Conference Highlights – AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education

Music, art, creativity, and comradery are infused from the opening moments through the last second of the 2019 conference. It will be good to the last drop!

Please plan to stay through the morning of Tuesday, May 7. There will be substantive and fun programming for the entire morning, from collaborating with colleagues on their works-in-progress to a robust round of concurrent sessions to a grand finale Karaoke Sing-a-long and unity flag celebration with cake. We will send you home by noon, edified, energized, and happy.

Throughout the conference: Clinical Community Unity Flag Project

We will all work together to create a unity flag using individual and/or group-decorated sticky notes. Everyone is invited to play with provided art supplies to draw, color, use stickers, markers, glue sticks etc. and create individual flags on the unity theme. Attach your smaller individual flags to a large butcher block paper so that the individual flags turn into one collage Unity Flag by the end of the conference.

Grand finale: Join us for a karaoke singalong and unity celebration—with cake! There are four song leader slots available; if being onstage isn’t your preference, we hope you will be one in the crowd helping us end this conference on polarization feeling unified.

If you would like to lead one of the singalongs, send an email to on or before April 15 with your name and a YouTube link to a karaoke recording of the song you choose. Make sure the video includes the lyrics, so we can project them for everyone to follow along. The song should follow our theme of community building, teamwork, celebration, and/or coming together. At the celebration, bring others to join you on stage—we challenge you to include at least one person you met at the conference or don’t know well. Note: if you happen to choose a song that others have already selected, we will combine your groups. 

Programming Highlights

Opening Plenary

Sunday, May 5, 9:30 – 10:30 am
“America Polarized: What Drives Us Apart? What Brings Us Together?”
Yung-Yi Diana Pan, Sociologist, Brooklyn College
Daniel A. Yudkin, Department of Psychology, Yale University

The United States is experiencing another period of polarization. As clinicians, we see the divides play out in our classrooms and hallways, among our students and clients, and in the places where we and our students lawyer. We may situate ourselves – or be placed – at one end of the polarization spectrum and contribute to its effects. We may strive to mitigate the divides and to teach our students to lawyer effectively across them. To do so, we should first better understand what is going on in this contentious time. This session will help us to explore the current polarization from a social science perspective: What is its nature? How extensive and deep is it? What fuels it? What dampens it? The working groups that follow will allow us to consider how the polarization manifests in our home institutions and how these manifestations can help us to bridge the divides.

Keynote Address

Monday, May 6, 9:15 – 10:30 am
john powell, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Effective lawyering and leadership arguably require overcoming the divisions that often polarize and isolate. How can we, as teachers, get beyond the divisions that exist in our own classrooms? What techniques can we adopt to educate and support our students in working collaboratively with people from whom they might differ? How can we partner with our students, our clients, and our communities to overcome political and social divisions for the greater good? Professor powell will address these questions in light of his research on the frameworks of othering and belonging and his analysis of how we can use bridging and empathy to move us toward structural and systemic inclusion.