Clinical Theory Workshop 25th Anniversary Celebration and Conference

 Dear members and friends of the Clinical Theory Workshops:

             I’m happy to tell you that this year, 2010, marks the 25th anniversary of the Clinical Theory Workshop series. In honor of this birthday, I propose to throw a party – that is, to hold a conference – and I’m writing to invite you to participate.

             The theme of the conference follows from the nature of the occasion. We have been meeting to discuss works of clinical scholarship for a quarter-century, and along the way many of us have also written clinical scholarship ourselves. Our meetings have been fun; we are a community; but what have we discerned over the years? That’s the question for the conference. Put more formally, our theme will be: “Twenty-five years of clinical scholarship: What have we learned, and what should we work on next?”

             We will meet at New York Law School on Friday, October 1, 2010 (I expect there will also be an informal dinner on Thursday, September 30, for anyone who arrives in time for a meal), with plenaries and small group sessions all day Friday, and a dinner that night, and then we’ll convene again on Saturday, October 2, for meetings all morning. The 25th anniversary conference will conclude at lunchtime on Saturday, but I hope that many of the participants in our celebration will then travel a little ways uptown to NYU School of Law, where the Clinical Law Review writing workshop will meet on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning (October 2-3). The organizers of these two conferences think that they complement each other very well, the first conference reflecting on what we’ve learned and where we should aim to go, and the second providing a concrete opportunity for clinicians to work together on the scholarly articles they are writing. We hope that many of the 25th anniversary participants will want to stay on for the writers’ workshop, either as small-group facilitators or as participating authors, and that many of the writers’ workshop participants will want to come to New York a day or two early to be part of the 25th anniversary celebration.

             We’ll be distributing registration materials later in the spring. The purpose of this letter is partly to ask you to save the dates, and partly to invite you to submit papers. As you think about possible papers, please keep in mind the conference theme: we do seriously ask you to focus on both looking back to what we have already learned, and looking forward to where we should be going, in light of where we’re coming from. Within that broad guideline, you may want to look at any of the areas of “clinical scholarship,” which we understand not as simply scholarship by clinicians but rather as scholarship focusing on issues of lawyering skills, of pedagogy and supervision, or of legal practice and legal reality as illuminated by clinical perspectives. Among these issues are many that are perplexing, and some that are controversial and even political – from the nature of lawyers’ expertise to the principles for representation of communities to the dynamics of interviewing to the current ABA consideration of outcomes assessment and changes in Standard 405(c). Papers on all of these, papers that take into account past scholarship and aim to chart new paths for the future, are all appropriate for this conference. Whatever the topic, we will seek to bring to all our discussions the same sense of shared community and supportive critique that we have aimed for in our meetings over the years.

             Here’s one more thought about topics. As many of you know, Bob Dinerstein, Isabelle Gunning, Kate Kruse, Ann Shalleck and I recently published a textbook, Lawyers and Clients: Critical Issues in Interviewing and Counseling (West 2009). Our aim in that book was something like the aim of this conference – to take account of what we’d already learned, specifically about interviewing and counseling, and to try to push our explorations further. The issues we focused on, under the broad heading of “engaged client-centeredness,” included responding to difference and similarity between lawyer and client; supporting client decisionmaking while still bringing the lawyer’s insights and even moral views to the table; working with atypical clients; using narrative as a lens for understanding clients; integrating skills and ethics (for example, in the lawyer’s attention to truth and her explanations of the law); and understanding the nature of expert, as distinguished from novice, client-centered practice. If you too are “engaged” with these issues, papers on them – with or without reference to our book – would be very welcome.

             Here’s the schedule for submission of papers:

 Topic statements and abstracts are due April 1, 2010.

 First drafts are due June 15, 2010.

 I’m very pleased to say that several workshop members (Claudia Angelos, Sameer Ashar, Sue Bryant, Stacy Caplow, Liz Cooper, Minna Kotkin, Vanessa Merton, David Reiss, Barbara Schatz, and Ian Weinstein) have generously agreed to read and comment on first drafts (I’ll be a reader too); we’ll send comments to authors by July 30, 2010.

 Revised drafts are due September 15, 2010. These drafts will be posted on the conference website.

 Finally, after the conference, all conference papers submitted by December 1, 2010 will be considered for publication by the New York Law School Law Review; the Review, of course, will make final decisions about which articles to publish.

             Many of you will recognize that in calling for topic statements and first drafts, and providing feedback on those drafts en route to the conference drafts, we are following the model of the UCLA-Arrowhead conferences. We’re happy to follow that distinguished model. Some of you may also be wondering whether the Clinical Theory Workshop conference will conflict with the 2010 UCLA-Arrowhead conference. Fortunately, the answer is no; our conference is 5 weeks before theirs. But you may want to attend both, and we will be happy if papers that fit the theme of the 25th anniversary conference also fit the theme of the UCLA conference.

             If you have any questions about the Clinical Theory Workshop conference, please don’t hesitate to contact me, either by e-mail ( or phone (212-431-2392). I very much look forward to hearing from you.

All the best –

 Stephen J. Ellmann/Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Collaborative Learning/New York Law School/185 West Broadway/New York, NY 10013/212-431-2392


One Response

  1. Excellent article as always, thanks for posting such helpful stuff on a regular basis.

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