DREAMer Application to NYS Bar Granted – A great step for legal education

Mary Lynch:

I am reblogging this great news from Albany Law ‘s Multicultural Initiatives Legal Round up.

DREAMer Application to NYS Bar Granted
The New York State Supreme Court Second Department Appellate Division last Wednesday issued a monumental decision approving the New York State Bar application of Cesar Vargas, the dynamic Co-Director of Dream Act Coalition. Cesar who was brought to the United States from Mexico by his mother when he was 5 years old and graduated from City University of New York School of Law in 2011, is a DREAMer who is authorized to be lawfully present in the United States under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. Vargas was initially approved for deferred action in 2013 after DACA was first implemented in 2012.

This is the first New York State court decision explicitly holding that a DREAMer law graduate can fulfill the “good character and general fitness” requirements for NY bar admission. Moreover, in a matter of national first impression, the court further found that a DREAMer such as Cesar is not barred from being granted his New York State law license under a federal law prohibiting states from issuing state benefits such as a professional license to undocumented immigrants unless the state first enacted enabling legislation authorizing the issuance of such benefits or licenses. The court held Congress cannot unconstitutionally infringe upon a state’s sovereign authority to divide power among its three co-equal branches of government such as in in New York which has granted the Judiciary branch the authority to review and approve bar applications to practice law, and that the Judiciary may exercise their authority as state sovereign to opt out of such federal restriction as the court did here!

Originally posted on Multicultural Initiatives at Albany Law School:

Legal News Roundup

DREAMer Application to NYS Bar Granted
The New York State Supreme Court Second Department Appellate Division last Wednesday issued a monumental decision approving the New York State Bar application of Cesar Vargas, the dynamic Co-Director of Dream Act Coalition. Cesar who was brought to the United States from Mexico by his mother when he was 5 years old and graduated from City University of New York School of Law in 2011, is a DREAMer who is authorized to be lawfully present in the United States under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. Vargas was initially approved for deferred action in 2013 after DACA was first implemented in 2012.

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Readying students for a 21st Century Education

In response to my previous post, sgeorge326 “wonder[s] how schools can achieve this lofty goal?” of learning “how to identify prospective students or develop admitted ones who understand their life goals and values, and their intellectual and personal gifts well enough to make intelligent decisions around specialization”.

Here are five steps toward that goal AND ideas for achieving them:

1.  Encourage students to gain experience in the workplace before attending law school, especially in jobs that expose them to lawyers,.and to reflect on what they learned about lawyers and themselves.

  •  Focus admissions essays around these questions
  • Develop pipeline programs for students who are 1st in their family to attend college or from underrepresented groups.  Provide them with pre-law contact with lawyers and the opportunities to work in a law office that are often available to upper middle class students with family contacts

2. Help students understand what lawyers do.

3. Incorporate the work of lawyers into first year courses.

  •  Assign court observations for first year courses, especially criminal law and civil procedure, or school wide as in Drake Law’s Trial Practicum
  •  Use course materials that expose students to the work of lawyers, including both litigation and transactions — motions and supporting documents, real contracts, deeds, etc. (The major publishers all offer such materials.)
  • Incorporate simulations into existing 1L courses or separate problem solving courses or skills labs.
  • involve students in real legal work as described by The New 1L: First-Year Lawyering With Clients

4. Infuse experiential education throughout the curriculum.

  • Include simulation modules in doctrinal courses, or attach them as separate small-credit courses
  • Offer a range of theory and practice simulation skill-focused courses, in-house clinics, and externships to students throughout their legal education
  • Link volunteer pro bono opportunities to the formal curriculum
  • Counsel students on how best to sequence experiential offerings given their interests

5.  And, perhaps most important, but still the biggest stretch for most law schools, help students both understand the importance of learning about their life goals and values and intellectual and personal gifts and provide opportunities for them to do so.

  • Hire coaches in the career office with a job description that includes helping students develop both self and career knowledge, provide them with tools such as personality tests, skills inventories, and similar tools, and connect them with the faculty so their efforts are part of the educational process
  • Encourage faculty to view their role as also including efforts to help student develop self-knowledge in arenas beyond the intellectual
  • Focus the externship program around developing a professional identity
  • Incorporate opportunities for reflection on goals and gifts in both doctrinally-focused and experiential courses

As the links in the above paragraphs demonstrate, many schools already one or more of these individual ideas in place.  The now ABA-required process of identifying outcomes (Standard 302), including in assessment of student learning both formative feedback and summative grading (Standard 314), and assessing program outcomes (Standard 315) could be implemented in ways that encourage additional student progress in these important areas.

The new volume “Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World” should be available in ebook format from LexisNexis by the end of the month.  It includes more ideas and details. Readers, you undoubtedly have additional ideas — share them!

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





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

Twitter @SandyOgilvy

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

A 21st Century “generalist legal education”? Skills & professional identity focused.

More musings on generalist v. specialist education, and how much doctrine law schools need to teach.

A conversation with one of our University of Washington alums — Leo Flor, Westpoint grad, Gates Public Service Law Scholar, Equal Justice Works Fellow at Northwest Justice Project, and spark plug for the new resource Representing Washington Veterans  — has me chewing on whether we need a new understanding of what a “generalist legal education” means.

Leo noted that the JD is often viewed as a relevant generalist credential, even though most law school grads move into traditional bar-passage-required “law practice” jobs.  And he observed that many job postings for alternative positions list an MBA or MPA as a relevant qualification, but not the JD.

The traditional generalist education of my era, and to a significant extent still, was intended to teach a set of analytical skills and and expose students to a broad range of legal doctrine potentially relevant to a general practitioner and to passing the bar exam. Though passing the bar remains important and is a significant factor in designing the educational program for lower tier schools, few 21st century lawyers are truly general practitioners.

Perhaps the generalist foundation needed in this era is built on skills, more than doctrinal knowledge.  And for Leo’s purpose not only skills in a technician sense.  Skills also in a “professional identity” sense.  Self-awareness & understanding of ones’ own gifts.  Leadership and interpersonal skills. Such an understanding of generalist could make the JD an appropriate credential for the types of job Leo described.

In a previous post, I suggested that that, at least for those students who come to law school with significant self-knowledge and experience, a substantively specialized curriculum could make sense, if combined with the general analytical and research skills to learn new areas.  This is not a new  idea.  Back in 2002 then-law-student Kevin E. Houchen self-published a detailed review of the trend toward certificate programs and concentrations, arguing that for a subset of students such specialization makes sense.

A decade later in 2012 the New York Times touted  NYU’s  limited moves toward greater specialization not just once, but again in an article  promoting specialization for law schools focused on Biglaw.

And in early May of this year 2015 at the National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services sponsored by the ABA and Stanford Law School, speakers reiterated these themes.   Richard Susskind (13:08) argued that legal education needs to train graduates for 21sth century jobs like legal project managers, legal process analysts, legal knowledge engineers, and legal risk management.  Prof. Deborah Rhode(13.29) observed that it “makes no sense to train Wall Street M &A lawyers the same way we train someone who’s going to be doing routine real estate and divorce work in a small town.”

It is not so very difficult to understand what acting on Prof. Rhode’s observation might mean.  As a practical matter, some curricular differentiation based on where graduates will practice already takes place, linked primarily to  different levels in the law school hierarchy.  Beyond that, many schools offer an extensive enough curriculum – both in doctrine and skills — to permit considerable specialization aimed at traditional law practice niches, even beyond formal concentration tracks and certificate programs.

For more specialized training law schools that offer extensive LL.M. programs routinely allow students to complete an accelerated JD/LL.M in three calendar years.  In the tax field, where the LL.M. has long been de rigueur, many schools provide such opportunities, including NYU, the long-time leader in tax LL.M’s.  And increasingly, schools educate students not just in substantive tax specialties, but also — using my own school, the University of Washington as an example — with  tax-focused skills and clinical training for both JD. and LL.M. students.

My hunch is that increasing numbers of students already opt to specialize, sometimes with a substantive law focus, often combined with a skills focus, e.g.  corporate deals with drafting or criminal & tort law with trial advocacy.

Richard Susskind’s challenge is a bigger stretch for legal education, though, again, some initiatives are visible, such as Michigan State‘s Reinvent Law Laboratory.

A key challenge for law schools is to learn how to identify prospective students or develop admitted ones who understand their life goals and values, and their intellectual and personal gifts well enough to make intelligent decisions around specialization.  To meet that  challenge, a holistic approach to education is needed –whether understood in the MacCrate framework of knowledge,  skills and values, or the Carnegie framework of cognitive, professional skills and ethical professional identity apprenticeships.

Professionalism as a Survival Strategy in the New Normal?

Last week’s ABA e-news discussed “The Relevant Lawyer: Reimagining the Future of the Legal Profession,” a new book from the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism and Center for Professional Responsibility. Jayne Reardon, executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, is the author of Chapter 19: “Professionalism as Survival Strategy.” Her comments in the ABA article really resonated with me and accord with my sense of how legal professionals can and will evolve. Her recommendations deftly balance the need to embrace change with a commitment to the good lawyering that is fundamental to a just and civil society.

Here are a few samples of her ideas to entice you further:

Instead of trying to get back the slice of the pie that Internet providers have taken, you advocate for lawyers to focus on expanding the services they’re offering to clients. Can you go into detail on that?

I only partly joke that when I was a new lawyer, my primary value was in knowing how to access legal information in an even-then arcane research system. Now anyone who has access to the Internet has access to information—lawyers have lost their monopoly on information. So they need to focus on their value to clients and to society beyond information. Creative solutions are necessary because lawyers have been providing the same types of services for decades, perhaps hundreds of years, but now decreasing numbers of people are finding that those services are worth paying for.

Internet providers process and provide information, but only lawyers with the depth of knowledge and experience can interpret and apply that information to greater and better value for clients. Lawyers can ask questions that get at underlying interests, motivations and other intangibles beyond what a client thinks they may need in filling out a web-based questionnaire. We all can see a great need for advocacy in court, as the number of self-represented litigants continues to rise, so lawyers should address this need and figure out how to benefit the clients and still earn a decent living.

You write that diversity and globalization are forcing the legal profession “to provide more holistic advice for clients.” What steps can an attorney take to get ahead of this curve?

Globalization has facilitated the dramatic increase in ethnic and racial diversity of our society. For lawyers to get ahead of this curve, they should expand their learning, which will expand their perspectives and decision-making. Take online courses or read outside your area of specialty, even outside the field of law, which will allow you to draw connections and fashion creative solutions. Expand your personal and professional relationships beyond your current circle to include those who are different from you in terms of gender, race, socioeconomic class, political persuasion. In the workplace, challenge others to challenge your thinking and, if you are in management, put together teams that will facilitate “cross-pollination” of ideas and approaches.

I see Jayne Reardon’s wisdom perfectly dovetailing with the engaging work being done on student learning outcomes throughout legal education. Our faculty spent the past year developing our universal Student Learning Outcomes. In a series of workshops we discussed, brainstormed and evaluated the changing role of lawyers along with the longstanding value to clients and society of lawyers’ knowledge, skills, judgment, attitudes and ideals. Like Jayne Reardon, we believe that

“As lawyers adopt new ways to work, think and act, the commitment to professionalism preserves and reinforces their professional identity as lawyers and provides a prescription for competitive advantage.”

How to Be Happy in Your Work

Mary Lynch:

I so appreciated this post over at Legal ED. This semester, I ended my Crim Pro Adjudication class with information from the excellent book The Happy Lawyer. It was a risk since it was my first time teaching this particular course and I was not sure what the students thought of my teaching style…I was elated when a student e-mailed me the following which I post with her permission:

Professor Lynch,

I just stumbled upon this Times article and it reminded me of our brief class discussion about “The Happy Lawyer.” I am pleased to say that Albany Law School, thanks to its incredible alumni connections and location in New York’s powerful Capital Region, has allowed me to dive head-first into the public sector. I could not be any happier— thus far, at least— and figured you’d appreciate a break from reading our exams (while you’re not catching up on VEEP!).


I hope you have a great summer and I will see you in the fall!

Albany Law School
J.D. Candidate, 2016
Executive Vice President, Student Bar Association Senate

This is the kind of e-mail that confirms my instinct that we are obligated to teach what we know to be true about the professional and personal development of lawyers…..

Originally posted on Guile is Good!:

Some lawyers are happy. Don’t take it on faith; the New York times says so. Of course, other lawyers are not.

One Interesting statistic from the study the story relies on is that associates at high end corporate firms are no happier than their less elite classmates. I was not surprised by this news because once I went on a human rights tour of Central America with several young bright young lawyers doing volunteer political asylum work. All of them were from top San Francisco law firms, and not one of them seemed especially happy in his or her work.

Why aren’t young lawyers holding the most sought after jobs happier in their work? The authors of the study suggest the reason is that the day to day experience of working at a big firm does not score high on the three “pillars of self-determination”– competence, autonomy, and connection to…

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Inner Development, Community, Social Justice (Concurrent Session, AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education)

Last, but not least, in this series highlighting lessons from experts in other disciplines relevant to how to navigate the chaotic “new normal”  in legal education: Thursday’s concurrent session organized by Tennessee’s Paulette Williams:  “A Commitment to Inner Development: Connecting the “New Normal” with Clinics’ Social Justice Mission”.

The session brought  Edward Groody and Timothy Dempsey from the Community Building Institute in Tennessee.  The Institute helps social service and criminal justice organizations become more effective by training participants in community building practices.  Taking an evidence-based approach built on motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care, and pro-social supports, community building is a “highly experiential process that helps participants remove barriers to communication and unlearn unproductive attitudes and behaviors.”

Groody began the session with a detailed overview of a four-stage process for building community:

  • Pseudo-community
  • Chaos
  • Emptying/Letting Go
  • Community

That process adds an important step — emptying/letting go — to Bruce Tuckman’s familiar “forming, storming, norming, performing” model of group formation.  My own interpretation of this additional,  third step is that it provides space for  participants to recognize,  and learn skills to address, the emotional issues that so often get in the way of honest connection with others.

Dempsey then shared powerful stories of how that process helps ex-offenders with post-prison re-entry,  allowing them to move past behavioral responses that may have seemed — and perhaps were — functional in their previous lives, but would block their efforts to move forward.   Or, to put it another way, this step acknowledges that in order to take advantage of education or employment opportunities, people need to let go of fears, resentments or trauma.  This is challenging work that is the foundation of many spiritual traditions, but can help build strong connections with others.

Time constraints prevented Paulette Williams from speaking in detail about how she makes use of this process in her clinical teaching work.  I hope she finds other forums for sharing those experiences and insights.

The insights of this community building process struck me as relevant not only to social justice and clinical legal education work, but also to faculty interactions within our law schools.  From another time and place, I well remember a year when every faculty meeting resulted in controversy, usually about something relatively minor that seemed to be a proxy for other, larger, but unacknowledged issues festering beneath the surface.    I suspect that many faculties are experiencing something similar as they operate  in the  current climate of uncertainty and change, too often getting stuck in the fear those conditions foster.  It’s  difficult for me to imagine applying this model in the typical law school environment.  But successfully moving through the “emptying/letting go” phase, as individuals and a group,  could be oh, so helpful!


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