What a whirlwind! I spent one week traveling to three cities in two countries, and each stop was a great experience and a chance to see old friends.

IslandI safely arrived in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday, but, unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my luggage. After spending a good deal of time trying to locate my belongings, I finally arrived at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida to attend the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference. The first session I attended, that evening, was a New Scholars Workshop. All of the speakers presented interesting papers, and I was especially impressed with Renée Hutchins, a professor of law at University of Maryland School of Law. Her paper on intrusiveness and the Fourth Amendment set out a new two part test based on the technology of the search and whether the information would have been obtainable otherwise. I’m certain I am not doing justice to her ideas, so if you’re interested, give her a call. I’m sure she’d be happy to send you a draft.

Later that evening, still sans luggage, I had dinner with Veryl Miles, the Dean of Catholic University School of Law, John White, the new Dean of UNLV law school, Professor Mitch Crusto from Loyola University–New Orleans and Professor Dorothy Brown from Washington and Lee University. We ate at a little tapas bar on Amelia Island called Espena. While enjoying our delicious food, we discussed the role a dean plays in a law school: the challenges, the expectations, etc. It was good to see them and to catch up with what was going on with them.

The next morning, I listened as Professor Dennis Nolan, University of South Carolina School of Law, moderated a workshop entitled New Approaches to Old Problems in Labor and Employment Law. The speakers presented many interesting and provocative ideas which stirred a lively discussion among labor colleagues. Professor Nolan was perhaps one of the most “interactive” moderators I have ever seen. During the workshop, Professor Paul Secunda, University of Mississippi School of Law, talked about the Workplace Fairness Act, and Professor Jeff Hirsch, University of Tennessee College of Law, discussed moving to one uniform cause of action for all employment discharge cases (yes, all of them). Professor Marsha McCormick, Samford University–Cumberland School of Law, suggested viewing employment discrimination claims through the lens of transitional justice and perhaps adopting a truth and reconciliation model for such claims. Professor Nancy Levit, University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law, presented an interesting paper about the role class action suits play in reforming the workplace in terms of equality and inclusivity. In her research, Professor Levit found that in the cases where the settlement required a greater degree of managerial accountability, greater institutional changes were made.

I spent lunchtime Monday with two of my colleagues from University of Arkansas–Little Rock: Terry Beiner and Terrence Cain. Terrence recently joined the UALR faculty as a tenure-track professor, but he previously taught employment discrimination and civil liberties as an adjunct professor between 2004 and 2007.

(L-R)Neal F. Newman, Michael Green, Dean Keminshire, Paul Secunda, Elaine ShobenMonday evening I enjoyed a fabulous dinner with our own Professor Scott Dodson and his wife Ami, along with a long time labor and employment law colleague and friend Michael Green from Texas Wesleyan. It was a fun meal, and we learned of an exciting new article Professor Dodson just completed on the constitution viewed through the lens of evolutionary biology (or more accurately whether that paradigm fits in terms of constitutional analysis). It is a great piece and I’m sure he’d do a much better job of explaining it to you than I am. (apologies Scott)

On Tuesday afternoon, I moderated a discussion about employment discrimination entitled Employment Discrimination Fifteen Years after the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The panel featured four professors from across the South who analyzed some of the issues that have arisen under the act. Dean Steven Kamenshire, Georgia State University College of Law, talked about the difference burden of proof in mixed-motive and pretext Title VII cases. Professor Terry Beiner, University of Arkansas–Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, discussed the need to increase damages awarded in discrimination claims, especially sexual harassment cases, depending on the severity of the facts. Professor Elizabeth Pendo, St. Thomas University School of Law, looked at the difficulty of disability plaintiffs availing in claims, and Professor Michael Green, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, focused on the challenges in using arbitration to settle employment discrimination claims.

Directly following the panel, I attended a session about law school accreditation issues. The notion is, as explained by Dean Steve Smith, that law school accreditation has two themes. The first theme is protecting the public by making sure students are well-prepared to serve in the legal profession. The second theme focuses on holding law schools to high standards and producing “value-added” students . The panel discussed whether law schools should be required to have research missions, but some felt it was not within the role of the ABA to require research, but that that goal fell within the purview of the AALS. This lead to a discussion, initiated by Dean Lawrence Dessem of Missouri Law School, on the differences between the accreditation methods of the American Association of Law Schools and the ABA. He suggested that over time, there will likely be a distinct division between the roles each organization plays in the accreditation process because over time each will tend to focus on different areas of emphasis. There was also a great deal of discussion around the proposed language on the bar passage interpretation. It was recommended that it be tabled for further study.

After a quiet dinner, I attended the Deans’ Dessert for a little while because the next morning was an early one. My shuttle would arrive the next morning at 6:45 a.m.

After the spending three days at the SEALS Conference, I headed to Iowa City, Iowa to the Midwest School for Women Workers, sponsored by the University of Iowa Labor Center. The school is designed to bring together union women to develop leadership skills, understand challenges and issues facing the labor movement and to equip women to be more active and effective leaders in their unions.


While settling into my hotel room to get caught up and to prepare for my speech, I found out that the internet only worked in the lobby of the hotel. About half way through the afternoon, I looked out the lobby door to see a labor rally in full bloom. It turned out to be the women from the Midwest School. They were marching and picketing to express support for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. About 75 union members and supporters gathered for the Rally for Workplace Democracy in downtown Iowa City which received media coverage.

School for Women Voters

The next morning, I delivered a speech to about 60 women who were attending the school. The speech was entitled “We Still Can” after the famous Rosie the Riveter campaign during World War II. It focused on how women in the workforce have played a significant role in transforming society.

I was especially happy to go back to one of my alma maters. I worked as a labor educator at the Labor Center on campus while I was a law student and during my first year of business school. My experiences there played a major role in shaping my views of the workplace. It was a great chance to visit with former colleagues (including Matt Glasson who gave me my first law clerk job and Roberta Till-Retz whose commitment to and love for labor is amazing).

Alberta, CanadaThursday afternoon, I started on the last leg of my trip to Banff, Alberta, Canada for the Law School Admissions Council Board of Trustees retreat. I arrived Thursday in Banff, which is a beautiful resort town set in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. The retreat was a chance for the board members to get to know each other and for all of us to get to know LSAC’s new CEO Dan Bernstein. We spent a lot of time discussing the future of the organization and the possibilities of internationalizing the organization (beyond Canada). We also focused on continuing to improve the LSAT and thought about what other service/products would be appropriate for LSAC to think about offering. We also spent time thinking about and looking at the structure of the organization and the relationship between the board and the staff. After our discussions were over, we engaged in a little “board bonding” and took a whitewater rafting trip. And bond we did. Our raft worked very hard to keep everyone in and to counter the splash attacks of the other rafts.

The whirlwind trip ended with a return to Fayetteville and the excitement of the new school year. This trip was a reminder of the many experiences that come with this role and the gift of terrific friends from many places. For both, I am extremely thankful.