Category Archives: Legal Academia

New Article: “Lawyers, Power, and Strategic Expertise”

New Article: Colleen F. Shanahan, Anna E. Carpenter & Alyx Mark, Lawyers, Power, and Strategic Expertise, 93 Denv. U. L. Rev. 469 (2016).  Abstract below:

This empirical study analyzes the experience of the parties described above, specifically the power, representation, and strategic expertise they bring to a dispute. Our analysis of these factors clarifies how representation may be a solution to the access to justice crisis. We find that a representative helps most parties most of the time. We also find that the other party’s representation and the representative’s strategic expertise are significant factors for understanding representation for civil litigants.

This study analyzes a database of 1,700 unemployment insurance appeals in the District of Columbia over a two-year period, the broadest and deepest collection of data about representation in recent years. The analysis shows wide disparity in representation, with employers (the more powerful party to a dispute or the quintessential “haves”) represented twice as often as claimants (the less powerful party or the “have nots”), as well as a notable difference in parties’ use of procedures in hearings. Using difference-in-proportions tests, this Article examines the interaction of party power and representation and finds that represented parties have better case outcomes than unrepresented parties, though employers see less benefit from legal representation than claimants. In addition, the Article confirms the intuitive result that represented parties are more likely to use procedures than unrepresented parties. Yet, surprisingly, the Article finds that represented claimants who use certain evidentiary procedures have worse case outcomes than represented claimants who do not use those same procedures.

We recommend that any policy solution to the country’s civil litigation crisis, whether it is a right to civil counsel, unbundled legal services, lay advocacy, or pro se court reform, must account for these factors. To achieve this goal, we call for a deeper understanding of representation in context.

Job Posting: Rutgers Law School

Rutgers Law School seeks candidates with a demonstrated commitment to social justice, as reflected in their scholarship and research, for tenured-faculty positions in its Newark location.  Candidates should have a record of excellence in legal scholarship, teaching, and institutional service.  Experience in legal practice, policy advocacy, or other forms of applied research related to social justice is also a plus.  The Law School values faculty diversity and strongly encourages candidates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply.

This hiring initiative is funded by the Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) Chancellor to enhance the university’s strategic plan (see here) of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement across RU-N’s academic departments and to promote RU-N’s role as an anchor institution that leverages its scholarly expertise and civic interest to advance opportunity in and around the greater Newark metropolitan area.  Thus, candidates ideally should have an interest in participating in cross-disciplinary initiatives within RU-N, in partnering with communities and organizations outside the university, and/or in advancing opportunity in and around the greater Newark metropolitan area.

Interested candidates should send a CV and a list of references by November 1, 2016 to the attention of Mary Anne Moore,

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Job Posting: “Loyola University Chicago School of Law”

Loyola University Chicago School of Law is seeking applicants for the position of Clinical Professor of Law and Director of its Health Justice Project.  The Health Justice Project is a medical-legal partnership (“MLP”) of Loyola’s School of Law, the Erie Family Health Center (a Federally Qualified Health Center), and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. The Health Justice project includes a legal clinic which involves law students in direct client representation and policy advocacy to address the social determinants of health affecting low-income patients of Erie Family Health Center.  Founded in 2010, the Health Justice Project is part of the School of Law’s Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy.  Students in the schools of public health and medicine at Loyola also may enroll in the clinic.

A full description is here: health-justice-project-loyola-law-chicago. Review of applications will begin October 1, 2016, with the goal of selecting a candidate by the end of the year.  Position to begin July 1, 2017.

Applications should be submitted online:   Please feel free to contact me at if you have questions.

News Article: “The Purpose of Harvard Law School”

News Article: Marina N. Bolotnikova, “The Purpose of Harvard Law School,” Harvard Magazine, Sept. 17, 2016.

Article: “Rebellious Strains in Transactional Lawyering for Underserved Entrepreneurs and Community Groups”

New Article: Paul R. Tremblay, Rebellious Strains in Transactional Lawyering for Underserved Entrepreneurs and Community Groups, 23 Clinical L. Rev. (forthcoming 2016).

In his 1992 book Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice, Gerald López disrupted the conventional understandings of what it meant to be an effective poverty lawyer or public interest attorney. His critiques and prescriptions were aimed at litigators and lawyers similarly engaged in struggles for social change. His book did not address the role of progressive transactional lawyers. Today, transactional lawyers working in underserved communities are far more common. This Essay seeks to apply López’s critiques to the work of those practitioners.

I argue here that transactional legal services, or TLS, on behalf of subordinated clients achieves many of the aims of the Rebellious Lawyering project. I separate TLS on behalf of individual entrepreneurs from a more collective TLS on behalf of community or worker groups. For practitioners working with entrepreneurs, the Essay observes that client power, control, and autonomy are more readily achieved, albeit through what López might describe as quite regnant practices. Those practices, I argue, are fully justified in this context. What TLS for entrepreneurs does not accomplish, though, is community mobilization, a downside that is regrettable but not a reason to eschew that kind of work. Collective TLS provides all of the upsides of entrepreneurial TLS while not sacrificing mobilization goals. That version of TLS, though, does present two of its own challenges, one triggered by the complexity and sophistication of the legal issues involved in may community economic development projects, and the second resulting from the nature of group representation.

New Teaching Resource: “Guerrilla Guides to Law Teaching”

New Teaching Resource: “Guerrilla Guides to Law Teaching” which are being put together by:

So far there are special guides on criminal law, clinical law, and integrating biography into teaching.

New Article: “Serfdom Without Overlords: Lawyers and the Fight Against Class Inequality”

New Article: Eli Wald, Serfdom Without Overlords: Lawyers and the Fight Against Class Inequality, 54 U. Louisville L. Rev. 269 (2016).  Abstract below:

Lawyers are not very engaged in the public discourse about class inequality in America, reflecting a belief that class inequality is primarily an economic and political problem rather than a legal one. Because lawyers are not commonly perceived to be a cause of the class problem, some believe that lawyers should not be part of the solution. This article challenges the legal profession’s passive stance on class inequality, arguing that all lawyers have an important role to play in the fight against inequality.

The article first identifies a class challenge for lawyers, the rise of an increasingly segregated and stratified legal profession, based on attorneys’ socioeconomic status, showing that the well-documented and growing opportunity gap among our kids will result in a growing opportunity gap among our lawyers. It then disproves an enticing retort dismissing the growing opportunity gaps among our kids and lawyers as somebody else’s problems, asserting that lawyers in their (neglected) role as public citizens have a special duty to address inequalities affecting our kids, and that lawyers as officers of the legal system must combat inequality within the profession.

The rest of the article explores the means by which law schools, law firms, lawyers and the organized bar can and should help fight class inequality. Its main claim is that all lawyers must take part in a capital campaign designed to narrow our kids’ and lawyers’ opportunity gaps, a campaign involving no expenditure of economic capital. Rather, American lawyers, the affluent as well as the less prosperous, possess ample social and cultural capital — connections, relationships, and ties, as well as knowledge, information, and experience — which are the very assets that explain the opportunity gaps.

Law schools amplify lawyers’ opportunity gap by using admission, teaching and grading policies that privilege the affluent at the expense of the less fortunate, and can become part of the solution by replacing these criteria with policies that give everybody an equal opportunity to be admitted and excel based on merit considerations. Law firms systematically, if implicitly, trade in and rely on their lawyers’ social, cultural, and identity capital to make hiring and promotion decisions. They can become part of the solution by transparently acknowledging the role of social, cultural, and identity capital in their practices and providing all lawyers equal opportunities to acquire the requisite capital needed for success within their ranks. Lawyers, in turn, must lend their social and cultural capital assets to help build the capital endowments of the underprivileged. Finally, the organized bar must act as an intermediary connecting lawyers with disadvantaged kids and lawyers, and support the roles of lawyers as public citizens and officers of the legal system. In sum, the legal profession can and should play a meaningful role in narrowing the opportunity gap afflicting our kids and our lawyers.

New Article: “Student Debt and the Siren Song of Systemic Risk”

New Article: Jonathan D. Glater, Student Debt and the Siren Song of Systemic Risk, 53 Harv. J. on Leg. 99 (2016).

New Article: “Deep Critique and Democratic Lawyering in Clinical Practice”

New Article: Sameer M. Ashar, Deep Critique and Democratic Lawyering in Clinical Practice, 104 Calif. L. Rev. 201 (2015).  Abstract below:

The crisis in legal education has been defined and accentuated by urgent and existential critiques. This body of complaint and suggestion — in the form of books, foundation reports, law review articles, major media entries, and blog posts — has two gaping holes that this Essay seeks to fill. First, the critiques fail to attend to the diminishing of social justice values and commitments in legal education in the period leading up to the 2008 recession, especially as clinical education — often designated as the carrier of justice values in law schools — faced generational shifts and law schools extended “practical” education to more students. Second, with the exception of the work of Robin West, there is little in the way of a forward-looking, progressive, and justice-oriented response to the crisis of legal education. The reform discourse since the 2008 recession is composed almost exclusively of proposals, such as those by William Henderson and Brian Tamanaha, undergirded by neoliberal assumptions and constructs. Leading reformers accept the accelerated disaggregation and commodification of legal practice without attention to aspects of the profession that privilege the public good over market norms and rationales. This Essay draws on clinical practice rooted in pedagogies focused on the development of critical analysis and political engagement to make the case for a progressive vision of law school reform — and, more generally, the legal profession — that emphasizes justice, connection, and cogeneration by lawyers and communities of approaches to entrenched social problems.

Wisconsin Law Review Issue on Experiential Learning

Though this is more of an internal law school topic as opposed to strictly poverty law, I thought this issue of the Wisconsin Law Review worth highlighting because of the connections to clinics and other ways in which law students can do poverty law related work.

Three articles from Wisconsin Law Review on Experiential Learning

Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?

Jason Webb Yackee

This short article provides an empirical examination of the link between law school experiential learning opportunities and JD employment outcomes. The paper is motivated by the so-called “law school crisis” that has accompanied the bursting of the housing bubble and the ensuing Great Recession. As most readers know, the market for new lawyers collapsed during the recession. Applications to law schools initially rose, but have since fallen dramatically. Entry-level legal hiring remains sluggish, and law school applications remain at or near historic lows.

Assessing Experiential Legal Education: A Response to Professor Yackee

Keith A. Findley

My colleague Jason Yackee offers some interesting data on comparative rates of law-related job placement for graduates of the top 100 U.S. law schools.1 In the end, his analysis in part reaches the entirely unsurprising conclusion that higher-ranked law schools are more successful at placing their graduates in full-time law-related jobs than are lower-ranked schools (although it turns out that holds true only for those in the top 50). . . . Read more

Measuring Clinical Legal Education’s Employment Outcomes

Robert R. Kuehn

Clinical training is one of the most significant developments in legal education over the last century. Legal education experts and bar committees have praised clinical education’s ability to teach law students the competencies necessary for the practice of law and a sense of their professional identity and obligations. Some even identify the added benefit of aiding J.D. students in securing employment and possible negative impact of inadequate skills training on the job market for graduates.