Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Long Goodbye

I've been thinking for awhile now about whether and how to write this post, but today it just seems right.

In June 2012 I will be leaving the University of Georgia, and my position as managing attorney of the Land Use Clinic.  Due to shifting priorities and budgetary realities, the law school administration has decided not to continue the Clinic after my departure.  Several people have asked me whether I'm sad the Clinic won't go on without me, and of course I am.  However, the Clinic was not my original brain child - rather, its creators were Laurie Fowler and Alex Scherr of the UGA Ecology and Law faculties respectively.  They started the clinic in 2002, in response to tremendous demand from local governments for help dealing with the effects of sprawl on water quality in Georgia's rivers. When they asked me to come to run the clinic, initially on a trial basis, it was a welcome respite from an unhappy work experience at a large corporate firm, and an opportunity to try teaching as a vocation.  However, I never meant for it to be my permanent home.

I have been incredibly fortunate to be the first, and only, clinician in the clinic the last 10 years. Certainly the scope and direction of our work has changed, especially in the wake of the financial crisis. We've done our best to keep up with the times, and I believe some of our good work will be carried on by our partners here at UGA, including the Fanning Institute and the College of Environment and Design.

But my own priorities have changed.  Many, many factors have lead to this, including losing several people close to me.  Nothing sharpens your focus as much as the death of a parent or close friend.  As regular followers of the blog also know, I am increasingly interested in contemplative practice, including mindfulness and yoga, and how they can make us better, and healthier, lawyers and people.  Therefore, after my departure from UGA I plan to dedicate a year to travel and study, including attending yoga teacher training, and pursuing teacher certification through the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical School.

This does not mean I plan to give up being a lawyer and a law teacher.  I still believe I have much to offer clients and students, and I hope that ultimately I can integrate all these elements into a cohesive practice of some sort.

Obviously, I've still got months to go before I make the change.  Matt Festa has generously offered to let me keep blogging as long as I like, and from time to time I'll probably post some reflections on the transition.  The other land use clinicians and I also hope to write an article together on what land use clinics offer to law schools, client communities, and students.

UGA Law is not only my longtime place of work, it is also my alma mater.  I feel proud to have been of service here, even though it's not entirely obvious what my legacy will be. As part of my research for the article I have been surveying my alums, and several of them report that being in the Clinic defined and strengthened them as lawyers and people.  Also, being a co-editor of this blog has been one of the funnest aspects of this job, and I appreciate the collegiality and intellectual stimulation I've received from my fellow bloggers. Matt Festa and I met while he was visiting here at UGA, a happy coincidence and an example of the kismet that has kept me going for so long in this job.

So, for now, many thanks to Matt, my co-bloggers (including Will Cook, Ngai Pindell, and Chad Emerson of the original crew).  You are all fabulous, and I plan to keep hanging out with you as long as I can.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Jamie Baker Roskie

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You'll be missed, Jamie. Thanks for all the great posts.

Posted by: Ken Stahl | Nov 6, 2011 3:57:48 PM


Thanks for sharing the news. It appears that Matt is doing his best to run us all out of the Academy, eh? :)

Posted by: Chad Emerson | Nov 7, 2011 7:10:04 AM


I hope your final year at Georgia is your greatest. I find I miss my clinic days, but I am finding no let-up in projects and things to do. There is an after-life! Best wishes. --Kermit

Posted by: Kermit Lind | Nov 7, 2011 9:44:45 AM