Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Spring Conferences

There are some incredible conferences on the horizon!  Below is some information about two from the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning.  

Don’t forget to save the date for two spring conferences: February 28, 2015, Engaging the Entire Class—Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning (see the announcement below) at UCLA; and June 13-14, 2015, Experiential Learning Across the Curriculum, at Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, WA.  The details, call for proposals, and registration information for the June conference will be forthcoming. 

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning is partnering with UCLA Law School for a Spring 2015 conference, featuring five professors from the What the Best Law Teachers Do book.  See below for conference announcement, we'll be back in touch with registration and accommodation information, and we hope to see you in sunny LA next February!

Engaging the Entire Class—Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning

Spring Conference 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

 The UCLA School of Law and the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning (ILTL) are collaborating to present a one-day conference in Los Angeles on February 28, 2015. The conference theme is:  “Engaging the Entire Class—Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning.”

Conference Structure:  The conference will include an opening and closing led by ILTL Co-Directors and Consultants, and five workshop sessions. Each workshop session will be presented by a teacher featured in What the Best Law Teachers Do. 

Conference Presenters: Workshop presenters include:

Patti Alleva (University of North Dakota)

Steve Friedland (Elon University)

Steven Homer (University of New Mexico)

Nancy Levit (University of Missouri – Kansas City)

Hiroshi Motomura (UCLA) 

By the end of the conference, participants will have concrete ideas for enhancing participation and inclusion in law school classrooms to take back to their students, colleagues, and institutions.

Registration and accommodation information forthcoming.

Looking forward to seeing all of you in UCLA and/or Spokane!


September 30, 2014 in Clinic News, Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Call for Papers: Conference on Advancing Equal Access to Justice: Barriers, Dilemmas, and Prospects

Conference on Advancing Equal Access to Justice: Barriers, Dilemmas, and Prospects

University of California Hastings College of the Law and Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford Law School

November 12-13, 2015

San Francisco, California

Conference Scope and Purpose

This conference has both scholarly and practical objectives. Its focus is on identifying and redressing inequalities and dysfunctions within the United States civil justice system, with a particular emphasis on California. We are seeking papers that enhance our empirical and conceptual understandings of the most pressing short-term and long-term challenges affecting the accessibility, availability, and quality of civil legal assistance and representation for low and middle income individuals. We are especially interested in papers that propose specific civil justice policy and practice reforms and that critically examine not only direct benefits and costs but also potential overall societal and institutional consequences. We also want to review papers that rely on empirical research and/or new conceptual insights for critiquing and improving or altering our traditional legal processes and mechanisms including but not solely limited to courts. In meeting these objectives, we invite studies and proposals from abroad and other states as well as ones now being undertaken in California. In addition to the usual participants in discussions concerning access to justice, our target audience for the conference includes judges, legislators, other public officials, bar leaders, community activists from business, labor, minority, and grassroots organizations, and interested lawyers and academic colleagues.

Conference Format

The conference will take place over 1 ½ days. There will be opening, first-day luncheon, and closing luncheon speakers. The bulk of the program will consist of panel presentations and follow-up small group discussions. In this announcement, we are inviting proposals for research papers for panel presentations.

We anticipate that there will be three sequential panel sessions: The first will focus on proposals for making lawyers available at less or no cost; the second will examine ideas for improving self-help assistance and expanding the roles of non-lawyers; and the third will address issues concerning underlying political and legal conditions implicated when seeking to reform our civil justice system and potential short-term and long-term institutional consequences were specific reforms to become operational.

Each panel will have a moderator, two paper presenters, and a commentator. The moderator will be someone who is familiar with the specific subject matter and can place the research and reforms suggested into an overall framework for thinking about equal access to justice concerns. In reviewing panel presentation submissions, we hope to have proposals that collectively utilize a range of empirical and non-empirical research methodologies. The role of the fourth member on the panel will not be to counter what has been presented but to raise additional issues and concerns to be considered during the subsequent small group discussions.

Potential Research Paper Themes

We invite proposals on topics of your own framing consistent with the conference’s general purpose. Illustrative of our more particular concerns, we set forth below several specific themes and issues grouped by proposed panel presentation session. We are not seeking to cover all these matters but rather offer them as examples of potential research topics. As noted above, we anticipate only two research paper presentations at each panel session.

A. Availability and Accessibility of Lawyers

1. Techniques and limitations regarding the encouragement and provision of pro bono and low fee counsel: E.g., mandatory pro bono reporting; conditioned early admission to the bar; post-law school incubators through various organizations including law schools; overcoming lawyer-supply/client-demand discrepancies and inefficiencies.

2. Civil Gideon and fallback measures: E.g., constitutional and statutory prospects and obstacles; quantitative and qualitative reports on the benefits, costs, and effectiveness of targeted and limited expansion of the right to civil counsel within California and from other states and abroad; perspectives and approaches for determining when having a lawyer is likely to be most efficacious for clients and how to measure the utility or value of having a lawyer.

3. Legal aid practice and funding: E.g., precariousness of governmental, foundation and charitable funding; evaluating IOLTA programs; developing new sources of funding; rethinking client criteria for receiving free legal assistance; assessing the barriers to and benefits and costs of utilizing advances in legal technology.

B. Self-Help and Non-Lawyer or Mixed Models for Providing Legal Services

1. Restructuring legal practice: E.g., authorizing for-profit, nonprofessional corporations as providers of legal services; unbundling of legal services; establishing limited licensure; revising related ethical rules, principles and values; evaluating the quality, feasibility and costs of services provided through legal insurance and by entities such as LegalZoom; critically examining assumptions regarding the insufficient availability and uneven distribution of lawyers.

2. Triaging legal services—where, when, how and for whom: E.g., developing standards for determining who gets what kind of service; measuring the impact of differentiated types of service; establishing and evaluating screening and referral mechanisms; rethinking the roles of judges and non-judicial personnel at the courthouse; drawing on lessons from the healthcare profession.

3. Improving self-help measures: E.g., examining client self-awareness of potential civil law situations; evaluating the effectiveness of online programs that provide referral or substantive information, downloadable forms, or formal documents filing; assessing developments in legal self-help publishing.

C. Underlying Structural and Consequential Institutional Implications

1. The relationship of the justice gap to inequalities of income and demographic differences: E.g., measuring the justice gap; comparing outcomes in family law or other selected subject areas taking into account the availability of counsel or the lack thereof and also income status; tracking the accessibility and quality of legal assistance by race, ethnicity, gender and geography; ethical and social implications of an existing and/or widening justice gap; redressing language, cultural and disability barriers.

2. Societal and institutional consequences of shifting away from resolving disputes in adversarial and/or public proceedings: E.g., examining the jurisprudential and political effects of such a shift presently and prospectively; comparing due process protections and equality imbalances in adversarial and inquisitorial proceedings drawing on court case studies from abroad and administrative agency examples domestically; weighing the jurisprudential and practical effects of trial judges assuming an enhanced role as legal and social services facilitators; re-conceptualizing and reconfiguring the courthouse as a place for seeking legal assistance and related services; identifying and assessing the impacts of such changes for law schools and legal education.


Individuals interested in presenting a research and/or policy reform panel session paper should submit a prospectus summary of no more than a 1000 words describing the paper’s proposed topic, themes, and research methodologies by no later than Wednesday, November 12, 2014. This summary should be sent as an email attachment to the conference organizers— Mark Aaronson aaronson@uchastings.edu, Juliet Brodie jmbrodie@law.stanford.edu, Joseph Grodin grodinj@uchastings.edu, Deborah Rhode rhode@stanford.edu, Lucy Ricca lricca@law.stanford.edu, Gail Silverstein silverst@uchastings.edu, and Nancy Stuart stuartn@uchastings.edu.

A near-final draft of the paper, for review by the conference organizers and program speakers and panel participants, will be due on Monday, October 5, 2015. Travel expenses will be paid for individuals whose papers are selected for presentation at the conference. There is also the prospect that the papers presented will be considered for publication in a symposium issue of the Hastings Law Journal or Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly.

September 29, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings, RFP | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Clinical Law Review Writers' Workshop a Success!

Flights across the U.S. were snarled on Friday due to a fire affecting O’Hare, but system-wide flight cancellations and delays could not keep nearly 100 clinical faculty members from descending on NYU School of Law yesterday for a scholarship boot camp experience, but with kinder, gentler drill sergeants.  The annual event aims to support clinical faculty at all levels in their scholarship endeavors. 

As every clinical professor knows, publishing regularly is especially challenging in light of the significant supervision and practice-related responsibilities inherent in our positions.  The Clinical Law Review Workshop was created to help support clinical faculty in overcoming those challenges in order to become and remain high quality scholars.  The workshop is organized around small, thematically-focused groups.  This year there were fifteen groups ranging in topics from business law to juvenile justice to tax law.  All participants apply to participate in the late spring and commit to complete a draft of their articles by September 1, when they exchange drafts with their group members.  They read one another’s drafts closely and then spend most of the day together offering constructive critiques, asking provoking questions, and sharing thoughtful suggestions to help take each paper to the next level.  Every group is moderated by a more senior clinical faculty member with significant publishing experience.

At the end of the day, all of the participants come together for a gloves-off  session providing tips on how to keep writing and place the papers that will soon be finished.  Kate Kruse of Hamline presented the results of a study by Robert Boice on scholarly productivity that showed that professors who wrote every single day produced four times as much scholarship as a control group who wrote in blocks of time (64 pages versus 17 pages).  Those who wrote daily AND were accountable to another person for reporting their writing time were over nine times as productive as those who wrote in blocks of time (157 pages versus 17 pages).  Michele Gilman of Baltimore reviewed the submission cycle, submission strategies, and provided links to resources such as Writing for and Publishing in Law Reviews found here and a law review template to format one’s article before submission.  She even explained the influential power and significance of the asterisk footnote and why one might consider denoting on one’s CV or professional biography when one is writing for a symposium issue.

This is my ninth year as a professor and the second time I have participated in the Clinical Law Review Workshop—first as a junior professor and now as a mid-level professor.  Both times I received feedback that fundamentally changed the scope and framing of my research and learned submission and publication tips and strategies that I believe have and will continue to make a difference in my scholarship.  I will be back.

There are few professional experiences that are as positive and invigorating as a day immersed in our national and international clinical community—participants came from Croatia, Brazil, Poland, Arizona, Wyoming, D.C., Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, and many more.  As Mary Helen McNeal of Syracuse University observed on the clinic listserv today, ours is an especially “supportive and caring community.”  The Clinical Writer’s Workshop, under the leadership of Randy Hertz of NYU, is an annual reminder that these values and attitudes are not limited to how we treat our students and clients, nor is it limited to our teaching and supervision--it is how we treat one other and our scholarship.

If you have not yet participated in the Clinical Writer’s Workshop or have not done so recently, I strongly encourage you to keep an eye out for the application information next spring.  Keep in mind that, historically, the event has been free thanks to the generosity of NYU School of Law and there have even been a limited number of scholarships available to help offset travel costs, which helps to ensure that the workshop is affordable and inclusive.    

In the meanwhile, keep writing every day, remember to create accountability for your writing time with a friend or colleague, and know that there is a large and caring community here to support you, not just with your teaching and supervision, but with your scholarship as well.

September 28, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Student Life, Relationships & the Law: Confronting Domestic Violence in Higher Education, Oct. 10 - 11, at Pepperdine University School of Law

Please join us at the Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu on October 10 -11, 2014, for Student Life, Relationships & the Law:  Confronting Domestic Violence in Higher Education, a conference to address domestic violence and intimate partner violence on college campuses.   National leaders from fields across academia will discuss legal, cultural and educational strategies to confront and reduce abuse, coercion, sexual assault and violence among students in dating violence.

You may register and learn more here.  

Colleges and universities face a critical moment of reckoning and response to violence and abuse among students. One-third of college students report having experienced violence and abuse by a dating partner. One quarter of all women in college experience sexual assault, and sixty percent of acquaintance rapes occur in dating relationships. One-third of college students report having physically assaulted a dating partner. The problems and costs of violence and abuse among dating partners are epidemic, but they are preventable. 

Panels will address campus culture, student life, policies and procedures, coordinated campus interventions, Greek and residence life, Title IX and Clery Act compliance, and intersectional dynamics across domestic violence, gender-based crimes and sexual assault. 

These are our speakers and the schedule planned for the conference: 

Friday, October 10

Welcome  - Dean Deanell Reece Tacha and Professor Jeffrey R. Baker

Panel 1: Title IX and Intimate Partner Violence on Campus

Prof. Leigh Goodmark, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, convener

Prof. Nancy Cantalupo, Georgetown University Law Center

Prof. Jill Engle, Penn State University Dickinson School of Law

Nada Moeiny, Pepperdine University,  Office of the General Counsel

Keynote Address: 

Dana Bolger,  Founding Co-Director of Know Your  IX and ED ACT NOW Campain Organizer

Panel 2: Intersectional Perspectives on Sexual and Domestic Violence on Campus

Dr. Alesha Durfee,  Arizona State University School of Social Transformation, convener

Dr. Joanne Belknap , University of Colorado, Institute of Behavioral Science, School of Sociology

Prof. Deborah Weissman, University of North Carolina School of Law

Jasmine Lester, Founder and Director, Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault

Saturday, October 11

Panel 3: Clery Act Compliance and Effects on Domestic Violence

 Prof. Margaret Drew, University of Massachusetts School of Law, convener

 Lamea Shaaban-Magana, University of Alabama, Women’s Resource Center

 Kathleen Echols, University of Alabama, Women’s Resource Center

 Allison Dearing, Campus Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator,  Crisis Center, Inc., serving University of Alabama – Birmingham, Miles College, Birmingham-Southern College and Samford University

Panel 4: Campus Culture and Coordinated Institutional Responses to Domestic  Violence

Prof. Tanya Cooper, University of Alabama School of Law, convener

Prof. Kelly Behre, University of California, Davis, School of Law                  

Prof. Yoli Redero, Vanderbilt University Law School

Alison Tartaglia, West Virginia University, The Students’ Center of Health 

September 22, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 19, 2014

JOBS: University of New Mexico School of Law

Via Prof. Camille Carey, behold this job posting from the University of New Mexico School of Law for a tenured or tenure-track position in the UNM Clinical Law Program: 

The University of New Mexico ("UNM") School of Law invites applications for a faculty position in the UNM Clinical Law Program. The Clinical Law faculty position is a full-time tenured or tenure-track position starting in Fall 2015. Entry-level and experienced teachers are encouraged to apply. The Clinical Law Program is recognized as a national leader in clinical education and is consistently ranked a top clinical education program.

UNM's nationally recognized legal education program features innovative classes that combine practical skills training with doctrinal instruction, a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and one of the most ethnically and racially diverse faculties and student bodies in the country. The University of New Mexico (UNM) provides a diversified package of benefits including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance. In addition, UNM offers educational benefits through tuition remission and dependent education programs.

Minimum Qualifications: Candidates must possess a J.D. degree or equivalent legal degree.  Preferred Qualifications: Preferred qualifications include a record of demonstrated excellence, or the promise of excellence, in teaching and academic scholarship and who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success, as well as working with broadly diverse communities.  The University of New Mexico is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and Educator.

Here is the link to apply: https://unmjobs.unm.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/frameset/Frameset.jsp?time=1410987616193

For Best Consideration:    09/29/2014   



September 19, 2014 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Position Announcements: Housing/Consumer Clinic and Legislation Clinic Directors, UDC-DCSL

The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL) is seeking applicants to direct the School of Law's Housing/Consumer Clinic and Legislation Clinic. We will be interviewing for these positions at the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference in Washington, D.C. on October 17-18, 2014. Please feel free to circulate the attached announcements widely.


UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications for an assistant/associate professor to direct and supervise students in the School of Law’s Housing/Consumer Clinic. The professor will teach clinical students D.C. tenant law, trial advocacy, and pretrial litigation. The clinic handles a wide variety of litigation matters including tenant cases, consumer cases, tort cases, discrimination cases, administrative cases, and a selection of other pedagogically valuable civil cases. Relevant experience includes a demonstrated knowledge of tenant law (D.C. preferred) and excellent skills in jury trial and civil pre-trial litigation, including civil, administrative, and appellate procedure. A demonstrated potential for outstanding clinical teaching is expected. The rank of the position will depend upon the successful applicant’s level of experience. The candidate should be a member of the D.C. Bar or be able to waive into the D.C. Bar.


UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications for an assistant/associate professor to teach in the School of Law’s Legislation Clinic. The professor will teach students the skills necessary for effective legislative advocacy and provide them with opportunities to work on projects that produce law reform through the legislative process. The rank of the position will depend upon the successful applicant’s level of experience. Candidates must hold a J.D. degree with a record of strong academic performance and excellent potential for scholarly achievement. Relevant experience and demonstrated potential for outstanding clinical teaching is expected.

The mission of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is to recruit and enroll students from groups under-represented at the bar, to provide a well-rounded theoretical and practical legal education that will enable students to be effective and ethical advocates, and to represent the legal needs of low-income District of Columbia residents through the school’s legal clinics. UDC-DCSL is one of only six American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). UDC is the nation’s only urban, public land grant university.

UDC-DCSL is ranked seventh in the nation in Law School Clinical Programs (US News and World Report, 2014); first most diverse law school in the U.S. (National Jurist, 2012); first most chosen by older students (Princeton Review, 2014); 2nd most diverse faculty (Princeton Review, 2014); third for clinical opportunities (PreLaw Magazine, 2011); eighth best environment for minority students (Princeton Review, 2014); eighth most liberal students (Princeton Review, 2014); Top 20 most innovative law school (PreLaw Magazine, 2012). UDC-DCSL has a strong commitment to diversity among its faculty and encourages applications from minorities and women.

Although we will accept applications until the position is filled, we strongly encourage interested applicants to submit applications immediately for complete consideration. Interested candidates should apply online at www.udc.edu.

Contact: Professor Andrew G. Ferguson, Co-Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20008; e-mail: aferguson@udc.edu.

September 19, 2014 in Job Opportunities & Fellowships, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scotland, the Rule of Law and the Training of Lawyers

Today, Scotland is voting for independence from the United Kingdom.   Parliament has permitted the plebiscite, and the Queen is staying neutral on the vote.   This is remarkable.   It is a testament to the Rule of Law and the advance of representative democracy that this moment rests on a vote of the people of Scotland.    Yes or No, a vote of self-determination stands in stark contrast to centuries of war between Scotland and England.  Hadrian’s Wall was a barrier between Rome and Scotland, and neither the Emperor, the Pope nor the Crown has been particular attentive to the will of the people for most of two millennia of history on their island. 

The Magna Carta was first executed in 1215, and as we approach a big anniversary, here are the people voting for independence.  The vote will count, and there is not a threat of war.   We know something about war with England, and our Declaration of Independence is a legal document setting forth grievances and claiming relief consistent with the Magna Carta, the limited sovereignty of the Crown and English common law.   The Americans were asserting their rights as British subjects, and independence was the remedy.   In 1776, the Crown did not abide by the will of the people who sought their own sovereignty.  

This moment in history is rare and beautiful, whatever the outcome.   It is adherence to the Rule of Law, not violence.   It is the shifting vicissitudes of politics and economics, manifest in a popular election that gave rise to an initiative authorized by a legislature to welcome a vote on a matter of sovereignty and national standing.   Through decades of political organizing within a constitutional system centuries in the making, a nation gets to vote on independence, without risking a war. 

Last week at our law school, we hosted a judge, lawyers and students from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.  I sat beside an English judge and mooted an appellate argument between English and American law students, and we all understood the work at hand, the law and the process of making Common Law.  We owe our traditions of the Rule of Law and representative democracy and mixed government to British lawyers, and this fascinating, historic day drives home to me the critical importance of teaching lawyers. 

Lawyers are the operatives of the Rule of Law.   We shape, manipulate, reform, advocate, organize, negotiate and criticize the law.  When we exploit our power and influence, we invite violence, vigilantism, instability, injustice and war.   When we do our work with integrity, courage and excellence, we invite trust and submission to the Rule of Law.  The expanding Rule of Law, opening a place at the table for more and more people to participate in the system, promotes peace, justice and prosperity.   Access to justice accelerates the vision of our Founders in 1776 and the Barons on Runnymede in 1215, that the people might be their own sovereigns.   This liberty exists only if the people bear the burden and opportunity of their own government.  

The Preamble of the ABA Model Rules on Professional Conduct calls lawyers “public citizens,” with an obligation to ensure the expansion of access to justice, of representation in the system that would govern them and us.    Trust in the Rule of Law, trust in our system of justice, trust in republican, representative democracy, all depend on the people’s access to justice and the political system.  

For better or worse, the burden of this trust rests on lawyers who are the expert gatekeepers and practitioners of our common, constitutional life.    Whether we prosper in peace and democracy or whether we descend into cynical, self-serving war depends on the lawyers.   Teaching and training lawyers is a high calling.  We are not training mercenaries bent on profit.  We are training public citizens upon whom the social order rests.    

September 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Professor Sarah Deer Is a MacArthur Fellow!

I admit that the one email I dread every September is the announcement of the MacArthur Fellows --nothing like feeling totally inadequate three weeks into the new school year by reading about the exceptional accomplishments of this extraordinarily creative and hardworking group of individuals.  I personally much prefer the announcement of the Darwin Awards. 

But this year when I saw the dreaded email from the MacArthur Foundation, I quickly noted that the clinical community’s own Sarah Deer has been selected!  Professor Deer is on the faculty of William Mitchell College of Law and is co-director of their Indian Law Clinic.  She is a tireless advocate who has been instrumental in developing legal protections for Native American victims of domestic violence.  A description of Professor Deer’s work can be found here.  A full list of this year’s MacArthur Fellows can be found here.  Congratulations, Professor Deer, on a truly extraordinary and well-earned distinction!        

September 16, 2014 in Clinic News, Clinic Profile, Current Affairs, Domestic Violence, Faculty Profile, Family Law, Job Opportunities & Fellowships, Promotions, Honors & Awards | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Generation U

Last week, The Economist published an article called "Generation i."  The “i” was not a capital “I”—a reference to self-centeredness, a characteristic we often assign to the next generation coming of age, both out of a reflexive stereotype, as well as with an enduring familiarity with the characteristics of late adolescence.  Rather, it was the more humble and humbling lower-case “i,” and referred to one of the most ethically confounding components of the law school curriculum today:  externships.  The Economist article referred to externship by its synonym, “internship,” (hence, the “i”) and considered the—ideally, educational and professional—experience in the context of a global trend in which internships have become widely required for entry into the most elite professions, such as law, finance, corporate management, journalism, and government. 

The Economist article highlighted that with the rise of internships expected prior to hiring, the market has also seen an increasing number of these internships being unpaid, which effectively serves to segregate poor potential interns from wealthier ones.  After all, it is far more difficult for a poor student and her family to support her for several months while she works for free.  But it gets worse.  As legal educators are well aware, many young people not only have to work for free, but they have to pay to do so in today’s market.  In the case of law school students, some will be paying $15,000 or more to work full-time in law offices off-campus over the course of one semester.  Is there a point at which this becomes exploitative?

One generation ago, in the late 1990s, I racked up approximately 3,500 hours of law practice experience between my first day of law school and my graduation day and was paid close to $100,000 in the process.  If one were to add in my field experience with human and children’s rights, my experiential hours would have approached 4,000.  Of those, only approximately 100 were earned through a law school-sponsored externship.

What did my law school do while I was off campus getting thousands of hours of legal experience?  It treated me like an adult and tried to support me with flexibility and funding.  It granted me a one-year leave to take a paid position working in an international law firm in Tokyo, let me complete my third year in another law school on the other side of the country where I clerked at the law firm where I happily spent the first eight years of my legal career, gave me two grants to support my field work in children’s rights, and allowed me to spend a January term researching child labor in Asia.  In other words, the school allowed me a significant amount of freedom to design an educational and professional experience that worked for me as an individual.  In exchange, I took my law school classes seriously, participated actively in the law school community, paid full tuition for three years, and despite the income I earned, still graduated six figures in debt with a studio apartment overlooking a parking lot and driving a 1987 Volkswagen Jetta.  But I had experience and purpose and was positioned to launch, so I was happy. 

Can we offer law students similar opportunities to individualize their legal education and professional development today?  I think we can.  The ABA’s recent decision to stop limiting law students’ ability to work more than 20 hours a week is a step in the right decision, as is the standard requiring law schools to mandate that students take more experiential courses.  But, these changes do not go far enough.  In today’s market of declining enrollment for law schools, some deans will be tempted to balance the budget on the backs of students and satisfy the experiential course requirements by offering low-quality externship opportunities. Every law school in the country must resist the temptation to allow our students to mortgage their futures with government-backed student loans in exchange for the “opportunity” to work for free off campus without substantial support from the law school.

Instead, law schools should see the new ABA standard requiring six credits of experiential coursework as an opportunity to strengthen and diversify course offerings that have long been neglected in the legal academy.  These offerings should include a variety of law practice simulation courses leading into multiple clinical practice opportunities followed by a successful externship placement or paid clerkship that could lead to a permanent job offer, such as those described in last week’s article in The Economist.  In other words, we need to ensure that our students are competitive to launch in a market very different than you and I entered one or two generations ago. 

At every stage of this learning process, law schools should ensure that experiential course offerings are high quality and well-resourced, even when they occur off campus.  When a student writes a check for thousands of dollars to a law school to work for free, the law school has a heightened moral obligation to ensure that the student has adequate support and supervision from the law school to help ensure that the experience is truly educational and professional and the student is successful.  The student should complete the semester, or at his or her least law school career, feeling that, even in a market that many of us fear is increasingly exploitative, the law school had the student’s back.  Law schools should not be seen as part of the exploitation and class stratification of “Generation i” being witnessed on a global basis. 

Instead, we should transform our approach to “Generation i” into “Generation U,” getting to know our students individually, discovering their dreams and aspirations, and then helping to design an educational and professional program that is all about them.  Sometimes that will mean providing high levels of support, other times, it will mean just getting out of their way, but always it should include high-quality choices, both academic and experiential.  In doing so, let’s ensure that internships are all about education with our students at its core—in other words, a capital “U” bringing together us, the University, and You, our students.   

September 14, 2014 in Current Affairs, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Did the Rule of Law Explode?

Yesterday domestic violence was the focus of my clinic class.  Along with several guest speakers who practice victim advocacy law,  I urged my law students to practice self-care and to anticipate vicarious traumatization in this work.  We discussed resilience, and balancing holistic lawyering with appropriate lawyer-client boundaries.  We brainstormed stress management activities ranging from running to retail therapy. 

And today I am sad.  Nearly despondent at times.  You wouldn't notice it from my professional demeanor, but I'm aching inside.  The sky looks exactly the same today as it looked that morning thirteen years ago when the world changed.  The morning the D.C. federal courthouse where I worked was evacuated and my boss and I discussed how long we could "get away with" staying in the building to finish up some pressing work.  The morning I could not reach my boyfriend to tell him I was safe, and knew in that same moment that I would marry him and help raise his children who had lost their mom three months earlier to the day. The morning I wondered what the rule of law meant if we were abandoning a federal courthouse where we could see the Pentagon burning from our office window.

Sometimes I still wonder what the rule of law means, where it takes us as a society, how it serves us.  I hope it means we get a little better about self-governing every day.  That we continue to define societal expectations about what constitues behavior punishable by criminal sanction or enforceable by civil court order. 

Twenty years ago the United States Congress passed groundbreaking federal legislation with the Violence Against Women Act.  Life and the law under the VAWA is far from perfect.  But it's better.  My students can lean on the state statute authorized by the VAWA to gain protective orders for their clients. Tomorrow, one of them will do that at a hearing in a small, beautiful state courthouse that on September 11, 2001 did not have to be evacuated.  There will be protective order hearings in my old courthouse in D.C. too.  We went back to work within a few days, and the rule of law proceeded.  As shall we.

September 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Measuring Learning Outcomes and Competencies

The new ABA accreditation standards are out, and we’ll need to start making adjustments to how we assess what our students learn.     The standards are intended to move law schools in the direction of learning outcomes, while still requiring certain inputs into the law school learning environment.  The word “competency” makes its debut in the standards (appearing three times) and the phrase “learning outcomes” debuts with ten appearances.

Most notably, according to revised standard 301(b), a “law school shall establish and publish learning outcomes.”  Revised standard 302 takes areas of law and practice in which we are currently required to “provide instruction” and mandates that we now establish learning outcomes in those areas:


A law school shall establish learning outcomes that shall, at a minimum, include competency in the following:

(a) Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law;

(b) Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context;

(c) Exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system; and

(d) Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.”

New standard 315 states that we must conduct ongoing evaluation of our learning outcomes and assessment methods:


The dean and the faculty of a law school shall conduct ongoing evaluation of the law school's program of legal education, learning outcomes, and assessment methods; and shall use the results of this evaluation to determine the degree of student attainment of competency in the learning outcomes and to make appropriate changes to improve the curriculum.

Many in the clinical community have become accustomed to evaluating and measuring student performance, so these changes present less of a sea change and more of an opportunity to re-examine and upgrade our practices.

I am lucky to work in an interprofessional context in which I can learn from my psychology and social work colleagues, whose accreditation standards have long required competency based educational models.  The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology bases its model on six measurable core competencies.  The Council on Social Work Education has identified ten core competencies which are defined as “measurable practice behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, and skills.”

While we at the Interprofessional Center have been engaged in interprofessional practice for over a decade, our assessment tools have remained focused on our individual disciplines.  Each supervisor evaluates her or his  students by discipline specific tools.  Over the past year, we have been looking to the health professions for models for identifying and assessing interprofessional collaboration competencies.  As a result, we have been learning not only from other health professions, but from each other in terms of how to assess our students’ development.  Relying very heavily on the work of others, we have modified and developed a set of Interprofessional Collaboration Competencies and are working this year to implement and measure them with our students engaged in practice.  Stay tuned for more on how we are trying to accomplish that task.

Virgil Wiebe, University of St. Thomas (MN)

September 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Why Flunking Exams is Actually a Good Thing."


Over the past year, I have been working with my undergraduate institution's Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Initiative (SoTL). Throughout this effort, I have been amazed while learning about various methdologies used among other discplines. Conversley, at times, I have been driven into the depths of despair (slight exageration) at the woefully inadequate measures of my own, and a fair amount of law school, teaching.  

I found this most recent article, passed along from SoTL, to be illuminating, and I wanted to share it with my clinical colleagues (who I am now "tagging" with the responsibility of continuing to pass the article along to other educators).  

In sum, the article is based on a recent study by Elizabeth Ligon Bjork, professor of psychology at UCLA, and postdoc research associate, Nichoals Soderstrom, who found that pre-testing students (helping them realize how much information they are lacking from the start), can be effective for improving academic performance and retention.  "Bjork’s experiment suggests that pretesting serves to prime the brain, predisposing it to absorb new information."  

It's incredible how such a seemingly simple flip can have a significant impact in the classroom....This article, along with my SoTL work, have made it very clear that I have "miles to go before I sleep..." 


The author of the New York Times article is Benedict Carey.  [On a side note, apart from reporting for the Times, Mr. Carey  also has a book coming out later this month "How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens."]

September 8, 2014 in Books, Interdisciplinary Programs, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 1, 2014

JOBS: California Western School of Law

For your Labor Day reading, a job posting, courtesy of Prof. Greg Reilly of California Western School of Law


CALIFORNIA WESTERN SCHOOL OF LAW in San Diego invites applications for an entry-level, tenure-track faculty position to begin in the fall of 2015.  Our curricular needs are in Family Law, Business Law, and Clinical Teaching.  We are particularly, though not exclusively, interested in candidates who are interested in teaching in our Clinical Internship Program, as well as in one of the above-mentioned subject areas.   Candidates who would contribute to the diversity of our faculty are strongly encouraged to apply.  Interested candidates should email their materials to Professor Scott Ehrlich, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at sbe@cwsl.edu.  California Western is San Diego’s oldest law school.  We are an independent, ABA-approved, not-for-profit law school committed to producing practice-ready lawyers.  California Western is an equal opportunity employer.

September 1, 2014 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)