Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Via Danny Schaffzin:
Southern Clinical Conference 2015
Request for Proposals
October 22-24, 2015
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Confronting Issues of Race and Diversity in Clinical Legal Education
Deadline for Proposals: July 17, 2015
The Planning Committee for the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference invites you to
submit proposals for this year’s conference, which will take place from Thursday
evening, October 22nd, to mid-day Saturday, October 24th, at the University of Memphis
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis, Tennessee. Details on registration and
lodging will follow soon.
The committee is open to receiving proposals for plenaries, concurrents, workshops or
discussions formatted in other ways. The deadline for proposals is July 17, 2015. We
will notify those who make proposals no later than August 14, 2015. A solicitation
for a devoted Works-in-Progress session will go out under separate cover.
We invite proposals that address how to teach and advocate about race and diversity in
clinical education. We encourage applicants to think broadly about this topic. We
solicit proposals from teachers of in-house clinic or externship courses, and other
courses that offer real practice experience.
For example, proposals might focus on any of the following topics:
Programs or initiatives that address racial justice in distinctive or compelling ways.
Responses to the emerging public debate about race relations across the nation,
including the #BlackLivesMatter and other similar movements.
Ways that clinical programs and teachers can leverage their position in two worlds
(the legal academy and law practice) to confront issues of race and diversity.
Specific courses or classes or pedagogical methods that offer effective ways to
introduce race and diversity issues into clinical teaching.
The influence of teaching about race and diversity on clinic design and vice versa
(e.g. choosing long-term vs. one-semester cases; representing groups vs. individuals;
focusing on political vs. litigation vs. transactional strategies; selecting and
sequencing of externship vs. in-house vs. other real practice experiences.)
The distinctive dimensions of confronting race and diversity in a southern historical
and political climate.
The challenge of teaching race and diversity as a pervasive concern, regardless of the
practice areas into which our students will graduate.
Addressing issues of race and diversity as they arise within our law schools and
impact students, faculty, staff, and other internal stakeholders.
The contributions that we, as clinical teachers, can make to a larger discussion of
race through service and scholarship.
The challenges confronted by both newer and more experienced teachers in
integrating race and diversity as topics into newly-created or long-standing courses.
Successful proposals might combine one or more of the suggestions above, or discuss
none of them. We encourage you to think creatively and flexibly in addressing the
In general, the organizing committee will favor proposals that address the conference
theme, are relevant to conference attendees, are well-defined and focused, are timely
and important, and show care and thoughtfulness in development.
We value diversity, both in the composition of presenting teams, and in your topic’s
presentation of diversity as a concern in your work. Diversity includes gender,
ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, geographical location, years of experience, type
of school, type of program and other factors.
SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS
Proposals should be submitted by e-mail to Sandra Love (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later
than July 17, 2015. Please use this cover sheet and template: Download Southern Clinical Conference - Cover and Template for Proposals - 2015
Here is the complete RFP for downloading: Download SCC RFP - FINAL
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Law school clinics are having a moment. They have become an increasingly important part of the law school curriculum during the past five years, as schools faced pressure to provide students with practical, hands-on experience. In this special report, we highlight six law school clinics taking new approaches to student learning, breaking into new areas of the law or that have impressive track records of success.
Whether this is overdue or just getting started, we have expanding responsibility and genuine opportunity now to contribute to the reformation of legal education with creativity, courage, optimism, compassion and excellence. All hands are on deck, and clinicians have been preparing for this storm for a long while. Let's make history.
Profiled in the story are clinics from Brooklyn, Cardozo, Chicago, Loyola-LA, Suffolk and UVA. Good work, y'all.
Monday, May 18, 2015
It’s been a heck of a year. Three people in my life died unexpectedly and I am witnessing four friends and colleagues battling cancer. Commencement was yesterday and I, for one, am ready for this year to end. It was my own personal annus horribilis, and so no one was surprised when I stood on the law school steps after our graduation party, tore off my academic regalia, and shouted joyously, “Bring on summer!” before heading straight to the last remaining video store in town and loading up my arms with all those movies I didn’t have time to watch this past year.
The Theory of Everything? Check. The Imitation Game? Check. American Sniper? Check. My pop culture deficit is so deep and accelerating so rapidly, it should qualify for its own deficit clock. In the past semester alone, I missed two student references to the District 12 finger sign from The Hunger Games trilogy and a case rounds cameo by Viggo Mortensen from The Lord of the Rings. If I wanted to remain a relevant authority in my students' eyes, I knew that I had to commit to a summer long bender of kettle corn binges and movies at midnight. The sacrifices one has to make for professional development….
And so last night, there I was watching The Interview. Who wasn’t curious about the movie that purportedly led to the Sony email hack and brought down Amy Pascal? Bad reviews aside, I like to laugh, so it doesn’t take much to convince me to watch a comedy, especially to kick off a private summer movie festival on my very own couch.
But the movie was bad, really bad, and morning came too quickly. The phone was ringing, our preschooler burst through the bedroom door dressed and ready to go to school, and it seemed the sun was shining even brighter and earlier than usual. For some reason, my head was hurting despite the fact that I had washed that kettle corn down with nothing more than water and a splash of Martinelli’s. Had I finally reached that age when staying up past midnight could have this effect?
As if the sobering after effects of one bad late night movie in middle age was not painful enough, I sat down to nurse my morning coffee and began flicking through my emails on my smartphone when I was jolted awake in a moment of panic by the National Law Journal headline proclaiming, “This is the Moment--for Clinics”! Now?! I was only 16 hours into the summer following my annus horribilis, and was still wearing fuzzy pajamas. Right now?!
As my thoughts began to race about this moment--our moment--in history, I began to resent the cruelty of fate. “Couldn’t we have another moment?” I wondered. Why didn’t we have 1998, before the tech bubble burst, the Twin Towers fell, the Long War began, Enron went bankrupt, the housing market collapsed, the financial crisis of 2008, and the crisis in legal education began? Who got that moment?
Why does our moment have to be now when law school enrollments are down? Budgets are being slashed. At least two law schools are merging, and another is on the cusp of closing. One of the oldest and largest law school clinics in the Northwest was closed unexpectedly last fall due to a budget deficit at the law school. Our most senior clinical faculty are retiring from coast to coast. Others are dying. Many are not being replaced with tenured or tenure-track appointments. Law school deans are throwing in the towel after 2.8 years on average, leaving us without stable leadership. Our students are less qualified, and need more remediation. We have more foreign students enrolling in our LLM programs, some seeking clinical experiences. Our schools need students and our students need jobs, and so we work to recruit, teach, train, place, and mentor them in a market that bears little resemblance to when we graduated from law school.
All the while, our nation’s clinical faculty continue to grow and adapt and lead as the market forces legal education to adapt to a new century with different needs and unique challenges including globalization, digitalization, and a rapidly changing environment. It might not have been our first choice, but this is our moment in time.
Oh well. The film festival was off to a bad start anyway. Who needs summer when there is work to be done? Let’s make history.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Yesterday, I received an email from the “LexisNexis Law School team” about the release of a new white paper, commissioned by LexisNexis, on how law schools can develop writing and transactional skills “to address the demand for more practice-ready graduates.” The white paper, Hiring partners reveal new attorney readiness for real world practice, surveyed 300 law firm partners and supervising associates, and its “key findings include:
• 96% believe that newly graduated law students lack practical skills related to litigation and transactional practice.
• 66% deem writing and drafting skills highly important with emphasis on motions, briefs and pleadings[.]
• Newer attorneys spend 40% – 60% of their time conducting legal research[.]
• 88% of hiring partners think proficiency using “paid for” research services is highly important[.]
• Students lack advanced legal research skills in the areas of statutory law, regulations, legislation and more. . . .
• The most important transactional skills include business and financial concepts, due diligence, drafting contracts and more. . . .
• [L]aw firms spend approximately $19,000 per year, on average, to train a new associate[.]”
Without a doubt this survey can be helpful just as the white paper claims: “Law schools are presented with a great opportunity to improve upon the employment prospects of their graduates by focusing on certain practical skills that law firms most desire.” While critically important to practice, legal research and writing and drafting pleadings are not enough to ready law students to enter the profession. So-called “soft skills” like client-centered and culturally competent lawyering are equally important, not to mention ethics, and law students must know how these operate in practice. Not only do law students need to learn legal theory, but they also need to apply it in real world contexts, as the study recommends. Not all law students want to enter Big Law, but many feel pressure to do so, as the New York Times well.blogs reports. Integrating practice skills in legal education is precisely what clinical law does, and the effect is undeniable.
Just this week, as several of my clinic students graduate, I received this note from one woman who took one year of the domestic violence law clinic:
“I also want to say thank you for a wonderful year. Clinic was by far the best experience in law school for me. I learned more in Clinic practicing with you than in any other class during my three years. Thank you for teaching me to be a practical and ethical lawyer. I learned to keep my cool in stressful situations and most importantly, how to be a passionate advocate for my clients while maintaining a client centered approach.”
My clinic colleagues are posting similar expressions of gratitude from their students. Our students even report satisfaction in learning how to talk to court clerks, opposing counsel, and especially clients. They appreciate knowing how to navigate the courthouse and where to file pleadings and request transcripts. Not all of my former clinic students were happy, in full disclosure. Some complained clinic was too much work, or the subject matter was too emotionally taxing, and that is okay. There is value in ruling out what you don’t want to do.
This is my seventh year of clinical teaching, and I still feel incredibly lucky. What a privilege to guide the next generation of lawyers. My first former student is about to become a clinical teacher herself, and many others have asked me for guidance on how to get into clinical law. Not only does this make my heart swell with pride and gratitude for the best job on earth, but I also see this as proof of the clinic effect. It’s real.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
I am very pleased to announce that Tanya Asim Cooper is joining the faculty at Pepperdine University School of Law this summer to design, launch, teach and direct the new Restoration & Justice Clinic. In the new clinic, Tanya and our students will provide legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes. She will build collaborative relationships with professionals in Southern California to facilitate comprehensive services for our clients and to provide experiences in multidisciplinary practice for our students.
Prof. Cooper joins us from the University of Alabama where she has led and taught the Domestic Violence Clinic with extraordinary clinicians and where she was instrumental in expanding the local task force on domestic violence. Before teaching at Alabama, Tanya trained in the clinics at American, and taught in the clinics at UDC. She is a great fit at Pepperdine. We are thrilled to welcome her back home to California, and I can’t wait to see her great work to come.