Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SALT Call for Action! Contact ABA Delegates ASAP

SALT asks that you immediately contact your state’s ABA Delegates and other ABA delegates you may know to urge rejection of a proposal that will come before the ABA House of Delegates as Resolution 110B on Monday, February 6 (sample email below).  If you are in the Miami area, we also encourage you to attend the House of Delegates Session and speak against Resolution 110B.   

The proposal would revise ABA Standard 316, the bar passage accreditation standard, to impose a single nationwide standard on all law schools.  Specifically, the proposed standard would require that 75% of all members of a law school graduating class who sit for a bar exam must pass within two years of graduation.  The proposal is simplistic in failing to take into account dramatic variations in passing scores adopted by different states.  It is inequitable in posing a threat both to schools in states with low pass rates and to schools that serve historically disadvantaged students and communities.  The proposed change was approved by the ABA Council on Legal Education (the “Council”) with no study of possible adverse effects or meaningful discussion of serious reservations brought to its attention. 

Numerous groups and individuals raised concerns about the proposal in written comments to the Council and in testimony at a Council hearing in San Francisco on August 6.  The only hearing testimony presented was in opposition to the proposed standard.  Despite the significance of the proposal, the Council spent less than an hour deliberating over its approval.  In that short discussion, the Council spent a scant few minutes on the concerns raised by opponents.  

In its comments and testimony SALT identified important unanswered questions that need consideration to ensure the bar passage standard works appropriately and fairly.  Those include whether schools in states with consistently lower pass rates would meet the proposed single nationwide standard, what impact the proposal would have on the admission of students from diverse, economically disadvantaged, and non-traditional backgrounds and the overall diversity of the bench and bar, and the extent to which the standard could lead schools in states with low pass rates to focus on bar-type courses for their students, thereby limiting the growth of experiential and skills-oriented learning that recently adopted accreditation standards seek to encourage.

Other comments in opposition came from, among others:

  • CLEA ("We … urge that the Council: (1) conduct an evidence-based inquiry into the immediate impact of proposed Standard 316 on schools in states with low pass rates and on the diversity of law schools; and (2) consider more systematically whether the bar examination, as the exclusive means of assessing readiness to practice law, is too limited in the proficiencies it assesses for entry into the legal profession.”   See also CLEA’s recent Call for Action urging its members join the growing concerted effort to make sure that the House of Delegates does not simply rubberstamp Resolution 110B.)
  • Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and University (“HBCU”) law schools (“We write out of concern and alarm that the proposed standard, if adopted, will be detrimental to meaningful access to justice for both potential lawyers of color and the communities greatly in need of their advocacy. … The entire profession should be deeply concerned at the potential adverse impact this standard change would have on law schools associated with HBCUS. … There has been no study conducted by the ABA to assess how the proposed standard will impact law schools with large percentages of minority law [students].” 
  • ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (“The proposed changes to Standard 316 are contrary to ABA Goal III and presents significant impediments to increasing diversity in the legal profession.”)
  • Congressional Black Caucus (“We request that the American Bar Association forego adoption or implementation of the proposed standard pending a more inclusive dialogue and assessment on the standard’s impact on diversity in the legal profession.”)
  • New York State Bar Association (“Far too much is currently unknown and the facts needed for informed decision-making are lacking. For New York, there probably could not be a more inappropriate time to impose any new standards.”)

More recently, 90 law school deans signed a letter urging postponement of the Standard 316 proposal for one year for additional consideration and study. “Despite the diversity of opinion on this difficult issue, all the deans who have signed this letter believe that there should be an opportunity for further reflection, and perhaps more careful study and analysis, before a new standard is adopted, especially because this standard could well have serious, albeit unintended, consequences on the welfare of many law schools and students.”
Please join SALT in urging ABA delegates to reject the simplistic and inequitable 316 proposal.  Thank you!
Sample email to your state’s ABA delegates

For a state-by-state list of delegates, click here. In the alternative, most state representatives for the ABA House of Delegates can be found on your state bar website.  You can also search on the internet for your state name and “ABA House of Delegates.”  If you are a member of the ABA, there is a delegate directory link on the main ABA website that is accessible to you.

Dear ABA Delegate:

I write to ask that you vote to send Resolution 110B back to the Council on Legal Education for further study and consideration.  Resolution 110B proposes a revision of Standard 316 that has not been adequately studied despite reasonable concern that it may have serious, detrimental unintended consequences.

The Council was understandably motivated to simplify current Standard 316, but in its haste to do so has not adequately studied the impact of the proposed change.  In fact, the Council passed the proposed Standard 316 after a short discussion that included virtually no consideration of the concerns expressed in numerous written comments and public testimony presented to the Council.   Serious concerns remain about the unintended impact of the proposal on schools in states with low bar pass rates, on efforts to diversify the profession, and on reform of legal education to teach the many skills needed for effective and ethical law practice. 

I urge you and the other delegates of [insert name of your state] to reject Resolution 110B and send it back to Council for careful and comprehensive study of its likely impact.   
[Your name here]

January 31, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hope in Sao Paulo

Through some serendipity, I am spending this week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie at its Exchanging Hemispheres program.  I'm helping teach a short course, Access to Justice and Clinical Legal Education Theory, Practice & Skills.  My contribution today was a session on clinical pedagogy and program design with law professors and students who are eager to launch a clinical program in Sao Paulo. 

After one day here, I have renewed inspiration and commitment to our work in light of the lawyers and students who have shared this classroom today.  The first speaker today was Prof. Daniel Bonilla of Univeridad de Los Andes in Colombia who described his work in establishing El Grupo de Derecho de Interés Público (G-DIP), a human rights legal clinic in Bogota. 

Later, we heard from Mackenzie psychology professors about their work with Juridicial Psychology and clinical programs for psychology supporting people in the legal system and new programs to integrate law students into their work.

Throughout the day, Prof. Alan Russell of London South Bank University discussed his work and experience at its Legal Advice Clinic. Prof. Russell led the course last week to demonstrate the experience of clinical education and its promise for access to justice. 

Two law professors from another university in southern Brazil attended to contribute their work with their consumer protection clinic. Other Mackenzie faculty discussed their work in human rights and their designs for a new labor law clinic and other enterprises.

We all shared our alarm at the rise of global nationalism and our current political disruptions, our resolve to promote justice and the rule of law, and the great need to teach students about civil engagement, integrity, and public citizenship.  Clinical legal education is taking root throughout the world, with a deep understanding that lawyers are essential to constitutional democracy.  This heightens the necessity for training lawyers in this age of disruption. 

Meeting these kindred spirits, committed lawyers and teachers, has revived my spirit and calling for our work in our global community. The coffee is also very strong. Brazil is good to me today. 


January 23, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Repeal of the ACA and potential effects on rural West Virginia

Much post election analysis has focused on the plight of rural Americans. My colleague, Jennifer Oliva, has written an analysis on the negative effects of an ACA repeal in West Virginia, a largely rural state. The full post is available here:




January 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chasing Liberty: The Detention of Central American Families in the United States

On Friday February 3, 2017, UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law will host a day-long conference on the detention of Central American Families in the United States.

The conference will bring together advocates, law students, and academics throughout the nation who have been fighting to end the detention of immigrant families. In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reinstituted an abandoned policy of detaining children and their parents seeking asylum in the United States. Families were first held in Artesia, New Mexico, which was accurately described as a “deportation mill,” and now in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, along with a smaller detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Thousands of children and their mothers have now been held in confinement while their cases are processed, with a small portion of the families held for more than a year.

We will start the day with opening remarks from Professor emeritus, Barbara Hines, followed by a panel tracing the history of family detention and painting a picture of the current detention system. This will be followed by a panel examining the legal and advocacy challenges to the practice of detaining mothers and children, from the Flores case to hunger strikes by the mothers themselves. During lunch, students who have volunteered inside the detention centers from UDC and Lewis & Clark will share their perspectives. After lunch, scholars and advocates will examine the international human rights ramifications of detaining families and of asylum free zones in the United States.  Finally, we will pivot to examine the post-release crisis. How do we ensure adequate representation for asylum-seeking families released from detention? How do we win claims for protection in difficult jurisdictions? We will also examine the lessons learned from the massive national movement built to advocate for detained families and try to replicate our successes in representation in detained and non-detained settings nationwide.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Cecilia Anguiano, Law Student at Lewis & Clark Colle Law School, Portland, Oregon
  • Blaine Bookey, Co-Legal Director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, San Francisco, CA
  • Bridget Cambria, Partner with Cambria & Kline; Founder, ALDEA People’s Center, Reading, Pennsylvania

  • Kristina Campbell, Professor of Law and Jack and Lovell Olender Director, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

  • Dree Collopy, Partner, Benach Collopy LLP, Washington DC

  • Tessa Copeland, Law Student at Lewis & Clark College Law School, Portland, Oregon

  • Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the American Immigration Council

  • Conchita Cruz, Co-Director Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Andrew Free, Law Office of R. Andrew Free, Nashville, Tennessee

  • Lindsay M. Harris, Assistant Professor of Law, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law 

  • Barbara Hines, Emerson Fellow and Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas – Austin

  • Karen Lucas, Associate Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Michelle Mendez, Staff Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc

  • Andrea Meza, Equal Justice Works Fellow & Staff Attorney, RAICES, San Antonio, Texas

  • Lindsay Nash, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Cardozo Law

  • Sarah Paoletti, Practice Professor of Law, Director of Transnational Legal Clinic, Penn Law

  • Swapna Reddy, Co-Director, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Katie Shepherd, former Managing Attorney of the CARA Project and current Legal Fellow at the American Immigration Council

  • Anita Sinha, Assistant Professor of Law, Director of International Human Rights Clinic, American University Washington College of Law.
  • Maureen Sweeney, Associate Professor, Director of Immigration Clinic, University of Maryland Law School

  • Shana Tabak¸ Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgia State University, College of Law and Global Studies Institute

Registration: Please register for the conference here.

All questions should be directed to Assistant Professor of Law, Lindsay M. Harris at Lindsay.harris@udc.edu

January 18, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, Immigration, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your American is Showing

By Inga N. Laurent*

In Jamaica, I don’t have a car. This means if I want to get somewhere I walk or take a taxi. During my first few weeks of living here, the resistance I laid down to the acceptance of this reality was monumental. It was almost akin to a deal-breaker for me. I struggled so much with control, factors outside of my control, including traffic and my ability to accurately estimate timing and order my world. I lamented that I couldn’t just run to the grocery store when I wanted; it all felt somehow backward.

What I couldn’t see at the time, now makes me chuckle. In the last few months, slowly and surely and somewhat surprisingly, I’ve been eroding my rugged individualist mentality.

I’ve come to relish my taxi time. Do you know how much of humanity can unfold before you if you stop to listen? Or how many friendships you can make by learning to trust in someone else’s ability to be responsible and on-time? Do you know that in thirty minutes, you can learn about criminal justice, technology, farming, musical instruments, families and lost and recovered dreams?

In Jamaica, I don’t have a schedule. This means I often get lost in reading or connecting with people instead of writing law review articles. During my first few months of living here, the resistance I laid down to the acceptance of this reality was monumental. I struggled so much against my own self, using chiding and biting remarks, fearing my fraudulence, not ok with slowing down and certainly not comfortable with stillness.

What I couldn’t see at the time, now makes me chuckle. In the last few months, slowly, surely and somewhat surprisingly, I’ve been eroding my long-held, entrenched views on the importance of staying busy.

I’ve come to understand that it all adds up in the end. All. Of. It. Do you know what it’s like when you finally trust yourself to self-regulate? Do you know how to relax and enjoy the gifts that life is giving you rather than fighting with them? Do you know how it feels when your mind become sharper and the web of connections fuse because you’ve allowed yourself the space for your beautiful brain to simply do its thing; the evolutionary thing that is composed of eons of innate wisdom ensuring survival?

In that trust, while relaxing, I read the following words from Sebastian Junger and suddenly I understood.

Tribe on Homecoming and Belonging: “This book is about why that sentiment is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning. It’s about why—for many people—war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end.”

This quote brought me back to my research in some kind of startling way. I am not satisfied merely with an academic discussion of the values and challenges of restorative justice. I am here to learn about it on every level, including the theoretical but also the practical, and not for argument’s sake, but because I believe in human relationships and in our interdependence. I do this work because I deeply believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and I want us all to know that we are so much more than our bad acts and mistakes; hopefully in tumbling around teaching and learning this lesson, I will be able to internalize it myself -- “to be understood as to understand.”

And while self-reliance and time-management have served me well so too have connection and space.

The “root of the root and the bud of the bud” is learning not to overcome my Americanness but to become one with it. To realize that sometimes my individualism serves me better, as I have a penchant for wanting to rely on others perhaps more than I should, but somedays that same trait may block the very connection I need. To realize that somedays the drive to stay busy stems my laziness but that on other days, I need my experience to simmer, so I can meaning-make, stop compartmentalizing and embrace the integration that allows me to be simultaneously messy and seamless. I’m in this time, in this place, exactly where I’m supposed to be, exactly as I’m supposed to be. And you know what my friend, you are too. Every experience, the joyful, the painful, even the ugly and the mundane, brings us closer to our imperfectly, perfect selves.

*Inga is currently on sabbatical from her day job as professor and Externship Director at Gonzaga University School of Law. While away, she is living and researching in Kingston, Jamaica under a Fulbright grant, learning about the shift in Jamaican culture from retributive to restorative models of justice.

January 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Save the Date: 2017 New Clinicians Conference, May 6 in Denver

From CLEA:


The Clinical Legal Education Association's
2017 New Clinicians Conference
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Denver, Colorado

This year's New Clinicians Conference, hosted by the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), will take place at the Colorado Bar Association in downtown Denver, within walking distance from the AALS Clinical Conference hotel.  The full-day program will include multiple plenary and facilitated small group sessions, as well as break-out sessions.  If you are new to clinical teaching, please consider this event when making travel arrangements.

Online registration and additional details will be available in a forthcoming announcement.  Registration for the New Clinicians Conference is separate from the AALS Clinical Conference.

If you have any questions, please contact:  Cindy Batt (cbatt@law.stetson.edu) or Chrissy Cerniglia (cecernig@loyno.edu)

January 17, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2017

A wish for MLK Day--Remember the poor will still need our help, too.

Much is going to change for Americans over the next weeks and years with the new Administration.  With change comes fear and in this case change looks to be formidable.  It seems like every moment, we are bombarded with information reminding us of people whose needs and legal rights need to be protected now more than ever and asking us to support them.  We are pressed to bring foremost to our minds many issues.  People’s free speech rights may be challenged.  Non-citizens may be harassed or deported.  Women will not be respected.  Gay and transgender people may lose gains made over the last few years.  Many may lose healthcare.  It is scary.  These people need help and protections.  The warnings we get are real and they are right.  Just worrying about these things is not enough.  Steps must be taken to ensure that people are protected.  Sometimes, it is protecting people who may be close to or similar to us and whose problems we understand viscerally.  Sometimes it is protecting people who are just people that we cannot stand to see potentially harmed by what seems like coming vast change and possible attack.

I am afraid, too, about many of these issues.  My fear, however, is that in the overwhelming barrage of all of this change, the needs of the poor and of the traditionally legally underserved  are forgotten.  As a lawyer and teacher who has spent much of my career working on issues of the poor, one of my biggest fears is that these people who have needed our help  and continue to need our help will be put on the back burner as we struggle to protect other things.

That is not to say that all of the issues described in the first paragraph are not important.  They are.  But what is going to happen over the next few months to the poor?  My clients depend on SSI, a welfare program designed to provide minimal income benefits to poor people with disabilities, on TANF, a welfare program designed to provide much less but at least something  to parents with children, and on SNAP benefits.  Will those programs continue to exist?  Will they be under attack?  Even if they are not, my clients still need help proving they need these benefits.  Won’t it still be a problem that like many states, my state has chosen long before this election to dismantle General Assistance for those who cannot qualify for other income support programs?  Don’t these issues still need to be addressed?

My fear for the coming months and years is that we will help those like us more than those not like us.  For well over a year now, I have been struggling to write a law review article about legal triage, a topic many have discussed before me in the clinical legal world.   My continuing struggle as a former glorified pro bono coordinator, as a legal services attorney, and now as a law professor is that the people that we relate to most are really the people who get help.  It is easy to see that people like us are people we have to help.  We help those with disabilities when we know family or friends with disabilities.  We help people with health insurance when we know those who have struggled without it or feel we know those at risk.  My fear for the next few months is that those who we do not generally see who have often been the traditional clients that advocates for the legally underserved have helped will be left behind as we struggle to protect people like us or people we know on issues that are really, really important.  My hope is that I and my students will remember that there are still real needs among our traditional client base.  I do not argue that we necessarily need to help them the way that I try to with my students through individual work.  There are likely better ways and certainly just as good ways of working for the poor that are  as important or better than what we do.  But my wish for MLK Day is that people do not forget this group.  While we struggle to work on other issues that are really important, let's continue to focus on the needs of the poor. 

January 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

JOBS: Cal State - Chico: Undergraduate Professor of Legal Studies in its Community Legal Information Center

Via Dr. Mahalley D. Allen, a position in legal studies and Cal State - Chico's innovative, undergraduate legal clinic:


Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice


California State University, Chico is committed to achieving the goals of equal opportunity and endeavors to employ faculty and staff of the highest quality reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the state. We are committed to achieving excellence through diversity in the classroom and the workplace. We strive to establish a climate that welcomes, celebrates, and promotes respect for the contributions of all students, faculty, and staff

The Position: The Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice invites applications for a tenure-track position in legal studies at the Assistant Professor level. The position begins August 2017.

Minimum Qualifications: The minimum requirements for appointment to this position are: a Bachelor’s degree, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from an accredited law school, current membership in the State of California Bar or membership within one year of the start of employment, ability to teach courses in clinical legal education (i.e., Community Legal Information Center) and courses in the Legal Studies program, as well as the capacity to engage in publishable academic and/or legal/professional research. 

Preferred Qualifications:  Preference will be given to applicants with any of the following: legal clinical experience, paralegal supervision, experience in practicing law, teaching experience, law review participation and/or additional degrees, such as a L.L.M. or Ph.D. In addition to teaching courses in clinical legal education, other primary teaching responsibilities may include courses in any one of the following areas: constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, civil litigation, introduction to legal studies, alternative dispute resolution, administrative law, and moot court.

Responsibilities: This tenure-track position carries responsibilities in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service to the Department and University. Teaching assignments are based upon qualifications of the individual and the needs of the department.                     

Salary: Salary commensurate with education and experience.

The Department: The Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice offers undergraduate degrees in political science (including an option in legal studies), criminal justice, international relations, and public administration, as well as Masters degrees in political science and public administration. We have an exciting curriculum, with numerous options to meet a host of academic interests, and an active and productive faculty committed to excellence in teaching and scholarship. Over 1,000 students major in our department’s programs. Additional information about our Department is available at http://www.csuchico.edu/pols/. Additional information about the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences is available at http://www.csuchico.edu/bss/index.shtml.


The Legal Studies Program: The Legal Studies Program within the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice includes an active moot court program, a paralegal certificate program, and the Community Legal Information Center (CLIC). Founded in 1969, CLIC is an extensive undergraduate law clinic designed to benefit participating students by providing hands-on legal training and active learning experiences. CLIC also provides a unique civic engagement program that helps serve the legal service needs of Northern California. Additional information about the Legal Studies Program is available at:



Closing Date: Review of applications will begin on February 6, 2017, and continue until the position is filled.


How to Apply:   All applicants must apply online at: http://jobs.csuchico.edu/postings/4054   


Complete online applications must include: curriculum vitae or resume, cover letter, complete set of undergraduate and law school transcripts, and teaching evaluations if available. Three letters of recommendation are also required and should be submitted to the Search Committee Chair.


Job-related questions and letters of recommendation should be directed to:

Dr. Mahalley Allen, Search Committee Chair

Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice

California State University, Chico
Chico, CA 95929-0455

mdallen@csuchico.edu , 530-898-6506

January 12, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

JOBS: Pepperdine Startup Law Clinic in the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law

Supervising Attorney in Pepperdine's new Startup Law Clinic in the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship & the Law

The Supervising Attorney will teach and supervise students practicing in the Pepperdine Startup Law Clinic (the "SLC"). In the SLC, law students learn and train through law practice under the supervision of the Supervising Attorney. The SLC provides legal services to entrepreneurs and startup businesses in corporate organization and financing transactions. The Supervising Attorney will teach the seminar component of the SLC course with an adjunct faculty appointment. The SLC contributes to the University's mission by increasing the School of Law's capacity to teach, train and form professionals as well as serving the local entrepreneurial community. The SLC serves the School of Law's strategic plan by increasing the profile of the School of Law within the vibrant Southern California entrepreneurial community.


  • The Supervising Attorney will supervise law students in practice with professional responsibility for all client services. The SLC's primary focus is in startup financing. The specific legal questions any given client may present may range from issues of corporate law to IP and licensing, to tax and employment, as well as finance. Matters could include entity formation, drafting shareholder and operating agreements, negotiating investment or loan agreements, advising on how to structure internal compensation structures for founders, drafting vendor or services agreements, and many other basic legal needs for startup companies.
  • Uphold University mission through work performed.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

The above information has been designed to indicate the general level of work performed by employees within this classification. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job.

Skills and Qualifications

Required: The Supervising Attorney must hold a JD degree from an ABA accredited law school and must be a licensed attorney in good standing in California. The Supervising Attorney must have substantial transactional legal experience in startup and entrepreneurial law practice, especially in financing transactions. The Supervising Attorney must have broad and deep relationships in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Southern California and the ability to secure strategic partnerships for the SLC.

Preferred: Preferred candidates will have expertise in other relevant fields such as intellectual property, tax, or mergers & acquisitions.

Qualified individuals should be able to articulate a strong commitment to diversity, and have the ability to work effectively with individuals from different backgrounds.

Offers of employment are contingent upon successful completion of a criminal, education and employment screening.

This is a restricted, exempt, 40 hour per week position.

Salary: Commensurate with experience


Follow this link for more information and instructions for applying.

January 10, 2017 in Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Getting Unstuck and Design Thinking

Everyone in our work encounters students who are in crisis about their callings, opportunities, and direction.  Most of us are sympathetic because we have all passed through those years, bedraggled and anxious about what we should do and how we should get there. Some of us still are.  

Students seek counsel and advice as they try to choose between their several options or as they despair at having too few. Many students (and professors and people) suffer profound questions about their lives and purpose as they finally achieve admission to law school with great dreams of how they imagine it to be, only to be utterly confused and depressed at the reality. Many students (and professors and people) are paralyzed by the fear of missing out, worried into stasis because choosing one path will necessarily eliminate others. They cannot square their reality with their expectations, and they are terrified of making an early step that will lead them into the wilderness instead of their home. In my experience, I meet many students who are people of faith, praying desperately and waiting to learn what God wills for their lives.    

Today, I listened to a very wise episode of  The Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam, applying design thinking to the problem of people feeling stuck in lives that do not reflect who they see themselves to be.  I recommend it for teachers and students looking for a useful framework for thinking about work, vocation, purpose, and decision-making.

Here’s the link to the episode and an excerpt:

Many of his students come to him saying they don't know what to do with their lives. They want to find the "right" answer. He tells them, 'There is more than one you in there.'

"So the problem with the current approach that lots of people are taking," he says, "is it starts with the wrong question. And the wrong question is, how do I figure out that one, best solution to my life?"

Design thinking is about recognizing your constraints, realizing there isn't just one answer, and then trying something: "Building a prototype," getting information from it, and then trying something else.

This reflects some of the advice I often give students, hard won as the wisdom of my own failures and struggles.  

It’s important to understand the difference between a problem and a circumstance, the “gravity problem” in the podcast, that can help us set more realistic expectations as a basis for our decisions.  

Rather than slogging through anguish trying to decide what to do in their work, students should imagine what kind of life they want to live. Making decisions consistent with values and preferences can be more liberating than pining for the perfect job. This also addresses the fear of missing out, because many options might be consistent with values and preferences along an evolving path.  As the podcast suggests, there are many different potential versions of our lives, so we experiment with prototypes to refine the best possible options in a moment within our circumstances.   

The episode suggests design thinking, not as self-help or mystical psychology, but as a framework to guide decisions and reflection for students stuck at the end of education and the beginning of a career. This is a critical moment, but it is only one more step in a long journey.

January 8, 2017 in Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dear ___________

This term I try something new. 

The students in my clinic will write a letter to themselves. The letter will be them speaking to themselves 14-15 weeks from now when clinic is over. They will tell themselves what they accomplished, what they did, and how they did it.  It is the student setting goals for themselves before the experience begins.

The clinical students will set goals in this letter it is hoped. By stating their accomplishments, they will set a path of achievement and work. The clinical faculty and the law school they attend is there for them to set goals and outcomes, but they can set goals as well and seek outcomes. The letter is a means to set them on that personal course.

The letter gets them to consider what they are now. Are they fearful of speaking in court or in front of people? Are they comfortable conducting site investigations? Are they comfortable with their interviewing skills? Do they negotiate well ? Or maybe, they have bigger goals such as they really want to learn how to infuse social justice into their work and learn it because it is what they want to do as a legal professional?  The letter can be very different for all of the students.

The most important thing is the student should be identifying their own concerns, the areas of legal practice skills that they know they can work on to improve, or the type of learning and development they want out of the clinical experience.  It could be anything. Maybe they just want to get along better with their co-students. Or, maybe they want to not be late once for any appointment related to the clinic. Regardless, the idea is to have the student embrace their goals and pursue them.

This idea of a letter to oneself came from a writing retreat I attended years ago. It lasted for 10 days. When the retreat was over, we were told to write letters to ourselves. The letters would be mailed to us (or handed back to us) in a  year.  We were charged in the letter with talking to ourselves and saying what we accomplished in that year.  Some goals were ambitious, some were basic, but we set the course of our development and work.

What I noticed from this experience is because I wrote specific things in the letter I pursued these goals strongly. I focused on them. If I had some challenges in achieving the goals, I sought help or I slowed down and refocused. Regardless, the letter became part of a path for me because I knew what I wanted to achieve and I made the effort. It was as if the letter made me push harder.  Reading my letter a year later was quite interesting too and something I welcomed. 

Imagine a letter written before a basketball camp that lasted a month. An excerpt of the letter might read like this:

Dear Brian:

You have worked hard on your left hand dribbling now. You have gotten much better at dribbling left handed and you feel good about that. You also needed to work on your free throws and you now almost never miss. You put in the time.

The clinical experience is increasingly important and is as always focused upon the actual skills of legal practice, among other things. This letter is just another tool to push that goal.  With so much focus upon the all important practical skills of legal education, this letter to oneself is just something else to use. 




January 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bob Kuehn: Data Show Most Law Schools Are Not Preparing Students Well for Practice

In a post at the Best Practices blog, Prof. Robert Kuehn examines empirical data on the performance of law schools in preparing students for practice.  He finds and demonstrates that most law schools continue to fall short of preparing students for practice, even many years after the ABA and most law schools declared preparation for practice to be a principal goal of legal education.

More recent studies have not reflected any improvement in the role of legal education in preparing graduates for practice. The American Bar Foundation’s After the JD study tracks the careers of a sample of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000. It asked lawyers three and seven years of out of school if “law school prepared me well for my legal career.” On this fundamental objective of legal education, law schools failed miserably — 40% of lawyers after three years of practice and 50% after seven years said that law school did not adequately prepare them. Both groups overwhelmingly agreed that law school was too theoretical and unconcerned with real life practice. In another study of early-career lawyers, only 28% believed that law school prepared them to practice law.

January 5, 2017 in Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Clinic Mural

UCD Mural

Like many clinicians, I found this past semester challenging. (And yes, “challenging” is code for all of the other descriptors and curses best left off this blog.) I was fortunate to work with 10 especially engaged UC Davis law students in a clinic serving victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. But the semester seemed unusually fraught with health issues for students, staff, and faculty alike, and our clients faced particularly frustrating setbacks in court. Then there was the election…

But there was also a new kind of energy in our building - involving scaffolding, paint, and pizza. Professor Maceo Montoya and the undergraduate students* enrolled in his Fall 2016 Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop created and painted a mural for a large wall in our clinic cottage. (The picture does not do it justice.) The left side depicts “trapped,” portraying isolation, hardship, and the lack of accessibility to lawyers for our clients. The center represents “agency,” portraying our clinic law students, the history of our building as a farmworker cottage, and the hope the rising sun brings. The right side shows “liberation,” including the chains of oppression transforming into quetzals, the safe space provided through our clinic, legal successes for clients, and “justice” written in several languages.

Thanks to connections made by one of our Immigration Clinic Directors, Professor Holly Cooper, and the creativity and hard work of Professor Montoya and his students, our workspace is more colorful, more inviting, and more meaningful. And we now have an everyday reminder of the reason we do the work we do.

Happy New Year!

*The students who painted the mural were: Vanessa Barajas Orozco, Castro, Anllely, Monica Duarte Martinez, Jose Espinoza, Jazmin Guerrero, Daisy Hernandez, Kristi Lin, Cecilia Lopez, Jeannette Martinez, Raul Mercado, Annette Miramontes, Briana Nunez, Jessica Orozco, Derick Romero, Shelby Sanders, and Natalie Villalobos Gomez. Several mentioned an interest in social justice lawyering, so keep an eye out for their law school applications.  

January 4, 2017 in Clinic News, Interdisciplinary Programs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Clinicians and Clinical Events at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting

The 2017 AALS Annual Meeting opens Tuesday, January 3, in San Francisco. The AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education and the Clinical Legal Education Association have several events, formal and informal, on the menu.


Tuesday, January 3:

CLEA Board Meeting, 3:00 – 5:00 (UC-Hastings,100 McAllister St., 3d Floor)

CLEA Membership Meeting, 5:30 – 6:30 (UC-Hastings, 198 McAllister St., Ground Floor)


Wednesday, January 4:

A Practical Approach to Developing and Assessing Experiential, Meaningful Placements for Incoming and Outgoing J.D. Law, International Legal Exchange and Post-Graduate Legal Education Joint Program, Co-Sponsored by Clinical Legal Education, East Asian Law & Society, & Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers, 1:30 – 4:30 (Yosemite C)

Jessica Burns (Global Experiences), William H. Byrnes (Texas A&M), Gillian Dutton (Seattle), Jayanth K. Krishnan (Indiana – Maurer), Charlotte Ku (Texas A&M), Srividhya Ragavan (Texas A&M), Susan B. Schechter (UC-Berkeley), Aric K. Short (Texas A&M), Jeffrey Ellis Thomas (UMKC)


AALS Externship Committee Meeting and Dinner, 7:00 – 9:00 (Amber India, 25 Yerba Buena Lane)


Thursday, January 5:

Addressing Implicit Bias in Teaching, Clinical Legal Education Section, 8:30 – 10:15  (Continental Ballroom 4)      

Rachel Godsil (Seton Hall), Carol L. Izumi (UC-Hastings), Verna Myers (Verna Myers Consulting Group), Victoria Plaut (UC-Hastings)


AALS Clinical Legal Education Section Luncheon, 12:00 – 1:30 (Ticket Required)

This luncheon includes the presentation of the 2017 Pincus Award to Frank Askin (Rutgers) and Tom Geraghty (Northwestern)


AALS Discussion Group: Law School Curricula and Practice-Readiness: Perfect Partners or Strange Bedfellows?, 1:30 – 3:15 (Union Square 1&2)

Constance E. Bagley (Yale), Bradford Colbert (Mitchell | Hamline), Randy J. Diamond (Missouri), Claire Donohue (American), Kate Elengold (North Carolina), Michelle Falkoff (Northwestern), Andrew J. Haile (Elon), Norrinda Hayat (UDC), John D. King (Washington and Lee), Laurie S. Kohn (George Washington), M. Isabel Medina (Loyola  - New Orleans), Ann L. Nowak (Touro), David Anthony Santacroce (Michigan), Jessica Steinberg (George Washington), Jane K. Stoever (UC-Irvine), Bryan Taylor (Concordia), Paul R. Tremblay (Boston College)


Friday, January 6:

AALS Arc of Career Program, Chartering New Waters: Clinicians' Post-Tenure Reflections, 8:30 – 10:15 (Continental Ballroom 6)

Kristina Campbell (UDC), Patience A. Crowder (Denver, Susan R. Jones (George Washington), Laurie S. Kohn (George Washington), Karla M. McKanders (Tennessee), Jayesh Rathod (American), Robin Walker Sterling (Denver) Elizabeth Young (U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review)

January 2, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)