Transferring Best Practices to a Domestic Violence Agency–i.e. the real world

On February 1, 2014 I left the ivory tower of a law school I had loved for 27 years to become the executive director of Enlace Comunitario, a non-profit agency focused on eliminating domestic violence in Latino immigrant communities through intervention services such as case management, counseling and legal services and prevention activities such as leadership development, education and outreach.   This was a big transition for me, but I am loving it!  And, my long time involvement with Best Practices for Legal Education has paid off in this context.  How, you might ask, are the skills transferable?  Well I will give some examples in my next few posts…but I will share immediately that I am working to create a teaching and learning culture at my agency.   Specifically, my goal is to build the capacity of folks in the agency so that when I step down one or several of the staff members will feel ready to take on the helm. And, of course, I will want staff members to step up to take their place. Already, we are training a counselor to become a counselor supervisor and we are training a former receptionist to become a case manager. I love seeing my staff take on the teaching role! And, they are good at it.

So…one of the foundational principles of best practices is to work to develop learning objectives for your students.  Well, it is not a stretch to work with staff members and develop learning objectives with them!  And, creating evaluations that fit the job duties and the learning objectives was fun:  Each job criteria or learning objective is evaluated as follows:  “in training”, “needs improvement” “good work” or “awesome, can teach this knowledge, skill or value”.   So far the staff has responded positively to the new evaluation process.  We will finish up this month!  I will let you know how it goes!

2 Responses

  1. Imagine a pathway from the ivory tower to practice where professors applied for sabbatical to practice in a legal services arena. This is not a new concept, but very thought provoking at this point in legal education when experiential education calls on professors to integrate and innovate practical skills. See Suzanne Rabé & Stephen P. Rosenbaum, A “Sending Down” Sabbatical: The Benefits of Lawyering in the Legal Services Trenches, 60 J. Legal Educ. 296 (2010).

    In the reverse, imagine sabbaticals for attorneys in legal service organizations, especially granted at times when they need a respite due to secondary post traumatic stress. Imagine the legal service attorney taking a sabbatical to help build experiential modules for the classroom.

    Both ideas would build bridges to practice, renew the attorneys and most importantly, enrich our classrooms.

  2. I agree with you that it is the perfect time to raise (again) this collaborative and synergistic idea with law schools.

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