Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The LA Times just reported that The US Supreme Court has denied stay to Warren Lee Hill. "A man with the emotional and cognitive ability of a young boy," according to Brian S. Kammer, Mr. Hill's attorney.
If you aren't aware of this case, here are a few quick links to bring you up to speed:
For an external perspective, see these pieces from the UK (a country who seems to be providing more coverage than our own):
My head and heart hurt, and I am so very exhausted from the many battles we have been fighting these days on issues surrounding #Blacklivesmatter. I suppose this is just one more horrific story to add to that growing list. So for now, I have little to say except this...I am making a commitment to my clinical colleagues to talk about this with the faculty, staff and students here at Gonzaga and in my community.
Despite the wrongs you may have committed, your life matters Warren Lee Hill.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Experiential Learning Across The Curriculum
Call for Presentation Proposals
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law teachers are incorporating experiential learning in all types of courses. With the rising demands for legal-education reform and "practice-ready" lawyers, this topic has taken on increased urgency in recent years. The Institute takes a broad view of experiential education, encompassing learning that integrates legal theory and knowledge, practice skills, and guided reflection, with the goal of teaching students how to learn from experience. Accordingly, we welcome proposals for workshops on incorporating experiential learning in doctrinal, clinical, externship, writing, seminar, hybrid, and interdisciplinary courses.
The Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. The workshops can address experiential learning in first-year courses, upper-level courses, required courses, electives, or academic support teaching. The workshops can present innovative teaching materials, course designs, curricular or program designs, etc. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice in designing their presentations to be interactive.
To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:
- The title of the workshop;
- The name, address, phone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
- A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods.
The Institute must receive proposals by February 1, 2015.
Submit proposals via e-mail to:
Associate Dean Sandra Simpson
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning
For more information, please contact:
Associate Dean Sandra Simpson
Professor Emily Grant
Professor Kelly Terry
The conference workshops will take place on Saturday, June 13, and until the early afternoon on Sunday, June 14 at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga is hosting a welcome reception on the evening of June 12, 2015, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barrister Winery, located in the downtown area.
The conference is self-supporting. The conference fee for participants is $450, which includes materials, meals during the conference (two breakfasts and two lunches), and a welcome reception on Friday evening, June 12, 2015. The conference fee for presenters is $350.
Friday, January 16, 2015
The Los Angeles Incubator Consortium Program, a collaborative project among Pepperdine, Southwestern and UCLA and others, is seeking applications for a part-time Attorney Development Director.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Via a note from Co-Presidents, Profs. Janet Thompson Jackson and Mary A. Lynch, CLEA has filed an amicus brief in the case of Rogers v. McDonald in the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The case involves a successful claim by Harvard's Veterans Clinic and the VA's refusal to pay attorneys fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
From the introduction:
A federal judge once said, “[W]hen all else fails . . . , consult the statute.” Here, the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”) is clear. Under the terms of the statute, Mr. Rogers is the prevailing party, the government’s position was not substantially justified, and there are no special circumstances that make an award unjust. The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) does not dispute any of these points. Therefore, the plain language of the statute dictates that the “court shall award . . . fees and other expenses.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A).
VA fails to identify any statutory text modifying this clear directive or otherwise supporting its position that the EAJA does not authorize recovery for work performed by law students in law school clinics. Instead, VA relies on misapplied law and misplaced policy in proposing a bar on EAJA awards that would decrease access to legal counsel, disincentivize work done by law school clinics, and diminish law students’ ability to serve unrepresented citizens. . . .
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Conference: Engaging the Entire Class: Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning
Engaging the Entire Class - Strategies for Enhancing Participation and Inclusion in Law School Classroom Learning
From the website:
The UCLA School of Law and the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning (ILTL) present a one day teaching workshop conference in which all law faculty (full-time and part-time) can learn more about developing techniques for engaging diverse and distracted law students. Each workshop session will be presented by a teacher featured in the recent Harvard University Press book, What the Best Law Teachers Do.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
On January 1, 2015, there was one fewer law school clinic in America. The Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic, one of the oldest and most well-respected clinics in the Northwest, silently closed its doors.
The Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic provided debtor-creditor, landlord-tenant, and family law services, including a significant amount of work representing victims of domestic violence. The clinic was founded in 1971, and together its full-time faculty, Dick Slottee, Teresa Wright, and Mark Peterson had spent approximately fifty years combined at Lewis & Clark. All had security of position; in fact, Professor Slottee, who was the clinic director, had tenure. The clinic served approximately 230 low-income and indigent clients per year and involved 35 to 70 students.
As recently as last summer, Lewis & Clark Law School touted the clinic’s work in Advocate Magazine. In the words of one recent Lewis & Clark alumna, “The value derived from the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic is immeasurable. It teaches practical skills and it provides students a special opportunity to put the legal theories we learn in an abstract manner in the classroom into practice . . . The focus is on the students and the students are wholly supported.”
According to the Lewis & Clark Law School Dean, Jennifer Johnson, the decision to close the clinic was driven by budget constraints. She indicated that the goal was to offer lawyering skills and opportunities “for all students in a cost effective manner” and stated that “Going forward, we must focus our in-house clinics on those with significant fund raising potential,” while asserting that “current budget realities-for both the law school and our students-make this move necessary.” The rumor is that Lewis & Clark had an unexpected million-dollar shortfall and had already significantly cut the library budget (the largest budget item other than personnel), and so moved to the next largest item in the budget: the law school’s clinic. True or not, Johnson’s own framing of the decision exclusively as a financial one is worrisome.
In Pricing Clinical Legal Education, 92 Denver University Law Review 1 (2014), Robert Kuehn of Washington University Law finds that offering clinical opportunities to law school students has no net impact on tuition and concludes that offering clinical opportunities to students is determined by the law school’s will to offer such opportunities to students. As law schools consider how to balance the budget and keep the lights on during the worst downturn in law school enrollment in modern history, it is natural that some administrators may be tempted to conduct a casual analysis and conclude that high enrollment courses are the answer and try to cut costs by reducing smaller experiential courses.
However, a familiarity with effective pedagogies and the retention yields of various methods reveals that not all courses are equal when it comes to learning outcomes. The value of courses and teaching methods should not be measured predominantly by teaching or staffing inputs, but rather by learning efficiencies, efficacies, and outcomes. After all, if we hold ourselves out as educators, we owe it to our students to have a reasonable familiarity with effective educational methods and to utilize and prioritize those, rather than continue to offer course and curricula designs that have been scientifically proven by study after study to be ineffective.
Accepting tuition in exchange for enrollment in courses designed around learning methods that have been scientifically proven to be ineffective is unconscionable. Those simulated practice courses, externships, and clinics may cost more than placing 80 students in the room with a single lecturer, but they are far more likely to produce better learning outcomes for our students. Can you imagine a law school committed to designing and offering courses according to learning outcomes rather than cost input?
Even if one is not motivated by effective pedagogy, from a business perspective, we know that students care about clinics. A recent survey indicates that clinics and externships are one of the most significant factors students consider when deciding where to attend law school (location is number one).
After the decision to close the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic was announced in September, another faculty member, Kathy Hessler, sent an email to the national clinic listserv informing the members of our community. She pointed out that the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic was the only one at the law school that was funded directly by the law school. It is hard to imagine other law school courses being expected to go out and procure their own funding.
When one considers the effectiveness of clinical pedagogy, as well as the new ABA accreditation standards mandating experiential education, it is deeply concerning that an educational program built around one of the most effective learning methods known to us would be singled out to be "self funded."
Even more concerning, though, was the resounding silence of the national clinical community to the news of the decision. Just a handful of emails were sent in response. At the Northwest Clinical Conference in October, attendees voted to send a letter to the Lewis & Clark Dean expressing our deep concern over the decision and offering our support to reverse the decision. In response, Dean Johnson emailed each signatory and the dean of the person’s home law school, and directed them to have our dean contact her if we would like “further input into this issue.” Was she trying to intimidate us into silence with this power play? Perhaps, but apparently, there was no need. I have said nothing since. Have you?
This is the way a clinic ends. This is the way a clinic ends. This is the way a clinic ends. Not with a bang, but with silence.
PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites qualified and experienced candidates to apply to teach and direct its new Restoration and Justice Clinic to commence academic year 2015-16. This is a long-term contract position with rank of position to be determined in light of a candidate's qualifications and other factors.
The School of Law seeks a talented, creative professor to launch, teach and direct the Restoration and Justice Clinic. The Clinic’s practice will provide legal services to victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, prostitution or other gender or sex crimes, including matters related to civil protection orders, civil and human rights, family law, immigration, consumer protection, or housing. Along with the School of Law’s administration and faculty, the professor appointed to direct the Clinic will have significant responsibility for initiation and coordination in defining the clinic’s mission, parameters, clients and scope of practice. The Clinic will develop curriculum and cultivate multidisciplinary partners in the university and community with whom to collaborate formally.
The new Clinic is part of Pepperdine’s expanding program of clinical and experiential education. Pepperdine law students must complete 50 hours of pro bono service and 15 units of professional skills classes, and they can receive dual credit in clinics, practicums and qualifying externships. The Restoration and Justice Clinic will promote diverse curricular offerings with a multidisciplinary, client-centered practice with various and intersecting forms of advocacy. The Clinic’s director will have opportunities to participate in the School of Law’s Global Justice Mission and to collaborate with existing clinics to serve local, national and international clients.
The successful candidate will be responsible primarily for teaching and directing the Restoration and Justice Clinic, will also teach externship workshops periodically and will likely have opportunity to teach other courses.
The position is a 12-month appointment.
Candidates must hold a J.D., be licensed to practice law in California (or be willing to obtain a California license as soon as possible), and preferably have experience working with law students on client cases in a clinical, externship or similar setting. The candidate’s record should demonstrate superb lawyering skills, leadership and management experience, strong teaching ability, and the communication and interpersonal skills essential to being an effective clinical teacher. Scholarship in the field will be a positive factor in considering candidates.
The School of Law is an ABA accredited, AALS member law school located in Malibu, California. Pepperdine is a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. The School of Law welcomes applications from people of all faiths and is particularly interested in receiving applications from candidates who may bring greater racial, ethnic, and gender diversity to the faculty of the School of Law.
Interested applicants should submit letter of interest and current resume or curriculum vitae to Professor Richard Cupp via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, January 9, 2015
Congratulations to our friends at the Best Practices for Legal Education blog, edited by Prof. Mary Lynch. The ABA Journal named it among the Top 100 Blawgs for 2014. (You can find it under the Careers/Law School tab.)
It is a terrific, thoughtful resource for teaching materials and ideas and contributes much to contemporary discourse about American legal education.
Well done, y’all.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
There are few better ways to start the New Year than with a smooth, slow descent over the Potomac at night with the Capitol and the Washington Monument illuminated in the distance. It provides a few moments to reflect on the past year, and to try to envision what we need to do to ensure that our students, children, and grandchildren have the same professional, personal, and economic opportunities with which we ourselves have been blessed. Our world is changing.
In 2014, the China overcame the United States as the world’s leading economy. But don’t worry. We still have a number of other distinctions. For example, we continue to lead the world in environmental pollution per capita (China leads when measured by total volume). We also remain the world’s largest military power. In fact, our military spending is more than the next ten highest military spending countries combined. We also are far ahead when it comes to the percentage of our population in prison (700 inmates per 100,000 people), and the U.S. population continues to experience the greatest inequality in the world among developed nations. We remain a world leader in some ways, unfortunately.
So when I walked into the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting boasting the title, “Legal Education at the Crossroads,” I was hopeful that there would be discussions rich and lively focusing on the ways that we, as legal educators, can provide leadership—through scholarship, teaching, and service—to a nation in decline. The crisis that we are witnessing in legal education is not unique to us. But our opportunity is. Would we embrace it, I wondered?
A “Hot Topic/Bridge Program” focused on our nation’s racial issues kicked off the annual meeting on Saturday, but as I talked to colleagues from around the country in the hallways of the Wardman Park Hotel, I heard tales of lukewarm responses by many law schools to racial inequality issues, and at least one tenured colleague at a Midwestern law school told me of her experience being aggressively criticized by her law school administration for providing legal advice to students who were arrested during Ferguson-related protests.
As I sought panels and presentations focused on diversity, inclusivity, and justice, I was greeted with a variety of sessions focused on overcoming persistent discrimination in legal academia, strategies for nurturing diverse leaders in law schools, and the identification of higher education as a public good whose integrity must be protected from the widespread corporatization of America and transformation of our democracy (at least ideally) into a plutocracy. But, at times, even these disappointed as some panelists conveyed a deep entrenchment in a defensive position of academic entitlement that none of us can afford to embrace.
This is not 1973 and none of us is Professor Kingsfield. No longer can we stand at the podium and look down at our students, assured that both their futures and ours are assured. They are not. Law school teaching in the 21st century requires us to stand next to our students, and to partner with them. Our success is tied to theirs, as is America’s. If we cannot effectively and efficiently train the next generation of attorneys to understand the rule of law without burying them in massive debt, they will be unable to promote and passionately defend that same rule of law, which underpins our entire civilization.
Instead of asking these big questions, many discussions focused on travel funding and course loads and the potential of externships to save us from our obligation to create “practice ready” law school graduates. Don’t get me wrong. I had a fabulous time hearing marriage advice from Justice Ginsburg and getting a hug from Anita Hill—two of my heroines. But when the excitement of legal celebrity sightings wears off, I couldn’t help but return to room number 4216, and wonder how many more smooth landings I will be able to enjoy over the Potomac. There seems to be rough weather ahead, at least to me.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
In most courses I teach, I have taken to distributing a list of writing guidelines at the first class meeting. This began as guidance for students on graded written assignments, so that when I bled red ink on their passive voices they would be on notice. Admittedly, some of these are personal bugaboos, but I am not shy about my subjective preferences. Students will have to write for picky partners and cranky courts for their careers, so conforming their writing to my rules is good training.
I have expanded and contracted the list over time. Here is the Spring 2015 edition for Negotiation Theory & Practice of Baker's Advice and Strong Preferences for Good Writing:
To improve your writing is one of the great purposes of this course and law school. This course requires varied writing assignments, and your grade will depend on the quality, craftsmanship, strength, purpose and effect of your writing. I will grade your written work product on form and substance, compliance with instructions, correct and fruitful use of legal authority, compliance with proper citation authorities where necessary, style, grammar and spelling.
For your continued education, improvement as writers and insight into my preferences, please consider these principles of good writing style. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are common errors and weaknesses which you should seek to eliminate from your writing. I will penalize your grade for deviation from these virtues, unless your meaning and context demand deviation. Be prepared to defend your style choices with very good reasons.
1. Write intentionally, and do not assume that what you have written first and quickly is good. Good writing is deliberate writing. Good writing is a craft that requires practice and discipline.
2. Ensure that all words, sentences and paragraphs have a purpose and that you understand their purposes. If a word, sentence or paragraph does not have a purpose or if you cannot articulate its purpose, strike it. As The Elements of Style teaches, omit needless words.
3. Almost always, shorten what you have written to convey your point better. Mark Twain reportedly once wrote to a correspondent, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Stephen King, in his book On Writing, explains his practice of shortening every work by at least 10% after he has completed a draft, without regard for the pain. This is good practice, and the process of making your completed work shorter, while retaining its essence, will make you a better writer.
4. Use strong and diverse verbs. Verbs are the crux of strong writing.
5. Avoid passive voice, almost always. You should use passive voice only in the most discrete instances when the passive role of the object is integral and necessary for your meaning. Inevitably, passive voice weakens your writing, and it provides a lazy dodge for writers who seek to obfuscate their meaning. For instance, “Mistakes were made,” is a weak and dishonorable way of saying, “I made mistakes.”
6. Avoid beginning your sentences with “There are. . . ,” “There is. . .” and “It is. . .” Similar to the use of passive voice, although not as fatal, these are weak phrases that dilute the effect of your writing. We speak this way, but you almost always should find a better, clearer and stronger way to express your meaning.
7. Use parallel sentences and serial clauses. For example, this is not parallel: “As lawyers, we should write with honesty, wit and clearly.” “With honesty, wit…” is a prepositional phrase, but “clearly” is an adverb. This is parallel: “As lawyers, we should write with honesty, wit and clarity,” or “As lawyers, we should write honestly, wittily and clearly.” For another example, this is a poor, unparallel sentence: “Today, the place of women in the world is in a transitional age, presenting an affront to many fundamentalist religions and in that traditional societies have certain presumptions about gender.” This is better and parallel: “Today, the place of women in the world is in a transitional age, presenting an affront to many fundamentalist religions and challenging presumptions of gender in traditional societies.”
8. Avoid adverbs. Use stronger verbs instead. For example, this is poor: “The baby cried loudly.” This is better: “The baby wailed.”
9. Prefer simple, shorter sentences. Use compound or complex sentences if you must, but almost always avoid compound-complex sentences. For example, this sentence should be two or three independent clauses, not one sentence: “Although they had fallen for each other, she tried to avoid sitting too closely to him at the end of the day, because of the potential for airborne infection, and he hoped that she would consider stocking up on hand sanitizer.”
10. Show your work. Write for the ease of your reader. Do not assume that your conclusion flows obviously from the facts and the law without your own analysis. Always consider the reader and examine whether the reader can understand and follow what you have written to the conclusion you intend. Demonstrate how the facts and the law inform each other and explain how they work together to justify the conclusion for which you argue.
11. Cite every factual and legal proposition with appropriate, authoritative sources, every time. This practice makes you more careful and accurate and makes your work more persuasive and reliable.
12. Write in context. Context is everything. Write to serve your readers, not to punish them.
Friday, January 2, 2015