To all of my faithful blog readers (hello out there!) you will be noticing a change around here beginning with this post. Instead of posting a whole week’s worth of excitement, I’m going to write about each event as it happens. That will, hopefully, make posts shorter, easier to read and let me put in more pictures for your viewing pleasure. Have an opinion on the new format? Let me know by posting a comment. I certainly like to hear from all of you out there in cyberspace.

February 6 saw me at the 37th Annual Dean’s Workshop at the Mid-Year American Bar Association Meeting in LosABA Mid Year Meeting Angeles. I hopped a direct flight from XNA, landed in Los Angeles and took a cab in Loews Hotel Logorush-hour, which took almost an hour and cost $45 to get to my hotel! The Loews Hotel in Santa Monica was beautiful, and I was lucky enough to get a room that faced the ocean. It definitely made up for that cab ride.

The event began that evening with a dinner for women deans—no boys allowed. The meal was oJoe’s Restaurant Logorganized by Dean Lisa Kloppenberg, and it was a wonderful opportunity for the gals to visit and get to know one another better. It’s a very supportive and warm group, and I was proud to be included. The dinner was held at Joe’s Restaurant in Venice, Calif. The menu was spectacular, and included things like porcini mushroom ravioli with wild mushrooms, butter braised Maine lobster and crispy skin artic char. For you foodies out there, you can check the restaurant out online at Dinner at Joe’s was wonderful and a great way to start the workshop.

Joe’s Restaurant Pic

The next day we started bright and early at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, fresh fruit, pastries and yogurt hosted by National Association of Law Placement. The folks of the NALP gave us an update on what’sNational Association of Law Placement LOGO happening to graduates in terms of where they’re going after graduation and the challenges facing them in the profession. One of the things the speaker pointed out is that there’s an increase in the salaries in high-end law firms, but not public sector/public interest employers. As you can imagine, that creates a problem for students who graduate with debt and who want to work in those positions. He also mentioned that 75 percent of graduates got jobs requiring bar passage, and another 8 percent of employers preferred it. The presentation was accompanied by an extremely interesting powerpoint.

Also discussed was the timing of employment offers. The issue lies in how long an offer must be held open once extended by a law firm. The rule has been that December 1 was the hard deadline for any student to accept or reject an offer. This has been a problem for students who receive offers over the course of the semester because the timetable leaves the law firms uncertain about incoming employees, and keeps other job-seeking students from finding employment. The new rule proposed by NALP now establishes a 45-day period once an offer has been extended for the candidate to reach a decision.

The actual workshop began at 8:45 a.m. with a plenary session on measuring output. The panel included Deans JoeDean Lauren Robel Harbaugh of Nova Southeastern University’s School of Law, Robel of Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington and Emily Spieler of Northeastern University School of Law. They discussed the different ways we might measure output– how well the law school is doing. For example, Dean Spieler’s school has a very Dean Emily Spielernontraditional approach which focuses more on experiential learning and less on traditional graded lecture-based courses. She talked about what that meant in terms of the accreditation process, especially about getting the accreditors to think outside the box when evaluating their program. Dean Robel recommended we use the Law School Survey of Student Engagement to look at how wellDeans Joe Harbaugh we’re doing. It measures how well students think the school is performing, what they view as areas for improvement and whether they feel it is properly preparing them for the practice. This is useful information that schools can use to improve their programs. Dean Harbaugh talked about different ways to measure the quality and success of a program, for example evaluating course completion, student achievement, job placement and the curriculum. Right now the ABA Section on Legal Education has a committee that is looking at this very issue, and is determining type of output the accreditation team should consider. It was an interesting, and timely panel.

Directly following was a focus breakout session entitled “Being Innovative in the Face of Assessment” during which smaller groups of deans talked about the both outcome measures and how to measure. This is a very interesting issue because even if you come up with the outcome you’re looking for, there’s always a measurement issue. The issues raised and opinions voiced were great.

The program continued with The Diversity Challenges session from 11:00 a.m. to noon, and that panel was comprised ofLeRoy Pernell Peter Pitegoffmoderator Peter Pitegoff of the University of Maine and of Penn State School of Law, of Florida A&M University and Suellyn Scarnecchia of the University of New Mexico School of Law. Dean McConnaughay began by listing things he did to increase diversity at his law school, including recruiting diverse faculty and staff, starting a speaker series that featured diversity and hosting alumni dinners for student organizations and alumni of color. He’s funded diverse student groups and increased the number of need-based scholarships, too. Dean Pernell talked about the need to continue to focus on the pipeline and promote, to prospective students, the idea of law as a source oDeans Phillip McConnaughayf social change. He mentioned that in many communities of color, lawyers are viewed unfavorably and encounters with the law are not positive. Pernell encouragedSuellyn Scarnecchia us to go out into those communities and share the ways that lawyers are agents of social change and justice. We should listening to the needs of the communities and find ways to become engaged with those issues. He thought law schools would be more successful in terms of recruitment by adjusting the way they’re seen in communities of color. Dean Scarnecchia asked very tough questions: Are we concerned with the proportions of minority groups in our law schools, or are we just meeting “diversity” goals? Do we have a generally diverse student body, or are we evaluating the numbers in each group? Those are interesting questions to mull over

Lunch was sponsored by the AALS, and it was a wonderful for a conference lunch: baked salmon, rice, asparagus, carrots and creme brulée for dessert. The speaker was Carl Monk, and he gave us an update on the activities of the AALS, which I’ve already blogged about.

The next event on the docket was a plenary session on resources and relationships. The moderator was Doug Ray of ToledoDouglas E. Ray College of Law and the speakers were of the University of Pittsburg School of Law, Robert Reinstein of Temple University School of Law and Fred White of the Golden Gate School of Law. Doug Ray, who has a labor background and is a good friend of mine, kicked off the panel with a few thoughtful remarks. He talked about the notion of bounded conflict, which is conflict between people who have a continuing relationship with oDean Fred Whitene another, and how it’s important to improve those relationships. For example, he talked about the law school’s relationship with the university, and encouraged deans to think about their school as a team player. He also talked about the need to share with others how the law school can contribute to the university, and reminded us to say “thank you” to the staff and administrators around campus who assist us. He also stressed the importance of educating our colleagues in the university community about the value of the law school, for example, the pro bono work of our students and the impact that our graduates have in shaping state policies as legislators, state officers and judges.

DeanDean Mary Crossley Crossley said deans should think more broadly about resources, which include relationships, and I think she’s right. How we approach people as individuals will affect our effectiveness. She also encouraged us to pull together folks from different organizations to put programs together, perhaps combining a corporate legal or university department with law school students. She reminded us of our community resources aRobert Reinsteinnd how cooperative programs help raise the visibility of the law school. Dean Reinstein encouraged us to be participants and players on campus, and Dean White talked about not shortchanging university relationships. He said law school deans should attend university-wide meetings, particularly the faculty senate. He also encouraged us to invite our colleagues from across campus into the building and to law school programs. That’s one thing that I personally need to work on. I think it’s very good advice to go into the buildings across campus and see what’s going on in other departments—it makes you a part of the team. I haven’t been as good at that as I should, so I’ve taken Dean White’s advice to heart. I definitely brought something home with me from that panel.

After that there was a breakout session that was a focused discussion on public law schools. Many public law school deans were present, and the biggest issue was how to work around financial resource challenges.

After the dean’s sessions were over, I decided to do a little bit for my Fabulous at Fifty program. I haven’t mentioned thisCurves Curves2in the blog before, but I have begun a Fabulous at Fifty program which essentially means that I have until September to be fabulous. I must tell you, I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it. Anyway, among other things, the program has a fitness component, and I’m trying to be very diligent about sticking to a workout program. Terri Yeakley printed the location of Curves for Women in Santa Monica, so I changed into my sweats and called them. They told me that I could walk to the gym from the hotel, so off I went.

While I was on my way, I ran into a young man who stopped me and asked if I would buy him something to eat. I have a personal policy that I never give people money, but I will buy them something to eat. One of the jokes among my friends is that people stop me and ask me because I look like I’m well-fed! Anyway, it just so happened that there was a burrito shop right there on the corner, and quite frankly I was glad to stop walking. We went in and he selected a very modestly priced meal, and said “thank you very much, God bless you”, and I was back on my way.

It turns out that Curves was more than “just a short walk” from the Loews Hotel. In actuality, the gym was about 4 miles away, so by the time I got there I already felt like I’d had a great workout. However, focused on the notion of being Fabulous at Fifty, I went on with my usual exercise routine anyway. I have to admit, though, I definitely caught a cab back to my hotel!

Loews Hotel Room View

That evening was the UCLA School of Law Dean’s Reception at the Rain Corporation in a lovely outside setting. It wasn’t too far from the hotel, thank goodness, because I don’t think I could have walked a long way to get there! There were tall heaters with heat lamps on them to keep everyone comfortable because it was a little bit cool outside, and everything was just wonderful. We had heavy hors d’oveurs and wine to munch on during the event. They were kind of strict, though, so I don’t have any pictures of that—you’ll just have to trust me when I say that it was lovely. It was a great way to wrap up the day.