Friday, June 30, 2017
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
2017 Southern Clinical Conference
Thursday, June 15, 2017
The AALS Section on Africa is pleased to announce a Call for Papers from which 2-3 additional presenters will be selected for the section’s program to be held during the AALS 2018 Annual Meeting in San Diego on “Children’s Rights and Responsibilities in Africa.” The program is co-sponsored by the AALS Section on Children and the Law and the AALS Section on International Human Rights. The call for papers seeks authors of published or unpublished papers that consider the rights and responsibilities of children on the African continent.
Background: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the history of the world. A look at the drafting history of the CRC indicates that African countries were not proportionally represented in the drafting process, arguably due to a lack of resources and a dearth of diplomatic representatives in post-colonial Africa. Although some feared that the North-South divide in the drafting process would prevent the universal acceptance of the treaty, the fact is that the continent was strongly represented among the first countries to sign and ratify the treaty.
African countries did not stop there. They criticized the CRC for not going far enough in protecting children’s rights and taking into consideration African cultural values (such as the notion that children also have concurrent responsibilities) and issues, such as apartheid, child marriage, child labor, child trafficking, children in armed conflict, and harmful cultural practices. African nations converted this criticism into the first regional children’s treaty, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Africa also is home to the first nation, the Republic of South Africa, to include many of the principles of the CRC and the African Children’s Charter in the nation’s constitution.
Despite the leadership that the African continent has offered in developing an international legal framework for children’s rights and responsibilities, the consequences of colonial occupation has led to a perception that children’s rights have not been recognized in many areas, ranging from gender discrimination to education to economic security and more. This call for papers is intended to advance the dialogue related to both the creation and fulfillment of children’s rights and responsibilities, especially as they relate to children in Africa.
Thus, the Section on Africa invites any full-time faculty member of an AALS member school who has authored a published or unpublished paper, is writing a paper, or is interested in writing a paper on this topic to submit a 1- or 2-page proposal to the Chair of the Section by August 31, 2017. The Executive Committee will review all submissions and select proposals for presentation as part of our AALS 2018 Program.
Please share this call for papers widely and direct all submissions and questions to the Chair of the AALS Section on Africa:
Professor Warren Binford
Willamette University College of Law
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
I registered for the conference as a bit of continuing education. In the Pepperdine Community Justice Clinic, our students and I counsel nonprofits and NGOs in corporate and policy matters, so I seized an opportunity to learn more about the nonprofit ecosystem, the market, and its trends. The 501(c)onference is a gathering of world-class nonprofits and nonprofit leaders in Southern California, to exchange ideas, network, and improve collaborations. Like most lawyers and most academics I spend most of my time with other lawyers and academics, so it was nice to break away and see the work from the clients’ point of view. (This had the double benefit of new insight for the great boards on which I get to serve: Counsel to Secure Justice, Medicine for Humanity, The Abundant Table, and the Clinical Legal Education Association.)
The time away from the ivory silo was refreshing and useful, and that was my first professional lesson for the week. All we lawyers should spend time with our clients in their markets, especially when they do not need us. We learn more about them so can serve them better. All we academics should spend time in the fields we study and teach to ground our scholarship and classes in lived experience.
At this brief conference, a rising energy and resilient optimism pervaded the conversations. Everyone acknowledged the conflict and tension of our present political and social anxieties. People presented bleak, striking data about the economy, communities, and policies. Speakers identified troubling trends rooted in systems and cycles, but there was little despair in the room. Instead, there was a calm, fierce, determined air to stay at work in new and better ways. Plenty of people spoke of resistance, but it is a resistance against division, inequity, and deceit.
That spirit infused righteous talk of alliance. We talk a lot about collaboration, but this deeper discussion of alliance meant more than projects in common. It meant more than MOUs. Alliance calls for mutuality, humility, and shared burdens in a righteous cause. Even as these organizations may vie for the same grants and funders, they were all speaking to the need to join forces in defense of our social contracts and the community ligaments than bind us together.
Those conversations invited talk of innovation and new ideas to fund and sustain organizations and their work. Some brilliant panelists discussed the emerging trends of social-impact investing, B-Corps, pay-for-performance, and other market-driven social enterprises. This is an important new trend that we must explore and improve. No one does this work for the money, but money is necessary for the work. Angel investors, equities, bonds, and other start-up financing mechanisms promise new means of big money for socially responsible enterprises who can find the right mix of markets and economic development. Some of us, however, had good counterpoint discussions about the temptations of profit and the reality of issues that defy markets. Sometimes folks can get rich while doing great good in the world. Very often, social needs and solutions will not respond to market fixes and will require the generosity of donors and the tenacity of scrappy activists whose work is not measured in profit.
These conversations stood in stark contrast to a meeting of Black Lives Matter that my family and I attended earlier in the week. BLM intentionally and explicitly is not part of the traditional nonprofit system or economy. As it fights for empowerment and reform, it takes a radically different, disciplined strategy. The nonprofit conference was in gleaming, corporate quarters in spaces built for teaching and learning. BLM met in a well-worn, hard-working community center covered in local art, a place with sharp edges made warm, hospitable, and loving by a fierce commitment to inclusion and dignity. BLM opts for deep, patient community organizing and development built on relationships, teaching, dialog, and amplified voices. It is not profitable and does not seek to be.
And this contrast informs another great lesson for me this week. I believe in All-of-the-Above, each of these extraordinary people and organizations seeking the light in their respective worlds and calling others to join their alliances. From the veteran community organizers in Inglewood to the rich foundations Santa Monica, from the scrappy new nonprofit laboring without an office to the global NGOs who can call on millions, their work all bends toward the dignity of every person. To seek the dignity of the oppressed and to empower the poor is to love everyone, including ourselves. We need them all.
To empower the vulnerable people on the margins of our society and economy is to strengthen all the bonds on which we all rely. This morning, we saw again the great and awful cost when we allow those bonds to fray and snap. While we gathered in conference, a man took intentional, deadly aim at our representatives, our Congress. He chose a moment when they were actually engaged in friendly, healthy, democratic, bipartisan, American government, even in an era of harsh polarization and distrust. Just hours later, another person unleashed death on co-workers in another workplace shooting that we can only ever seem to call senseless.
This violence is a failure of many things, and we must own them together if we going to resist the breach of our social contract, our commitments and reliance on each other. If we cannot trust each other, then the center will not hold.
So I end this reflection returning to work as a teaching lawyer (or a practicing professor). Our communities and commerce depend on the rule of law. The rule of law depends on our social contract, these deep commitments to each other. These commitments depend on trust, and trust depends on dignity. Everyone's dignity depends on the dignity of everyone else, and that mutuality is under assault.
Fundamentally, this must be the work of lawyers. We must guard and defend the conditions necessary to thrive in liberty and peace.
So we must teach our students accordingly. Violence is a failure of our morality and care. Rampant deceit is a failure of our discipline to hold ourselves accountable. Injustice thrives when our alliances degrade. The Republic will fall when we abandon our mutuality. This is the jurisprudence we need to teach and study. This is how community emerges from chaos.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
The National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles (NLG-LA) will honor Prof. Annie Lai at its Annual Awards Banquet on Sunday, June 11.
The co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) at UCI Law, Prof. Lai teaches and practices in the areas of civil and immigrant rights. Among the many matters that Prof. Lai has worked with students on in the IRC is a constitutional challenge to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s worksite immigration raids in federal district court in Arizona. The IRC is serving as lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
More recently, Prof. Lai helped draft a letter, signed by 292 legal scholars, addressed to President Donald Trump that asserted the President’s threat to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities is unconstitutional. Prof. Lai frequently partners with grassroots organizations on local policy initiatives—she was part of the effort to obtain a far-reaching sanctuary policy in the City of Santa Ana and clarified federal funding concerns along the way. Together with students in the IRC, Prof. Lai provided comment to the Santa Ana City Council regarding a legal defense fund for detained immigrants facing deportation.
“I feel incredibly honored and humbled to receive a recognition like this from the National Lawyers Guild,” said Prof. Lai. “We are living in a time when bold and creative lawyering for social justice is not just an ambition, but an imperative. The National Lawyers Guild is an organization that has long stood for those very values.”
“We are thrilled to be awarding Professor Lai, who exemplifies everything the Guild looks for in movement lawyers: someone who has committed their career to supporting the movement, vindicating the rights of the people, and sharing their passion and knowledge to uplift other advocates,” said Ameena Mirza Qazi, executive director of the NLG-LA.
The National Lawyers Guild seeks to unite lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests.
The NLG-LA’s annual awards banquet will celebrate the guild’s 80th anniversary and will take place on Sunday, June 11, at 5:00 p.m. at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel. For more info, please visit nlg-la.org.
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Thursday, June 1, 2017
To steal from the words of our most recent AALS Clinical Conference theme, these are definitely tumultuous times. For me, it is a daily battle to read the news and not go back to bed. Stories of clinicians working to make a difference in their communities both in and out of the law school environment, provide inspiration and motivation to keep fighting another day.
Though the ending of this chapter is not yet written, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is already an inspiration. After more than twenty years as a clinical teacher and scholar, she is now running for Congress in her home state of New Mexico. Below, in her own words, you will find a piece of her story.
1. Along with having been dean of your law school, you have many years of clinical teaching experience; how has clinical teaching informed your decision to run and why is it important to you to run for office now? (correction, I was associate dean not dean--ASL)
As a clinical teacher, I worked on many of the issues and challenges our communities in New Mexico are facing. Our work was rooted in helping the overlooked and underserved communities of Central New Mexico. I have had the privilege of meeting with tenants of run-down trailer parks who, among their numerous grievances, have been deeply impacted by the quality of their living environment and have few remedies. I worked with students on devastating cases where clients who were in abusive situations had few options. I have met mothers who lost a day’s pay each time they had to go to court on their restraining order, custody petition, or divorce. I have met with families devastated by the effects of a sawmill on the air quality in their community.
My involvement with community while I was at the law school culminated with an encounter with a woman begging on the street in Guanajuato, Mexico. I gave her a bag of tamales; she looked at me with deep gratitude and told me that she would share them. I discovered that she was undocumented in Mexico, from Guatemala. She had fled an abusive home life and was happier living on the streets in Guanajuato than she had been in Guatemala. My perspective changed. I felt a strong need to get involved more deeply with my community and to help confront challenges facing survivors at the intersection of immigration, poverty and domestic violence.
I retired from the law school at the University of New Mexico after 27 years of law teaching to become the executive director of Enlace Comunitario, a non-profit that serves all victims of domestic violence and conducts outreach to Latino immigrants in Central New Mexico. I was very gratified and satisfied with our progress until the current administration came into power. In one election, I knew that everything had changed for our communities. The terror among all immigrants coupled with the activities of ICE after the President’s Executive Order and the Director of Homeland Security memo purporting to roll back limitations on the discretion of ICE officials was alarming. Using my clinical skills, I worked with allies to try to convince the New Mexico Supreme Court that it has inherent authority to protect access to justice. I co-founded a group called “Defend Our Neighbors” to advocate for the rights of all who might be affected by the current administration.
These advocacy roles were noticed by others who encouraged me to amplify my voice for others and to use the skills, knowledge and values I had developed as a clinical law teacher in Congress. I am very excited by the opportunity to serve in Congress at this time.
2. What skill(s) or lesson(s) from your clinical teaching do you think will be most applicable to life as a Congresswoman?
As my last academic project before I left law teaching, I worked with Deborah Maranville, Lisa Bliss, and Carrie Kass to co-edit the book, Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World. The book brought innovative and effective law teachers and administrators from around the country to discuss how legal education should change to adapt to changing realities. The book stressed developing goals and outcomes and focusing on teaching and programmatic strategies for students to learn to achieve those outcomes. My biggest take-away from 27 years of law teaching and various roles in administration is based on those two large points. As a congresswoman, I will be open to addressing changing realities and I will be focused on fighting for the outcomes we need for our communities to thrive: community and economic development, health care for all, and social justice and equality.
3. How will your clinical experience help you better serve the needs of constituents? Advocate for them in Congress?
Throughout my clinical experience, I have had the chance to work with people from all walks of life. I have developed a passion for problem- solving and bringing people together around a cause. As a clinical teacher, I have opened doors to public service for students and opportunity to the clients that we served. My approach emphasizes accessibility, which will produce effective constituent services. As an advocate, I will not simply offer sound bites, but will work to deliver progress on the many causes I’ve worked on throughout my career. I will be a powerful voice in Congress for the under-served communities I have worked with, sharing the stories I have learned and bringing the force of the law, facts, and data to bring about change.
4. The current political climate is challenging. What parts of clinical teaching will help you make difficult decisions in Congress and help you explain the issues and your decisions to your constituents?
The challenging political climate is one of the reasons why I am running. After years of working with communities who do not have a voice in the policy prescriptions that are intended to solve the problems that afflict them, I feel now is the time to best use my skills and training to champion this community in Washington. My deep knowledge of the Constitution, federal laws and public policy, and our community is an asset in standing up in opposition to the current administration’s backwards policies. Whether it be the rollback of our civil liberties, access to health care or climate change policies, this administration has chosen ignore the people’s voices. I will communicate well and often with my constituents so that they are always aware of how federal issues will impact our community and will constantly seek their input on the issues.
5. What is one piece of advice you wish someone had shared when you were beginning your teaching career?
Prepare yourself to pursue your passions in teaching, in scholarship and in service and everything will fall into place. Even if you don’t achieve the ultimate goals you seek, the journey will be fascinating and rewarding.
6. Tell us a little about your path. When you were a law student or while you were teaching clinics would you have imagined someday running for Congress?
My story starts even earlier than law school. I told my high school counselor that I was interested in the law. He replied, “That is great, because you are so smart, you will make a great legal secretary.” I have definitely exceeded the expectations prescribed to me as a woman, as a Latina, and as someone from a rural, working class community in New Mexico. I wake up every morning in awe that I served as a law professor for 27 years, eight of which I spent as Associate Dean, and as a nonprofit executive director for three, and that today I have the privilege of running to represent New Mexicans in Congress. I am proud to have had a career that has prepared me with the knowledge, skills and values to do a great job for my home state.
7. What would you suggest to someone who wants to make a difference in their community but isn’t in a position to run for office? How can other clinical teachers best help, including those without live-client clinics?
I believe all of us need to be engaged and informed. We need to use the privilege of our education (formal and informal) and our positions, whatever those positions might be, in service of those without privilege. Clinical teachers can insure that students see the social justice implications of the work they do. They can help students understand the “foot of oppression” that impacts people of color, low income individuals, and those with little power in our society. Through these lenses, students can use their talents and their resources to address the problems of poverty and inequality while in clinic and after they leave the law school.