Clinical legal education plays a critical role in defining and developing the skills, judgment, and values that future lawyers will need to fulfill their responsibilities to their clients and society. Clinicians prepare these future lawyers for practice in the face of declining law school admissions, pressures for more experiential courses, and increasing uncertainty in the job market. The communities we serve also face crises including hostile police-community relations, racial tension, bias against immigrants, loss of jobs and housing, and poverty—all while changes in national leadership, problems in national security, increasing inequality, and global instability compound these challenges.
In these tumultuous times, we must teach students transferable skills and abilities. They must be able to respond flexibly in their roles in a changing service profession that imposes multiple responsibilities, especially because most graduates will likely have several different jobs during their careers. These times pose extraordinary opportunities and challenges for lawyers as advocates for social justice and the common good.
Clinical legal education must both maintain and extend its focus on the fundamental facets of practicing law. At this 40th clinical conference, we will explore both new and trusted tools for teaching lawyering abilities and the responsibilities of lawyers to their clients, communities, and social justice.
The conference will offer a robust schedule of concurrent sessions to allow expansion of the conference theme and exploration of implications for differing experiential models. Participants will be able to focus on particular areas in working groups or pre-reserved workshops. A full slate of works-in-progress will provide room for scholarly analysis and feedback. Posters will be presented during an opening reception and will remain displayed throughout the conference. Participants will leave with new teaching tools, new ideas to improve their programs, and renewed commitment to meet the challenges of these tumultuous times as we move forward into the next 40 years of clinical legal education.