Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Guide for Public Defender Law Clerks in Veterans Court and Veterans Sentencing Programs

Over recent semesters, the Ventura County Public Defender’s Office and Pepperdine University School of Law have been developing the Veterans Law Practicum.  In the Practicum, upper-level law students from Pepperdine work with the Public Defender to represent clients in Veterans Treatment Court. Vet Court is part of the Collaborative Court Program of the Ventura County Superior Court.  Pepperdine law students work in a rich, immersive experience alongside expert attorneys to improve and expand restorative justice for veterans. 

I have rarely seen a field placement as committed, organized and expert in the supervision of law students while ensuring that their work is effective and useful for clients.

Chief Deputy Rod Kodman, other attorneys at the Public Defender’s Office, and Pepperdine law students have prepared the attached guide for Public Defender Law Clerks in Veterans Court and Veterans Sentencing Programs. This is a detailed kit with standard operating procedures, forms and guidelines for students in the practicum.  The Ventura Public Defender has been generous to share this material with defenders throughout California, and we are making it available nationally through several communities committed to veterans’ services. 

From the Introduction:

This guide is designed to assist other jurisdictions in making optimum use of Public Defender law clerks as part of programs that give effect to veterans sentencing statutes, including Veterans Courts. The goal of such programs is to establish a secure pathway for veterans to restorative, alternative sentencing, which greatly increases access to justice for vulnerable veterans. The Ventura County Veterans Court is a collaborative effort, but other jurisdictions can implement the practices outlined here as part of a more adversarial process. Also, this guide refers throughout to the activities of “law clerks.” Other jurisdictions may wish to assign some of these roles to social workers, paralegals, sentencing mitigation specialists, or other professionals. In doing so, they should be careful to follow all applicable rules regarding the unauthorized practice of law.

The guide informs students’ work at arraignment, in the defenders’ office, at the Vet Court team meeting, before and in court, then in the delivery of legal or other benefits to clients. 

Download Vet Law Practicum. Ventura PD. SOP final (5.31.16)

We hope these materials can be helpful, and we welcome questions, suggestions and ideas to make them better.

May 31, 2016 in Clinic Profile, Criminal Defense, New Clinical Programs, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Night in Question, a guest post at the Pepperdine Scotland theater company blog

Pepperdine Scotland is a company in our theater department, and they are producing an original play for debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. Irish playwright Lynda Radley is developing an intense, complex story of sexual assault on American college campuses, with production and direction from Alex Fthenakis and Cathy Thomas-Grant. I have had the singular opportunity to serve as a consultant for the play and to share time with the cast and crew.

Stepping out of our clinics and law schools to participate with other  disciplines in other departments can yield invigorating results. Consulting on the play has made me think more deeply about narrative structure and storytelling.  Thinking about this play and this story has reminded me that these issues and relationships always exceed the bounds of legal definitions and invoke cultures, structures, societies, and deep histories. Working with creative artists, writers, and students reminds me that we can always have more and different ways to do our work. To see a production take flight from scratch inspires me to create and gives me courage to take on new endeavors with faith that we can speak to the world.    

The Interference will be a powerful, important work. I can't wait to see it next year at Pepperdine.

I have the honor of contributing this guest post to the company blog, and I'm very proud to play even a small part in this production.

An excerpt:

I am grateful and proud to contribute some ideas for The Interference this year. Lynda Radley, Alex FthenakisCathy Thomas-Grant, and the Pepperdine crew and cast are undertaking a critical and hard project. The night in question will always matterthe facts, the tick-tock, the actions. But the night in question only really matters in the context of the lives and communities in question. 
The Interference is an ambitious attempt to explore the hyper-local relationship, on the night in question, between the young man who wants possession of the young woman’s body and the young woman who loses possession of her body to him. It is even more ambitious to explore the lives in question all around them, the life of the university, the life of fraternities, the life of friends, the life of the team and its fans, the life of the law, the life of the family. 

May 25, 2016 in Domestic Violence, Interdisciplinary Programs, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 20, 2016

RFP: 6th Annual Southern Clinical Conference - DEADLINE: July 15, 2016

Via Prof. Rocky Cabagnot of Charlotte and Prof. Kendall Kerew of Georgia State:


Please find attached the Request for Proposals for the 6th Annual Southern Clinical Conference, which will be held on October 13-15, 2016, at The Charlotte School of Law in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Also attached is the cover sheet and template for proposals.  Please send proposals to Rocky Cabagnot (rcabagnot@charlottelaw.edu)  by July 15th.


This year's Southern Clinical Conference theme is Celebrating The Work: Innovations, Traditions, and Disruptions in Clinical Legal Education.  


Registration and hotel information can be found here -  http://www.charlottelaw.edu/events.html?id=614  


We hope that you will submit presentation proposals and join us for a wonderful conference in the Queen City of Charlotte, North Carolina.


Download 2016 Southern Clinical Conference - RFP for 2016 FINAL

Download 2016 Southern Clinical Conference Cover and Template for Proposals

May 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Great News for Alex Scherr and UGA

Dean Rutledge at UGA this week shared this good news about our friend and co-blogger here, Prof. Alex Scherr, newly appointed as Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning.  Sometimes I feel like I have never been to a clinical conference or been part of a project in this community that Alex did not lead or serve.  Congratulations, Alex!


I am pleased to share with you that Professor Alex Scherr has agreed to serve as Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning. Alex is a longstanding leader in the clinical legal education community. He is the co-editor of the nationally and internationally distributed Learning From Practice: A Text for Experiential Legal Education, 3d ed. (West Academic, 2016) in which he authored several chapters, and he served as chair of the planning committee for the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference that had more than 725 participants and over 200 presenters. He also played a large role in the successful launch of our Atlanta Semester in Practice Program. I know he will build on the good work that Erica has  undertaken in the last year and a half in this role.

Please join me in congratulating Alex on undertaking this important service as part of the law school's commitment to provide first-rate legal training.

May 17, 2016 in Faculty Profile, Promotions, Honors & Awards | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Clinical Costs: Separating Fact From Opinion, Bob Kuehn in the Best Practices Blog

Prof. Bob Kuehn of Washington University has  posted a well-cited, data-driven analysis of the actual costs of experiential learning at the Best Practices blog.

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” When it comes to expanding clinical legal education, the knee-jerk opinion is that it is too expensive for legal education to follow the lead of other professional schools and ensure that every student graduates with a clinical experience through a law clinic or externship. Even the richest law schools couldn’t resist playing the cost card to scare the ABA out of requiring additional professional skills training: “Requiring all law schools to provide 15 experiential credit hours to each student will impose large costs on law schools, costs that would have to be passed on to students. . . . Even a law school with significant financial resources could not afford such an undertaking.”

Yet, the facts show otherwise — every school, from the well-heeled to the impecunious, can provide a clinical experience to each student without increasing tuition.

. . . .

It is time to put to rest the canard that costs prevent the expansion of experiential courses or a required clinical experience for all students. Every school can afford to provide 15 credits of experiential coursework for its students, including a mandated law clinic or externship experience. The facts show that it is the wills of the ABA, state bar admission officials, and law school deans and their faculties, not the costs of clinical legal education, that are obstructing that progress.

May 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

The one thing you need to know...

Over the course of the semester, I give out countless pieces of advice to my students. You should use a Boolean search. Keep the timekeeping function open as you work. Stop using semicolons like glitter; they are not decorative.

In the end, who knows what sticks and what is instantly forgotten? Often, students ask me during our last meeting if I have any parting advice. Some say this simply to be nice and some are genuinely interested in my response. Either way, I recognize the opportunity. I know this is a chance to say something they will likely remember. I always give the same response: you need mentors.

Many of my students have not put much thought into mentorship. My advice gives us an opportunity to discuss their career ambitions and identify individuals who can help them achieve these goals. Generally, I encourage students to take the following active steps:

  • Create a mentorship strategy
    • As mentors are offering to help you during their free time, it is important to be respectful and considerate. Spend time identifying the areas in which you would like advice. Be sure to share your long term and short terms goals with your mentors.
  • Create a network of mentors
    • One mentor is never enough. You may start your legal career and then move into a different market or field. You will need mentors at every stage to help you.
    • The above point should not preclude you from finding mentors in your area or workplace. Do you know you want to become In House Counsel for the World Wildlife Federation? It is probably not helpful to be mentored by a Big Law Partner in Patent Litigation. Find mentors in your field, or better yet – in the job you want!
    • Be aware that your mentorship needs will change and be prepared to add new mentors to your network accordingly. After having my first child, I struggled with balancing work and motherhood. I was fortunate to have many wonderful mentors who offered advice on everything from the glass ceiling to managing travel with an infant.
  • Strategies for finding mentors
    • Reach out to the State Bar Association
      • The State Bar often has formal programs matching mentors with new attorneys.
      • Minority Bar Associations and Diversity Committees are also an excellent resource for connecting mentors and mentees.
    • Reach out to your Alumni Association
      • Be expansive! Do not limit your mentor search to your law school. Reach out to your undergraduate or other institutions for potential mentors.
  • Listen & Learn!
    • Sure the market has changed drastically in the last decade, but mentors have also weathered these tumultuous economic times. You do not need to follow all of their advice. However, it is in your best interest to hear what they have to say.

Finally, I encourage all my students to give back. I tell them not to wait until they have “made it.” There will always be a recent grad looking for guidance. There is no one better to help them than you.

May 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)