Thursday, October 29, 2015

WASHINGTON'S MARIJUANA LAWS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE—OUR CLINICAL WORK AT SEATTLE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW

Bryan Adamson          

Our Consumer Protection Clinic provides opportunities for students to represent clients in a range of civil mediation and litigation. This year, in addition to helping formerly confined citizens seek relief from their legal financial obligations (more on that in our next post), my clinic students are engaged in other advocacy and policy work. With the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 and Senate Bill 5052 this past July, part of our Clinic advocacy involves working against the consequences of Washington’s cannabis laws on our most vulnerable populations.

These laws have given our students an opportunity to passionately pursue the ends of social justice in a fairly unprecedented legal area. Our students are 1) developing policy prescriptions regarding cannabis regulation and the poor and disabled; 2) developing a tenant advice manual for residents of federally-supported housing, and; 3) analyzing Washington state cannabis advertising for unfair or deceptive representations or regulatory violations through the lens of the our Consumer Protection Act. 

Outside of the criminal law context, a first take may not readily illuminate the panoply of social justice issues underneath the legalization of cannabis (of which marijuana is just one form). To be sure, nationwide there have been mighty efforts advocating changes in our state and federal sentencing laws. In Washington as elsewhere, generations of the most ardent advocates at every turn have, for example, fought against the disproportionate arrest and conviction rates of minorities for marijuana use and/or possession.[1] Initiative 502 has already had a profound effect on the state’s criminal justice system, economy, and overall social welfare of Washingtonians. A closer look however reveals disconcerting impacts upon poor and disabled consumers, and tenants of federally-subsidized housing.

This past July saw a major change in Washington’s existing medical cannabis regulatory framework. One major feature of the new laws prohibits unregulated medical cannabis access points unless the organization obtains a license through the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), and meets all LCB requirements. Essentially, medical marijuana sales will be conducted at recreational retail shops. While in important ways, SB 5052 will benefit medical cannabis patients, the LCB requirements will have detrimental effects on those patients in two main areas:  distance proximity and affordability.

Distance Proximity

One of the most onerous requirements of a licensed cannabis store is that it must be at least 1,000 feet away from “any…public transit center[,]”[2] i.e., bus or rail stop. From the medical cannabis patient’s perspective, the 1,000 feet requirement has harmful implications. Many medical cannabis patients are mobility-impaired, and require the use of wheelchairs, walkers, or canes. As many medical cannabis patients cannot independently ambulate and/or must rely on public transportation, a walk of over 1,000 feet to gain access to their medicine can be a challenge and a health risk. Additionally, because of possession amount restrictions, medical cannabis patients must make more frequent trips to retail outlet—incurring additional costs, times, and physical exertion.

 Affordability

Medical cannabis patients currently enjoy access to a plethora of medical cannabis products in medical cannabis access points. Most importantly, edible products have been developed in access points since 1998, and companies have refined their dosages and recipes to perfection. Under SB5052, all cannabis products must be approved by the LCB and in compliance with its regulations.  Currently, edibles cannot exceed a serving size of 10mg. This presents a serious issue for medical patients, many of whom require dosages ranging from 50mg-800mg. This requires a medical patient to purchase over five times the amount of LCB approved edibles.

Not only do the patients have to purchase more products, but the products themselves are more expensive. For example, a 10mg edible in recreational stores costs upwards of $10, where a 50mg edible in medical cannabis access points only costs $5. Therefore, a medical cannabis patient would have to purchase $50 in edibles at a recreational store, where they used to pay $5 in a medical setting. Currently, there is a 37% tax assessed on all cannabis and related products, which is collected at the retailer’s point of sale. While it is worth noting that medical cannabis patients who are in a state registry are exempt from paying that tax, the higher costs still makes cannabis less affordable to for all medical patients likely on a fixed income (e.g., SSD or SSI), or otherwise least able to afford it.

The 37% tax may also not work to eliminate the black market for cannabis product. While street prices of cannabis usually stay in the area of $10/gram, prices in retail stores are $10-$20/gram, plus the 37% tax and additional 9.5% sales tax. Because cannabis is significantly cheaper to purchase on the black market, cannabis consumers in poorer communities will be inclined to avoid retail stores and procure their cannabis on the street. Consequently, instead of obtaining cannabis at state-approved retail outlets, cannabis consumers in poor neighborhoods may choose to avoid the long travel and additional taxation to obtain cannabis through illicit means via the black market instead. Aside from the uncaptured revenue, the cannabis cost structure will doubtlessly perpetuate crime in the poorest neighborhoods—doing little to solve one problem that I-502 intended to remedy. 

Housing

Currently, federal law still classifies marijuana remains an illegal Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. It is a federal crime to possess, cultivate, or distribute marijuana. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that states which implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems will not be high on its enforcement priorities. [3] However, the DOJ has not given carte blanche to those states, as federal law has not changed at all. It’s directive provides no defense to federal prosecution, especially as it regards the DOJ’s expressed enforcement priorities: eliminating channels of access by minors; organized crime; possession, use, procurement, support, or distribution through interstate commerce; trafficking in other illegal drugs; violence and firearms; drugged driving and public health; grows on public lands, and possession or use on federal property.

Federal agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development have not given dispensation to landlords who receive federal housing funds (e.g., Section 8 reimbursements). In other words, it is a crime to possess, use, or cultivate marijuana (in any form, e.g. edibles) in federally financed housing. Tenants of federally subsidized or funded housing, thinking they are lawfully possessing, consuming, and/or growing marijuana (which the law allows in small amounts) risk evictions and even prosecution for violations of federal law. Such outcomes would exacerbate our already disproportionate prosecution and incarceration of people of color. Such actions would also exacerbate the collateral consequences for those people, as it erects another barrier to the ability to secure alternative housing (many landlords will not rent to anyone with a felony arrest or conviction), stable employment, and, if convicted, carceral debt.

Unfair and Deceptive Practices 

Washington’s cannabis regulations establish fairly strict guidelines on permissible means and content of advertising and product labeling.  If a harmful cannabis product enters the market, there is yet no legally-established l mechanism in place specifically tailored to cannabis product recalls. Our students are developing recommendations on that score in reference to the industry best practices, as well as the state and federal Food and Drug Administration’s recall processes.  Moreover, our students are performing image and text analysis of dozens of marijuana advertisements of state retail, production, and processing outlets to ensure they do not make representations that are likely to mislead consumers or specific audiences such as children. The endgame of their research is to present their findings to interested stakeholders to ensure that laws and regulations are followed, but those laws and regulations strike the appropriate balance between governmental interests, commercial interests, and consumer rights.

While impacting all Washingtonians as consumers in general, our cannabis laws and regulations work unique hardships and challenges upon the poor and disabled. Despite the conflict between federal and state law, students in our Consumer Protection Clinic are properly engaging in the practice of law under our states ethical guidelines as they regard giving advice and assistance to parties seeking to comply with Washington laws, or otherwise form and operate business entities pursuant to I-502 and federal law.[4] Students in our Clinic are developing materials and programs aimed at tenant advice and education. Materials and programs will inform tenants about federal and state housing regulations, their rights and risks, as well the duties, rights, risks of landlords. Our students are also articulating policy prescriptions which urge the re-examination of current laws as they relate to the 1000 feet buffer zone rule, taxation, and product misrepresentation. It is our hope that those proscriptions will have a positive, long term impact on this virtually unchartered area of recreational cannabis laws—especially as those laws impact those most vulnerable to the adverse consequences of this new regime.

Special thanks to Bonnie Fong, 3L for her assistance in developing this article.

 

 



[1]In Washington State, for example, the African Americans were 2.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.  Report of the American Civil Liberties Union, THE WAR ON MARIJUANA IN BLACK AND WHITE, JULY 2013, Appendix B.

[2] RCW 69.50.331 (8)(a). The buffer zone also applies to “elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park… library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter.”

[3] See, e.g., James M. Cole Memorandum August 29, 2013 (on file with author).

[4] Washington State Bar Association Advisory Op. 201501 (2015).

October 29, 2015 in Clinic News, Clinic Students and Graduates, Housing, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (2)

JOBS: Akron Law Clinical Faculty

Via Prof. Sarah M. R. Cravens:

Legal Clinic Faculty Position

The University of Akron School of Law anticipates hiring a 12-month clinical faculty member (presumptively renewable, non-tenure track) to begin in Fall 2016.  

The new clinical faculty member will join two other full-time clinical faculty, and will add to a rich array of existing programs which include:  Civil Litigation Clinic (cases referred from Community Legal Aid, primarily landlord-tenant), Jail Inmate Assistance Legal Clinic, our award-winning Re-entry Clinics (Expungement, Clemency, Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE), and Human Trafficking), SEED Legal Clinic (providing services for small businesses and 2015 Legal Services Champion Award winner from the U.S. Small Business Administration) and Trademark Clinic. We anticipate that a new clinician will be able to establish one or more new clinical offerings according to his or her substantive interests to complement the Law School’s strategic goals and the particular needs of the community.  Areas of particular interest include International Human Rights, Immigration, Family Law, and Health Law. 

The committee is interested in candidates with a commitment to excellence in clinical teaching, community engagement, and parallel scholarly research. 

The University of Akron School of Law is a public, mid-size law school of approximately 450 students located in the Akron/Cleveland metropolitan area.  Akron Law offers excellent teaching, relatively low tuition and a commitment to student success, as well as a strong relationship with the local and regional bar.  Akron Law prides itself on outcomes including our high bar passage rate (first in Ohio for the Feb 2015 exam), award-winning clinical programs, national championship trial team program and various areas of excellence.

Required Qualifications: Requires a J.D. degree and a license to practice law, as well as professional practice experience.

Preferred Qualifications:  A demonstrated record of or potential for effective clinical teaching and successful scholarship.

For complete details and to apply for this position, visit: http://www.uakron.edu/jobs.  Job ID# 9221.  While all candidates are required to submit their applications via this centralized system, please feel free to direct any inquiries to Professor Sarah Cravens, Chair of the search committee, at cravens@uakron.edu. Review of applications will begin immediately.  Anticipated start date: July 1, 2016. The University of Akron is committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity and to the principles of affirmative action in accordance with state and federal laws.

 

October 29, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lessons from the National Canadian Clinical Conference

Our Canadian colleagues are gathering this weekend at the sixth annual conference of the Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE). The conference theme is “The Place of Clinical Legal Education” and is being hosted by the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in Saskatoon.

The ACCLE is a relatively young and vibrant organization comprised of individuals and clinics seeking:

(a) to provide a forum for legal educators across Canada to share best practices, pedagogies and other information related to clinical legal education;

(b) to encourage the promotion and improvement of clinical legal education in Canadian law schools;

(c)  to promote clinical pedagogy and research;

(d) to facilitate the dissemination of information pertaining to clinical legal education to clinicians in Canada; and

(e) to promote or organize conferences or other activities to facilitate the purposes of the association.

The conference was preceded by a community tour and scholarship workshop yesterday, and officially opened this morning with a keynote address by Maria Campbell, an award-winning writer, playwright, and teacher whose Aboriginal heritage informs her work. She spoke about “The Place of Clinics in Reconciliation” and immersed the room in oral tradition (all pens, paper, and devices tucked away) while she led participants through circle after circle of her people’s history and tradition. She described a high-functioning social system in which grandmothers were the “keepers of the law,” animals were regarded as cousins (hunted only with restraint and humility), songs were sung to call babies out of the womb, and kindness and generosity were the most esteemed values.

The community strength endured for hundreds of years in generation after generation until the colonization of the North American continent, which led to the banning of midwifes and community burials; the recategorization of wives and children as property (consistent with the European tradition) and their subsequent beating as taught by the Jesuit priests  according to the “rule of thumb”; and the round up of well-loved children with intact families who were taken away by  “authorities” in large black cars and sent to live in residential schools and foster homes, where many were sexually abused. The consequences of these afflictions remain evident in many communities to this day.

How do clinics help communities to heal after such brutal acts? One way is for the students and faculty who work in legal clinics to be culturally and historically literate and sensitive. It is critical for those who serve others first to know their own history and culture, and to seek understanding of and show sensitivity to the history and culture of others. Another important value is collaboration. If clinical students and faculty want to help others, we must reach out and seek meaningful collaboration—before such projects are launched, not after.  No one understands what is most needed better than those in need.

One of the panels following the keynote presentation further explored opportunities to advance decolonialization through clinical teaching and advocacy. The panelists offered examples of clinics serving First Nations, Indigenous, and Aboriginal peoples, clinics that address some of the consequences of colonialization (for example, clinics addressing poverty, domestic violence, and women’s issues), and legal strategies that incorporate the colonial discourse and narrative into client advocacy so that the court understands the individual’s actions within a larger historical context.

The conference will continue for the rest of today and tomorrow with a series of panels and speakers exploring topics such as improving access to justice, defining communities in human rights clinics, curricular reform in legal education, the role of clinical legal education in the formation of professional identity in emerging attorneys, and the role of law school clinics in bridging the gap between the academy and the legal profession.

The ACCLE’s next conference will be a joint conference with the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education (IJCLE) at the University of Toronto on July 10-12, 2016. The theme will be “The Risks and Rewards of Clinic.” For more information, please visit www.northumbria.ac.uk/ijcle2016. We hope to see you there! 

October 23, 2015 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

JOBS: A Third Position at UDC

Via Prof. Kristina Campbell: 

(See the previous two, current postings here.)

TENURE TRACK PROFESSOR – IMMIGRATION CLINIC

 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications for a tenure track law professor to work in the Immigration Clinic beginning July 16, 2016 and continuing through the academic year 2016-2017.  We will consider exceptionally talented applicants at the assistant professor level. Candidates must demonstrate a record of strong academic performance and excellent potential for scholarly achievement. Relevant experience and a demonstrated potential for outstanding clinical teaching is expected. 

The UDC David A. Clarke School of Immigration and Human Rights Clinic represents clients in Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals.  The Clinic provides legal representation for noncitizens in removal proceedings and assists them in applying for relief from removal and other benefits. Cases include defensive asylum applications, Cancellation of Removal; waivers; appealing of removal orders for detained noncitizens by the Immigration Court to the Board of Immigration Appeals and/or the Circuit Courts of Appeals; and providing other related services.

UDC-DCSL is one of only six American Bar Association accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and is the nation’s only urban, public land grant university.   UDC-DCSL has a three-part statutory mission:

  • to recruit and enroll students from groups underrepresented 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 residents through the School's legal clinics.

The School of Law has been a leader in experiential and clinical education for more than 40 years beginning with its predecessor Antioch School of Law.  Every student completes two 350 hour clinical courses, as well as forty hours of community service.  UDC-DCSL offers nine legal clinics in the following areas: juvenile and special education; housing and consumer; general practice; community development; legislation; low-income taxpayer; government accountability; immigration and human rights and criminal defense. 

UDC-DCSL is recognized for its commitment to diversity and to clinical education.  The Law School ranked 7th in the nation in Law School Clinical Programs (US News and World Report, 2015); 2nd most diverse law school in the U.S. (US News and World Report, 2015); 1st most chosen by older students (Princeton Review, 2014); 2nd most diverse faculty (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th best environment for minority students (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th most liberal students (Princeton Review, 2014); and Top 20 most innovative law school (PreLaw Magazine, 2012).

Although we will accept applications until the position is filled, we strongly encourage interested applicants to submit applications immediately. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume. UDC-DCSL has a strong commitment to diversity among its faculty and encourages applications from minorities and women.

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, D.C. 20008.  (email: to Faculty Secretary, Ms. Camille V’Estres – camille.vestres@udc.edu).

October 21, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

My Clinical Prof Can Leap Tall Buildings In Single Bounds!

I try not to share too much of my personal life with my students.  I already feel that sometimes the clinic is a little too much all about me.  I tell stories about old cases that I think help prove points.  I teach alone so am the go to person for questions students have.  I select a lot of our client work and share my values with my students by helping them pick cases that meet clinic goals, which as much as I like to say are our goals we develop together are often mine.  Lately, I feel I need rules to decide what personal things I should share.  Is it only things that will help them lawyer?  Is it things that make me seem human or approachable?  What if I just want to?  What helps and what is just forcing them have to learn about me whether they want to or not?

A few years ago, I had no choice about revealing part of my personal life.  On the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer was my wife, a person living through cancer, who in her professional life as a doctor was treating a child with liver disease.  My wife’s condition and extraordinary strength was something I could not hide even if I had wanted to do so and it seemed like most of Philadelphia and all of my students knew about it.  This was not a fifteen minutes of fame thing, either.  As ironically my clinic has always done a lot of work with cancer patients at cancer centers, professionals at the centers remembered the story for several years and came up to me throughout to ask me about my wife when my students were present, prolonging for several semesters what my students knew and forcing me to relive the experience with them.  Student questions abounded.  How do I do this kind of work in light of my wife’s condition became a topic of discussion for many of my students—doesn’t it affect me when I work with cancer patients to be thinking of my wife and her condition?  Do I tell my clients about her condition?  Do I feel I am as good a lawyer for cancer patients when I think about it?  Does it generally distract me?  At that point, I had no choice but to talk about it and it was an interesting learning experience for my students and me.  (Don’t worry, the paper is coming—I am almost together enough to write it!)  To the extent I felt strong enough through my wife’s illness, I had these discussions with students. 

To some extent, sharing that experience when I thought it had to be helpful to students somehow was an easier decision. My students will have to think about how they will face personal family adversity in their practice and I was an example—I would not say a model, but an example.  It was kind of all about me but to a large extent I think they realized through our discussions that we were talking about me but it was a lot about them.

Last week, I shared something very different with my students.  I decided to share my latest and one of my few feats of athletic prowess—I ran the Chicago Marathon.  Well, I sort of ran it, running the first half and struggling through and finishing the second half.  Yes, it drove my family crazy, as many of them thought running a marathon is really an act of self-hatred designed to cause pain.  But I think my family was wrong.  It was an amazing experience—to run in my hometown on a flat (though way too hot and windy) course and test and learn about what my body can and cannot do was incredible. And my students heard about it and reacted.

It was sort of inevitable that I told my students about it.  As anyone can tell you who has run a marathon, it is too extreme a training and life experience to really hide.  In the end, I am maybe teaching my students something good about lawyering when I tell them about thinks like this.  Maybe it helps them think through how an attorney can have personal non-work goals that are worth accomplishing even when they are focused on lawyering.  Perhaps it made them relate to me as a person more and realize lawyers are people, too, who are human with human needs, interests, and goals.  Or maybe it made them think I was superhuman, able to run 26.2 miles and come back on Monday to teach—who can do that? And perhaps I was boasting.

Talking about lawyering through my wife’s illness and then about running the marathon is starting to help me come up with rules.  I think I have to not require my class to live through my life experience unless I think it can help them. Maybe when I can justify that there is something they can learn, it is okay and a good thing to share.  Or maybe sometimes, I can just show off.

October 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

U.S. News Surveys and Shady Standards

This week, I received my annual ballot from U.S. News & World Report to rank law school programs for “clinical training.”  Clinical program directors get to vote on peer schools with notoriously slim guidance and standards.  Each year, CLEA issues a statement criticizing the process and offering some standards for consideration.   CLEA attempts a balance among the idealistic desire to eliminate the entire process, the cynical temptation to utterly game the rankings, and a sincere attempt to guide us all to handle it the best we can.  We are all at once frustrated and complicit with the regime.

This year, however, I note a new and strange oversight that belies the integrity of the enterprise. 

The survey includes instructions and scant standards, but this year’s are extra perplexing.  For the “Annual Peer Assessment of Law Schools Clinical Training,” the instructions include this guidance (emphasis added):

2. Identify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest quality alternative dispute resolution courses or programs.  In making your choices, consider all elements that contribute to a program’s academic excellence, for example, the depth and breadth of the program, faculty research and publication, etc.

Now, my colleagues down the hall in the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution have been ranked #1 in their category for 11 straight years, and I sometimes teach on the Straus faculty.  Maybe this will help our clinical program ranking, but probably that’s not what USN has in mind.

In my pained ambivalence, I will assume that the USN folks mean to inquire about clinical programs, but apparently they are paying us very little attention and care.  I intend to follow CLEA’s much better advice, but perhaps USN should consider whether proof reading might make its product more reliable.     

Photo

 

UPDATE:  We are not alone. 

UPDATE II:  On Oct. 23, 2015, USN sent out revised surveys, correcting for the mistake and seeking rankings on the "highest quality clinical training courses and programs," due on Nov. 16. 

October 20, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2015

MILITARY MONDAYS: HOW WILL YOU SERVE?

We are engaged in the longest war in U.S. history, yet many of us are not impacted at all. Less than 1% of our nation’s population are actively serving, with less than 5% directly impacted by that service. The latest news indicates that existing troop numbers will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, and troops continue to serve in Iraq. Choosing to wear the uniform today brings a very high probability of not only deployment, but repeated deployments. Our all-volunteer force serves bravely, quietly, humbly, and to most of us, invisibly.

In addition to post 9-11 veterans, our nation is enriched by Gulf War veterans, Vietnam veterans, and the increasingly rare Korean War and World War II veterans. Each of them is a trained warrior committed to the ideals of duty, honor and country, and supported in their sacrifices by devoted families. They are alike in their shared sacrifice, purpose, and selflessness; they share experiences and camaraderie that those of us who have not served can only try to imagine.

While very few of us can truly understand the sacrifices made by these brave men and women and their families, all of us can recognize the freedoms and safety we enjoy as a result of those sacrifices. It is time for all of us to consider how we can share the burden and responsibilities of freedom, to create opportunities to do more than say thank you.

Protecting our country and our freedoms is a shared mission; we can all play a part in honoring those who serve through our own actions. These actions can start in our own clinical programs, on the spectrum of modest to grand, yet all impactful. Given that veterans and active duty service members often face legal needs that exceed their financial resources and the scope of services readily available to them, law schools are in a unique position to demonstrate honor through action, while teaching our students the debt we owe to the men and women who preserve our freedoms, and the historical backdrop against which they served.

William & Mary’s Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic recently partnered with Starbucks and their Armed Services Network to start Military Mondays. Twice monthly, Puller Clinic professors and students provide advice and counsel to service members and veterans seeking assistance with disability compensation claims, discharge upgrades related to service-connected disabilities, and preparation for their separation from service. Four hours are scheduled in one hour appointment blocks, with two attorneys and students meeting simultaneously, for up to eight appointments each week in the warm community coffeehouse of our local Starbucks. Alternate Monday afternoons are an opportunity to host For the Love of Country Community Conversations, with a topical speaker and follow-up discussions. In addition to providing us an opportunity to expand our more traditional in-house legal representation by going out into the community, the Starbucks setting helped us to bridge the military-civilian divide by demonstrating service to those who served, and engaging customers and veterans in conversation. More than half a dozen law schools, legal service organizations and Bar Associations are coordinating with Starbucks about replication of Military Mondays in their neighborhoods. If your law school would like to join those efforts, please let me know.

Military Mondays are very rewarding; one student described it as “legal triage,” which is pretty accurate. We can help decipher decisions, share resources, advise next steps, help with form completion, and answer questions. It is a model that could work for any area of the law; given that four of the top ten needs identified by veterans are legal in nature. Sometimes, our afternoons at Starbucks have unexpected and impactful results, personally and professionally. During a recent afternoon, we met with a terminally ill Vietnam veteran who had been awarded a Bronze star for his service; he was at a loss for next steps after repeated denials of his service-connected disabilities. Recognizing he and his family would need more than advice and counsel, we took him on as a client, but before we could meet with him again, he ended up in the hospital. Frantic steps were taken to ensure that he signed the forms we needed to continue his claims in the event of his death, and, when he passed away days later, we were at least consoled by the fact that his claims were preserved and his widow eligible to serve as his substitute. We are told that his last goal was to get his claims into the VA; had we not met with him that Monday afternoon in Starbucks, his claims would have passed away with him.

We chose to define our own Military Mondays by providing advice and counsel to veterans and service members at Starbucks. But whether you choose to replicate the model that we designed with Starbucks; or consider starting your own legal services project or clinic for veterans or service members; or give priority status to any of your clinic applicants who served or are serving; or incorporate the challenges facing our veterans and service members into your course discussions; or hundreds of other ideas you and your students will generate . . . . I challenge you to do something on a Monday to honor our men and women who put on the uniform: any Monday, every Monday, start small and ignite excitement and replication. Encourage your friends, colleagues and students to honor our veterans and service members by taking action on Military Mondays. Let’s start a movement, one that may begin on Veterans’ Day, but does not end there.

 

 

October 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

JOBS: UC-Irvine's Director of Externships

Via Laura Fry:

The University of California, Irvine School of Law has posted a position announcement for its Director of Externships. 

Here is the post.

 

October 14, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Open Letter to a Clinic Student at Mid-term

Dear Student,

We are halfway through the semester, and I still don’t know why you signed up for clinic. Sure, I know what you told me and what you put on the form, but I never really know. Perhaps you heard that clinic is a good way to jumpstart your GPA, in which case you have been misinformed. Perhaps you longed for the opportunity to use your legal skills to help someone. Perhaps one or two years of law school left you tottering on the brink of existential despair, and you needed something to remind you of why you wanted to be a lawyer.

Whatever your reasons, the reality of clinic is probably not what you imagined. And that’s how it always is. It's not what I imagined either. Clinic changes depending on the case, the client, the judge . . . who knows? Some hapless butterfly beating its wings in Waikiki?

But one thing that does not change is that clinic requires a lot of work. We ask you to learn and practice a whole new set of skills and often, after you have worked hard on something, we tell you that you didn’t do it right. And all of this happens against the backdrop of the rest of your life—classes, law review, trial team, a bad cold, a new romance, an old romance gone south, a roommate who might in fact be Satan, aging parents, a difficult commute.

So, what do I want from you at this point? I want you to succeed—to become a better writer, to think more clearly, to do right by your clients. And ultimately, I want you to soar—to find a great job, to lead a happy life, to make the world a better place.

I want you to prove wrong the mean fifth-grade teacher who pronounced you feckless, or to prove right your priest, your boss from your first summer job, or your mom, who believed you could do anything you set your mind to. I want you to grow as a person and as a lawyer. But as Bruce Stachenfeld observed, “the trainer can’t want it more than the fighter.”[1] So with just eight weeks left, make it count. Be kind, be creative, be brave, and, please, do the job you signed up for.

Sincerely,

 

Your Clinical Law Prof



[1] Bruce Stachenfeld, Reinventing the Law Business: How to Train Super Associates (Part II), http://abovethelaw.com/2015/09/reinventing-the-law-business-how-to-train-super-associates-part-ii/

October 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pepperdine's Dean Tacha Rises in Favor of California's TFARR Proposals

Paul Caron at the TaxProf Blog has posted a letter from our dean, Deanell Tacha, to the AALS Deans Forum Steering Committee, to express her support of the TFARR proposals and processes in California.

An excerpt:

The TFARR process in California has resulted in significant ways in bringing the profession and law schools together.  Whether any of the recommendations is adopted remains to be seen, but I can say with some confidence that the process itself has strengthened relationships within the profession.  Mutual respect and understanding characterized the process.  Most important, the TFARR work, in my judgment,  served the people of California by highlighting so many of the challenges that lie ahead in delivering high quality, affordable legal services in this state and in providing the rigorous grounding for new lawyers that will equip them for the intellectual and practical issues they will confront in a changing legal landscape.  TFARR has helped focus the profession on the need to work together to serve the noble ends of justice to which we are all committed.

October 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

JOBS: Indiana Tech: Clinical Tenure Track Position

Via Prof. Adam Lamparello

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LAW (CLINICAL, TENURE-TRACK)

INDIANA TECH LAW SCHOOL invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track clinical assistant professor to design, manage, and teach a live-client clinic in the Law School’s innovative and growing clinical program, which currently consists of the United States Supreme Court Amicus Project, the Federal Judicial Intern Practicum, the Mediation Clinic, and the Appellate Litigation Clinic. In the fall 2016 semester, the Law School will implement a live-client clinic in an area consistent with the successful candidate’s expertise and the community’s needs.

The Law School’s clinics are part of an innovative, assessment-driven, and outcome-based program of experiential legal education, and clinical instructors are expected to collaborate with doctrinal, legal writing, and professional skills faculty to facilitate student learning experiences on matters of local, regional, and national significance.

Successful applicants will have an excellent academic record, substantial clinical teaching and law practice experience, and a demonstrated commitment to excellence in clinical teaching, scholarship, and service. Based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience, this positon may also include or evolve toward responsibility for directing and administering the Law School’s clinical program or teaching some doctrinal or legal writing courses.

The position is full-time (nine months), tenure track, with full voting rights and committee participation. Salary is based on experience, and the successful candidate will receive a generous benefits package that includes health insurance and retirement savings. Additionally, the successful candidate will receive a professional development budget to enable participation at conferences and to promote meaningful scholarship. This is a unique opportunity to be on the ground floor of an innovative law school, develop a rigorous and cutting-edge program of legal education, and produce competent practitioners. Candidates should send a CV/resume, cover letter, and the candidate’s clinical vision to Associate Dean for Faculty Charles E. MacLean (CEMaclean@indianatech.edu). The Law School is particularly focused on candidates who will contribute to the diversity of the Law School’s faculty.

Indiana Tech Law School is not currently approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Associate and makes no representation that it will receive approval from the Council. The Law School has applied for and currently is in the process of seeking provisional approval.

 

October 8, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Clinicians Can and Should Write, Here’s How

I love to write.  Inevitably though around this time each academic year, I wonder when to find the time to write: during work or personal time.  Having taught in positions both at law schools that require and support clinical scholarship and those that don’t, I am convinced that it is important for clinicians to write what they see and practice.  It’s our duty.  So we must find both the time and resources to do it.

The discipline of writing appeals on a deep level: as clinicians, we are uniquely poised to attest how laws apply in life, with sometimes disparate effect.  For us litigators, we get to observe how courts operate, not just the ideals to which they aspire, but the ugly moments when judges and lawyers forsake fundamental rights, due process, and dignity for the sake of efficiency.  How rich those opportunities are to reflect, analyze, and inform the public about what is really going on.  “All scholarship is witness”, a former Pepperdine President once said, and indeed, my best writing comes from my personal experience as lawyer, teacher, woman of color, and especially when I witness injustice happen to the most marginalized clients, and my clinic students and I get caught in the cross-fire.  In those opportunities, my writing comes alive. 

A former law school colleague, Christine L. Jones, once advised me to “write about what really bothers you.”  And when I have the effect has been undeniable through feedback and citations from those in agreement and not, and a commenting audience ranging from lawyers, professors, social workers, artists, law students, legislatures, and trade organizations—not to mention my mother and mother-in-law.  Our clinical scholarship impacts.

Many question, generally, the value of legal scholarship, and the “disconnect between the academy and the profession.”  But maybe that so-called disconnect is the very space where clinicians thrive, and as lawyer-professors, we can bridge the gap.  As Sherilynn Ifill (Maryland law) once blogged, “Our scholarship – if read – can be very helpful to judges and their clerks as they navigate the shoals of complex legal decisionmaking.” Ifill says, “Take, for example, the work of [her clinical] colleague Renée Hutchins, who in her 2007 article Tied Up in Knotts:  GPS Technology and the Fourth Amendment, . . . writes about whether and how the use of GPS devices by law enforcement should be assessed under the Fourth Amendment.  Her article was so illuminating in exploring this underdeveloped area of law that Judge David Tatel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals cited it in . . . U.S. v. Maynard, in which the court unanimously held that the police use of GPS tracking on a criminal suspect over several weeks constitutes a ‘search’ and requires a warrant.”

Others question whether writing interferes with teaching, but according to a recent article based on data from one law school, the answer is no.  To the contrary, scholars make better teachers. Looking at a number of factors, two researchers “analyzed 10-years of publicly available data on an ‘unbalanced panel’ of 50 Chicago Law faculty members” and found “no strong negative relationship between volume of publication and quality or amount of teaching.” Instead, “the data [albeit limited] mostly showed a positive relationship between scholarship quantity and teaching quality.”  That makes sense.  Writing often and well models the critical importance of this fundamental skill we seek to instill, starting with our 1Ls.  Even SCOTUS Justice Kagan believes “writing is one of the hardest things to teach.”  Our endeavors might inspire students to write more and better.

The good news for those clinicians thinking about writing and wondering how to find both the time and resources is that our clinical community is here to help.  Michele Gilman heads the Scholarship Committee of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, which “offers every clinician an opportunity for supportive, non-evaluative feedback on a scholarly work-in-progress from a clinical colleague with shared substantive expertise.”  Many writers and reviewers have already been matched, and “if you have a work-in-progress and would like to be paired with a clinical colleague at another school, send a request to clinicalpeernetwork@gmail.com.”  The committee also welcomes clinicians willing to mentor others to join their database.  I can personally attest that the Clinical Peer Network works: in 2009, Michele connected me with another clinical pillar, Mae Quinn, who helped me publish my first article.

Besides traditional law reviews and journals, more venues exist today to publish our clinical scholarship from the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) newsletter to the Clinical Law Prof Blog to the Clinical Law Review, which hosts its own annual NYC workshop and offers scholarships to participate.  Every year, those who do come away bursting with praise, and last weekend’s workshop was no exception.  Warren Binford had this to say about it:

I have twice participated in this workshop as a writer and gained so much from the experience. I always learned a tremendous amount from my colleagues' feedback on my papers. This year I participated as a co-facilitator, and it, too, was a very humbling and re-invigorating experience. We have such a supportive community and I appreciate the efforts of CLR and NYU to harness that positivity and support and focus it on nurturing one another as writers and scholars. It is so easy to get caught up in the needs of our students and clients, as well as all of the ups and downs of life. And yet, we all know that scholarship is the coin of the realm in academia and we must develop habits and systems to help us create the scholarship we need to stand securely shoulder to shoulder with our non-clinical colleagues (on top of everything else we have to do!). Thank you to the writers, facilitators, and organizers, and, of course, NYU for keeping us focused and helping us to grow through this workshop. Not only did I learn so much from the papers I read and the people I met, I was yet again inspired by our colleagues' courage, discipline, and, of course, scholarship.

So, back to my first question: when to find the time to write? Here’s some advice I got from Kate Kruse and Mae Quinn at the New Clinicians Conference in Cleveland in 2009: Kate suggested writing for twenty minutes each day.  It keeps the ideas percolating and even if that approach produces only one footnoted sentence a day, at the end of the week, you have a paragraph.  Mae, on the other hand, testified how helpful and fun she found destination scholarship retreats: extended time during school breaks when she focused on writing.  Having tried both methods, they work.  Find your own, and “Just WRITE.”

October 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, October 5, 2015

That inevitable student email...

Dear Professor, I wanted to let you know...

I will not be able to make our supervision meeting/class/client call next week as:

1) my sister is getting married and I am throwing her a bridal shower.

2) the high school mock trial team I coach has qualified for semi-finals in Des Moines and I will be accompanying them.

3) I have found an affordable flight and I am going home for the weekend for my Grandmother's birthday.

I plan on staying on top of the reading and doing work in the evenings so I do not fall behind. I also told my clinic partner. I will be available by email as well.

Thanks,

Student X


Every year I receive some variation of this email and I always struggle with my response.

Should this be a teachable moment where we discuss  client centered lawyering? Are there risks in being too firm, creating a tense working relationship for the rest of the semester? Alternatively, I am tasked with preparing you for practice - how can I pretend this is acceptable behavior for a lawyer? Do I express exasperation at your failure to read and abide by the rules set forth in the clinic manual (which clearly state you must ask permission for absences). Should I be more or less firm to counterbalance gender and race biases?

In my search for the right response, I have made many blunders! What are your tried and true tactics for dealing with these types of student emails? 

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

JOBS: Two TT Positions at UDC: LITC and Legislation

Via Prof. Kristina Campbell, two announcements for tenure-track positions in UDC's Low Income Taxpayer Clinic and Legislation Clinic:

 

TENURE TRACK DIRECTOR OF LOW INCOME TAXPAYER CLINIC

                 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications for a tenure track law professor to direct the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) beginning July 16, 2016 and continuing through the academic year 2016-2017.  We will consider exceptionally talented applicants at the assistant professor level. Candidates must demonstrate a record of strong academic performance and excellent potential for scholarly achievement. Relevant experience and a demonstrated potential for outstanding clinical teaching is expected.  The salary for the position is $94,600 plus benefits. 

The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic provides students with hands-on experience representing taxpayers who have active tax controversies pending with the IRS and in U.S. Tax Court. Students represent low-income residents referred to the clinic by the IRS and various local non-profit and advocacy organizations. Tax controversy cases include Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) examinations, tax return audits resulting in tax deficiencies, and the denial of various credits, including the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit. The LITC also conducts a variety of tax outreach events in the community to advise District residents of their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers.

UDC-DCSL is one of only six American Bar Association accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and is the nation’s only urban, public land grant university.   UDC-DCSL has a three-part statutory mission:

  • to recruit and enroll students from groups underrepresented 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 residents through the School's legal clinics.

The School of Law has been a leader in experiential and clinical education for more than 40 years beginning with its predecessor Antioch School of Law.  Every student completes two 350 hour clinical courses, as well as forty hours of community service.  UDC-DCSL offers nine legal clinics in the following areas: juvenile and special education; housing and consumer; general practice; community development; legislation; low-income taxpayer; government accountability; immigration and human rights and criminal defense. 

UDC-DCSL is recognized for its commitment to diversity and to clinical education.  The Law School ranked 7th in the nation in Law School Clinical Programs (US News and World Report, 2015); 2nd most diverse law school in the U.S. (US News and World Report, 2015); 1st most chosen by older students (Princeton Review, 2014); 2nd most diverse faculty (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th best environment for minority students (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th most liberal students (Princeton Review, 2014); and Top 20 most innovative law school (PreLaw Magazine, 2012).

Although we will accept applications until the position is filled, we strongly encourage interested applicants to submit applications immediately. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume. UDC-DCSL has a strong commitment to diversity among its faculty and encourages applications from minorities and women.

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, D.C. 20008.  (email: to Faculty Secretary, Ms. Camille V’Estres – camille.vestres@udc.edu).

 

TENURE-TRACK CLINICAL PROFESSOR DIRECTOR LEGISLATION CLINIC

                 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications for a tenure-track law professor to direct the School of Law’s Legislation Clinic beginning July 16, 2016.  The professor has the opportunity to design an innovative legislative clinic in Washington, D.C. that 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.     

UDC-DCSL is one of only six American Bar Association accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and is the nation’s only urban, public land grant university.   UDC-DCSL has a three-part statutory mission:

  • to recruit and enroll students from groups underrepresented 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 residents through the School’s legal clinics.

The School of Law has been a leader in experiential and clinical education for more than 40 years beginning with its predecessor Antioch School of Law.  Every student completes two 350 hour clinical courses, as well as forty hours of community service.  UDC-DCSL offers nine legal clinics in the following areas: juvenile and special education; housing and consumer; general practice; community development; legislation; low-income taxpayer; government accountability; immigration and human rights and criminal defense. 

UDC-DCSL is recognized for its commitment to diversity and to clinical education.  The Law School ranked 7th in the nation in Law School Clinical Programs (US News and World Report, 2015); 2nd most diverse law school in the U.S. (US News and World Report, 2015); 1st most chosen by older students (Princeton Review, 2014); 2nd most diverse faculty (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th best environment for minority students (Princeton Review, 2014); 8th most liberal students (Princeton Review, 2014); and Top 20 most innovative law school (PreLaw Magazine, 2012).

Although we will accept applications until the position is filled, we strongly encourage interested applicants to submit applications immediately. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume. UDC-DCSL has a strong commitment to diversity among its faculty and encourages applications from minorities and women.          

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, D.C. 20008.  (email: to Faculty Secretary, Ms. Camille V’Estres – camille.vestres@udc.edu).

 

October 5, 2015 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Talking About Practice. . .

There is a famous video of the NBA and NCAA basketball legend, Allen Iverson, defending himself against the media for being criticized by his coach, Larry Brown for missing practice. The video is so popular now it has received over 8 million You Tube views.  Iverson, a dynamic player, of great talent, and success, has almost become defined by that one moment. He has become an example of a great player disrespecting the importance of practice.

Practice is, of course, how one gets better at their trade or vocation. Dancers, musicians, and for our purposes, lawyers gain skills and confidence when they engage in practice.  They can even master other aspects of their trade that they haven't done faster if they just master the basic skills.  Lawyers ease into other areas quickly because they learned the basics, the fundamentals. 

Twice this semester I have received calls from employers who wanted to hire two of my students. These students had just graduated and had no post-law school lawyer experience; yet, these employers were so impressed they called me right away to ask about their work and how they got along in the workplace. 

First, it did not surprise me. The two students were very good students who had worked in the clinic for two full semesters.  They had participated in every aspect of clinic too. They had represented clients in court hearings. They had interviewed the clients, maintained client relations, done research, plotted strategy, drafted court filings, and had, at all times, maintained a high level of professionalism and ethical conduct. They had done everything a lawyer could do under the rules and more including new challenges such as transactional work, something that just drifted into our clinic by chance. 
 
So, it was without any reservation that they both received top recommendations from me and a long detailed response about the specific nature of their work. They had been lawyers for the semesters they worked for me even though they were only so under the Michigan rules which allows students to do everything a lawyer does just as long as a supervising attorney admitted to the Michigan bar supervises their work. 
 
I know for sure one of them accepted the position but the experience got me to again think about the current focus by law schools on “practical skills” and making our students “practice ready.”  Some have suggested that this term is now overused or overplayed and that we should be careful. Self analysis and critique is good; however,  these particular comments oftentimes come from those who dismiss clinics as costly and unnecessary despite the march of the industry towards producing "practice ready" graduates like my two students above. We know clinics are useful and we know their value. Professor Robert R. Kuehn's article "Pricing Clinical Legal Education" notes that there is no increased costs associated with experiential education and law school clinic courses even if law schools sought to provide each student with such an experience. 
 
Two years ago another student of mine graduated with an eye on becoming part of the JAG Corps. The student was offered a position based on the fact that he had appeared in court with clients and had conducted hearings on the record. He had the actual skills that the JAG Corps was seeking in an applicant even though he had no post-JD experience at the time. His only experience was working for a year in our legal clinic. This is “practice ready” experience and students should be encouraged to pursue it and then tell their employers explicitly what they have done. We should likewise not diminish what we are doing.
 
Our students are not Allen Iverson at the podium defending himself. They want to practice and learn the trade. They want to learn lawyer skills and they do. They want to one day get in the game and do well. If we remain committed to our work, they will.  
 

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)