Welcome to the 2021 Conference on Clinical Legal Education! It is our sincere hope that this message finds you and your loved ones in good spirits and health. 

When our planning committee began its work in summer 2019, none of us could have imagined the trajectory that our work together would take. As you all know, the pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020 conference, which was scheduled to convene in Orlando, Florida. While we are still not able to safely gather in person, we are grateful that our community can unite once again and can learn from and support one another in this virtual setting.  

We recognize that this conference is coming at a time when many of us are experiencing fatigue at the end of an unprecedented school year. The pandemic has affected all of us – as well as our families, communities, and law schools – in different ways. It has transformed core aspects of clinical legal education, accelerating the introduction of technology and shifting our focus on emerging community needs. The movements for racial justice, which have gained strength over the last year, have provided another focal point for our work and have invited reflection on the project of antiracism within the clinical legal professoriate. The conference theme, Reckoning with Our Past and Building for the Future, reflects our effort to capture the complexity of the current moment and to acknowledge the fundamental shifts we are experiencing as a society.  

The conference features approximately 90 concurrent, lightning, and poster sessions, which engage with this year’s themeSeveral sessions will examine how we can better understand and address racial injustice and inequity through both our pedagogy and the work of our clinics. We will begin the conference with a keynote conversation with voting rights advocate Angel Sanchez and will explore the role of lawyers and law students in community-led social movements. In a plenary session entitled Are We (Almost) There Yet? we will have a candid conversation about diversity among clinical law professors and how we can advance antiracism in our programs and institutions. To help us build for the future, we are offering numerous sessions that discuss clinical pedagogy, our professional trajectories as clinicians, and our work with communities. A theme that cuts across many of the sessions is the importance of mindfulness, self-care, and resilience.  

Despite the virtual setting, you will find many other familiar features to this conference: thoughtful and substantive workshops, working group meetings, robust works-in-progress sessions, presentations from Bellows Scholars, and awards presentations from both the AALS Clinical Section and CLEA. As a complement to the more formal programming, we will have both committee meetings and informal discussion groups during most mornings of the conference. 

We look forward to “seeing” all of you over the course of the conference, and we send you all a warm virtual embrace. 

Planning Committee for 2021 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education

Lisa R. Bliss, Georgia State University College of Law 
Robert Edward Lancaster, Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center 
Dana Malkus, St. Louis University School of Law 
Kim McLaurin, Suffolk University Law School 
Lynnise E. Phillips Pantin, Columbia Law School 
Jayesh Rathod, American University, Washington College of Law, Chair 
Eda (Katie) Katharine Tinto, University of California, Irvine School of Law 
Cindy Wilson, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law