Monday, January 21, 2019
1. "I've got a bad feeling about this." -- Han Solo
It's a new semester. You have brand new cases and deadlines... and at least one of those deadlines is comin' in hot. You've got a sick feeling in your stomach. You can see dread in the students' faces. Your fresh take on the court's refusal to grant an extension or continuance? A bad feeling. But it can't stop there.
2. “I need someone to show me my place in all this.” -- Rey
The role of the clinical law professor is twofold: to represent clinic clients in a zealous and professional way and to teach clinic students their "place in all this." Sometimes that means subdividing sections of a brief or a larger project; sometimes it's suggesting research terms and leading a brainstorming session. But it's also more than that: students look to their clinical law professors to help them make sense of their lawyering experiences to assess their own path. Deadlines are important- but clinical students are more than research assistants or interns. Fundamentally, law clinics are lab courses in which students' work is also twofold: representing their clients and reflecting on their own professional development.
3. "Do or do not. There is no try." -- Yoda
Clinic litigation often doesn't have the luxury of extended pontification, and it certainly can't stop with "try." Behind every clinic case is a client relying on students' work product. There's no "A for effort" here, though grades and feedback also cannot be based on a court result. Clinical learning outcomes are the skills gained, the words written (and edited and rearranged and rewritten). We may all get writer's block or paralysis, but we can't stay there for long.
4. "The time to fight is now." -- Jyn Erso
Clinic briefs filed in an adversarial system are our weapons in the battle for justice for our clients, and the fight is on. We can count on opposing counsel to make the case against our client's claims, and we have to meet each of them head on. Clinical faculty and our students are bound by rules of professional conduct, and I am a strong believer in the powers of civility toward opposing counsel. But within those bounds, we are zealous. It doesn't hurt us to own the mantle of a freedom fighter; at our best, that's what we are.
5. "Look, Your Worshipfulness, let's get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me."-- Han Solo
I've mostly included this as a tongue-in-cheek counter-example of the kind of coachability we need in clinic students. Our students are smart, intuitive, hardworking, solid writers. But they still have to listen. Only once or twice have I encountered a student who didn't love taking heavy edits on a brief, and with a deadline clock ticking, it wasted valuable time.
6. "Never tell me the odds"-- Han Solo
I run an appellate and habeas clinic. The odds are never in our favor. Why bog ourselves down with the reversal rate of the appellate court hearing the case? Irrelevant. Next issue.
7. "It's a Trap!!"-- Admiral Akbar
There comes a point in all justice work when we become too enamored with our own perspective. We don't want to become paralyzed by bad odds, but we also need a healthy perspective on the court's view of our client's case record and issues. What arguments will be persuasive? What will the State argue? Where are the weak spots, and what will shore those places up? Better to consider these weaknesses before the filing deadline instead of after.
8. "That's impossible-- even for a computer!"-- Rebel pilot
As someone who learned legal research in the stacks of the law library, I'm always amazed with the newfangled bells and whistles of our research resources. Ever have a program create a beautiful table of authorities? E-filed remotely when you used to have to make 9 hard copies with heavy covers, stapled down the side, all FedExed before 9 pm? A thing of beauty... plus, it saves hours in clinic work time.
9."Use the Force, [class]." -- Obi-Wan Kenobi
In the last few days before a filing or other court deadline, accumulated stress takes its toll. Students have other courses to study for, clinical faculty have other teaching obligations. We've all put our lives on hold. But there's still final editing left to do. A brief isn't finished 'til it's filed... and sometimes we need that extra boost of adrenaline (and The Force) to make sure we create clinic work product we're proud of. We have to dig deep for motivation, and I generally find that in our clients' confidence in us and in what is at stake for them if we lose.
Monday, January 14, 2019
CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer Conference
“Teaching Today’s Law Students”
June 3-5, 2019
Washburn University School of Law
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law professors and administrators are reaching today’s law students. With the ever-changing and heterogeneous nature of law students, this topic has taken on increased urgency for professors thinking about effective teaching strategies.
The conference theme is intentionally broad and is designed to encompass a wide variety of topics – neuroscientific approaches to effective teaching; generational research about current law students; effective use of technology in the classroom; teaching first-generation college students; classroom behavior in the current political climate; academic approaches to less prepared students; fostering qualities such as growth mindset, resilience, and emotional intelligence in students; or techniques for providing effective formative feedback to students.
Accordingly, the Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.
To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:
- The title of the workshop;
- The name, address, telephone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
- A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods; and
- A description of the techniques the presenter will use to engage workshop participants and make the workshop interactive.
The proposal deadline is February 15, 2019. Submit proposals via email to Professor Emily Grant, Co-Director, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, January 4, 2019
In fall of 2018, 84 law schools reported that 16,502 law students in the class of 2018* contributed 3,481,066.11 hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 211 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $24.69 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students’ time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $85.9 million. The schools represent approximately 48 percent of students in American Bar Association accredited law schools in the class of 2018.
In the same survey, 83 schools reported that 51,627 law students in all class years (1L-3L) during the academic year 2018-19 contributed 4,266,319.83 hours in legal services, an average of approximately 82.6 hours per student. Using the Independent Sector value of volunteer time, the value of these services is estimated to be in excess of $105.3 million.