Building on Best Practices–Call for Ideas and Authors

The Clinical Legal Association Best Practices Implementation Committee is planning a follow-up publication to Best Practices for Legal Education by Roy Stuckey and others. The vision of the book is to build on ideas for implementing best practices, and to develop new theories and ideas on Best Practices for Legal Education. We would like to call for topic suggestions and author abstracts. If you are interested in submitting a topic suggestions, please do so by August 1 by emailing Antoinette Sedillo Lopez at with the topic idea and potential authors and resources relating to the idea. If you would like to author a section in the book and 3-5 page abstract identifying the knowledge, skills and values as well as the learning objectives and methodology of your innovative teaching idea. The abstract is due December 1, 2011. The Editorial Board will meet at the AALS meeting in January to select pieces for inclusion in the book.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the project please feel free to contact me or Deborah Maranville, co-editor.
Looking forward to drawing on the expertise of the legal academy to build on Best Practices for Legal Education! Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Chair, Publication Committee

Another Conference on Experiential Learning in a Specialty Area: International Law Clinics, Externships, Internships, and Advanced Research — Pace Law School, May 6

The day after the May 5 “Practically Grounded” conference, a joint project of Pace and Albany Law Schools to be held at Pace Law School in White Plains, half an hour north of New York City (see entry below), Pace Law will host another experiential learning-oriented conference, this time on behalf of the Teaching International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law and the American Branch of the International Law Association.  “Teaching International Law Beyond the Classroom: Engaging Students in Experiential Learning, in Web 2.0, and in Historical and Empirical Research”  will take place on Friday, May 6, 2011, from 8:45 am to 7:00 pm.

Noteworthy is the fact that at both Teaching Conferences, all participants will be offered a free copy of Best Practices for Legal Education: A Vision and A Road Map and the book will be referenced and used throughout by conference speakers and moderators.

The focus of this conference is getting both students and faculty involved in empirical research, historical research, Web 2.0, and experiential learning.  Beth Simmons of Harvard, one of the country’s leading empiricists in the field of international law, will be speaking along with Jordan Paust, Houston; Sital Kalantry, Cornell; Julian Ku, Hofstra; Peggy McGuiness, St. John’s; and Tom Lee, Fordham.  Anthony VanDuzer, of the Ottawa University Faculty of Law, will describe his NAFTA course, co-taught with a U.S. law professor and a Mexican law professor, using Skype to bring professors and students from the three countries together simultaneously.  Robert Van Lierop, former UN ambassador currently with the UN in Darfur, will discuss the externship program he supervises, in which Pace law students assist island countries with environmental issues at the United Nations.

A full schedule and additional information can be found here.

Best Practices for Legal Education in Monterrey, Mexico

The States in Mexico are, one by one, revising their criminal law and criminal procedure codes to change from an inquisitional, written system to an adversarial system with oral trials. Of course, this transformation is a major change in their legal culture. And, the law school leaders in Mexico understand that this shift requires that they change their approach to legal education. Lectures about legal doctrines made sense when lawyers were only called upon to prepare legal documents. Now that lawyers who represent criminal defendants will have to present opening arguments, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing arguments, law students need to develop different skills. I was very privileged to travel to Monterrey, Mexico with Professor Catherine Carpenter of Southwestern Law School to provide a training session about teaching to prepare students for the practice of law in an adversary system. The session was organized by Maestro Manuel Caloca at the Casa de la Cultura Juridica de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nacion (The House of Judicial Culture of the National Supreme Court).

This gave me a wonderful opportunity to talk about Best Practices for Legal Education. I pointed out that the whole book is available on line. As for our training, Catherine and I role played a Socratic class. She did a superb job of questioning me about a criminal case involving involuntary manslaughter. I tried to throw her a couple of curve balls, but she caught them and effectively tossed them back. She is an extremely engaging teacher in the best tradition of Best Practices and I was very pleased that she was the model of the Socratic Method. I then had the opportunity to talk about clinical legal education and skills training through use of simulations and in the tradition of leaning by doing, we used the case Catherine taught through the Socratic method to have them prepare a direct examination and a cross examination of the defendant. I was pleased to see how engaged and motivated they were. They had a lot of questions about teaching and it was obvious that they all care very much about teaching. One of the law teachers described how she used skits to get the students to learn about the adversary system and her students prepared videos of their skits that she can use to teach other students. I was also pleased to reconnect with a long time friend who is a professor at the University of Guanajuao, Juan Manuel Olvera. The mock trial team he coached from the University of Guanajuato recently won the national mock trial competition!

Catherine also presented her work as author of the ABA curriculum report and also some insights in her role as chair of the Accreditation Committee of the ABA. Of course, because Mexico’s legal education is a five year program after high school, the context is quite different, but the faculty was very interested in trends in legal education in the United States. And, that trend is actually consistent with Mexico’s reform: focusing on improving the preparation of law students for the practice of law.

We also met Luis Fernando Perez Hurtado who is the Director of a non-profit Center for the Study of Law Teaching and Learning (Centro de Estudios sobre la Ensenanza y el Aprendizaje del Derecho). His non –governmental organization’s mission is to improve legal education and he was very pleased to learn about the Best Practices for Legal Education. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is translated into Spanish. It is really exciting to think that the Best Practices “movement” might have a role in transforming legal education in Mexico. It will be intriguing to see how the adversary system develops in Mexico and how law schools change to prepare students for the change.

International Conference on the Future of Legal Education: Update and Report

The International Conference on the Future of Legal Education was held recently, Feb. 20-23, and it was the most comprehensive look to date concerning new initiatives in legal education around the world.  The materials from the conference are available at, and this post will briefly mention just a few of the highlights.  Continue reading

The January 2008 United Kingdom Conference on Legal Education

Here are a few observations after participating in the second annual UK Conference on Legal Education on January 3rd and 4th of 2008:

1.  In Sync….  Continue reading

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