Clinical legal education plays a critical role in defining and developing the skills, judgment, and values that future lawyers will need to fulfill their responsibilities to their clients and society. Clinicians prepare these future lawyers for practice in the face of declining law school admissions, pressures for more experiential courses, and increasing uncertainty in the job market. The communities we serve also face crises including hostile police-community relations, racial tension, bias against immigrants, loss of jobs and housing, and poverty—all while changes in national leadership, problems in national security, increasing inequality, and global instability compound these challenges.
In these tumultuous times, we must teach students transferable skills and abilities. They must be able to respond flexibly in their roles in a changing service profession that imposes multiple responsibilities, especially because most graduates will likely have several different jobs during their careers. These times pose extraordinary opportunities and challenges for lawyers as advocates for social justice and the common good.
Clinical legal education must both maintain and extend its focus on the fundamental facets of practicing law. At this 40th clinical conference, we will explore both new and trusted tools for teaching lawyering abilities and the responsibilities of lawyers to their clients, communities, and social justice.
The conference will offer a robust schedule of concurrent sessions to allow expansion of the conference theme and exploration of implications for differing experiential models. Participants will be able to focus on particular areas in working groups or pre-reserved workshops. A full slate of works-in-progress will provide room for scholarly analysis and feedback. Posters will be presented during an opening reception and will remain displayed throughout the conference. Participants will leave with new teaching tools, new ideas to improve their programs, and renewed commitment to meet the challenges of these tumultuous times as we move forward into the next 40 years of clinical legal education.
As law schools face increasing pressures to prepare students for post-graduate careers, law clinic directors, externship directors, and deans who oversee experiential education are challenged to enhance their programming to include more practice areas and skills, often while assisting in the expansion of clinics, externships, and other experiential learning programs throughout their curricula. The Clinical and Experiential Law Program Directors Workshop will provide a supportive environment for clinic directors and experiential deans, whose roles include supervising other clinicians and managing entire clinical law, externship, or experiential law programs, to engage in dialogue on challenges, plans, developments, and successes. Directors and other lead administrators will share how they are addressing the pressures of new regulations, decreasing resources, and the many other complexities of these tumultuous times for legal educators and the communities served by clinics and other parts of the experiential law school curriculum.
Planning Committee for AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education
Luz E. Herrera, Texas A&M University School of Law
Margaret M. Jackson, University of North Dakota School of Law
Lydia Johnson, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Paul Radvany, Fordham University School of Law
Alexander Scherr, University of Georgia School of Law
Robin Walker Sterling, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Carol Suzuki, University of New Mexico School of Law, Chair