A Modest Proposal (for more coordination)

I recently attended the Emory Transactional Law conference (which was excellent, as always).  The conference is held every two years; this was their fifth.  Earlier in the spring semester, while I was putting together my talk (on What Law School Curriculum Committees Can Learn From Architecture Schools) I noticed that the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning 2016 conference would be going on at the same time, as well as the Third National Symposium on Experiential Learning in Law.

There are differences in emphasis among the three conferences.  But it’s fair to say that most, if not all, of the attendees at all three events are in what might be termed the “reform wing” of legal education.  While the ideas being circulated at all three conferences may be familiar to most readers of this blog, and while those ideas are being incorporated into law school curriculums throughout the country, the reform movement (broadly construed) still does not command a majority position in legal education.  So I have to ask – why would three such conferences be scheduled at the same time?  I know there is no commissioner or czar of legal education, let alone a single leader of each of the various components of the reform movement.  I also know that with the limited travel budgets many professors have, attending more than one conference in a year might be out of reach.  But I wonder if there isn’t some way to better coordinate scheduling of such conferences for those who would want to attend more than one of them.  I don’t know who put their marker down first, and I don’t know if any of the players knew of what the others were planning.  But perhaps more coordination, and more deference to others, might have been in order.

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3 Responses

  1. I am very pleased that Howard raised this issue. I also noted and struggled with the same conflict around these three conferences, although as a transactional lawyer and adjunct, there was no question that my prime focus would be to attend and present at the Emory conference. However, I did make a proposal (noted with interest but ultimately not pursued) to conduct a workshop at the Law Teaching and Learning conference via video conference (which I could have done from my firm’s Atlanta office) and I toyed with leaving the Emory conference Saturday afternoon to catch the end of the Third National Symposium on Experiential Learning in Law (I had attended the Second Symposium, but ultimately it did not make sense to try to split the weekend, so I focused solely on the Emory conference). I always enjoy sharing ideas and interacting with reform-oriented colleagues, and many with whom I regularly interact did attend the other two conferences. For all of us who would be willing to attend more than one of these conferences, it would be great if the calendar could be better coordinated. JGF

  2. The author of this (modest!) post makes an important point, one we might heed. If s/he is correct, there is a movement, or at least a sentiment, that, for several reasons I need not identify here, law schools need to make considerable adjustments to their curricula. In order for any movement to grow, coordination is key. And this is fed by, among other things, interested members getting together, working and building together. This can be accomplished more successfully if meetings were scheduled in central locations affordable to the greatest number. Also, while technology is not my thing, maybe others out there can use their considerable talents to build a “master bulletin board,” accessible through one common platform. These are just a couple of ideas. What do you think?

    • It does seem a bit silly to be scheduling such conferences at the same time. I suppose the alternative to coordinating dates of conferences is to coordinate subject matter and location, which could also be effective in affecting reform.

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