Sunday, June 30, 2019

Storytelling and Pedagogy, or, Haven, my novella

I’m a Southern lawyer, and that suggests a double pedigree in storytelling.  My mom was an English teacher for years, and she jokes that Southerners always start their stories at the very beginning.  “Let me tell you about this hilarious self-deprecating thing that happened yesterday, but first I have to tell you about the family trees and life-stories of every single person involved in my otherwise pithy anecdote.” We don’t need better editors; we just take our time.

That legacy led me to a deeply rooted love of literature and storytelling as a craft (and an English minor). I’ve written about that before on this blog. When teaching law students how to be great advocates, I often teach the elements of narrative, rhetoric, and storytelling. In class, we talk about narrative structure: setting, character development, rising tension, conflict, climax, resolution, and the rest.  We talk about Aristotle’s elements of ethos, pathos, and logos.  We talk about the Hero’s Journey and other Joseph Campbell ideas.

These ideas are powerful elements of advocacy, negotiation, counsel, and communication in every context. I deploy them in trial, appeals, representation in mediation, negotiations, and policy advocacy. Creating good stories is an essential skill that we too often neglect in legal education.  

One my favorite experiences as a law teacher has been teaching Law and Literature. Through novels, short-stories, essays, poetry, plays, and film, the students and I examined narrative forms and elements, the structure of arguments and rhetoric, the use of literature to understand and critique the law, and the law’s presence in our cultural consciousness. My students joked that it should have been called Atticus Finch and the Law, but that’s because we were in Alabama and had a vested interest.

But like a lot of Southern lawyers, I really want to write novels, not just teach about them. Atticus is just barely fiction to me. 

After we moved to California, my wife, who constantly encourages this dreaming, pointed me toward the Writers Program at UCLA Extension. I took a course, and it reignited my hope and drive to write. I started a story in 2015 without a clear sense of its destination. That story has evolved in various iterations since then, and I have tested it in traditional markets and with a lot of generous readers. I was never quite ready to launch it into the world until recently.

I took the fiction writing course to exercise the craft that I discuss often in law school classes. The end is a novella that I am publishing this summer myself via Kindle Digital Publishing. It’s a little bit gut-wrenching to share creative writing with the world, but trying circumstances in our world have prompted me to share it.

The story began as a short-fiction exploration of one of my parental nightmares but became something bigger. It became a story of war, displacement, fear, refugee struggle, exploitation, and love. It quietly demands justice for children, girls, and women shattered by the arrogance of great powers. It looks to the anonymous lost to recover our souls in an era of gross bigotry and violence.

So, at the risk of unseemly self-promotion to my beloved clinical community, here is my novella, Haven. 

You can read it digitally or order a paperback. If you like it, I’d be grateful for a positive review at Amazon or Goodreads. If you don’t like it, I’d be grateful for your gentle, private critiques.

Thank you for reading. Our stories define us and explain us to ourselves. They may be the most powerful tool we have for justice and peace.


June 30, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

JOBS: Detroit Mercy: International Intellectual Property Law Clinic

Via Prof. Julia Belian

International Intellectual Property Clinic Director

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law seeks applicants for a tenured or tenure-track position to teach in and direct the International Intellectual Property Law Clinic starting with the 2020-21 academic year.

The Clinic

The International Intellectual Property Law Clinic is certified by the USPTO for both patent and trademark law and serves the burgeoning creative and entrepreneurial community in Detroit. In 2012, the USPTO chose Detroit as the location for its first satellite office because Detroit and its surrounding communities are home to one of the largest concentrations of intellectual property attorneys in the United States. Part of a growing Intellectual Property program at Detroit Mercy Law, the International Intellectual Property Law Clinic hosts the annual International Patent Drafting Competition, which is held at the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional USPTO each February. The Competition attracts teams from law schools across the United States and Canada. Detroit Mercy Law also offers an on-line Certificate in Law - Intellectual Property. This non-JD program meets the needs of professionals and organizations for knowledge of intellectual property and cybersecurity laws.


Applicants must

Have a law degree and strong academic background.

Demonstrate either a record of or potential for both teaching excellence and high scholarly achievement.

Be either a registered patent attorney, a patent agent in good standing with the USPTO, or a licensed attorney in good standing with the highest court of any state.

Ideal candidates will also possess at least three years’ experience (within the past five years) prosecuting patent applications before the USPTO. Applicants with some experience teaching in a law clinic are preferred, and applicants who are excited about continuing to grow our Intellectual Property Law program, in addition to directing the existing Clinic, are of particular interest.

To Apply

Applicants should send a cover letter with a current CV and any additional supporting materials (or any questions) to:

Professor Julia Belian, Chair of Faculty Recruitment

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

651 East Jefferson

Detroit, Michigan 48226

(, 313-596-0225)

Materials will be accepted via email or regular mail. Review of applicants will begin in July 2019 and will continue until the position is filled.

About Our Program of Legal Education

Detroit Mercy Law offers a unique curriculum that complements traditional theory- and doctrine-based course work with intensive practical learning. Students must complete at least one clinic, one upper-level writing course, one global perspectives course, and one course within our Law Firm Program, an innovative simulated law-firm practicum. Detroit Mercy Law also offers a Dual J.D. program with the University of Windsor in Canada, in which students earn both an American and a Canadian law degree in three years while gaining a comprehensive understanding of two distinct legal systems.

The Detroit Mercy Law Clinical Program is one of the oldest in the United States, having opened our doors as the Urban Law Clinic in 1965. Today, we offer eleven clinics, including the Criminal Trial Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Clinic, Housing Law Clinic, Immigration Law Clinic, Juvenile Appellate Clinic, International Intellectual Property Law Clinic, Trademark and Entrepreneurial Clinic, Veterans Appellate Clinic, and Veterans Law Clinic. Each year our clinics represent more than 1,000 clients and provide more than 20,000 hours of free legal services.

Detroit Mercy Law is located one block from the riverfront in Downtown Detroit, within walking distance of federal, state, and municipal courts, the region’s largest law firms, and major corporations such as General Motors, Quicken Loans, and Comerica Bank. The School of Law is also uniquely situated two blocks from the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, an international border crossing linking Detroit with Windsor and Canada.

Detroit offers a dynamic variety of culinary, cultural, entertainment, and sporting attractions. See and learn more at

Michigan’s largest, most comprehensive private university, University of Detroit Mercy is an independent Catholic institution of higher education sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and Society of Jesus. The university seeks qualified candidates who will contribute to the University's urban mission, commitment to diversity, and tradition of scholarly excellence. University of Detroit Mercy is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer with a diverse faculty and student body and welcomes persons of all backgrounds.

June 25, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 3, 2019

CLEA: Social Justice in Legal Clinics: CUNY Law Clinic Explores the Intersection of Disability, Aging, Immigration, & Family Law

Cross posting from CLEA and its series on social justice work among law school clinics


By Julia Hernandez and Joe Rosenberg


Reimagining our clinical practice. After a short hiatus, CUNY Law School’s Disability & Aging Justice Clinic (a/k/a Elder Law Clinic), resumed its practice in the Fall of 2018 as an evening clinic open to both day (full time) and evening (part time) students. The clinic’s teaching team—Julia Hernandez, Joe Rosenberg, and Liz Valentin—reimagined the clinic in order to incorporate our varied expertise, recent projects, and also to respond to the current political climate in which marginalized and vulnerable communities are increasingly under attack.


As a result of this process, we decided to highlight our work with immigrant families, and to connect the intersections among the seemingly disparate practice areas of aging, disability, family, and immigration law in order to assist families in harnessing the law for protection and self-determination. We also intentionally used technology to facilitate and advance our work, and prepare students for  “Lawyering in the Digital Age” through the use of a paperless case management system, video conferencing, and projects to create guided interview applications.


Initial reading assignments at the intersection of our practice areas. To introduce the students to how we conceived of our clinical practice, we assigned several short readings (hyperlinked at the end of this post) to discuss during our first class to provide background on the following themes:

  • Race, poverty, & social justice
  • Aging, disability, guardianship, & decision making autonomy
  • Immigration, families, & guardianship of children
  • Technology, privacy, liberty, & the law 

Building on a project created to support undocumented parents. CUNY Law’s Planning with Parents (PWP) Project was created in response to the “enhanced” immigration enforcement following the November 2016 Presidential election. The PWP Project’s primary focus is on helping undocumented parents understand their rights and options for protecting family members in case the parents are detained or deported. The PWP Project works with immigrant families at risk of deportation and/or separation through several methods of engagement with local immigrant communities. The project has served as a resource for information to advocates and families through know your rights workshops, legal clinics, trainings, and limited legal representation. 


Goals of the project. Beyond providing a laboratory for skills development or apolitical legal services, our aim was for students to explicitly engage the political dimension of lawyering with those excluded from the dominant social structure—in this case, undocumented immigrants—and to center those politics in their work. We identified and drew upon the main goals of the PWP Project:


  • Arming families with knowledge. At community events and individual meetings, students developed expertise with legal tools families can use to proactively protect against deportation and to plan for minor children or differently abled family members in the event of detention or deportation.


  • Using advance planning tools to support family self-determination. Students counseled families and advocates on temporary care of children, designation of a guardian, New York power of attorney, and other legal forms, assisting with execution of these documents for families who chose to do so. Students used their knowledge and expertise to bring our legal clinics into the digital age: we abandoned our paper based intake and legal forms and transitioned to using digital interactive PDF documents that are populated with answers to questions. Based on this experience, students collaborated with a developer to create a guided interview application that can be used by advocates to inform clients about advance planning and create legal documents.


  • Representing children to stabilize immigration status.The PWP Project involved family law, lifetime planning, and immigration law. Guardianship across a broad spectrum—for minors and for adults who need support in making decisions due to mental health, cognitive, and age related issues—was a common thread of the project. With our students, this led us to represent children in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases to obtain Legal Permanent Residency and protect against deportation. This work is done in local Family Courts and with USCIS, the federal administrative body for immigration benefits.  


Making connections across practice areas. By situating the PWP Project in this clinic, we exposed students to the intersectional nature of legal problems politically and socially marginalized clients face and themes that bridge practice areas. We put our experience in preparing advanced planning documents traditionally used in the disability and aging context, to work for immigrant parents and their children through temporary care of children, designation of a guardian, New York power of attorney, and other legal mechanisms. We expanded our representation to immigrant minors, who needed a guardian appointed in Family Court in order to apply for permanent residence status. Students drew connections among the different systems of guardianship for children, differently-abled adults, and elders, and explored power structures at play, who the different types of guardianships benefit, and ways in which they empowered or damaged the family, both individually and collectively.  


Understanding the meaning and utility of law through the lens of those subject to it. One of our goals as a clinic is to help students understand clients—and their broader communities—as authoritative interpretive bodies. This bi-directional feedback helps students broadly envision different legal realities together with their clients. We facilitated this by structuring our clinic to empower and center the experience of students (our “clients”) in order to model how we wanted students to relate to their clients. Part of our motivation was to maximize the learning experience of our students—most of whom worked during the day and had to make the time for law school. We organized our clinic seminars in ways that enabled us to teach theory, doctrine, and practice primarily through individual and group supervision and highly structured student-led rounds. We hope our clinical practice will guide students as radical lawyers for social justice in whatever practice area they pursue.


Initial Readings Assigned for Clinic Seminar:


Race, poverty & social justice


Aging, disability, guardianship, & decision making autonomy


(Read pp. 10-17 until Findings & Recommendations): Beyond Guardianship: Toward Alternatives that Promote Greater Self-Determination For People with Disabilities (National Council on Disability, March 22, 2018)


Immigration, families, & guardianship of children


Kaye, The Kids are Citizens. The Parents Are Undocumented. What Now? (L.A. Times, March 10, 2017)


When Immigrant Detention Means Losing Your Kids (NPR, December 8, 2017)


Lovett et al., Undocumented Parents Facing Deportation Can Name a Guardian for Kids Under New Law (N.Y. Daily News, June 27, 2018)


Technology, Privacy, Liberty, and the Law

What Do We Care So Much About Privacy?


June 3, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (2)