2014 Conference on Clinical Legal Education

April 27-30, 2014
Chicago, IL

Click here to view or download the 2014 Clinical Conference booklet

The conference this year will address the theme of Becoming a Better Clinician. Its overarching goal is to help all of us to take charge of our professional growth. This focus is salient as the changing legal market and renewed critique of traditional legal education bring greater attention to clinical legal education and clinicians. In our home institutions and globally, we are called to explain, defend, demonstrate, and teach clinical legal education and our best practices, while still responding to the needs of our students, clients, communities, and homes. To handle these calls effectively, we need to know how and why we use clinical pedagogy, what our role can be in the current legal education reform movement, and how we can maintain our professional values and identities in the rush to change. In short, we must clarify who we are and what kind of clinician we want to become.

The conference will provide tools, ideas, and concrete steps to manage professional growth in these exciting and stressful times. Attendees will identify goals for short-term growth, explore any of three professional contexts for growth - teaching, curriculum reform, and community engagement and mindfulness - and develop a concrete plan for achieving their goals.

The conference will take place over three and one-half days. The opening and closing plenaries will focus on why and how we engage in self-improvement and provide time for our own reflection, goal setting, and planning. Between these two bookend plenaries, we will explore paths to and ideas for self-improvement in three contexts: (1) learning theory and pedagogy; (2) law school curriculum reform; and (3) community engagement and mindfulness. Through plenaries, mini-plenaries, working groups concurrent and poster sessions, we will explore materials from within and without the legal academy and different challenges and opportunities for improving our profession and own professional identities. Specifically, the first track, learning theory and pedagogy, will interrogate topics such as what neuroscience and learning theory teach us about how our students learn and how we should be teaching them; improving our own evaluation of our teaching; and options for improving our teaching and how we evaluate its effectiveness. The second track, law school curriculum reform, will explore topics such as maintaining the integrity of experiential pedagogy in curriculum reform; the meaning of "experiential learning" in terms of teaching and learning; the choices for undergoing curriculum reform and how we evaluate those choices; and examples of innovative reform and whether they should be replicated in other schools. The third track, community engagement and mindfulness, will examine ideas such as the meaning of community engagement for a clinical law teacher; the finding of meaning in our community work; options for creating a mindful practice; and our evaluation of those options.

In addition to the general conference, there will be a special workshop for new clinical law faculty during the morning of the first day of the conference, and clinic administrators will have a working group and sessions geared to their interests. Also, during the conference, there will be a time slot set aside for multiple concurrent sessions for scholarly works-in-progress.