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.


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?

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