Wednesday, June 24, 2015
One of the dangers of living in the Northwest is that you occasionally attend a school fundraiser and become the winning bidder on a climb to the summit of Mt. Hood. Now I have climbed a fair number of mountains in my day, but none technical and only one recently. Thus, after the semester ended, I found myself in the unusual role of student. Mine was not a class about law or writing or education; rather, this was a class about tying knots, which I know nearly nothing about.
Don’t get me wrong: I have been tying knots for well over forty years. Well, actually, one knot and it involves bunny ears, but if needed, I can even tie it in a double knot! However, in this class, we were not being asked to tie knots that will keep on your Disney princess tennis shoes with red flashing lights as you run across the playground. These were life-saving knots. The kind that get you out of crevasses and keep you from falling off cliffs. Knots you want to--need to--know how to tie in the dark without thinking. Prusiks. Clove lines. Bow hitches. Double eights.
And so there I sat with one of my climbing partners to my left, and the other to my right. Both had a vested interest in my mastery of these skills. Indeed, their life might depend on it. No longer the one in charge, I was suddenly a student well outside of my comfort zone learning a high stakes skill that I needed to master with peers watching and evaluating. The pressure was on.
The course was well designed. The instructors sent us a manual before class, listed online demonstrations to watch, went over a quick PowerPoint in class, and then broke us into small peer groups of 3-5 learners, plus one instructor, and handed us each a length of climbing rope to practice and demonstrate our knot-tying mastery. Our instructor quickly tied a couple of the assigned knots and then directed us to try. I panicked.
Here it was seven o’clock at night. I had not had dinner. I had worked all day. I had just met a publication deadline, returned from a business trip, and closed out the school year. I had two young children at home and not enough sleep. I was driving over two hours roundtrip at night to attend this class. I had not done my homework and was running on fumes. And it hit me.
The tables were turned. All year long I had provided my students with a variety of resources, assigned them work to support their learning, delivered content in multiple settings with a variety of media. I had created opportunities to work in different group sizes, and yet, when it came time to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, to apply their knowledge, they would sometimes look at me hungry, exhausted, and confused like they had no idea what they were doing.
Humbled, I meekly handed my rope back to the instructor and asked him if he could demonstrate how to tie just one knot, and this time more slowly. He did, but not nearly slowly enough. I still didn’t get it. I tried, but he quickly untied my jumble of climbing rope, and directed me to watch him again. He quickly tied it so fast that I could not break down all of the steps. I tried again, but it was clear I had failed. I asked him if he could let me tie the knot and coach me through it one step at a time. He agreed, but after the second step took the rope back and quickly tied it again. At this point, all of my teammates were done with this knot and were ready to move on.
He offered to teach me a different method for tying the knot for people "who struggled." I was being offered remedial knot-tying! "No!" I insisted, and then I dropped the H-bomb in a moment of panic and defensiveness. I had a doctorate from Harvard, and if they just gave me a few more minutes, I could catch up. One of my peers, reached out to assure me. She was a D.O., but this is different, she said.
The instructor suddenly felt uncomfortable and said that now he was intimidated. He was obviously doing something wrong. I assured him that it was my fault: I hadn’t done my homework. I just needed him to slow down and coach me through each step of the tying of the knot, which he did. Once we broke it down step-by-step, with me (the learner) as actor, we both identified what I was doing wrong. Like so many things in life, I had been overcomplicating the knot. Rather than tie it once, I was tying it twice, perceiving it as more complex than it really was. The problem was suddenly untangled.
After the class took a break and I grabbed a quick bite to eat, I quietly slipped into a different group, where I could escape the shadow of my double figure-eight failure and start fresh with a new instructor. I eventually mastered all five knots, and developed such a great rapport with my second teacher (who knew nothing about my near miss with remedial knot tying instruction) that after our field training, he offered to join us on our climb up Mt. Hood. Perhaps he just loves climbing mountains, or maybe, although he witnessed how much I learned in class, he also saw how much I do not know, how much I still have to learn, and knows that some students still need teachers to be ready to support and watch over them, even after class ends.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Here is an update from the Southern Clinical Conference Planning Committee:
We are touching base with more exciting news about the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference, which will be held at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law on October 22-24, 2015. First, please be reminded about the July 17, 2015 deadline to submit a proposal for plenary, concurrent, or workshop sessions related to our conference theme of Confronting Issues of Race and Diversity in Clinical Legal Education (see Request for Proposal materials attached to D. Schaffzin e-mail of May 26, 2015).
Apart from plenary, concurrent, and workshop sessions, the 2015 Southern Clinical Conference will also include a time slot dedicated for participants to present works-in-progress. We invite works-in-progress proposals from new and experienced scholars, on all topics, at all stages of development, from completed drafts to half-baked ideas. The work-in-progress topic does NOT need to relate in any way to the conference theme.
We also are looking for volunteer discussants to facilitate dialogue about each work-in-progress project during the sessions. Work-in-progress presenters will have an opportunity to work with discussants in advance of the conference to tailor the session to meet their goals -- whether receiving detailed feedback on a draft, developing particular ideas, or devising a publication strategy.
For more information, please consult the attached work-in-progress request for proposals, cover sheet, and template.
Prospective Work-in-Progress Presenters: please send proposals to Sandra Love (firstname.lastname@example.org) by August 15th.
Prospective Work-in-Progress Discussants: please send an email to Sandra Love (email@example.com) by August 15th indicating your interest and listing any topic areas in which you have a particular interest or expertise. If you would be open to serving as a discussant with regard to a paper of any topic, please note that, too.
Please contact the Planning Committee if we can be of any assistance. Work-in-Progress presenters from all regions are welcome. Join us and present your work in a fun and supportive environment!
We look forward to your proposals. Registration details and other reminders regarding the Southern Clinical Conference will be coming later this summer.
Danny (on behalf of the SCC Planning Committee)
Daniel M. Schaffzin
Saturday, June 13, 2015
JOBS: Qualified Tax Expert, Low Income Tax Clinic, Columbus Community Legal Services, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America
Qualified Tax Expert, Low Income Tax Clinic
Columbus Community Legal Services
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America
Columbus Community Legal Services, the clinical program of the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America welcomes applicants for the Clinical Supervising Attorney-Qualified Tax Expert position in its Low Income Tax Clinic (LITC). The successful candidate will represent clients and teach law students. The LITC is the newest of four clinics comprising Columbus Community Legal Services, one of the District of Columbia’s oldest legal services providers. Experience in a clinical environment—either as a law student or as teacher—is strongly preferred. Applicants should also have a demonstrated commitment to working with low income individuals.
Responsibilities of the LITC QTE will include:
- Provide law students with closely supervised agency and courtroom experience on behalf of Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents on personal federal and local income tax matters
- Provide law students with practical instruction on federal and local income tax law, Internal Revenue Service regulations and procedures, and United States Tax Court rules and procedures
- Expose law students to the opportunities of providing pro bono services to needy individuals in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia
- Develop and conduct limited advice and referral clinics for Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents on a range of personal federal and local income tax matters
- Develop and conduct community education outreach programs for Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia organizations, their members, and fellow practitioners on a range of personal federal and local income tax matters
- Provide low-income Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia residents with direct case representation before the United States Tax Court, the Internal Revenue Service and local tax authorities
The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:
- A Juris Doctor degree
- A license to practice law in the District of Columbia, or be eligible and willing to waive into the District of Columbia Bar
- Admitted or eligible to be admitted to the United States Tax Court
- A commitment to instructing and supervising law students
- A working knowledge of personal federal income tax law
- A mature, self-starter, with an ability to work independently
- Ability to work collaboratively with others
- A demonstrated commitment to social and economic justice
Compensation: The position is full-time with a salary of up to $50,000 plus benefits, which include medical insurance and other benefits.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis starting July 3, 2015 or until filled. The anticipated start date is August 1, 2015, although a later start is possible.
For more information contact Paul Kurth at 202-319-6788.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Master of Laws (LL.M.) Degree Program With Concentration In Clinical Education and Systems Change
To Provide Family Law Services to Women Veterans
U.D.C. David A. Clarke School of Law is pleased to announce a fellowship opportunity in the General Practice Clinic.
The fellow will supervise law students in the representation of women veterans in family law matters.
The U.D.C. David A. Clarke School of Law has an excellent and nationally ranked clinical education program. Each law student (J.D. candidate) must complete at least two seven-credit clinics (a minimum of 700 hours of clinical work) to graduate. Each LL.M. candidate will work closely with an experienced faculty member in a clinic to teach and supervise J.D. candidates in substantive law and practice skills. In addition, over the course of the two-year program, Fellows in the LL.M. program will complete a culminating project in the form of a scholarly work of publishable quality or a project designed to stimulate systems change.
The two-year LL.M. program includes coursework in clinical pedagogy, legal scholarship, public interest law, and systems change. The focus of the program is to provide the Fellows with a foundation in clinical education practices and to strengthen their lawyering and advocacy skills.
L.L.M. candidates will receive an annual stipend of $51,157 plus benefits.
The program begins on August 1, 2015.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.
Specific clinic descriptions are at: http://www.law.udc.edu/?page=ClinicIntro
Please submit the following:
A response to the following questions in no more than 1,000 words (two pages):
In your area of concentration, what systemic problems have you identified? How do you envision using the law to transform the system?
Resume, Writing Sample, Law School Transcript (official), Two letters of recommendation from persons with personal knowledge of your capabilities and commitment to social justice.
Please send materials, except transcript, electronically to Jordana Arias, Clinic Staff Assistant,firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please enter “LL.M. Application” in the subject line.)
Mail transcript to:
Jonathan Smith, Associate Dean
Clinical and Experiential Programs
University of the District of Columbia
David A. Clarke School of Law
4200 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.
Questions? Please contact Jonathan Smith: email@example.com.
Candidates should have a minimum of two years relevant practice experience and be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any state possession, territory, or Commonwealth of the United States, or the District of Columbia. A person chosen to enter the LL.M. program who is not a member of the D.C. Bar will have to apply to waive into the D.C. Bar or otherwise apply for membership in the D.C. Bar.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Here is the announcement for the Clinical Writers' Workshop from the editors of the Clinical Law Review:
The Clinical Law Review will hold its next Clinical Writers’ Workshop on Saturday, September 26, 2015, at NYU Law School. The registration deadline is June 30, 2015.
The Workshop will provide an opportunity for clinical teachers who are writing about any subject (clinical pedagogy, substantive law, interdisciplinary analysis, empirical work, etc.) to meet with other clinicians writing on related topics to discuss their works-in-progress and brainstorm ideas for further development of their articles. Attendees will meet in small groups organized, to the extent possible, by the subject matter in which they are writing. Each group will “workshop” the draft of each member of the group.
Participation in the Workshop requires the submission of a paper because the workshop takes the form of small group sessions in which all members of the group comment on each other’s manuscripts. By June 30, all applicants will need to submit a mini-draft or prospectus, 3-5 pages in length, of the article they intend to present at the workshop. Full drafts of the articles will be due by September 1, 2015.
As in the previous Clinical Law Review Workshops, participants will not have to pay an admission or registration fee but participants will have to arrange and pay for their own travel and lodging. To assist those who wish to participate but who need assistance for travel and lodging, NYU Law School has created a fund for scholarships to help pay for travel and lodging. The scholarships are designed for those clinical faculty who receive little or no travel support from their law schools and who otherwise would not be able to attend this conference without scholarship support. Applicants for scholarships will be asked to submit, with their 3-5 page prospectus, by June 30, a proposed budget for travel and lodging and a brief statement of why the scholarship would be helpful in supporting their attendance at this conference. The Board will review all scholarship applications and issue decisions about scholarships in early July.The scholarships are conditioned upon recipients’ meeting all requirements for workshop participation, including timely submission of drafts, and will be capped at a maximum of $750 per person.
Information about the Workshop – including the Registration form, scholarship application form, and information for reserving hotel rooms – is available on-line at:
If you have any comments or suggestions you would like to send us, we would be very happy to hear from you. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Randy Hertz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- The Board of Editors of the Clinical Law Review