Theme - AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education

Fortifying our Foundation and Building for the Future

As experiential legal educators who teach both in-house clinics and externship courses, we find ourselves in volatile times, frequently reacting to stressful external exigencies. At the 2020 conference, we will shift our collective gaze inward, focus on ways we can strengthen ourselves and our community of educators, and prepare for challenges that the new decade may present. Consistent with core clinical habits of introspection and reflection, we will examine ways to bolster the bedrock of our professional work, including our instructional approaches and collaborative relationships. We will also explore ways to fortify ourselves as individuals, with renewed attention to wellness and professional growth.

Specific themes we will explore via the conference programming include the following:

  • Collaboration. Conference sessions will explore effective models for collaboration across clinics, subject matter areas, diverse experiential offerings, and disciplines. We will also consider the types of collaborative partnerships we might need for the future. 
  • Foundational and Emerging Lawyering Skills. We will examine ways to solidify the bedrock of our work – lawyering skills pedagogy – and will discuss how best to integrate emerging skills, including those related to social media and technology.
  • Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Resilience. In order to position wellness as a priority, conference sessions will explore approaches for teaching students about self-care, mindfulness, and resilience. We will also contemplate how clinicial faculty can adopt these same habits. 
  • Professional Development. The 2020 conference will feature sessions focused on the professional development of clinicians. Topics will include career trajectories, efforts at obtaining equal status within institutions, and positioning ourselves strategically given law schools’ focus on experiential learning, bar passage, and job placement. The conference will also offer sessions on substantive law topics with the goal of aiding our own professional development as lawyers and teachers.
  • Clinics and the Community. We will consider and critique existing models of community engagement, with an eye towards sustainable and forward-looking approaches. 

The 2020 conference will feature various modes of presentation, including 60-minute concurrent sessions (spread across seven time slots), 30-minute lightning sessions (two time slots), workshops, and poster presentations. Recognizing the explosive growth in digital communication, the Planning Committee also welcomes video presentations for the first time. As in past years, the conference program will also include a keynote session, a plenary session, working group sessions, works-in-progress, and presentations from Bellows Scholars. 

Workshop for New Law School Clinical Teachers

This biennial half-day workshop is designed to provide clinical law teachers who are just entering the field or aspiring clinicians in the early years of their careers with insights and foundational principles for clinical teaching and professional development.  Experienced workshop presenters will share best practices, common mistakes, and valuable resources to help attendees acquire the tools needed for professional success as clinical faculty.