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2010 CELT News


Faculty Share Best Practices

On November 3, 2010, the topic of the weekly lunchtime Faculty Teaching/Scholarship workshop at Albany Law School was "Technology" and, specifically, how TWEN can add a new dimension to law school learning. Instead of providing a "how-to" workshop by Darlene Cardillo, the Instructional Technologist, we decided that it would be more useful for the faculty to hear from their peers.

Six professors presented their use of TWEN in the classroom.  None of the presenters discussed static items like posting a syllabus.  Instead, they discussed using wikis, polling and forums.

Much more information is available at the Best Practices for Legal Education blog.

"Re-vision Quest: A Law School Guide to Designing Experiential Courses Involving Real Lawyering" 

Professor Phyllis Goldfarb, Jacob Burns Foundation Professor of Clinical Law and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at The George Washington University Law School, was a recent presenter at Albany Law School discussing her paper "Re-vision Quest: A Law School Guide to Designing Experiential Courses Involving Real Lawyering".  The presentation was part of the Faculty Workshop and CELT series at Albany Law School.

"Re-vision Quest: A Law School Guide to Designing Experiential Courses Involving Real Lawyering" is an article arguing that the current divide between in-house clinics and externships is an inadequate scheme in the new era of curricular reform. It "suggest[s] that legal educators expand their thinking about curricular options for experiential learning and develop a broader conceptual framework for articulating these options."

For the presentation, Professor Goldfarb was joined by Professor Mary Lynch of Albany Law School, a co-author of the article.  They fielded questions from the Albany Law faculty on the key issues in the article and the curricular reform debate.

Click here for the PowerPoint accompanying the presentation.

Sophie Sparrow's Workshop on "Harnessing the Power of Small Group Learning"

Sophie Sparrow, Professor of Law at the University of New Hampshire author of Teaching Law by Design: Engaging Students from Syllabus to Final Exam (2009), presented a workshop at Albany Law School entitled "Harnessing the Power of Small Group Learning".  The presentation was part of the Faculty Workshop Series sponsored by CELT and the Dean of Scholarship, James Gathii.

Professor Sparrow engaged a group of twenty-five law professors on the benefits and proper use of small groups in law school classes.  She provided instruction on how small group dynamics operate and how to best develop a class to utilize the idiosyncrasies of group learning.  Group learning has always been a challenge in law schools because students are hesitant to rely on others for their grade.  However, Professor Sparrow's system has the added benefit of developing interpersonal skills by requiring feedback from other students in the group.  The result is a learning experience for all group members, not only in legal principles, but in real world interaction as well.

Click here to view the Powerpoint presentation.

Click here to download Professor Sparrow's Peer Feedback form.

Dean Tom Guernsey Presents on Law School Accreditation

On September 15th, Dean Tom Guernsey presented at an Albany Law School workshop on law school accreditation as part of the Faculty Workshop and CELT series.  The purpose of the workshop was to inform Albany Law School faculty about accreditation standards and their impact on law school curriculum.  The Dean discussed the hierarchy of the American Bar Association and its impact on accreditation, the role of the New York Court of Appeals, and provided a Dean's perspective on changes being made to standards on outcomes, tenure and other matters affecting law schools.

To view the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

ABA's Changes to Academic Freedom Standards 

The proposed revisions to "Security of Position, Academic Freedom, and Attract and Retain Faculty" dated July 15, 2010, was posted on the web site of the Standards Review Committee on July 20, only three days in advance of the Committee's meeting this weekend at which the SRC is slated  to discuss the issues it raises.   This "Draft" proposes the elimination of the longstanding provisions in Standard 405 addressing tenure and other forms of security of position for law faculty. 

Bob Kuehn, President of the CLEA, has written a response to these changes in a letter to the ABA. Click here to read the letter.

Leadership, Ethics and Democracy Building Initiative (LEAD)

The Leadership, Ethics and Democracy Building Initiative (LEAD) at the University of Maryland School of Law hosted a symposium to discuss changes in law practice and how law schools should respond to those changes.  The symposium brought together leading scholars, law professors and legal educators, as well as practicing lawyers and judges to discuss the most significant changes in the legal profession in recent years and how law schools should respond to better prepare their graduates for practice. 

The first session focused on large law firms, specifically their growth and development into their modern structure, their hiring practices, and the kinds of skills law schools should be teaching students interested in corporate law practice.

In the second session, panelists discussed changes in how small firm and solo practitioners are connecting with clients and what law schools need to be teaching students about these changes.

The final session of the day focused entirely on how legal educators and law schools should respond to changes in legal practice.  All participants thought the division between skills and theory needs to be bridged with different teaching methodologies and that the third year of law school needs more focus and structure. 

Click here to read a summary of the symposium.

Click here to read a full recap of the symposium. 

Watch the symposium:

            Day 1

            Day 2

            Day 3

Harvard Law School's Problem Solving Workshop 

Harvard Law School has begun teaching a course on practical skills, creative thinking and excercising judgment for their 1L students called The Problem Solving Workshop. The course is designed to take students through an entire case, from the first time the client walks into the office, to the resolution.

The program has received a high level of interest, not only from law schools, but also from firms who donated attorney time to help instruct students.

From the Harvard Law Bulletin

Read more about changes in law school curriculum at the Best Practices blog.

Albany Law Professor and Alumnus Lead Change in Law Student Training

Professor Mary Lynch, Albany Law School, was recently selected to chair a subcommittee for the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) on training and promoting new lawyers. The subcommittee is part of NYSBA's newly formed Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession, led by Stephen Younger, the association's new president and Albany Law graduate.

The subcommittee will explore better ways to train new lawyers to meet client demands, as well as examine different methods to promote and compensate associates to improve quality of life factors.

"A law school can't provide - in three years - everything a student needs for a life-long career as a lawyer," she said. "But law school educators across the country agree that we can and should equip students with the knowledge and skills they need for early success, as well as the reflective and theoretical tools to learn from experience."

Professor Lynch has recently made presentations on legal education reform to faculty at several law schools. She participated in a panel on "Using Critical Perspectives to Inform Change" at the American Association of Law Schools national Conference on Clinical Legal Education in May, and she delivered a presentation to Indiana University Maurer School of Law in June.

As a long-standing proponent for legal education reform, Professor Lynch is also the editor and a frequent contributor to the Best Practices for Legal Education blog. Her goals for this blog are to create a place where those interested in the future of legal education can freely exchange ideas, concerns and opinions.

Read more at the NYSBA.

ABA Last Minute Draft Proposal on Tenure

The ABA is currently undergoing the process of reviewing the Standards for Accreditation of Law Schools, which is headed by the Standards Review Committee.  Just three days before the anticipated meeting on July 24th, a draft proposal of standards revisions which sugggests alternaties to tenure was posted on the ABA Standards Review wepage.  CLEA President Bob Kuehn on July 22nd wrote to the SRC author of the draft objecting to the process.

To learn more about the proposed changes to the Accreditation Standards and Student Learning Outcomes, click here.

Commencement Keynote Address from The Honorable Richard Wesley, Judge for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals

The Honorable Richard Wesley, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, delivered the keynote address at the 159th Commencement Ceremony for Albany Law School.

Judge Wesley was appointed to the federal court in 2003 after serving as an Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, since 1997.

He offered some words of advice for aspiring lawyers on professional identification.

Listen to the Keynote Address.

Albany Law's First Online Course

Overview of Albany Law School's first completely online course.

For more information, click here.

Proposed Changes to Student Learning Outcomes
Date: 4/26/2010

To: Standards Review Committee
From: Steve Bahls, Chair of the Student Learning Outcomes Committee
Date: April 17, 2010
RE: Summary of Changes in the Proposed Student Learning Outcomes Standards

Since the January 2010 Committee meeting in New Orleans, the Student Learning Outcomes Subcommittee has made several important changes in the proposed student learning outcomes standards. These changes were based on comments on the earlier proposed standards, which are posted to the Committee website, as well as further committee deliberation:

  1. Proposed Standard 302 now makes it clear that the level of competency is the level of competency of an entry-level practitioner.
  2. The most recent proposal states in Standard 302 (b) (3) that law schools should identify professional skills outcomes. Only a few professional skills outcomes are specifically required, including legal analysis and reasoning, critical thinking, legal research and writing, problem solving and the ability to recognize ethical and professional dilemmas.
  3. Proposed Standard 303 (a) (4) and Interpretation 302-2 better clarify what is expected from a required simulation course, live clinic or field placement.
  4. Proposed Standard 304 has been significantly modified to simply require law schools to use formative and summative assessment methods during the course of a student's education. The prior proposal that would have required schools to assess each student's attainment of the learning outcomes was thought to be unduly burdensome.
  5. The committee withdraws a prior recommendation that standards eliminate the prohibition on paid field placements. The committee makes no recommendation on whether this standard should be changed, as another subcommittee is considering this issue.
  6. We look forward to our discussion of these and other issues relating to student learning outcomes in San Diego.

Standards 301-305: Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes Key Issues

Upcoming Meetings

Vanderbilt Dean  Calls For Merging Scholarship, Teaching at Albany Law
Date: 04/19/2010

Ed Rubin, the John Wade-Kent Syverud Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School, told a room of Albany Law faculty that scholarship and teaching together are larger than the sum of their parts.

Coordinated by CELT, on April 19, 2010, during a faculty development luncheon, Rubin described the teaching strategies he promoted while the dean of Vanderbilt Law, and how scholarship and teaching can complement each other. The presentation was based on Should Law Schools Support Faculty Research?, Rubin's article on scholarship, curriculum and pedagogy, 17 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 139-169 (2008). 

Rubin's ideas center on the concept of cross-subsidies in education. He has found that by changing the third year of law school to an in-depth analysis of specific legal areas, law schools can engage students actively in the research arena. As a result the students' tuition dollars, which were used to fund scholarship rather than fund student education, can now be performing both functions. 

Professors at Vanderbilt work in teams to develop an in-depth educational experience for groups of students. Now, these students have something more than a concentration in a legal field, but a tangible experience to draw from as they move into their careers.

Click Here To Watch the Presentation

Prof. Rubin's SSRN page

Law Clinic Receives Prestigious N.Y. Bar Award
Date: 04/14/2010

The Albany Law School Clinic and Justice Center was recently honored with the New York State Bar Association's 2010 Angelo T. Cometa Award for its significant community outreach efforts and legal services in the areas of civil rights, health law, unemployment litigation and family violence prevention. In 2009, the Law Clinic and Justice Center handled 621 different cases on behalf of 523 individuals.

The award, sponsored by the Committee on Lawyer Referral Service, annually recognizes individuals or groups in New York that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment toward advancing the goals of the State Bar's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), which is a program that helps coordinate a lawyer referral and information system, as well as provides the public with information about available legal services. Named after past Bar Association President Angelo T. Cometa, the award was presented on April 9 at the State Bar's House of Delegates Dinner.

The committee recognized the Law Clinic and Justice Center for its significant community outreach and the legal advice it provides through six in-house clinics: Civil Rights and Disability Law, Health Law, Securities Law, Unemployment Litigation, Low Income Taxpayer Law and Family Violence Litigation and its collaborative Family Violence Prosecution Clinic. The Law Clinic and Justice Center also offers a field placement program that has placed law students at more than 200 different government offices.

Among its most significant programs was a day-long special education conference, "Beyond the Box, Exploring the Possibilities," for parents and other individuals concerned about the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities; helping clients with cancer challenge insurance company decisions to receive due treatment; and representing survivors of domestic violence in matters related to safety, financial support and custody of children.

Past winners of the Cometa Award include: the Capital District Women's Bar Association Legal Project, Inc.; Allen J. Charne of New York (New York City Bar); and past State Bar President Angelo T. Cometa of New York. Cometa chaired the Committee on Lawyer Referral Services during the first year of LRIS operation. As committee chair, he was instrumental in establishing the LRIS and increasing public access to attorneys. The award was created in 2007 in recognition of his extraordinary service efforts.