of or potential for both teaching excellence and high scholarly achievement.

Be either a registered patent attorney, a patent agent in good standing with the USPTO, or a licensed attorney in good standing with the highest court of any state.

Ideal candidates will also possess at least three years’ experience (within the past five years) prosecuting patent applications before the USPTO. Applicants with some experience teaching in a law clinic are preferred, and applicants who are excited about continuing to grow our Intellectual Property Law program, in addition to directing the existing Clinic, are of particular interest.

To Apply

Applicants should send a cover letter with a current CV and any additional supporting materials (or any questions) to:

Professor Julia Belian, Chair of Faculty Recruitment

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

651 East Jefferson

Detroit, Michigan 48226

(belianju@udmercy.edu, 313-596-0225)

Materials will be accepted via email or regular mail. Review of applicants will begin in July 2019 and will continue until the position is filled.

About Our Program of Legal Education

Detroit Mercy Law offers a unique curriculum that complements traditional theory- and doctrine-based course work with intensive practical learning. Students must complete at least one clinic, one upper-level writing course, one global perspectives course, and one course within our Law Firm Program, an innovative simulated law-firm practicum. Detroit Mercy Law also offers a Dual J.D. program with the University of Windsor in Canada, in which students earn both an American and a Canadian law degree in three years while gaining a comprehensive understanding of two distinct legal systems.

The Detroit Mercy Law Clinical Program is one of the oldest in the United States, having opened our doors as the Urban Law Clinic in 1965. Today, we offer eleven clinics, including the Criminal Trial Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Clinic, Housing Law Clinic, Immigration Law Clinic, Juvenile Appellate Clinic, International Intellectual Property Law Clinic, Trademark and Entrepreneurial Clinic, Veterans Appellate Clinic, and Veterans Law Clinic. Each year our clinics represent more than 1,000 clients and provide more than 20,000 hours of free legal services.

Detroit Mercy Law is located one block from the riverfront in Downtown Detroit, within walking distance of federal, state, and municipal courts, the region’s largest law firms, and major corporations such as General Motors, Quicken Loans, and Comerica Bank. The School of Law is also uniquely situated two blocks from the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, an international border crossing linking Detroit with Windsor and Canada.

Detroit offers a dynamic variety of culinary, cultural, entertainment, and sporting attractions. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO4J_PC1b5M and learn more at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/travel/detroit-michigan-downtown.html.

Michigan’s largest, most comprehensive private university, University of Detroit Mercy is an independent Catholic institution of higher education sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and Society of Jesus. The university seeks qualified candidates who will contribute to the University's urban mission, commitment to diversity, and tradition of scholarly excellence. University of Detroit Mercy is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer with a diverse faculty and student body and welcomes persons of all backgrounds.

June 25, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 3, 2019

CLEA: Social Justice in Legal Clinics: CUNY Law Clinic Explores the Intersection of Disability, Aging, Immigration, & Family Law

Cross posting from CLEA and its series on social justice work among law school clinics

 

By Julia Hernandez and Joe Rosenberg

 

Reimagining our clinical practice. After a short hiatus, CUNY Law School’s Disability & Aging Justice Clinic (a/k/a Elder Law Clinic), resumed its practice in the Fall of 2018 as an evening clinic open to both day (full time) and evening (part time) students. The clinic’s teaching team—Julia Hernandez, Joe Rosenberg, and Liz Valentin—reimagined the clinic in order to incorporate our varied expertise, recent projects, and also to respond to the current political climate in which marginalized and vulnerable communities are increasingly under attack.

 

As a result of this process, we decided to highlight our work with immigrant families, and to connect the intersections among the seemingly disparate practice areas of aging, disability, family, and immigration law in order to assist families in harnessing the law for protection and self-determination. We also intentionally used technology to facilitate and advance our work, and prepare students for  “Lawyering in the Digital Age” through the use of a paperless case management system, video conferencing, and projects to create guided interview applications.

 

Initial reading assignments at the intersection of our practice areas. To introduce the students to how we conceived of our clinical practice, we assigned several short readings (hyperlinked at the end of this post) to discuss during our first class to provide background on the following themes:

  • Race, poverty, & social justice
  • Aging, disability, guardianship, & decision making autonomy
  • Immigration, families, & guardianship of children
  • Technology, privacy, liberty, & the law 

Building on a project created to support undocumented parents. CUNY Law’s Planning with Parents (PWP) Project was created in response to the “enhanced” immigration enforcement following the November 2016 Presidential election. The PWP Project’s primary focus is on helping undocumented parents understand their rights and options for protecting family members in case the parents are detained or deported. The PWP Project works with immigrant families at risk of deportation and/or separation through several methods of engagement with local immigrant communities. The project has served as a resource for information to advocates and families through know your rights workshops, legal clinics, trainings, and limited legal representation. 

 

Goals of the project. Beyond providing a laboratory for skills development or apolitical legal services, our aim was for students to explicitly engage the political dimension of lawyering with those excluded from the dominant social structure—in this case, undocumented immigrants—and to center those politics in their work. We identified and drew upon the main goals of the PWP Project:

 

  • Arming families with knowledge. At community events and individual meetings, students developed expertise with legal tools families can use to proactively protect against deportation and to plan for minor children or differently abled family members in the event of detention or deportation.

 

  • Using advance planning tools to support family self-determination. Students counseled families and advocates on temporary care of children, designation of a guardian, New York power of attorney, and other legal forms, assisting with execution of these documents for families who chose to do so. Students used their knowledge and expertise to bring our legal clinics into the digital age: we abandoned our paper based intake and legal forms and transitioned to using digital interactive PDF documents that are populated with answers to questions. Based on this experience, students collaborated with a developer to create a guided interview application that can be used by advocates to inform clients about advance planning and create legal documents.

 

  • Representing children to stabilize immigration status.The PWP Project involved family law, lifetime planning, and immigration law. Guardianship across a broad spectrum—for minors and for adults who need support in making decisions due to mental health, cognitive, and age related issues—was a common thread of the project. With our students, this led us to represent children in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases to obtain Legal Permanent Residency and protect against deportation. This work is done in local Family Courts and with USCIS, the federal administrative body for immigration benefits.  

 

Making connections across practice areas. By situating the PWP Project in this clinic, we exposed students to the intersectional nature of legal problems politically and socially marginalized clients face and themes that bridge practice areas. We put our experience in preparing advanced planning documents traditionally used in the disability and aging context, to work for immigrant parents and their children through temporary care of children, designation of a guardian, New York power of attorney, and other legal mechanisms. We expanded our representation to immigrant minors, who needed a guardian appointed in Family Court in order to apply for permanent residence status. Students drew connections among the different systems of guardianship for children, differently-abled adults, and elders, and explored power structures at play, who the different types of guardianships benefit, and ways in which they empowered or damaged the family, both individually and collectively.  

 

Understanding the meaning and utility of law through the lens of those subject to it. One of our goals as a clinic is to help students understand clients—and their broader communities—as authoritative interpretive bodies. This bi-directional feedback helps students broadly envision different legal realities together with their clients. We facilitated this by structuring our clinic to empower and center the experience of students (our “clients”) in order to model how we wanted students to relate to their clients. Part of our motivation was to maximize the learning experience of our students—most of whom worked during the day and had to make the time for law school. We organized our clinic seminars in ways that enabled us to teach theory, doctrine, and practice primarily through individual and group supervision and highly structured student-led rounds. We hope our clinical practice will guide students as radical lawyers for social justice in whatever practice area they pursue.

 

Initial Readings Assigned for Clinic Seminar:

 

Race, poverty & social justice

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/14/william-barber-takes-on-poverty-and-race-in-the-age-of-trump

 

Aging, disability, guardianship, & decision making autonomy

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/how-the-elderly-lose-their-rights

 

(Read pp. 10-17 until Findings & Recommendations): Beyond Guardianship: Toward Alternatives that Promote Greater Self-Determination For People with Disabilities (National Council on Disability, March 22, 2018)

https://ncd.gov/publications/2018/beyond-guardianship-toward-alternatives

 

Immigration, families, & guardianship of children

 

Kaye, The Kids are Citizens. The Parents Are Undocumented. What Now? (L.A. Times, March 10, 2017)

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-kaye-mixed-status-la-families-20170310-story.html

 

When Immigrant Detention Means Losing Your Kids (NPR, December 8, 2017)

https://www.npr.org/2017/12/08/565426335/when-immigration-detention-means-losing-your-kids

 

Lovett et al., Undocumented Parents Facing Deportation Can Name a Guardian for Kids Under New Law (N.Y. Daily News, June 27, 2018)

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-immigrants-cuomo-savino-rozic-children-deportation-guardian-20180627-story.html

 

Technology, Privacy, Liberty, and the Law

What Do We Care So Much About Privacy?

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/06/18/why-do-we-care-so-much-about-privacy

 

June 3, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, May 20, 2019

You Have a Summer (Legal) Internship... Now What?

First: congrats on securing a legal internship! Just getting to this place proves your intelligence and drive. You have your foot in the door, and now is the time to do good work for your supervisor, learn about a new area of the law (while evaluating whether it’s for you), and earn a positive recommendation (or even a job)! The effort starts now.

One point you might find challenging is that you and your supervisor (not to mention your clients) may have different ideas about what working efficiently looks like—or even what the role of an intern entails. It’s always best to clarify in person if you have any concerns. Here is a list that can serve as a general guide to office etiquette and summer work. When in doubt, however, check with your supervisor.

  • Always be on time. Clarify your start and end hours a few days before you begin the internship, and leave home early to make sure you make it there— even if traffic is horrible or you spill coffee on your new dress shirt.
  • Speaking of dress shirts, dress for court on the first day unless your office has told you otherwise. Even if the office ends up being casual, it’s better to overshoot this mark than to undershoot it.
  • Always be courteous and friendly to office support staff, as well as to your supervisors and fellow interns. Administrative staff were there before you arrived and will be there after the end of your internship. Their expertise and feedback can help you have a better experience.
  • Always bring a notepad and pens to meetings with your supervisor(s), colleagues, and clients. If the matter is important enough to call a meeting about, it will be important remember what is discussed and decided—especially if it involves an assignment for you.
  • Use situational awareness and courtesy when asking a supervisor or colleague to meet with you. Are they on the phone, typing furiously, and looking stressed? Is the door closed? It’s generally a good idea to knock on the doorframe and ask, “Is now a good time?” before just walking into someone’s office. If the door is closed, email and ask to schedule a time.
  • You will often be asked to work on projects that are unfamiliar to you. When you first get an assignment, clarify as much as you can with your supervisor. Then make your best effort before you return with further questions. There is a balance here: no one wants to see you labor on your own only to find you were confused or didn’t have the information you needed to make real progress. On the other hand, you should try to find answers to your questions before running to your supervisor every five minutes. Try these resources as you begin your work:
    • Online legal research databases (search relevant key terms, statutes, court rules, and cases)
    • The office’s brief or motions bank (or the file of a similar case or project)
    • Google or Wikipedia (if only as a start)
  • Be friendly and be yourself, but also be cautious about using jokes to break the ice when you’re nervous. This is often when we make errors in judgement about what's appropriate under the circumstances. 
  • Most supervisors will not judge you for what you don’t know coming in, but coachability is key. Stay curious about how to improve. Always recognize the authority of your supervisor’s strategic and legal decisions, but don’t be afraid to ask for further feedback.
  • Be very clear about your start and end dates, any vacation time, and your daily schedule. It’s best to have this conversation in person and then to confirm in email so your supervisor can have a record to refer to.
  • Never discuss office or client matters with anyone outside the office. Even if it is positive, don’t post client news to social media without express permission from your supervisor.
  • Likewise, strictly limit your time spent on social media or your phone during work hours. Never text or scroll during work meetings-- and beware of even having your phone out during a meeting (the temptation to check is often too much for all of us).
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to join outside meetings, happy hour gatherings, and socials—especially if your supervisor suggests it. You will make contacts this summer who will become friends and colleagues for the rest of your career.
  • Keep a journal. Even if this office or area of law won’t be where you build your career, enjoy it and integrate the lessons you learn into your life of practice.
  • For far more detailed discussions of work habits, office etiquette, and internships, enroll in an Externship class at your law school.

Most of all, stay engaged and learn what you can this summer—and enjoy this time as much as you can!

May 20, 2019 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)