Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The 2014 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education is in the books. Thank you, organizers and colleagues, for a rich, fun and useful time in Chicago.

Please help us build our community, seeking justice and good teaching. Follow the blog. Join the Clinical Law Prof group on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter: @clinicallawprof.

May everyone have safe and pleasant travels home.

April 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Service-Learning: Who is Serving Whom?

For the past two years, I have been privileged to lead a group of third and fourth-year students at my law school, The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, on an alternative Spring Break immersion trip to study immigration law and policy on the United States-Mexico border. Originally conceived in 2006 by my amazing colleague, Professor Susan Waysdorf, as a seminar and practicum to address legal and social issues in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the course has evolved over the years to include service trips to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta region, and most recently Nogales, AZ/Nogales, Sonora, MX.

UDC School of Law is unique in several ways - we are a public university and an HBCU, with a small faculty and student body. Because most of our graduates enter government, public interest, or small firm practice after graduation, our curriculum emphasizes practical skills training - the heart of which is the requirement that all UDC students complete two 7-credit Clinics before graduation. We currently have 8 in-house Clinics, and it is likely that we will add to this number in the very near future. We also recently developed a Pathways to Practice model for our curriculum, in order to better assist our students in choosing their courses with an eye toward their preferred areas of law.

The service-learning seminar and practicum is not a mandatory part of the curriculum at UDC - however, the faculty who have been involved in designing and refining the course envision it as a "capstone" experience for our students. The course is only available to graduating third and fourth-year students who have already successfully completed their required Clinics, and in order to participate, they must write an essay explaining why they want to spend their last Spring Break in this manner, and what they hope to gain from their participation. In upcoming blog posts, I am going to reflect on my experience these past two years as the leader of the Arizona-Mexico trip (along with my Immigration Clinic co-teacher and LL.M. Fellow, Emily Torstveit Ngara) and share my thoughts on the value of this type of "capstone" experiential learning experience for law students.

In this post, I want to start with what I think is the core question at the heart of service-learning: who is serving whom? Are we, the students and professors, serving the migrants we met in the shelters, the soup kitchens, and community centers in Mexico? Were we serving the people of Tucson by providing brief legal services and know-your-rights presentations? Or were the people we came in contact with during our week on the border serving us - telling us their stories, letting us into their lives and modeling for us what it means to be a parent providing for his child, an activist working to better her community, or a humanitarian leaving water in the desert so that a life might be saved?

For me, service-learning in the law school curriculum challenges us to ask: what does it really mean to live a life of service, and how can we as lawyers and teachers inculcate these values in our profession? Although I certainly don't have the answers, I will - as promised - provide reflection in future posts about what I've learned so far.

April 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS 2014: Motivating Self-Care: Moving from Good Ideas to Good Practices

At the 2014 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education, my colleague, Brittany Stringfellow Otey (also a writer for this blog), convened a panel on self-care, vicarious trauma, resilience and empathy.   Margaret Drew, soon to be of UMass, Lynette Parker of Santa Clara, and Virgil Wiebe of St. Thomas (and of this blog), joined the panel.   This is the description from the program:

Within the legal profession, and certainly within public interest communities, there is the risk of unintended sacrifice: the significant cost to attorney mental health.  Too often, the tradeoff for meaningful, justice-oriented work includes burnout, vicarious trauma/compassion fatigue, blurred boundaries and general dissatisfaction.

Despite increasing awareness, research and resources, there remains a disconnect between what we know about how to combat, preempt and heal these side effects and what we actually do in response. 

The program was rich, but one theme resonates with me as a teacher and lawyer.   Burn-out and vicarious trauma are a justice issue.   As lawyers expend themselves for their clients, especially in practices devoted to serve clients in poverty and violence, we run the risk of deteriorating capacity, clarity, strength and objectivity.   We can become less effective, then ultimately leave the practice, no longer serving the clients in need.   This adversely affects our performance, then ultimately our clients’ access to justice.  If we cannot function well, we jeopardize our competence and our capacity to provide diligent advocacy.   

These conversations are relatively new to our profession, and we lag behind social workers, nurses, and other service professions who treat resilience as a discipline.   We are too prone to tough it out, to disconnect and objectify our clients in pity, or to follow our clients into their own trauma and struggle to find a way out.

Prof. Otey used this video from Brene Brown, demonstrating the differences between sympathy and empathy, and asked us to consider our jobs from the point of view of the bear and asked how we can go into the cave and have the ability to get out again.

Prof. Parker’s article on teaching these virtues to students is Increasing Law Students' Effectiveness When Representing Traumatized Clients: A Case Study of the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, 21 GEORGETOWN IMMIGRATION LAW JOURNAL 163-199 (2007).

The presenters plan to put their materials on the conference website, but in the meantime, consider these resources that they referenced in the session:

Professional Quality of Life Elements Theory and Measurement

University of Buffalo School of Social Work Self-Care Starter Kit

The theme of the conference is Becoming a Better Clinician.   If we can be more resilient, healthier and better able to live integrated, whole and balanced lives, we can be better, stronger lawyers in the service of clients and justice.     

April 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Practicing Race Theory

Four years I ago at the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Baltimore, I first learned how to talk about race and practice critical race theory in the clinic. At their session, “The Visionary and the Skeptic: Exploring How Critical Theory and Clinical Thought and Practice Can Inform Each Other,” Ann Shalleck and Jean Koh Peters suggested four approaches to race in the clinic: 1) “Things About Race Observable in the World” (statistics and examples, see Ian Haney Lopez, Post-Racial Racism: Crime Control and Racial Stratification in the Age of Obama); 2) “Bringing to the Surface Assumptions About Race in Ourselves and in Conversations with Others” (empathetic and culturally-competent lawyering, see Megan Cottrell, Eviction is for Black Women What Incarceration is For Black Men); 3) “Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory” (basic tenets like counterstorytelling and interest convergence, see Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, CRITICAL RACE THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION); “Other Approaches Not Identified Above (unconscious discrimination, for example, see Peggy C. Davis, Law as Microaggression). And I’ll never forget how Muneer Ahmad summed up the session: “Practice Race Theory.”

Since then, talking about race has enriched my clinical teaching, law practice, and scholarship whether it is exploring disproportionate representation of racial minorities in American institutions, highlighting the enduring negative stereotypes that plague people of color, and discussing what it means to be a culturally competent lawyer. Clinical education continues to guide and help me grow in this area, and I am eager to read the chapter, Talking About Race in the forthcoming book, TRANSFORMING THE EDUCATION OF LAWYERS: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF CLINICAL PEDAGOGY, by Sue Bryant, Elliott Milstein and Ann Shalleck. If you have some suggestions on clinical methodologies and scholarship on race and critical race theory, I hope you will post a comment with those.

Practicing race theory feels especially important now. Although the debate continues over whether we live in a post-racial America and whether the Supreme Court has or has not whittled away the historical protections for minorities in voting rights and affirmative action, the fact remains that racism is still alive. Recent examples come from Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy. And today is Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 3 of the 11 states where this is observed.

The good news is that many of the civic institutions harboring racism are where clinicians already practice, and we are well poised to combat it. After all, this is our stomping ground.

April 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


At the AALS conference, I am serving as a co-leader of the working group for Community Economic Development clinicians. (Dana Malkus of SLU is my partner facilitator.)

This is a new field for me and have an ulterior motive in volunteering to lead this group in which I have little experience. At Pepperdine in the Fall, we are launching the Community Justice Clinic in which we will provide legal services for nonprofits, community and religious organizations. I told the group of 20 professors that I hoped to learn from them about this new project.

As I knew they would, our counterparts jumped to share their ideas, guidance, challenges, failures, successes and hopes. No one was proprietary, even from the schools who would be our competitors. We are working in common cause and celebrate success and collaboration.

This is an academic conference, but we are not inclined to read papers to each other but to be useful and to help each other get better. It's good lawyering and good teaching, too.

April 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Happy 20th Anniversary to Democracy in South Africa!

Twenty years ago today, the first elections were held in a free and democratic Republic of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela was elected the country’s first president.  For many of us in the clinical community, ending the incredibly racist and violent apartheid regime was our first endeavor into seeking global justice, and was undertaken in our formative years.  Although our individual efforts seem relatively immaterial, history documents that the international economic and political pressures imposed on the apartheid government played a decisive role in ending a regime that was built on the oppression, exploitation, and political and economic exclusion of others.  Our witness of the ability of humanity to work together on a global basis to end apartheid in South Africa inspired many  of us to make optimistic lifelong commitments to work towards global justice and to teach others to do the same.  “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela taught us.  Today, we have the honor of witnessing and supporting so many teachers in the clinical community and beyond who continue to heed the lessons we learned from Nelson Mandela.  These heroes of law and democracy use education every day to promote justice and the rule of law, and to end oppression, exclusion, and exploitation all around the world.  Happy 20th Anniversary to the Republic of South Africa, and to everyone everywhere who supports and promotes freedom and democracy!      

April 27, 2014 in Community Organizing, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Off-Menu Clinical Conferencing

AALS Clinic Conference 2014   Chicago, IL

There are so many wonderful events and meetings at the Clincial Conference over the next few days; it can be difficult to keep track of it all!

Below please find a list of events shared via email but not necessarily listed on the official schedule.  Apologies if any were unintentionally overlooked. Please feel free to leave additional event notes in the comments.

Learn, share, and most importantly - enjoy this time together


Sunday, April 27th

5:15 PM     Southern Clinical Conference Planning Meeting

Palmer House Lobby

7:30 PM    Externship Social Dinner

Park Grill 11 N. Michigan Ave.

Monday, April 28th

7:30 AM    Externship Business Breakfast Meeting

Notre Dame Law  224 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 250 Mezzanine

7:15 PM     CLEA New Board Member Training

Notre Dame Law, 224 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 250 Mezzanine

7:45 PM     CLEA Board Meeting

Notre Dame Law, 224 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 250 Mezzanine

Tuesday, April 29th

5:15 PM       CLEA Membership Meeting

Salon 3, located on the 3rd Floor of the Palmer House  

5:15 PM       Veterans’ Clinic Interest Group

Potter’s Bar at the Lobby Level of the Palmer House Hilton

Wednesday, April 30th

12:00  PM    AALS Town Hall Luncheon (Includes CLEA Awards Ceremony)






April 27, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Clinical Law Prof bloggers at the 2014 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education

This week is the 2014 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Chicago.   The theme of the conference is Building Better Clinicians.   The conference is in three tracks:  Learning Theory and Pedagogy, Law School Curriculum and Reform, and Community Engagement and Mindfulness. 

Several of our writers are on the menu:

Brittany Stringfellow Otey has convened a panel, including Virgil Wiebe, Motivating Self-Care: Moving from Good Ideas to Good Practices, meeting at 2:15 on Monday (also with Margaret Drew and Lynette Parker). 

Carrie Hagan is a panelist at a concurrent session, Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?: Balancing The Interests of Clients, Courts and Community Agencies, also at 2:15 on Monday (with Stephanie Boys, Lauren Choate and Susan Woods McGraugh).

Inga Laurent is a panelist on mindfulness session, Engaging Field Placement Attorneys: Building a Community of Mindful Supervisors, at 9:00 on Tuesday (with Rebecca Rosenfeld, Sue Schechter and Cynthia Wilson).

D'lorah Hughes is competing at the same time with her concurrent session, More than Mindful in the Face of a Constitutional Crisis: The Case Student of Juvenile Life Without Parole and Post-Miller Implementation Work (with Emily Hughes, Mae Quinn, Mollie Stemper and Kimberly Thomas).

Robert Lancaster is moderating a mini-plenary on Tuesday at 10:45 on Curricular Reform - Preserving the Integrity of Experiential Learning (with Roberto Corrada, Janet Thompson Jackson and Reena Elizabeth Parambath).  

Danny and our new addition, Kendall Kerew, are leading a concurrent session Tuesday at 3:45 on Educating Money (and Other Motivators): Teaching Social Justice and Life Balance to Future For-Profit Attorneys (with Alex Scherr).

Kelly Olson and Kelly Terry are in a concurrent session on Wednesday at 2:00 on Creating, Adapting and Assessing Clinical Experiences (with Leigh Goodmark and Jaime Lee).  

Tanya Cooper is presenting a work-in-progress at 9:00 on Tuesday, Stories of Bias in American Foster Care. 

Danny Schaffzin, being very productive, is also participating in a work-in-progess then, with other co-authors of Building on Best Practices: Legal Education in a Changing World. 

Jill Engle is presenting a work-in-progress at 3:45 on Tuesday, Teenage Domestic Violence: A Study of the Problem in Central Pennsylvania and the Community and Legal Responses. 

Three of us are helping to lead working groups.  Kelly Terry is co-facilitating the working group on Externships (with Carrie Kass).   Virgil Wiebe is a co-leader of the Immigration group (with Uzoamaka Nzelibe), and I am a co-leader of the group on Community Economic Development (with Dana Malkus).

April 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Vicarious Resiliency

I recently wrote how the word “Vicarious” provides insight into our roles as clinicians.  I was rooting around into the word’s origins because I was reading about “vicarious resiliency.”  Pilar Hernandez, David Engstrom, and David Gangsei have conducted qualitative research with therapists who have worked extensively with survivors of intense trauma.  They found vicarious resiliency as the flipside of secondary trauma and its close companions, burnout and compassion fatigue: 

The concept of vicarious resilience describes and explains how trauma therapists may strengthen their own well-being by appreciating and incorporating what they learn from their clients’ healing processes. [Hernandez, et. al, 2010, 68].

The therapists they interviewed identified three common reactions or observations: first, that human beings have “an immense capacity to heal;” second, that the therapists reassessed their own problems in the light of the suffering of others; and third, the powerful role of spirituality and religion as a source of rejuvenation and healing. [Hernandez, et. al, 2007, 234]. 

In addition to strength based resiliency, the researchers identified two related phenomena amongst some clients: Posttraumatic Growth (“positive changes that go beyond adjustment in spite of adversity” concurrent with distress and struggle) and Altruism Born of Suffering (“processes by which individuals move from survivorship to an activist quest to help others.”)[Hernandez, et. al, 2010, 70-71].   

After over 25 years of working with refugees and asylees as an attorney, reading this research clicked for me.  While certainly not true for every client, there are individuals who grow and give while nevertheless suffering the effects of trauma.  In a recent article in our law school magazine, we featured Harriet Oyera.  Among a range of tribulations, Harriet survived torture at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, a group that also killed her husband.  After she fled Uganda and was granted asylum, she shared with me she wanted to tell her story more broadly, but not until she had gotten her children to the US. 

A woman of deep faith, she has encouraged many people, not the least those professionals working to assist her – law students, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, physical therapists.  , she exemplified Altruism Born of Suffering:

It’s a part of life to suffer, but it’s also a part of life to give.  We need to support one another in times of pain. Every human being counts and matters and contributes to building community and building the development of a space.

Since arriving in the US, Harriet has started a community garden in a troubled neighborhood, become involved in the community supported agriculture movement, and led a quilting circle for other survivors of torture.  She raised her children while living thousands of miles away from them.  While her biological children have arrived in the US, she continues to support adoptive children still living in Uganda.  And she often just calls the office to give us an encouraging word.

In a subsequent blog, I hope to share how I’m trying to translate the concept of vicarious resiliency into clinical supervision. Stay tuned.


Pilar Hernandez, David Gangsei, & David Engstrom, Vicarious Resilience: A New Concept in Work with Those Who Survive Trauma, 46 Family Process 229-241 (2007).

Pilar Hernandez, David Engstrom, & David Gangsei, Exploring the Impact of Trauma on Therapists: Vicarious Resiliency and Related Concepts in Training, 29 J. Systemic Therapies 67-83 (2010).

David Gangsei, Vicarious Trauma, Vicarious Resilience and Self-Care, undated.


April 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mark Aaronson: Representing the Poor: Legal Advocacy & Welfare Reform During Reagan's Gubernatorial Years

Prof. Mark Aaronson has just published his e-book, REPRESENTING THE POOR: LEGAL ADVOCACY AND WELFARE REFORM DURING REAGAN'S GUBERNATORIAL YEARS, at Amazon, Nook and other online sites. 

From Mark's announcement: 

The narrative tells the story of how Ralph Abascal and other legal services lawyers in the 1970s countered and stymied Reagan’s regressive welfare reform efforts in California.  Ralph, who died in 1997, was the husband of our esteemed colleague Bea Moulton, one of the founders of contemporary clinical legal education.  Analytically, I focus on ideas about the dynamics of democratic representation and underscore the importance in group legal advocacy of three lawyering process values—accessibility, responsiveness, and practical judgment.  The book includes in an appendix the transcript of an interview with Ronald Reagan, which I conducted in 1975 shortly after the end of his governorship.

 These are links to the book:

Amazon for Kindle

Barnes & Noble for Nook

Google for Google Play

At Smashwords in ePub and Sony ebook formats

At Apple iTunes and iBooks bookstores, direct on iPad and iPhone, available April 29.

On a personal note, I am ever grateful to Mark for his early guidance to me and advocacy for me when I was a rookie clinical professor.   He reviewed my program early at Faulkner University Jones School of Law on an ABA site visit, and he used the moment to encourage, to teach, to advocate and to champion our program.  He made us stronger, and I began to recognize then how valuable and rich is our clinical community.  Without regard to ranking or status, experience or notoriety, he was unfailing generous and wise and modeled for this young professor how to do this work well.   Cheers, Mark, and congratulations on the book.  

April 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mr. Vernon

Sometimes a client becomes a friend.  In the Elder Law Clinic at Faulkner University Jones School of Law, John Craft and I had a client who taught us about living fully. 

This winter, my friend, Mr. Vernon, passed away. He was in his mid-90s and died in obscurity, yet he was a remarkable person who lived with abundance and never stopped reading, asking questions, wondering and seeking. He was a cab driver for 35 years in D.C. after his family moved from Alabama during the Great Migration. He married a white woman when it was illegal in the South. He did some time. He traveled the world. He saw Jackie Robinson steal home. He read voraciously and collected several thousand jazz and classical albums, and his tiny apartment looked like a library. He gave John and me self-bound copies of his favorite sayings and proverbs. He was writing his memoirs on a typewriter and gave me photocopies of poems he wanted me to read. I am looking across my office at the books he gave me, including one on Switzerland’s successful neutrality in World War II which fascinated him.

Since 2007 he told me he was ready to die and felt it coming. He was an oldest brother who outlived all his siblings. Standing outside in the sun one day years ago, he told me his bags were packed but the train was late.

On January 8, 2014, he caught his train.  His lawyers were his last best friends, and these lawyers will never forget a most extraordinary client. 

April 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professor Jon Dubin Receives the 2014 CLEA Award for Outstanding Advocate for Clinical Teachers

Congratulations to Rutgers-Newark School of Law Professor Jon Dubin, who this week was named as the recipient of the 2014 CLEA Award for Outstanding Advocate for Clinical Teachers.  In an announcement to the LawClinic listserv, Professor Perry Moriearty, co-chair of the CLEA Awards Committee, detailed some of Professor Dubin’s incredible work: 

Jon Dubin has been at Rutgers-Newark since July 1999. Jon was appointed as the law school's first overall Clinic Director in 2002 and Associate Dean in 2010. In addition to teaching in the Civil Justice Clinic, he teaches Administrative Law and Poverty Law. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Jon was on the faculty at St. Mary's University School of Law. From, 1990 to 1994, he was Associate Professor of Lawand Director of its Civil Justice Clinic, and from 1994 to 1999, he held the position of Professor of Law and Coordinator of Clinical Programs.


Jon's commitment to clinical legal education has been ever-present throughout his teaching career. Jon has served on nearly every national organization involved with the development and advancement of clinical legal education. He also has been involved with the Clinical Law Review, having served on its Board of Editors from 1997 to 2003, and as the clinician on several ABA Accreditation Review Site Inspection Teams. Further, Jon is a frequent presenter at AALS conferences, and has not only been involved in presentations, but he also has been invited to be on several planning committees.


At Rutgers Jon has been the leader in all of the positive changes for clinical faculty in terms of governance, status, and clinical tenure. In his scholarship, Jon has both championed clinical education and developed poverty law doctrine that protects and promotes the rights of clients served by law school clinics. His scholarship includes Clinical Education for This Millennium: The Third Wave (Ayumi Miche Kodama & Eri Osaka trans. 2005), two chapters in "You Can Tell It to the Judge" and other True Tales of Law School Lawyering (F. Askin ed. Vandeplas Publishing, 2009), The Rutgers Cases and the State of the Law of State Law School Clinical Programs, 65 Rutgers L. Rev. 817 (2013); Faculty Diversity as a Clinical Legal Education Imperative, 51 Hastings L.J. 445 (2000); Clinical Design for Social Justice Imperatives, 55 S.M.U. L. Rev. 1461 (1998), and Legal Education "Best Practices" Report, United States (Public Interest Law Institute, August, 2010) (co-authored with Margaret M. Barry & Peter A. Joy). He has received numerous awards for his scholarship.


Jon's commitment to underserved communities has been recognized by several notable and honorable awards that Jon has recently received. In 2014, he was awarded the 2014 National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives' Eileen W. Sweeney Award for advancing the quality andavailability of advocacy for disability claimants and improving the adjudicatory process. In 2010, he received the Oliver Randolph Award for Civil Rights Advocacy by the Garden State Bar Association. And in 2007, he was the recipient of the Stanley Van Ness Leadership Award for Career Contributions to Public Interest Law by New Jersey Appleseed and the New Jersey Public Interest Law Center.


The CLEA Award recognizes Jon's contributions to, and tireless advocacy on behalf of, the clinical community.

CLEA will present the Outstanding Advocate for Clinical Teachers Award to Professor Dubin during the town hall luncheon at the AALS Clinical Conference in Chicago on Wednesday, April 30th.

On behalf of the Clinical Law Prof Blog, thank you, Professor Dubin, for your continued outstanding work!

April 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Charlotte School of Law's Civil Rights Clinic Wins 2014 CLEA Award for Excellence in Public Interest Case or Project

Congratulations to Charlotte School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic, which this week was named as the recipient of the 2014 CLEA Award for Excellence in Public Interest Case or Project for its remarkable “Ban the Box" Campaign.  In sharing news of the Award with the LawClinic listserv, CLEA Awards Committee co-chair, Professor Perry Moriearty, detailed the success of the “Ban the Box” initiative:

After more than four years of persistent and intense legal advocacy, the Charlotte School of Law Civil Rights Clinic persuaded Charlotte, North Carolina, to eliminate the "Box" which requires job applicants to reveal any past criminal convictions before being considered for a municipal job. Over the course of the Ban the Box campaign, which began in the 2009 fall semester, Clinic student attorneys organized stakeholders, drafted a model ordinance, and recruited a council member to introduce the model "Banning the Box" ordinance to the City Council which finally occurred on February 27, 2013. Prior to this meeting, Clinic students worked tirelessly with local organizers to pack the city council building, resulting in a 6-5 vote sending the ordinance to committee. (Here is a link to a story with some pictures of the council meeting:


But there, Ban the Box lost momentum and the Clinic's council allies informed them that the votes did not exist to get the proposed ordinance out of committee. Undeterred, the students changed strategies and approached the newly hired City Manager who met with them and other campaign participants on November 26, 2013. Shortly after that meeting, he directed their human resources department to eliminate the box on all job applications with the exception of positions that have public safety or statutory requirements. (Here is a link to the story about the decision:

Building on this success, the Clinic is taking Ban the Box on the road to other North Carolina municipalities and venturing into the private sector as well. Nine generations of law students have participated in this effort under the supervision of Professor Jason Huber.

CLEA will present the Award for Excellence in Public Interest Case or Project to the Charlotte School of Law Civil Rights Clinic during the town hall luncheon at the AALS Clinical Conference in Chicago on Wednesday, April 30th.

On behalf of the Clinical Law Prof Blog, congratulations to Professor Huber and his students!

April 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Op-Ed on Paroline v. U.S.

Here is an op-ed I wrote for Gannett on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Paroline vs. U.S.:  The battle to help restore victims of child pornography will now shift to Capitol Hill.  There is a critical role for law school clinics to play and I hope that you will consider joining the effort. 

April 25, 2014 in Children, Clinic Victories, Current Affairs, Domestic Violence, Family Law, Juvenile Justice, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Windy City Attractions and Amusement, or Chicago Good Stuff

In preparation for the 2014 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Chicago, I am happy to bump this post by Kelly Olson to the blog from the Facebook group.   Enjoy!   (Also, there can not be too much cheese.) 


I appreciate Jeff asking me to participate in the Clinical Professor's Blog. My first post is a list of Chicago Good Stuff for clinical law profs and their families headed to the AALS clinical conference in Chicago.

While I am not a current Chicagoan, I am a former resident and I am frequently asked for a list of what to do when friends head there. I also polled friends for their current favorite restaurants. I hope others will respond with more ideas or corrections.

Please don't take the following as an exhaustive list or as excuses to miss the excellent programming at the conference, just as ideas for when the conference isn't in session.

The Palmer House is surrounded by Chicago treasures. You are within blocks of wonderful art, history and outdoor space. The big steel Cloud Gate (known to locals as the Bean) is in Millennium Park. Beyond the Bean there is lots of green space all the way through to Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. The Art Institute of Chicago is on South Michigan on the edge of the parks. If you don't have time to explore it all, you can see copies of almost all the art by strolling through the gift shop (there is a second shop in the contemporary wing that focuses on the contemporary art). The gift shops are also a great place to find gifts for the people you left at home.On the lake front there are world class museums including the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Chicago’s museums beyond the Loop are also excellent. On the south side by bus or cab is the Museum of Science and Industry, with its famous U-505 submarine and coal mine. The Museum of African American History and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, devoted to the history of the ancient Middle East, or tour the Robie House down by the University of Chicago (Frank Lloyd Wright 1909). Or head south and west by cab or L train (subway) to the Pilsen neighborhood, a predominantly Latino area that is home to another world-class museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art.

It looks like it hasn’t warmed up as much as we might like, so bring a jacket and walk along Michigan Ave., the lake or to Navy Pier. Take in a show at The Auditorium or the Chicago Theater. Just north of downtown via an easy bus or cab ride are the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is free every day of the year and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where the butterflies land on your shoulders for pictures. Or take the red line L train to Addison to see Wrigley Field and walk around the ivy covered walls. You can't catch a Cubs game because they aren't in town next week but the neighborhood is still fun. There is also a group headed to the south side to see the White Sox on Tuesday night.

I always recommend Chicago river tours, day or night. Several tour companies have great architectural tours on the history of Chicago including all the different stages of its development.

For a fancy dinner with a view, head to the "Signature Room" Restaurant on the 95th floor of the Hancock Tower. Tip the head waiter and ask for a table at the west windows or south windows. If you don’t want dinner, have a drink at the bar and ladies, use the restroom to see great views of the city. Another traditional place in the city is the Berghoff Bar and Restaurant. They have traditional German food and lots of Chicago history. Greek town is near West of downtown. Go have some flaming cheese. Or stick close to Michigan Ave. and have the servers at the Billy Goat Tavern yell your orders at you or experience Chicago sports history through hundreds of photos at Harry Carry's Restaurant.

The Shopping on North Michigan Ave. or State St. is great, there are too many stores to mention. Marshall Fields is two blocks from the hotel. It's a great store for shopping, lunch, Frango mints and people watching. Some people have accepted change better than I have and call it Macy's. There are many excellent stores and restaurants on Michigan Ave. including a favorite of mine, La Colonial.

Pizza, hot dogs,and Italian beef are the food staples. There are lots of Chicago pizza places and even more opinions about which ones you should go to. Lou Malnati's on State (Gold Coast)has authentic Chicago style pizza that has been around for ages. Others prefer Giordano's or Gino's East. My favorite pizza is a little differ. It is the Chicago Pizza Oven Grindery at 2121 N. Clark, but don't go there because I don't want to wait behind you in line. Whoever you get your dog, remember Chicago style is piled with relish, pickle spears, onions, mustard and more. Absolutely no ketchup on your hot dogs. Mr. Beef or Al’s Beef are favorites for beef with or without peppers.

There are lots of places for other food that doesn't involve as much meat or cheese. Here's a list of some highlights, their neighborhoods and a little about them. 3 dots & a dash (River North) new lettuce entertain you; great bar cocktails & good food, too.Avec (West Loop) a little priceyBellyQ (West loop) (Asian bbq - collaboration with Michael Jordan - cool space design & great reviews)Deca (Gold Coast) (close to them - the dec rooftop bar is fun if it's warm enough, also good brunch)Frontera Grill (River North) Rick BaylessGilt Bar (River North) (good cocktails, fresh menu - a little pricey)Girl & the Goat or Little Goat Diner - Stephanie IzardGT Fish & Oyster (River North) (seafood, brunch Sat & Sun - pricey)Jaipur (West Loop) (Indian food - supposed to be great)The Publican (West Loop) - Great food to shareSlurping Turtle (River North) - (Japanese comfort food, good ambiance & fun)All of these have good drinks & food and are fun Chicago experiences. Again, this isn't an exhaustive list, just some ways to have fun beyond the conference.

Have a great time in Chicago.


April 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Bruce Green in the New York Law Journal: Experiential Learning: Practice Makes Perfect

Prof. Bruce Green published "Experiential Learning: Practice Makes Perfect" in the New York Law Journal, April 21, 2014, including descriptions of programs at Fordham, Cardozo, NYLS and NYU.

An excerpt:

Extensive thought and planning go into law schools' experiential offerings to ensure that they provide more than just on-the-job training. Clinical professors give students much more supervision, feedback and critique than new lawyers receive in actual practice because clinics expressly aim to use legal work as a focal point for learning. Clinical and other experiential courses typically adopt an ambitious educational agenda. A 2007 guide to best practices for law teaching identified the primary objectives of experiential courses to be helping students adjust to their roles as professionals, helping students become better legal problem-solvers, helping students develop interpersonal and professional skills, and helping students learn how to learn from experience.

April 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pepperdine and the New California Bar Rules

Last week at Pepperdine, in advance of the new admissions rules for the California bar, at the urging of our dean, the faculty approved new graduation requirements of 50 hours of pro bono work for students and 15 units of “practice-based, experiential course work.”   These will be in effect for the incoming class of 2017. 

These requirements track the new California bar rules for admission.  The California State Bar’s Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform (TFARR) has established working groups to work out the definitions and procedures for implementing the new rules.   There is more here. 

The Task Force plans to work until September 2014 before issuing final rules.   This is the text of the pertinent rules from the site:

Pre-admission: A competency training requirement fulfilled prior to admission to practice. There would be two routes for fulfillment of this pre-admission competency training requirement: (a) at any time in law school, a candidate for admission must have taken at least 15 units of practice-based, experiential course work that is designed to develop law practice competencies, and (b) in lieu of some or all of the 15 units of practice-based, experiential course work, a candidate for admission may opt to participate in a Bar-approved externship, clerkship or apprenticeship at any time during or following completion of law school;

Pre-admission or post-admission: An additional competency training requirement, fulfilled either at the pre- or post- admission stage, where 50 hours of legal services is specifically devoted to pro bono or modest means clients. Credit towards those hours would be available for “in-the-field” experience under the supervision and guidance of a licensed practitioner or a judicial officer. . . .

These are some of the outstanding issues for the implementation committees:

What does “pro bono” include?  Will the rule limit pro bono to traditional legal services placements?  Will the Bar track ABA Model Rule 6.1?   Will be it broader or more narrow?   Will it track New York’s rule that includes judicial externships, district attorneys and governmental law offices?  

Will students be able to earn “dual credit” by taking a clinic or similar course that offers “practice-based, experiential course work” and pro bono services simultaneously?  

Who will certify whether a course is practice-based and experiential?  Will the Bar approve specific offerings or defer to law schools to determine which courses qualify?  

Should a portion of the 15 units include clinics or externships?  For instance, the committee is considering whether to require that 3 or 4 of the 15 units be in-house clinics or field placements.  

Can substantive, doctrinal classes carve out a portion of the traditional podium course to include experiential components that can count toward the 15 units?   For instance, could a contracts class provide .5 units toward the requirement by including a simulated drafting or negotiation component?  

Can students satisfy all or part of the apprenticeship option during traditional summer work, and, if so, how will law schools be involved in the quality control and certification of compliance? 

In future posts, I will describe the competing positions, my preferences and make some predictions. 

April 25, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Great Debate: Externships for Credit and Pay (ABA proposal for elimination of Interpretation 305-3).

As an Externship Program Director and co-chair of the AALS Section on Externships, I have been deeply entrenched in the proposed elimination of Interpretation 305-3 for quite some time now.  My primary reason for posting this is to provide information about why I (and many of my clinical colleagues) support keeping the interpretation. 

The main supporters of the interpretation’s elimination are students who will be graduating with vast amounts of loan debt.  Of course, there are students and clinicians on both sides of the issue; however, if you read through the ABA's notice and comment website, you will find that all of the student remarks support elimination while nearly all the clinical and community partner organizations’ comments support upholding the Interpretation.


The primary benefit of an externship should be to the student and not to the placement (employer).  There may be some employers who would be willing to build this benefit into an employee contract, but I suspect that most cannot or will not.  Without the leverage of a contract that requires the employer to put their rights subservient to the students’ learning objectives, the pedagogical value of externships would be severely undermined.  This is one of the main concerns of those who oppose elimination of the prohibition. 

To read more about this concern and several others, please see CLEA’s Statement.  

To read more about my personal concerns, please see my statement to the ABA.

Middle Ground? 

One possible way to alleviate some of the tensions that exist would be clarification of the Interpretation’s final sentence: “This Interpretation does not preclude reimbursement of out-of-pocket reasonable expenses related to field placements.”  On the externship listserv, we often field questions about what constitutes "reasonable expenses.”  Some externship directors construe this broadly while others construe the expenses that can be recouped narrowly.   If the ABA provided some additional guidance that enabled us to construe this broadly, students could benefit from grants or other stipends offered to offset the costs.  If grants and stipends are external and not directly connected to compensation for work product, the money would not compromise the relationship in the same way as a salary.

Final Thoughts

Reasonable minds can disagree.  I am certainly empathetic about the law student experience of today; I have read their comments and discussed this issue with my ABA student representatives.  My colleagues and I have given much consideration to their position.  I only ask that law students and the Council do the same.  We have the collective experiences of many externship directors, who have done this work for decades.  We too, have the value of the student experience at heart; we just have a different interpretation of the word "value." 


April 25, 2014 in ABA Standards | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

As a follow up to my blog post on Monday, "Do Women Professors Underperform" (, I wanted to share a tweet I caught late last night from Karen Shook (@TimesHigherArts), the books editor for Times Higher Education: "I receive many confident emails from scholars recommending I cover their books. Some are novices, some are eminent. Almost none are women." Apparently, not only do we write and cite ourselves less, we also do not ask for reviewers to read our scholarly works. If we are uncomfortable because we view these acts as crass self promotion, I suggest that we form circles of support that include both men and women from within and outside our institutions and ask them to read our works and, if they like them, share and promote them with others. We know that women are generally better received when other people promote our work than when we promote our own, so as you are preparing for your summer writing, ask yourself, "Who comprises my circle of supporters?" If you don't have one, start building one. Just as importantly, ask yourself, "Whom can I support and promote?" And then build time into your schedule to do just that.

April 24, 2014 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law as Vocation

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a vocation as "a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work." This definition of vocation implies a calling to a particular field of work, a devotion to a cause or occupation that is more than just a job - a vocation is something that is, by definition, imbued with meaning and a higher purpose.

I have always thought of my career in law in its various incarnations as a vocation. As a lawyer, counselor, activist, and teacher, the connection between my daily work and what I see as one of the main purposes of my life (the pursuit of social justice) has been rich. But like anything else, the law is a tool that can be used to accomplish various ends - or, as Charles Hamilton Houston famously reflected, "A lawyer is a either a social engineer or a parasite on society."

One of the reasons I wanted to not just become a law professor, but to become a clinician specifically, is because of my view of law as a vocation. It seems to me that our society, rightly or not, presents the "parasite" model of lawyering much more prominently than the "social engineer" model. While both models of lawyering are extreme, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, I think this false dichotomy of what it means to be a lawyer causes us to lose something much more subtle and valuable - the notion that law is an honorable profession, and that lawyering can and should be more than just a job.

I am also aware of the temptation in our society to both romanticize (John Grisham) and sensationalize (Law and Order) the practice of law. My reflection of law as vocation is meant to get at something a bit different. At its core, law is a healing profession. If law is a vocation, lawyers are not merely hired guns - we are problem solvers. Lawyers are counselors and advocates - we stand by and walk with our clients not just because the rules of professional conduct require us to, but because our vocation calls us to do so. This is what I have learned from my teachers, colleagues, and students over the course of my career, and is ultimately part of the vision of lawyering and legal education that I hope to contribute to.

April 24, 2014 in Clinic Students and Graduates, Community Organizing, Current Affairs, Religion, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)