Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Experiential (R)Evolution

G.S. Hans

In Assessing the Experiential (R)Evolution, Allison Korn and Laila Hlass have written an excellent, incisive article on the after-effects of the ABA’s adoption of a standard mandating that law schools require J.D. students to complete at least six credits of experiential coursework. Korn and Hlass observe how titanic a shift this was; while less than the 15 credit requirement that some advocated for, it still reflected a six-fold increase from the prior regime.

All those experiential credits have to come from somewhere, and that’s where Korn and Hlass take up their project. They sought to learn, through an extensive survey, how schools have responded to the new ABA requirement. One of their central contributions in their article is determining exactly how law schools have complied with the new standards. While some schools had little work to do to ensure compliance — either because they already required at least six credits of experiential education or  because they already offered enough courses to allow students to fulfill the ABA requirement — many others created new classes, modified existing courses, or engaged in broader curricular reforms.

Who teaches these classes, and who ensures they run properly? Korn and Hlass examine these questions as well, discussing how schools have relied upon the now-prevalent academic administrator — often a Head of Experiential Education, referred to by various titles — to manage and facilitate the experiential curriculum. The responsibilities that flow from such power are significant and likely to grow, particularly if the ABA revisits the credit hour requirement or if other states follow New York’s lead in creating experiential requirements for bar applicants.

Drawing upon the scholarship of Jon Dubin and the CLEA Faculty Equity & Inclusion Committee, of which I am co-chair, Korn and Hlass discuss the potential diversity and equity concerns that might result. While the data their article describes is impressive, it does not include race or gender information on experiential directors and deans. Our committee is working to rectify that gap, as a lack of data has stymied research — and thus reforms. There are many reasons to seek better diversity and representation from experiential administrators, but the visibility of the role, both as a symbol of a law school’s experiential program and within the administration of law schools, is particularly compelling.

One concern I have, which Korn and Hlass mention, involves the diversity and representation issues for instructors who lack employment security. With law schools potentially entering a permanent cost-consciousness mentality, determining how to finance the need for experiential courses will merit special attention from deans and experiential administrators. Though Bob Kuehn has shown that the reputation of clinics as high-cost relative to other law school expenditures is overstated, law schools may still choose to use adjuncts, fellows, and other short-term faculty to satisfy their ABA requirements in a less expensive way. 

Korn and Hlass note Meera Deo’s warning, in her influential book Unequal Profession, that law schools might seek to grow their diverse faculty in the least secure positions. Some experiential faculty are on the tenure-track or have tenured positions, whilst others have more precarious appointments. Adjuncts and fellows have the least job security of instructional faculty — but might present appealing, lower-cost options for expanding experiential offerings, through practicums, labs, or clinical seats. For some law schools mindful of financial concerns, hiring an adjunct to teach Negotiation as an experiential course to 24 students might seem more appealing than creating three tenure-track clinical faculty lines to offer 24 seats on the standard 8:1 ratio for clinical courses. Given Deo’s concerns, we should keep an eye on whether less-secure positions are being used to comply with the ABA requirement, and whether those positions are being disproportionately filled by diverse faculty.

Korn and Hlass have given us all much to think about in this comprehensive and innovative article, which ties together many strands of current debate within the experiential community. I particularly appreciated its generative qualities — I myself came away with many questions and ideas for future research. These issues will require scholarly engagement and discussion from many faculty and law schools in order to chart a just and equitable path forward for instructors, students, clients, and law schools.

Experiential Education and the First-Year Curriculum

Eduardo R.C. Capulong

One way to describe today’s law school curriculum is in terms of détente—a truce in which law schools have decided that experiential work can happen in the third year so long as the case method reigns supreme in the first.  Students can take clinics or externships later but their first preoccupation would be dissecting appellate opinions for doctrine and reading supplemental materials for context.  Allison Korn’s and Laila Hlass’ survey of experiential courses post-revised ABA Standards 303 and 304 provides us a fresh glimpse of this pedagogical battleground—and, as Tony Amsterdam observed nearly four decades ago—equips reformers with more “political dynamite” to throw at this ossified state of affairs.

Korn and Hlass report that 19 schools expanded and 20% of respondents changed their first-year experiential curricula post-revised Standards.  “Labs” and “practicums” have proliferated, as have deans for experiential education—many former clinic directors now overseeing the entire experiential arc.  These developments, they prescribe, should “ensure not only compliance with the new ABA Standards, but also advancement of a diverse and comprehensive experiential curriculum that bolsters faculty expertise, develops students’ substantive and contextual knowledge and practical skills, and expands access to justice.”  To these ends, they call for ensuring the long-term viability of experiential deans; rigor in the approval, development, and assessment of experiential courses; and diversity of and security of tenure for experiential faculty.  The survey reveals what should be easily correctible oversights, as well, such as including simulation courses in Standard 303(b): since such courses are experiential under its definition, there’s no reason why law schools shouldn’t “provide substantial opportunities” for them just as they must for clinics and field placements/externships.  (Indeed, best practices should call for students taking a clinic and anexternship and a simulation course.)

Above all, Korn and Hlass surface the need for theory—i.e., pedagogical theory, or what my colleague, Julia Hernandez, calls an “antidisciplinary lens.”  The law school is, of course, a key pillar of the American establishment, hence the durability of how things are done.  The reason the formalist cast has endured is that it has served racial capitalism exceptionally well: it abstracts, objectifies, normalizes, and obscures raw, violent power in a set of purportedly neutral rules equally applicable to all.  Reformers have mounted successive challenges against the case method for more than a century.  Yet none has been successful in supplanting it.  That’s the story of social movements fighting hegemony, coinciding with historical forces in ebb and flow.  It’s also the story of reformism: piecemeal changes not quite striking at the heart of their target.  What we need, as Jerry Lopez recently argued, is an “alternative vision.”

Labs and practica in the first year may seem quaint from this perspective.  But like any movement with a visionary goal and immediate realities to confront, they’re promising next steps.  They can form the backbone for the faculty collaboration Korn and Hlass rightfully note as key to an effective experiential curriculum.  They can be tied, for example, to lawyering or legal methods courses that can then form the hub of a reimagined curriculum.  They can be vehicles for developing simulation pedagogy and professional identity, which remain undertheorized.  (I’m not disinterested here: I direct one such program in a school founded on such a model and helped convene a network of Lawyering professors promoting these ideas.)  With the rise of the information economy—including rapid technological changes and the ready availability of legal materials whose use as asynchronous instruction has been hastened by the pandemic—law faculty should be less purveyors than curators of knowledge, less lecturers than coaches or sources of skillful and ethical guidance—i.e., less doctrinal teachers than clinicians. 

I’m hopeful.  The developments Korn and Hlass surveyed coincide with five others that should make us optimistic.  The first is the racial reckoning that many law schools have undertaken in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.  The second are the redoubled efforts by critical race scholars to reform the first-year curriculum, including recent work on the white supremacist foundations of legal rhetoric and ongoing work to forge what my colleague Yasmin Sokkar-Harker calls “critical legal information literacy.”  The third is a professional identity movement seeking to systematize instruction.  The fourth are professional competency studies that confirm the soundness of the experiential project—the latest of which, led by Deborah Merritt, was published two months ago.  And the fifth are potential changes to the bar exam recently recommended by the NCBE and summarized in these pages, which call for the “assessment of lawyering skills to better reflect real-world practice and the types of activities newly licensed lawyers perform” and the expansion of those “foundational skills … to include more than just legal analysis and writing [but also] legal research, factual investigation and evaluation (including fact gathering), client counseling and advising, client relationship and management, and negotiation and dispute resolution.”  Taken together, these parallel movements form at least part of our curricular terrain.  Détente or no, they are the leading edges of change and I’m thankful for Korn and Hlass for their important contribution.

Lessons from Critical Race Theory for the Experiential (R)evolution

Robin Walker Sterling

In Assessing the Experiential (R)evolution, new experiential learning directors Allison Korn and Laila Hass conclude that law schools should “define the boundaries of experiential dean and director roles,” and provide faculty members in those roles appropriate administrative and other support; “implement sustainable practices to expand and support experiential faculty, with a focus on including and valuing underrepresented clinicians of color,” and “develop practices to ensure rigor in the process for approving and assessing experiential coursese while appropriately allocating resources to courses and programs.” The authors based their comprehensive recommendations on survey responses from 126 law schools received in the fall and winter of 2018.

Since then, our country has faced both an unprecedented health crisis and protests stemming from long-simmering social unrest. We have been caught in the pincer grip of two widespread pandemics, one old and one new. The novel coronavirus has upended our lives, exploiting fault lines of marginalization to disproportionately affect the communities that many law school experiential programs serve. To date, even as the new presidential administration rushes to deliver doses of the vaccine to vulnerable populations, there are 26.9 million cases of covid-19 in the United States, and more than 460,000 people have died. Communities of color have disproportionately borne the brunt of the virus’s effects. According to the Washington Post, even after controlling for age, sex, and mortality rates over time, Black Americans were 37 percent more likely to die of the virus than whites; Asian Americans were 53 percent more likely; Native Americans and Alaskan Natives were 26 percent more likely; and Hispanics were 16 percent more likely to die than whites.

At the same time, the decades-old systemic racism embedded in policing reached a tipping point, leading to uprisings, protests, and calls for change around the world. On the heels of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, unarmed and jogging in Georgia, and of Breonna Taylor, unarmed and asleep in her own home in Kentucky, the suffocation death of George Floyd on a city street in Minneapolis led to the longest and largest period of protests for civil rights in the United States since the 1960s. On one day during the months of protests, June 6, over half a million people protested in nearly 550 places across the United States. The protests have led to significant changes. The Minneapolis City Council promised to dismantle its police department. New York legislators repealed a law that kept police disciplinary records confidential. Jurisdictions across the county banned chokeholds. Colorado disallowed qualified immunity for police in certain situations. Perhaps as importantly, the pendulum has shifted in the public’s acceptance of the Black Lives Matter movement, with support increasing in the weeks after George Floyd’s murder as much as it had in the last two years. In his inaugural address, President Biden listed “a cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making,” along with the coronavirus, the economy, the threat of white supremacy, and climate change as the defining challenges of our time.

As the clinical legal education community undertakes the critical assessment that the authors urge, it might do well for us to strategize around achieving these gains using tenets of critical race theory. Some of the foundational tenets of criminal race theory include: questioning the idea of “meritocracy” and the assumption that standards of “merit” can be neutral under current social conditions; emphasizing taking action to make real change in the world; and understanding that power works hegemonically. All of these are consonant with some of the cornerstone principles of clinical legal education. In particular, Derrick Bell’s theory on interest convergence might be instructive. Professor Bell developed his ground-breaking theory in the context of civil rights, when he argued that the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision, which prohibited de jure segregation of public schools, came about because such a ruling benefitted white people. Professor Bell argued that the Brown decision: soothed the anger and potential of political protests Black veterans, who had served their country in World War II only to return home to continued discrimination; advanced American Cold War objectives by making the United States seem more reasonable than Russia to third world countries; and facilitated desegregation, which was now seen as economically advantageous to the South. As Professor Bell (1980) put it, “the interests of Blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interests of Whites.”

This principle, broadened and restated as the premise that the interests of a more marginalized group will gain traction only when they coincide with the interests of the dominant group, might be applied to the situation of clinical legal education relative to traditional legal academia. If we applied this principle, then goals like educating members of traditional legal academia about the important contributions of clinical legal education, or appealing to traditional legal academia’s sense of unfairness become less important. Instead, our strategy becomes one of figuring out how to recast the academic and administrative gains we are seeking as aligned with the interests of non-clinical legal academia. That is a much larger topic than can be accommodated in this short blog post. But, in the same way that the zeitgeist of the protests of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement created an atmosphere ready for change, these recent protests have done the same. This article, with its comprehensive questions and recommendations, helps clinical legal academia make the most of this moment.

Examining Our Experiential Experiments

By Phyllis Goldfarb

In their new article, Assessing the Experiential (R)evolution, 65 Villanova Law Review 713 (2020), Allison Korn and Laila Hlass describe the ways in which experiential education is experimental education.   Faced with the 2014 ABA regulation mandating that all students earn at least six credits toward graduation in experiential courses, clinical education has been responding experimentally to the need to do more experientially, offering more courses in more forms to more students. At the same time, many law schools have been doing more with less, as the need for experiential growth has been accompanied by the diminished availability of resources.  

We can add to the complexities of this picture our burgeoning crises in global health, democratic governance, lethal racism, economic inequality, planetary survival, and other dangerous and pressing social problems that are implicated in the kind of work that clinical education undertakes.  Involving students in urgent and weighty matters of law and justice has long animated the clinical movement.  Have the ABA’s regulatory moves facilitated or impeded these aims in any way?  How is clinical education faring at this challenging moment? 

Korn & Hlass seek to address questions like these empirically, reporting in their article the findings of a 2018 survey they conducted to gather information about how experiential programs have changed in response to the ABA’s six-credit mandate.  The authors find that our experiential experiments have yielded an array of curricular innovations, especially though not exclusively in upper-level courses.  Their article also confirms the trend in most law schools to name a dean or director of experiential education, presumably to help design and oversee the experiential curriculum and to manage expanding experiential programs.  

The latter finding builds on those analyzed in Barry, Dinerstein, Goldfarb, Maisel, and Morton, Exploring the Meaning of Experiential Deaning, 67 Journal of Legal Education 660 (2018). In this article, my co-authors and I observed that despite a rapid increase in the creation of experiential administrator positions, and the assignment of various tasks to their holders, law schools had not fully conceptualized the nature of the position.  Consequently, the meaning of experiential deaning was in the process of invention and negotiation in each dean’s school.  In other words, these roles were experiments. 

Experiments, of course, are designed to be evaluated.  Applying a clinical method of learning, Korn & Hlass urge that we develop processes for evaluating recent experiments in experiential education, so that we can extract the lessons inherent in our experiences with administering, teaching, and reforming it.  Which changes are working well and worth retaining?  Which should be revisited?  Are institutional goals guiding these decisions?  To the extent that experiential administrators are steering these changes, how have institutional goals informed their work?   Are law schools further developing and defining these administrative positions?  Are these positions evolving in a sustainable way?  What conditions best support their sustainability?

The authors, experiential administrators in their respective institutions, have sought to learn from their own experiences in these administrative positions, to ask pertinent questions, suggest possible answers, and frame an assessment project that would guide them, and all experiential educators, in moving forward as knowledgeably and effectively as we can from where we stand now.  A rigorous assessment project of the sort that they helpfully propose in this article would inform our choices about the future of experiential education.

Having seen over many years how experiential learning can enliven, deepen, and transform legal education, I strongly value the expressive quality of the ABA’s regulatory directives to provide that kind of educational engagement to all law students.  I can envision rich curricular possibilities that these directives might support.  But my underlying fear has been that general law school administrators, especially those lacking awareness of the insight-cultivating aims of clinical pedagogy, would seek bare bones fulfillment of the mandate, finding the most limited and low cost ways to offer all students six experiential credits and shortchanging the educational opportunity that the mandate might represent.  Has that happened?  Korn & Hlass have begun to elicit the sort of information we need and to frame the kind of assessment process that we can use to better understand what the ABA’s regulatory efforts have wrought.

In gathering and analyzing experiential education’s experimental data, Korn & Hlass have taken an important first step toward a process of conscious assessment and collective deliberation that hold promise of improving our experiential programs and of identifying meaningful, inclusive, and sustainable practices for the next stage of development in experiential education.  The experiential education community would be well-served by joining them in this important and productive endeavor.

Assessing the Experiential (R)evolution

by Professors Laila Hlass (Tulane Law) and Allison Korn (UCLA Law)

In the midst of calls for law schools to meaningfully address systemic racism in our institutions and a pivot to virtual and hybrid learning in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the time is now to consider new paths forward in experiential education. Furthermore, in the wake of deadly assaults on our democracy, law schools’ should grapple with how to teach  justice and social change formally through curriculum and informally through programming. We hope to spark conversation and action regarding reimagining legal education, specifically contemplating the roles that experiential education and experiential faculty should play in the future of law schools.

For more than a century, law schools did not generally mandate any experiential education, but in 2014, the ABA adopted six-credit mandate, alongside a packet of experiential reforms.  In 2018–2019, as the first classes of law students graduated under the revised ABA Standards, we conducted a national survey of ABA-accredited law schools, asking about changes in experiential education and we received responses from 126 institutions.

Our article Assessing the Experiential (R)evolution, recently published in Villanova Law Review, reports findings from this empirical investigation into the experiential landscape shift since the revised Standards were adopted. From our survey, we learned of a recent proliferation of deans and directors of experiential education. Along with this came continued growth in experiential curricula, including among experiential courses in the first-year curriculum, and experimentation with new pedagogical approaches, such as adopting hybrid experiential courses termed “labs” and “practicums.” These trends of expansion and experimentation raised many questions for us:

  • As law schools increasingly add deans and directors of experiential education, experiential courses, and new tools for course assessment and approval, while experimenting with new course models, are they also working to uplift experiential programming as an essential part of the institution?
  • As law schools hire new experiential faculty and appoint experiential deans and directors, are they being responsive to the clinician diversity imperative, taking steps to identify, recruit, and support clinicians of color?
  • Are law schools not only integrating experiential deans, directors, and faculty into the greater faculty but also ensuring that they have reasonably similar security of position and a voice in law school governance?
  • While investing in integration across law school coursework, have law schools acknowledged that experiential education is core to the law school curriculum?

Our article proposes a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring sustainability for experiential deans and directors, implementing equitable practices for experiential curriculum and faculty development, and assessing curricular changes thoughtfully and deliberately. But this proposal is only a starting point for deeper discussion about how we might approach our experiential programs and renew our collective vision for robust, innovative, justice-centered experiential education. Over the next few weeks, the Best Practices Blog will host reactions to and commentary on these themes from a deep bench of extraordinary colleagues in the experiential community. From building sustainable administrative roles to examining and improving racial diversity among experiential faculty; from increasing experiential offerings for first-year students to highlighting changes within externship and field placement programs – each commentary will help us assess and build on current experiential programs and call on our institutions to better understand and support the increasingly vital role experiential education plays in the legal academy.

Refuting the False Trope on Clinical Courses and Bar Passage

Robert Kuehn, Washington University School of Law

It has been observed that “the fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” Until recently, this could be said about the possible influence of enrollment in clinical courses on a student’s likelihood of passing the bar examination. While there was a shortage of empirical studies on any possible relationship, there have been plenty of opinions on how taking those courses might be harmful, opinions often reflected in graduation restrictions on clinical courses and requirements for bar subject-matter courses.

But, there are now significantly more facts to refute those opinions. Two recent, large-scale studies have both found no relationship between the number of law clinic or externship courses or credits a law graduate took and her likelihood of passing the bar exam.

In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Legal Education, academic records of ten years of law school graduates of Washington University in St. Louis and Wayne State University were reviewed for any relationship between the number of law clinic, externship, or, more generally, experiential courses or credits and bar passage. After first accounting for the possible influence of law school grades on bar passage (the most significant predictor of bar success), the study found no correlation at either school between law clinic or externship enrollment and bar passage — no relationship between participation in a law clinic or externship and passage, none between the number of clinical courses and passage, none between the number of clinical credits and passage, and no evidence that students graduating with lower GPAs were disproportionately enrolling in those courses as a way to avoid doctrinal courses (another not uncommon trope). This lack of any relationship was in spite of increased enrollment in experiential courses at both schools over the ten-year period and decreased enrollment in courses teaching material tested on the bar (referred to as bar subject-matter courses).

The article notes that nationwide data on experiential course enrollment and bar passage also belie any claim the two are related. That data indicate that as enrollment in experiential courses was increasing from 2006-2016, bar passage percentages were fairly steady and that the recent decline in passage coincided with decreased, not increased, enrollment in those courses.

A recent study commissioned by the California State Bar found a similar lack of relationship between law clinic and externship courses and bar exam performance. The study reviewed law school coursework and performance on three July exams for over 7,500 bar applicants from eleven California schools. It found no relationship between the number of academic credits from law clinic courses and exam performance, either across all schools or even when reviewing schools separately. Similarly, there was no relationship between the number of externship or internship credits and performance, again when examined across all schools or within schools. The broad range of entering credentials at the eleven schools, and lack of a relationship even within those schools, indicates that the results should be applicable to most law schools, including those with lower LSATs and undergraduate GPAs for entering students.

The study results from Washington University/Wayne State and the California State Bar are similar to smaller studies at Texas Tech and the University of Denver that also reported no statistically significant relationship between enrollment in a law clinic or externship course and bar passage.

The Washington University/Wayne State and California State Bar studies further revealed that opinions about the value of bar subject-matter courses should be moderated. There were small correlations at both schools between the number of bar subject courses and bar passage. But this result (explaining less than 5% of the variability in bar outcomes) was only for low performing students and additional courses showed no marginal benefit once students took the school’s average number of bar courses.

The California State Bar study focused on whether taking a specific course was related to performance on the bar exam topic taught in those courses. It found that neither attendance nor performance in courses covering any of the 13 bar-related topics was related to performance on the corresponding California bar exam or Multistate Bar Exam content covering that subject.

Studies at other schools also indicate that enrollment in bar subject-related courses do not support broad claims about the benefit of taking those courses.

It is time to put away the misinformed trope of participation in law clinic and externship courses harming a student’s chances of passing the bar exam and let the facts do the talking. Law schools should recognize and students should be told they can obtain valuable preparation for the practice of law by enrolling in clinical courses without affecting their likelihood of passing the bar exam.

The Legal Interviewing and Language Access Film Project (LILA)

By: Laila L. Hlass and Lindsay M. Harris

Teaching effective interviewing skills is a perennial problem. Although there are excellent texts on the subject, few examples of real or model interviews exist, particularly ones which incorporate collaboration issues between student partners, language access issues with the client, and how to address issues of bias when they arise in the interview.

In 2018, we designed, screen-wrote, produced and released The Legal Interviewing and Language Access Film Project (LILA), two instructional videos and a teaching guide featuring a law student clinic pair representing two different immigrant clients, in two different introductory meetings, one of which is conducted with interpretation.

Our goal was to better teach interviewing in our own experiential courses, but we also hoped to share this resource with our colleagues. Since the videos were launched, law school clinics and experiential learning programs across the country have adopted the use of the videos. At the time of writing, more than 100 educators at nearly 75 law schools have requested use of the teacher’s guide for these videos. This includes more than 30 immigration clinics, but also educators teaching in a variety of other clinics, purely doctrinal courses, as well as courses focused on client counseling and interviewing skills.

The videos raise a multitude of issues within interviewing including client-centered lawyering, collaboration, interpretation, and addressing bias. Our films enliven and deepen the learning environment by utilizing modeling, as well as stimulating classroom discussion, reflection and role play. 

In Interviewing Victor: The Initial Meeting, two law students Lisa and Max interview a teenage asylum-seeker in removal proceedings, Victor, raising a number of issues relating to initial client interviewing, including: Road mapping and organization of the interview; Building rapport; Confidentiality; Role description, including representation at later stages, and explaining the arc of case; Verbal and nonverbal cues; Tone; Answering client questions or ethical issues that are difficult and unexpected; Recording the interview and seeking permission; Taking notes; Form of questions; Word choice; Approaches to sensitive topics and response to client’s distress; Client-centered lawyering; and Working with a co-interviewer.

In Josefina: Using an Interpreter, two law students Lisa and Max working with interpreters to interview a monolingual Spanish-speaking client seeking a U visa as a victim of a crime in the United States. This video raises questions regarding: Using third person; Pacing of speech; Summarization and  expansion of interpretation; Challenges when one student speaks the client’s language but partner does not; Confidentiality; Use of interested parties, such as family members; Approaches to changing interpreters; and Use of common language words where the interpreter doesn’t know the intended meaning.

For faculty who hope to adopt the videos in a course, pro bono orientation or other training, please email either Laila Hlass lhlass@tulane.edu or Lindsay Harris Lindsay.harris@udc.edu for the teacher’s guide, indicating in which course(s) you are considering using the films.

CLINICAL COSTS: SEPARATING FACT FROM OPINION

by Robert Kuehn,  Washington University School of Law

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” When it comes to expanding clinical legal education, the knee-jerk opinion is that it is too expensive for legal education to follow the lead of other professional schools and ensure that every student graduates with a clinical experience through a law clinic or externship. Even the richest law schools couldn’t resist playing the cost card to scare the ABA out of requiring additional professional skills training: “Requiring all law schools to provide 15 experiential credit hours to each student will impose large costs on law schools, costs that would have to be passed on to students. . . . Even a law school with significant financial resources could not afford such an undertaking.” 1

Yet, the facts show otherwise — every school, from the well-heeled to the impecunious, can provide a clinical experience to each student without increasing tuition. Indeed, an array of schools already require 15 credits of experiential coursework (simulations, law clinics & externships) and a clinical experience (a law clinic or externship) for all their J.D. students without noticeable impacts on tuition. At the City University of New York, students must take a twelve- to sixteen-credit law clinic or externship prior to graduation, and at only $15,000 in resident tuition ($24,000 non-resident). Students at the University of the District of Columbia similarly must enroll in a seven-credit law clinic in their second year and a second seven-credit clinic in their third year, paying $11,500 in resident tuition ($22,500 non-resident). Starting with the 2013 entering class, Washington and Lee University requires twenty academic credits in simulated or real-practice experiences that include at least one law clinic or externship. The professor overseeing the program explained that a review of the first few years of the new curriculum showed it is “slightly less expensive than our former, traditional third-year curriculum. And . . . than our current first and second years.”2  Most recently, Pepperdine announced that beginning with next year’s class, students must graduate with at least 15 credits of experiential course work, yet the school increased tuition for 2015 by less than its average increase for the prior three years.

These examples are consistent with studies showing that every school can afford to require a clinical experience for every J.D. student. Continue reading

Building on Best Practices now available as eBook

Are you trying to:

  • Develop a meaningful law school mission statement?
  • Understand new accreditation requirements, learning goals, and outcomes assessment?
  •  Expand your experiential offerings?  Decide whether to use modules or courses?  An on-site clinic, an externship, or community partnership?
  •  Teach ALL of your students in the most effective ways, using a full range of teaching methods?
  • Add to your curriculum more of the professional identity, leadership, intercultural, inter-professional and other knowledge, skills, and values sought by 21st century legal employers?
  • Lead thoughtfully in the face of the challenges facing legal education today?

These and other topics are addressed in Building on Best Practices:  Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World,  now available in ebook format from LexisNexis at no charge.

The print version is not yet out.  LEXIS-NEXIS is taking advance orders for $50, plus shipping.  BUT we understand that they will make one copy available to every US legal educator for free upon on request.  Details on this and international availability still to come.

Thanks, and congratulations, to book project sponsor Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), the more than fifty legal educators who participated as authors, and the countless others who assisted as readers and in numerous other ways.

And, a huge shout-out to my wonderful and talented co-editors, Lisa Radke Bliss, Carrie Wilkes Kaas, and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

LexternWeb By: Sandy Ogilvy

If you are new to externships or returning to them after being away, I would like to invite you to check out the website created for faculty and administrators of externship programs, LexternWeb.  Visit http://lexternweb.law.edu/  for links to all law school externship webpages, materials, and more.  Note that the site can always use new, updated, or corrected content.  Please send me materials or links for posting.  Also, you can subscribe to the Lextern listserv from the site and join 547 other teachers and administrators of legal externship programs in sustained dialogue about externships.  For more information, please contact me:

J.P. “Sandy” Ogilvy
Ordinary Professor of Law and
Director-CUA Innocence Project Clinic & Clemency Project,
Director-Law & Social Justice Initiatives,
Director-National Archive for Clinical Legal Education
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America
Washington, DC 20064
Tel: 202-319-6195
Fax: 202-319-4459

http://www.law.edu/faculty/ogilvy/

http://lib.law.cua.edu/nacle/

http://lsji.law.edu/

http://www.law.edu/clinics/cle/InnocenceProj.cfm

Public Interest Blog: http://jogilvy.wordpress.com/

Twitter @SandyOgilvy

SSRN: http://ssrn.com/author=363920

The Baby Has Finally Been Birthed!

Comprehensive revisions passed

The ABA House of Delegates passed the comprehensve revisions with “minimal  fuss” according to the ABA Journal linked  above.  One area, however, garnered  significant attention and also resulted in  an odd, though perhaps meaningless ,  procedural move.  The House voted  to send back to the Section on Legal Education for further consideration the comment to standard 305 which prohibits payment to students for credit-based courses.

What does this mean? Law schools which have not already done so must start identifying, articulating publicly and assessing student learning out outcomes, providing every student six  credits of clinic or clinic-like experiential courses and requiring students to take two credit hours worth of professional responsibility coursework.

Well, it’s a start……

TEACHING RESILIENCE AND BEING RESILIENT : Filling Our Tanks This Summer

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending the annual AALS clinical conference held  in Chicago.   The conference focused on achieving happiness and resilience at a time of challenge in legal education while exploring methods for becoming “better” clinical teachers.  Clin14BookletWeb

The Keynote opening presentation by Professor Nancy Levit from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law outlined research about happiness,  lawyers and legal careers.   Professor Levit’s  book with Doug Linder, The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010. Their sequel, The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law is now available.  The Levit and Linder research helps answer questions for our students and ourselves about how and why lawyers find a  legal career rewarding.   Much of the research reveals that simple truths about happiness – such as feeling valued or being part of a community – bears repetition.   The presentation was informative and the research can be used in advising our students, supporting our colleagues and caring for ourselves.

After her keynote, panelists Professor Calvin Pang (University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law)  and Professor Joanna Woolman (William Mitchell College of Law) with moderator American University Professor Brenda Smith presented a few clips from a very realistic “role play” focused on a “devastating” day in court and the responses  of a clinical teacher, clinical student, and non-clinical colleague.    (The film will be available after the conference – I believe at the AALS site – for those who want to use it in their home schools.)  In the film, the law student  faces a surprising negative court ruling and then experiences his client yelling at him outside the courtroom.   In conversation with the clinical professor, the student expresses anger with his client and believes he should just “drop” clinic.  The clinical professor listens to the student and also explores other aspects of the student’s current anger and despair including his having received a number of employment rejections during this same time period.

The film was provocative and engendered good discussion about the role of law professors .  Many of us have experienced with our students or in our own professional lives the coinciding emotional burdens of dealing with difficult emotions in client’s cases and receiving negative news on the home or career front.   Managing and coping with all those emotions and burdens is a never-ending part of professional development and law schools can and should play a significant role in preparing students with appropriate skills, appreciation of professional values and coping tools.

In a final exercise, the entire room of about 500+ created word trees on three questions:

1.  What do you do as a teacher to “fill your tank.?”

2. What do you do to encourage your students to adopt habits to make themselves whole?

3. What are the barriers and obstacles to the first two?

In asking myself these questions and watching the hundreds of others eagerly participate, I reflected on the particular importance of the resilience, holistic, and happiness theme at this moment in time.   Students and recent grads need our positive support.  Institutions need our creative, optimistic energy.   But providing that energy and support can be personally tolling.

Student-centered faculty – and in particular clinical faculty with summer burdens or untenured faculty with heavy writing demands – must  carve out some real off time or vacation in order to be effective in the long term.  Their institutions must support their need for renewal.  Filling  our personal “tanks” with sunsets, summer treats (ice cream for me!), some  relaxing days, renewed commitment to exercise or getting outside, and time vacationing with loved ones helps form the foundation for resilience in the academic year.  We need to do this not only to support our own resilience but to equip ourselves with the experience-based wisdom that will be needed in great quantities in the coming semesters.  In order  to assist our students and our institutions at this precarious time for law schools, we need to nurture our whole selves now.

SRC voted to eliminate Interpretation 305-3 which distinguishes paid employment from academic field placements

American Bar Association Accreditation Standard 305  addresses “study outside the classroom” and, in particular, field placement courses.  Interpretation 305-3 states:

A law school may not grant credit to a student for participation in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation. This Interpretation does not preclude reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to the field placement.

The written submission by the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) filed January 31, 2014 (found here or on ABA site) argues

To revoke this regulation would give employers in paid field placements significantly more power both to control student work and to minimize the employer’s supervisory role, and would significantly reduce externship faculty control over the educational benefit of the placement.

This is a real concern. When I directed Albany’s field placement program, I often had to discuss with supervisors the difference between their treatment of academic interns and paid clerks. For example, throwing an inexperienced student into night court without direct attorney supervision may free up the evening of the harried assistant public defender or assistant prosecutor but it fails to teach the intern the constitutional way to practice law. And, if you pay the interns you may well be entitled to assign them to pick up your dry cleaning or walk your dog because your time is more valuable, however those activities are hardly educational. These were actual issues I addressed and was able to resolve in favor of the students educational experience because the employer had no money in the pot and needed to follow the requirements of the law school. That leverage will be undercut if interpretation 305(3) is removed.

I also agree with CLEA’s position that

……nothing suggests that field placement courses are displacing a large volume of paid part-time work for law students. To the contrary, pervasive anecdotal evidence suggests that employers are unable to pay and would prefer that students work without pay. Field placement directors (and placement offices) routinely field requests from employers who seek to offer unpaid work through a field placement experience. Nothing suggests an increased demand by employers to pay students who are also getting credit.

If anything, during difficult economic times, law students need the negotiating power of an experienced attorney and faculty member even more, since they are more vulnerable to exploitation by employers. I urge the Council to keep Interpretation 305 (3) in place to protect the educational quality of field placements. As discussed in another earlier post, during Thursday’s public hearing before Council members, Interpretation 305 (3) was discussed, including the applicability of the Fair Labor Standards Act, possible exploitation of students, and the problem of differing expectations regarding treatment of paid and unpaid interns. These issues are complicated and deserve further attention. With the SRC members deciding to complete the comprehensive review at the February meeting and leave issues which need more data and input for another day, it was surprising, in my opinion, to observe them move so quickly on the proposal to remove 305-3 without a more informed vetting of the issues.

Disclosure: I was recently elected co-vice president of CLEA. However, I was not responsible for the CLEA position letter on this interpretation. When writing on this blog, I do not represent CLEA.

Quite Moving but Frightening Testimony at AALS Conference

I write from the Hilton Hotel in New York City where the American Association of Law School annual conference has just ended.   The most memorable and riveting session I attended was the ABA panel presentation on proposed revisions to accreditation standards,   I knew full well that this would be an intense session and blogged about the dangers of these proposed revisions earlier in the year  here. .  The proposed revisions will change dramatically what I consider an essential facet of legal education:   the ability to acknowledge, discuss, debate, theorize,and write about  issues that are unpopular.  It will also prevent law faculty from teaching about and working with students representing clients on issues which are unpopular.   I knew this discussion would be intense but I was not prepared for  the stories of our brave peers in the academy which reinforced for me the fundamental importance of academic freedom supported by tenure or security of position.

One professor who self-identified as a female American who is Muslim reported  that she received death threats at work for appearing at a Department of Justice panel on National Security and Muslim issues.   She noted that without tenure and academic freedom, she would be at risk for firing for doing no more than accurately describing the national security legal issues.  She also eloquently explained that as a young, female professor of Muslim religious and cultural identity, she was vulnerable for receiving student pushback and bias for her assuming the position of power and authority over students.  Without academic freedom secured by tenure,  she would fear student bias in evaluations or impressions which could threaten her job security because of her Muslim identity.   A white woman who  taught at a religious school in the deep south,  movingly described her experiences. Without academic freedom supported by tenure, she found that  just raising legitimate legal issues and cases regarding property, same sex marriage, second amendment law, domestic violence or other issues could put her at risk of losing her job.  Had she not been supported by a tenure system which requires “cause” not popularity as measured by teaching evaluations or other factors, her personal and financial incentive would encourage her to avoid  teaching  important legal questions  for fear of back”pushback” .  Professor Terry Smith of Depaul College of Law presented remarks on behalf of the minority law professors section whose members attended in great numbers.  I share with you  his statement here (ABA Statement 1 4 13 ) Another member of the minority law professors section, Professor Anthony Farley,  cautioned that these issues are not “speculative” and spoke about ongoing attacks on academic  freedom, faculty governance, tenure and security of position at a particular school.  Other faculty members discussed how its hard to teach constitutional law in this country without mentioning race but that faculty who do not have security of position will find it difficult because when race is mentioned in a classroom, faculty inevitably suffer in teaching evaluations by students who are uncomfortable talking about race.

Professor Kate Kruse, past president of the Clinical Legal Education Section  noted that for many clinicians academic freedom has only been made real by the current ABA  standard 405 (c) and the  proposed revisions make no attempt to provide a “safe harbor” for the majority of clinicians and legal writing professors who also need to enjoy academic freedom.  There was some discussion by panelists and audience members about an earlier proposal which would have eliminated the hierarchical status types among faculty and questions about why that proposal was never presented for notice and comment.  See earlier blog discussion of the proposals. Past President of the AALS Clinical Section and Fordham Law’s Professor Elizabeth Cooper noted how tenured clinicians are  often asked by untenured  clinical colleagues to make points at public meetings that they are unable to make for fear of impact on their continued employment.

Members of the panel thanked those who testified for good reminders about the negative and practical consequences of these revisions. The Chair of the Council on Legal Education, attended and wanted the audience members to know that he had listened carefully to the concerns.  Past President of the AALS, Professor Leo Martinez and panel members urged  all interested parties to submit written  comments about this controversial proposed revisions on the ABA website found here.

OBAMA COMMENT ON 2 YEARS OF LAW SCHOOL

It is not surprising that President Obama wants to decrease the cost of higher education and make it more affordable for the average American family. Nor is it surprising that he floated the idea of decreasing cost by decreasing the number of years a law student has to PAY for school as reported by the New York Times here.    Without a full understanding of all the issues, that often appears to be a sensible idea.  What is surprising is that the President confuses unpaid interning with a “clinical experience.” As we know from the medical and other professional settings, clinical experience is NOT the same as allowing   barely trained law students to “HAVE AT IT” in a practice setting. Nor is every environment appropriate for clinical training and supervision. The whole point of “clinical education” is supervision, feedback, mentoring, and learning to learn from observation, experience and mistakes.

Another problem with the President’s “shoot from the hip” comment, is that the very reason that new law students can’t find jobs is the same reason today’s law firms are NOT appropriate for the kind of mentoring which was done in days of yore. As a member of the New York State Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession and a chair of the Education and Training Subcommittee, I learned from legal employers and their clients that the market-driven, competitive nature of private industry today has created a situation in which clients no longer want to pay for the on-the-job training of new attorneys. More senior attorneys are so tightly time-managed relative to billable hours that they have significantly less hours and energy to mentor, supervise and help form new attorneys. That’s where law schools have added value for graduates and provided the support and individual attention that tomorrow’s lawyers need through clinical programs (both in-house and in the field). If the President wants to add his significant heft to this debate, he should do so in a more nuanced and effective manner than making an off the cuff comment.

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