Saturday, February 18, 2017

Providing Pro Bono Services to Dreamers and Others in the University

This week, at the direction of our university administration, Pepperdine announced several new initiatives to provide focused services on students across the university who are affected by changes and potential changes in immigration law and international travel rules.   These services include projects by the counseling center, chaplain's office, and point people in each of our five schools.

They also include the new Pepperdine Law Immigration Clinic.  This is not a standard, credit-bearing course in the clinical curriculum but is a pilot project with four clinical faculty supervising students who can earn pro bono credit. We are providing advice and counsel under California's limited-scope representation rules.  The representation is limited to basic advice, counsel, and referrals for students with questions and concerns about their visas, residency status, documentation, international travel, and immigration matters. The clients are Pepperdine students who are Dreamers, undocumented immigrants, or international students holding passports from affected nations.  (Here is our announcement to the law school this week.)

The university also funded a retainer for an outside, expert immigration attorney to handle more complex matters for students, short of appearing in adversarial proceedings.  The retained lawyer is one of our former supervising attorneys in the clinics and is one of the leading immigration lawyers in Los Angeles. 

In frustrating times, it has been wonderful to see our university mobilize for its students, to marshal its resources quickly, and gather committed people from across the university ecosystem who are eager and willing to add work their portfolios.  

Several other schools and organizations have been at work on similar projects, and their resources have been invaluable to us as we get up to speed on this work.  Our colleagues in immigration clinics around the country have been generous in sharing insight, materials, and ideas as we get started.

Here are some important and useful resources from our University of California neighbors for which are very grateful:

We Stand With Our Students (an initiative of UCLA profs)

University of California Undocumented Legal Services Center


February 18, 2017 in Clinic News, Clinic Profile, Current Affairs, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2017 CLEA New Clinicians Conference, May 6, 2017, Denver Colorado

CLEA has opened registration for the 2017 New Clinicians Conference, May 6, 2017, in Denver, Colorado.  The New Clinicians Conference will be on the day before the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education and will be at the Colorado Bar, a short walk from the AALS conference hotel. 

From the CLEA description:

The New Clinicians Conference will offer resources for teaching and lawyering in clinics, orientation to the legal academy, opportunity for building networks, and ideas for improving our work. Designed for clinicians in their first year or two of clinical teaching, the full-day program will include multiple plenary sessions, facilitated small groups, and break-out sessions.

The deadline to register for one of the sixty spots at the conference is April 18, 2017.

Register and find more information here.

I have the privilege of working on the organizing committee for this conference and am very excited for the plans. I have benefited and witnessed the great benefit of this conference for the lawyer-teachers who are just joining our work.  The experiences and relationships here are invaluable.  Deans and directors will receive a great return on their investment for sending new clinicians to accelerate their learning and work here. 

February 7, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching the Muslim Ban through Multimedia in a Transactional Clinic

As a Transactional Clinical Professor in Appalachia, you may be surprised to learn I recently included this topic in my seminar. I believe it is our duty as lawyers to think critically about the world and systems around us. We may not be experts in immigration or water rights or policing, but attorneys should bear witness and parse through emotional reactions to unpack (or issue spot) legitimate concerns. All lawyers must be engaged in justice and my students, who advocate for economic opportunity, are no different.

My learning goals for exploring the “Muslim Ban” are:

  • Connect troubling current events with the law
  • Explore the justice implications and human consequences of these events
  • Explore our impact as lawyers and the importance of bearing witness (“showing up”)
  • Connect these concepts to our clients, their communities, and their realities to engender empathy for all families and individuals at risk.

I always use multimedia as a means to ease into politically sensitive topics. My students find multimedia to be refreshing addition to standard legal reading assignments (statutes, cases, regulations, and even the occasional executive order). Additionally, multimedia forces students to think about laws in action rather than in a vacuum. The voice over the radio or facial expression on film is far more persuasive, often telling a personal and compelling story. Even those who disagree will at least be forced to listen (literally).  

For this assignment, I used two podcasts along with the text of the executive order. The premise is exploring how contracts (Powers of Attorney, Guardianship Agreements) could provide some security or protection to families who are separated. In order to discuss the contracts, we needed to understand the situation causing the separation.

We start by discussing the groups targeted by the Executive Order. We explore the colloquial use of “Muslim Ban” despite the word Muslim not appearing in the text. We discuss the underlying national security justifications. I explain that this will serve as our benchmark when considering the collateral consequences and tensions with our understanding of “justice.”

I use the multimedia to illustrate these human collateral consequences. The first podcast is an episode of This American Life, titled “Taking Names.” It chronicles the story of Kirk Johnson, who worked for USAID during the reconstruction of Fallujah, Iraq. Kirk began a list of Iraqis marked for retaliation based on their cooperation with the U.S. Military and other U.S. agencies. It is a heartbreaking portrait of the families and individuals seeking asylum. The podcast also outlines the rigorous, existing vetting mechanisms for refugees. Using a slightly dated podcast also reinforces that the plight of refugees, the vetting process, and national security concerns are not new. I do this because a large percentage of the state supported the current administration. To make sure students listen, I must make it clear that this is a longstanding problem exacerbated by the “Muslim Ban.” We then begin discussing the justice implications of the ban. Are these refugees a threat? When comparing the national security concerns with the existing process and human consequences, do we understand the tensions, problems, and subsequent outrage? 

For my students, I must also reinforce that transactional lawyers are not exempt from these larger justice conversations. We may not be immigration lawyers, but can still contribute. The second podcast is an interview with fellow Clinical Professor Sarah Sherman-Stokes and helps my students understand our role in justice. Sarah is one of the stellar Clinicians at Boston University and works in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Sarah discusses her experience in being a lawyer and law professor at Logan. My students were particularly moved by Sarah’s retelling of bringing Entrepreneurship Clinic Students to the airport. She uses the phrase “show up” and reiterates how our legal training, even as students, gives us the skills to interview, fact gather, and be of use. The full podcast is available here

I conclude the class by discussing ways my Clinic can help communities, families, and individuals prepare for these circumstances through our transactional skills. We discuss how basic contracts like Guardianship Agreements and Powers of Attorney can help families plan for disasters. We discuss the importance of educating the public, helping them understand the guardianship hearings and family law system. Can we collaborate with the family law clinic to create a teach-in or general self-help or legal advocacy tools for families? We discuss who in our communities could benefit from this – individuals seeking in-patient treatment, individuals fearing arrest, etc. We revisit that parents seeking to protect their children exist in all communities. We have the skills to help them understand their rights and even draft basic agreements to protect their loved ones. We must remember - we are in a position of power in a time of great uncertainty.


February 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump's Inaugural Address Didn't Stray From History. It Repeats It.

On February 1, 1933—exactly eighty-four years ago [today/ yesterday] –Adolf Hitler delivered his first speech as Chancellor of Germany. That address is significant for a number of reasons beyond its anniversary.

After President Donald Trump’s Inauguration, a number of prominent news sources ran comparisons between his speech and that of past presidents, noting that most had focused their addresses on themes of hope (“Yes we can…”), self-sacrifice (“Ask not what your country can do for you…”). Trump, on the other hand, focused on darker imagery and nationalistic themes.

The point of many of the comparison stories was that President Trump’s inaugural address veered from historical trends. Looking back a bit farther back, however—and across the Atlantic Ocean—shows that our newly inaugurated President’s speech was neither unique nor new. It was simply unique in modern American history.

Preserved for their historical relevance, Hitler’s speeches are widely available, in reliable translation, in libraries and in web-based sources. Progressives have been making comparisons between Trump and Hitler since the early days of the 2016 Presidential campaign. But not all supremacist language takes us back to Nazi Germany; Twenty-first century racism is abhorrent in its own right. So I invite your independent comparison of that 1933 radio address with the one offered at President Trump’s Inauguration. The parallels in both structure and rhetoric are stark. Lest these comparisons seem hyperbolic, I include direct quotes from each address.

To begin with, each address alludes to a golden time in the nation’s history that must be restored. Each also seeks to locate blame with those responsible for struggles of the People (for whom both Trump and Hitler claim to speak).

President Trump: For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost . ...   Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. … Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and, while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

Chancellor Hitler: More than fourteen years have passed since the unhappy day when the German people, blinded by promises from foes at home and abroad, lost touch with honor and freedom, thereby losing all…

Next, both Trump and Hitler conjure dismal imagery. This, as many news sources pointed out, was what so starkly differed between Trump’s inaugural speech and his predecessors’. But this tactic packs a powerful rhetorical punch; exaggerating the failures of past government inspires those who feel envious, resentful, downtrodden to trust in the exercise of power who would restore the days of prosper and plenty.


President Trump: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation… and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

Chancellor Hitler: The misery of our people is horrible to behold! Millions of the industrial proletariat are unemployed and starving; the whole of the middle class and the small artisans have been impoverished.

Throughout both speeches, both Trump and Hitler call on God’s blessing for their righteous causes. Some were surprised at the language of Trump’s Inaugural address, which was more overtly religious than is typical for him. Of course, neither speech is interfaith: it is clear whose God is invoked (and which religions are not welcome at the table).

President Trump: When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. … we will be protected by God.

Chancellor Hitler: The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life....

Perhaps most widely discussed in Donald Trump’s inaugural speech are the nationalist and populist themes. Trump calls this “Americanism.” We have seen this before. Structurally, these themes pervade each address.

President Trump: We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny….

Chancellor Hitler: But we are all filled with unbounded confidence for we believe in our people and their imperishable virtues. Every class and every individual must help us to found the new Reich.

Appealing to the faith of the people and pledging commitment to a common cause, both Trump and Hitler close with strong statements of populist purpose and national unity.


President Trump: Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you. God bless America

Chancellor Hitler: Now, people of Germany, give us four years and then pass judgment upon us. … May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany.

And so we have structural similarities, similar language, similar themes. Content aside, both speeches employ brilliant tactics for rallying believers to a cause and for unifying “the people” – Hitler called them “Volk”—behind broad exercise of power. Hitler delivered far more dangerous speeches, and Trump has more addresses yet to come. But the way in each man chose to introduce himself as a new world leader is telling- and tellingly parallel.

Am I suggesting, with this comparison, that President Trump is the next Fuhrer and the United States is destined for another Holocaust and World War III? No. In addition to our Separation of Powers, we have seen organized resistance to concerning efforts of the new Administration. Last weekend’s Marches demonstrated peaceful vigilance against authoritarian policies and xenophobic rhetoric. But must we continue to learn from the past and read the warning signs as we see them? Yes. Jawohl.


This post appeared earlier in the Macon Telegraph, February 1, 2017.

February 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Launching the New Lextern Website

Prof. Kendall Kerew of Georgia State has announced the launch of the new Lextern website.

Lextern is an invaluable resource for externship and other field placement programs.

Explore it here.

Kendall describes the new project:

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of a new version of LexternWeb (  As many of you know, Professor Sandy Ogilvy of Catholic University Columbus School of Law created LexternWeb in 2009 for the benefit and use of faculty and administrators engaged in teaching and coordinating legal externship programs. With Professor Ogilvy's support and input, the AALS Clinical Section's Externship Committee has created this new version of LexternWeb to continue Professor Ogilvy's work to promote information sharing and collaboration among externship faculty nationwide.  


Like its predecessor, the new LexternWeb is a one-stop shop for every kind of Externship Program resource. The site includes a variety of materials related to law school programs, externship teaching, site supervision, scholarship, and professional organizations. Moving forward, AALS Externship Committee Co-Chair Kendall Kerew will work in conjunction with the Committee and Professor Ogilvy to administer the LexternWeb site. To post your program-related materials, please email them to Kendall at  


Special thanks to the many colleagues and friends who helped us bring the LexternWeb to you. In particular, we would like to again thank Sandy Ogilvy for his inspired work with LexternWeb over so many years and for being so supportive of this update. 


February 1, 2017 in Teaching and Pedagogy, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)