Minority Groups LuncheonMinority Groups LuncheonPart I

Hello and welcome back for spring semester 2008! I hope you all had a chance to enjoy the love and warmth of the holidays with friends and family and that you’re refreshed and looking forward to the challenges of a new semester. Class of 2008 you are on your way—graduation is just around the corner.

The first week of this semester—actually, the first week of the year—was a busy one. As a matter of fact, it was too packed to write about it all in one entry! I, along with some of my associates, attended the Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting. Law faculty from across the country participate in this event, and this year it was held in New York. I left for the conference bright and early on Wednesday, January 2, and checked in at the Marriott Marquis Hotel before walking over to the Hilton, where most of the conference was held. That evening I was able to go and enjoy a quiet Indian dinner at Utsav Festive India Restaurant off of Times Square that was recommended by the concierge. The restaurant was on the second floor of a big building, where patrons could look out on the passersby while enjoying a candlelit dinner. The restaurant was lovely, and I was able to enjoy some samosas, naan, saag with chicken and rice and a glass of wine.


The weather was very, very cold the next morning, so I hailed a cab over to the Hilton. At 9 a.m. there were two competing panels. Malcolm McNair—who also served as the Planning Chair for all the programs in the advancement section of the conference—chaired the section on Institutional Advancement and gave the welcome in the Sheraton, and Mike Mullane was featured in a panel on “Attractions and Distractions: Student Use of Laptop Computers in the Classroom” that was held at the Hilton. Unfortunately, Mike was on the second panel of that three-hour session, and I had to leave for a meeting of the AALS Committee on Libraries and Technology. I was sorry to miss his session but was able to have a friend Barabra Glassner-Fines from UMKC snap a few photos..

At noon Dave Gearhart, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and an alum of the law schdean-nance-terry-seligmann-and-teri-staffordool, spoke to the AALS Section on Institutional Advancement during their luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel. Since the Sheraton is about a block away from the Hilton, I really had to hustle to get there. Dave spoke about “21st Century Issues Facing Higher Education and the Importance of the Advancement Professional,” and his address was interesting and well received. We were able to welcome Teri Stafford, the law school’s new director of development, who joined us at the conference. It’s good to have her aboard and was a pleasure to have her there. Again, Malcolm was the Planning Chair for all the programs in the advancement section this year. Following the lunch, we all went to listen to Dave talk about major gifts in terms of development. It was very helpful to me, and I was able to glean a lot of advice and encouragement from Dave’s presentation. Afterwards, I rushed back to the Hilton for more presentations.

Later that afternoon there was a public hearing on a new ABA Standard held by the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The Standard is Standard Interpretation 301-6, and that hearing was packed – standing room only. The hearing was held to decide whether the Standard would adopt a new requirement for accreditation, which would explicitly use bar passage rate as a measure to determine whether a school was actually preparing students for the practice of law. It’s been controversial for a number of reasons. First of all, as you know, bar pass rates tend to vary across various states; each state sets its standards at a different level. Also, some schools have students who take the bar in different states. This new standard would require schools to keep up with the bar pass rate of their students in other states up to a certain percentage. It would also look at bar passage rates over a number of years, an issue which many schools have expressed concern with. As you can imagine, these two things are very complicated for law schools to monitor: first you have to know where each of your students are sitting on the bar, and then you must keep meticulous records for multiple years. The last issue is that the bar pass rate is set at a 75 percent, and there are some schools (specifically mission schools) that perform outreach to under-represented communities. The National Bar Association’s preliminary work on this new Interpretation found that some of these schools would not be accredited based on the new Interpretation. A number of people spoke very passionately about this issue. The current plan is for the ABA House of Delegates to vote upon the Interpretation at its mid-winter meeting in February.

At 5:15 p.m. we went to the first meeting of the Association of American Law Schools House of Representatives and heard Law Alumni Societya report. I sat with Phil Shelton and Leigh Taylor. The highlight of that session was the report of Carl Monk, who is retiring. This was his last presentation, and the room was packed. Everyone gave him a standing ovation, which was very emotional for Carl. That evening was our law school’s New York Law Alumni Society reception, and a number of our alums attended, including Karen Callahan (’88), Patti Evans (’83), Charles Finelli (’93), Robert Dean (’88) and James Frazier (’96). We were very excited to see them and very proud to have hosted a reception. A number of luminaries in legal education also stopped by including Rick Geiger, Steven Hobbs,Barabra-Glassner-Fines, Terry Seligmann and Len Strickman.

All of that in just one day! If you can believe it, the rest of my trip was even more jam-packed, but more on that a little later. Until then, study hard and check back often.

Part II

In the words of the famous broadcaster Paul Harvey, “And now, the rest of the story…”

The breakfast for the Labor and Employment Law Section was held bright and early Friday morning, and this year I’m delighted to say that Jim LaVaute, Chair of American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section, was my guest and attended both the breakfast and business meeting. He was able to meet a number of legal academics in labor and employment law, talk about some of the programs and invite them to become more active in the ABA. We alsoclauss honored Carin Clauss, the Nathan P. Feisinger Professor of Labor Law at the University of Wisconsin, with the Section’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Carin served as the U.S. Solicitor of Labor from 1977 to 1981 and was the chairperson of Wisconsin’s Worker Compensation Study Commission as well as the vice-chairperson of the Wisconsin Task Force on Comparable Worth. She is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the Group Health Cooperative of Wisconsin; was a member of the Litigation Committee for the ACLU’s National Women’s Rights Project; was a past secretary for the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section and the former co chair of both the Federal Bar Association’s Labor Committee and Wage and Hour Subcommittee. In the past, Carin has participated in some of the discussions between the U.S. and Mexico on labor standards as part of the NAFTA agreement, and she chaired an intergovernmental committee charged with examining the possible adoption of specific ILO conventions on labor standards by the United States. She currently is a member of the Joyce Foundation’s Board of Directors, writes extensively about employment law issues, engages in pro bono law practice specializing in sex discrimination cases and is an accomplished speaker. Congratulations again, Carin!


Following that was a session on the Section for the Law School Dean, and the topic was “The Carnegie Report: Educating Lawyers from the Vantage Point of the Law School Dean.” The moderator was Rex R. Perschbacher of University of California at Davis School of Law, and the speakers were Mary C. Daly of St. John’s University School of Law; Michael A. Fitts of University of Pennsylvania Law School; Carolyn C. Jones of University of Iowa College of Law; Thomas M. Mengler of University of St. Thomas School of Law; Emily A. Spieler of Northeastern University School of Law and Judith W. Wegner of University of North Carolina School of Law. That program gave multiple perspectives on the Carnegie Report and the speakers presented thoughtful comments on which things in the Report make sense to implement. One of the good things about the panel was the number of panelists. Each came from a different law school with different missions and perspectives, which made their comments very, very interesting. Because it was about such a hot topic—the reformation of legal education to focus more on experiential learning and less on Socratic-based classroom teaching—the session was quite full.

The next section that I was supposed to attend was on Labor Relations and Employment Law, but instead I bumped into Dennis Shields who you, if you follow the blog, may know is my hero (and the person who admitted me to law school in Iowa). We sat down and caught up and had a long conversation about some of the challenges and joys of deaning. He’s the Dean of Phoenix International Law School, so we chatted about what it’s like for him to be bringing a new law school online.

That afternoon there were more sessions on “Rethinking Legal Education” and again, they were very well attended. These were held in a huge ballroom, and were so full that they had to use overflow seating in the balcony. A little later was the Employment Discrimination Section, and there was a very interesting panel on “Employment Discrimination Remedies: The Shape of Lawsuits, The Shape of the Law” which I attended with Jim LaVaute. The panel was moderated by Michael Kelly, San Diego Law School and featured Tristan Green, Seton Hall, Brad Seligman, Director of the Impact Fund, Berkeley, Elaine Shoben, UNLV and Julie Suk, Yeshiva. It was followed by a brief business meeting during which folks whose area is employment discrimination were able to meet and chat. That evening was the AALS Gala Reception that was held in the Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The Rainbow Room is a wonderful space, famous for its dinner and dancing combination. The security was very, very tight—you had to leave your coat and be checked before you got on the elevator, but it was certainly worth the hassle once you got upstairs and had the fabulous view of Manhattan. Upstairs we were met with quite a spread, along with delicious hors d’œuvres and a full bar. It was a chance to meet new folks in legal education as well as to catch up with old friends in a lovely setting.

That evening at 8 o’clock was the dinner for the minority deans at The Palm Restaurant, and what a riot! We just had such a wonderful time. The food was terrific, but the fellowship was even greater. It was a good chance to be able to catch up with Blake and Paulette Morant, Fred and Phyllis White, Gil Holmes, Leroy Pernell, Freddie and Harriette Pitcher, Peter Alexander and John White. Stacie Walters took the train up from Washington, D.C. and joined us as well. What wonderful dinner companions, but more importantly, friends!


Saturday morning was the Dean’s Breakfast hosted by the Access Group. I’m so glad I got up and went, even though it was freezing outside, because in addition to being able to mingle with a number of deans, the talk was about the new legislation in congress and some of the choices facing students who have student loans. I have contacted Access Group, and they have agreed to come in and make a presentation to students. I think it’s very important, not only because it is essential to know what the repayment options are and what the legislation does for students who are graduating, but also because the new legislation has an impact on what those loans may cost over time. I believe it’s good to have someone with expertise talk us through that. I’m excited that Access Group will visit the law school to share that information with us.

Later that morning, I attended a Section on Minority Groups program entitled, “In the Name of Love: What Does Martin Luther King Mean on the 40th Anniversary of His Assassination?” A very diverse group of 10 panelists of all ages and ethnicities shared their insights. The speakers were, Lisa Chiyemi Ikemoto, U. C. Davis, Beto Juarez, Jr., Denver ,Margaret E. Montoya, New Mexico, Charles Ogletree, Harvard,Wendy Brown Scott, North Carolina Central, Jennifer Marie Chacon, U. C. Davis, Frank Rudy Cooper, Suffolk, Emily M.S. Houh, Cincinnati, Camille Antoinette Nelson, Saint Louis, Catherine E. Smith, Denver. The reflections were fascinating. Folks talked about growing up in the legacy of Dr. King and what that meant to each of them. That was a really, really warm session and a real tribute to Dr. King. It’s just a shame that more people didn’t attend it, but those of us who did were given a real treat.

Directly afterwards, I attended the AALS Section on Minority Groups Luncheon and, again, it was fun to catch up with Minority Groups Luncheonpeople of color and legal education from all over the country. One of the highlights of this luncheon to me, is recognizing those who have recently obtained tenure, been promoted, and those who have become deans or chaired professors. To boot, there are a number of awards given out to people who are doing fantastic things from the platform of legal education. It’s a wonderful annual event. Following the luncheon there was an informal gathering of black women in law teaching, and I have to tell you it was amazing to be a part of that gathering. It really was a great chance to get acquainted and to discuss how those of us who have been in legal education for a while could better serve those who are newer members of the academy. The conversation was very frank and a number of ideas were shared, but I think the most important thing was having a group of sisters in one room. A number of folks who have been around awhile, like Adrian Wing and Odeana Neal and Beverly McQueary, were there, and it was just terrific to meet many of the academy’s young women of color for the first time. It was truly a fantastic gathering.

That afternoon, Chris Kelley (who teaches in our agricultural law program), along with Neil Hamilton of Drake University Law School and J.B. Ruhl of Florida State University College of Law, sat on a panel moderated by Anthony Brian Shutz of University of Nebraska College of Law. The topic was “Energy, Food and the Environment: Agriculture’s Future.” Stacie WalterFortunately, I did get to hear Neil Hamilton’s talk about ethanol, even though I missed Chris’ talk to get ready to depart from the Marriott Hotel for “A Night at the Opera.” This lovely event was sponsored by the Fordham Law School and hosted by Dean William Treanor and his wife, Allison. They hosted a fabulous dinner in the law school atrium, where Lesley Rosenthal, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, talked about what it’s like to be General Counsel for the Lincoln Center. Her talk was very interesting, especially when she mentioned the various issues she faces involving labor and employment law . After the wonderful meal, we were escorted over to the Metropolitan Opera for a performance of Macbeth. We had fantastic seats right on the main floor, and the opera was really wonderful. Many, many thanks to Dean William & Allison Treanor, who hosted such a classy event. Despite all the fun, it had been a long day, and I was certainly ready for some rest.

At 9 o’clock onManhattan2 Sunday morning I walked back over to the Hilton to see Sharon Foster’s panel, “New Voices in Human Rights.” Sharon’s topic was “Ignorance and Want: A Human Rights Conflict Analysis Regarding Competing Interests in Healthcare, Food and Education and an Author’s Moral Rights and Right To Material Gain.” Sharon spoke on the fact that human rights are very much joined with economic rights and economic advancement. She stated that people will not realize their human rights unless they’re able to be a part of their development, and people must have economic justice as well. After Sharon’s panel, I went back to the Marriott to check out and had about four hours before a flight, so I walked around Manhattan, took a number of pictures and stopped at a very small Vietnamese restaurant and had noodles for lunch before heading back to the hotel to grab my luggage. From there, it was off to the airport and back to Fayetteville. So that was my first week of the new year … I’ve definitely hit the ground running!