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What an amazing experience! I had been invited to speak at the Clinton School of Public Service, and although the invitation had been extended early last semester, as the day drew closer I developed a serious case of the jitters. Being asked to speak there was a special honor, especially in light of the prominence of the distinguished speakers who have lectured there. On a more personal level, speaking at the only school of public service connected with a presidential library seemed like a long way from the south side of Chicago.

Malcolm, Natasha and I arrived and were warmly greeted by Dean Skip Rutherford, Elizabeth Brill, and Nikolai DiPippa. We received a tour of the school, and then I was ushered into the library to give a brief interview to Dana Bradley of KARN radio. Almost immediately afterwards, it was time for the lecture — with or without butterflies.

My talk, entitled “Challenges in Access to Justice,” focused on two specific access issues and the programs being developed to address these challenges. The first challenge I described is the need to plug the leaky pipeline to higher education and hence to law school. The second is the need to make legal representation more accessible.

One of the best things about this experience was the wonderful, warm support I received from the audience, many of whom were members of the Arkansas Bar. During the question and answer session, I was asked how it felt to be dean, and I had the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the support and encouragement I have received over the years from my colleagues, our students, and the bar. It is impossible to stress how important they have been to me as I have assumed this new role. I was also able to sing the praises of Dean Miller and the centrality of his efforts in promoting the level of diversity we have achieved at the law school.

The last order of business was an interview with John DiPippa for KUAR public radio in which we talked about the future of the law school and legal education and encouraged any listener who may have a dream of going to law school to take the next step to pursue it. Then it was time to head on up the hill.

My thanks to the Clinton School for the warm hospitality we received and for the opportunity to share my thoughts on challenges facing the legal profession.

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