Left to right: Professor Melling, Professor Christopher Cameron, Professor Joseph Slater

Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the fact that there was a breakfast for law deans at the same time as the Labor and Employment Law breakfast.  As it turned out though, I ran into a number of deans who sat down with me, and shared the information that was given at the Deans’ breakfast.  Next year I’ll have to be careful to monitor for that, but as I mentioned at the outset about this conference there are so many events at the same time that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all of them.  The Labor and Employment Law breakfast is always a treat (if you can imagine breakfast at 7:00 a.m. being a treat) because these are my colleagues from the very beginning of when I entered the academy.  They have nurtured and supported me both in my role as a junior faculty member and now as dean.  One of the topics of discussion was the Restatement of Employment Law and some of the debate going on in ALI.  A number of us are ALI members and I encouraged others to attend to take part in those discussions and in shaping the restatement.  Other topics included an upcoming program this summer

Professor Paul Secunda

Professor Paul Secunda

(which unfortunately I will have to miss because it’s at the same time as the Arkansas Bar Association) and the election of new officers for the section.  It was great comradery, informal conversation, and catching up on what’s going on in the labor and employment law world of the legal academy.

Professors Circo and

Professor Circo and Dean Schwab

Next I dashed off to catch Prof. Schneider’s panel.    Her session was entitled, “What is Agricultural Law?” and it was put on by the Section on Agricultural Law.  I have to say that I went to support my colleague, but I ended up learning a whole lot.  The members of the panel were Jim Chen, Dean of the University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law and Drew Kershen, Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.  The panel was chaired by Anthony Schutz, Professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law.  It was really an interesting discussion and one, by the way, in which there was some disagreement.  It made for a lively session.  I’d never thought about all the various components of agricultural law.  Agricultural law professors have to know about the entitlement programs, financing credit, EPA standards, food safety issues, transportation, bio-terrorism issues, and zoning and land use regulation.  It

Professor Schnieder

Professor Schneider's Panel

was fascinating to stop and think about all the various aspects of agricultural law and also to learn where the section (at least as represented by the panelists) see the future of the field.  Needless to say, our own Prof. Schneider, the Director of our Agricultural Law program, was excellent.  (That goes without saying!)

After that session I attended the AALS Section on Minorities Luncheon.  Angela Onwuachi presided.  One of the most exciting things about the luncheon this year was that my former law professor, colleague and friend, Associate Dean Adrien Wing from the University of Iowa, received the Clyde Ferguson Award for excellence in public service, teaching and scholarship.   She gave a very moving and personal acceptance speech and mentioned that she’s very proud of how many of her students have gone on to careers in the legal academy.

Dean Adrien Wing

Associate Dean Adrien Wing

The luncheon is always a really nice event.  One of the things that happens is an acknowledgment of all the brand new professors and those promoted to Associate, Full, Associate Dean and Deans.  They get a lot of love from the folks in the room and it’s a good way to network and meet other people of color in the legal academy.  It’s always an event well worth attending.

Afterward, I had a conflict in my schedule and I tried to sort of bop in between two different events.  The first one was the AALS Committee on Libraries and Technology’s event which hosted a round-table discussion on using libraries to help transform legal education.  Nancy Rogers, the former Dean of Ohio State (and who was appointed in a little bit of a political crisis there in Ohio to become Acting Attorney General), appointed me to this committee and I had been in several conference calls planning the program.  Let me give you a little bit of the description here:  “Law schools are continuing to examine their curricular offerings to ensure that they provide the right mix of theoretical classes and skills training to their students.  How can law libraries contribute to the

Left: Dean Peter Alexander of Southern Illinois Law, Right: Professor Gilbert Holmes of Baltimore Law

Left: Dean Peter Alexander of Southern Illinois Law, Right: Professor Gilbert Holmes of Baltimore Law

development of the goals expressed in the Carnegie Report of, more generally, in curricular development?  The Committee would like to open the discussion to the legal academy to gather a broader spectrum of viewpoints.”  The speakers were Kim Clarke, Assistant Dean for Library and Research Services & Lecturer in Law at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law; Frank Houdek, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Southern Illinois University School of Law; Janis L. Johnston, Director of Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Memorial Law Library and Associate Professor of Law at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law; Faye E. Jones, Director of the Research Center and Professor at Florida State University College of Law; Elizabeth R. Parker, Dean and Professor of Law at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law; Gordon Russell, Associate Dean and Professor of Law at Charleston School of Law; and Sarah Wiant, Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Panel on Educating Lawyers

Gathering of Wemen Faculty of Color

The session was a round-table discussion, so it was easy to bop in and out.  We were asked to read Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law in advance.  I have to confess that I only got about half way through it, but I felt like I could at least hold my own in the discussions.  But, I was in and out of that session as well as an informal session based upon a gathering that started about three years ago, of women of color in legal education.  It’s very informal.  We go around the room and introduce ourselves to each other and then the senior colleagues (which it is kind of strange now to think of myself as being a senior colleague, but apparently I am) answer questions from junior colleagues and try to provide mentoring, give advice and counsel, and encouragement.  It’s a little bit of a pep rally, too.   I really try not to miss those sessions because sometimes hearing the questions of those junior colleagues makes me more sensitive to the challenges that my own junior colleagues may be facing.  Also I want to be helpful because my path was not necessarily the straightest one to legal education and through the processes.  I think it is important to be helpful to junior colleagues who are up and coming and pre-tenure.


The next thing on the day’s agenda was a session sponsored by the Section for the Law School Dean and it was entitled, “The Dean and Faculty: Establishing Relationships and Setting Boundaries.”  It was pretty packed even given that it was in San Diego at 3:30-5:15 p.m. on a nice, sunny Friday afternoon.  The description of this session read:  “We are refocusing the discussion slightly from what is published in the brochure.  In particular, we are adding a focus on the recession (what a surprise!).  One of the many challenges facing deans is managing our relationship with our faculty as we step into a role that is quite different from that we played as a faculty colleague.  Instead of formal presentations, the moderator will lead the panelists in discussions of several recurring issues for dean-faculty relations including:  (1) establishing relationships as a new outside or inside dean; (2) managing changing expectations of faculty, in particular, demands of new faculty for star treatment; and (3) managing a bad economy.”  The speakers were Dean Nell Newton, UC Hastings College of Law; Toni Massaro, University of Arizona; Freddy Pitcher, Southern University; Mary Crossley, University of Pittsburgh; and Dean Larry Sager, University of Texas.


Left to Right: Dean Lawrence Sager, Dean Toni Massari, Chancellor Fredie Pitcher, Dean Mary Crossley

The program morphed into how to deal with running a law school in challenging economic times and how to have conversations with your colleagues about that.  The big take away from the session was that whatever decisions a dean makes (in terms of budget and the need to tighten the reins) two things should guide him/her:  (1) the institution’s goals and programs and the significance of the programs to those institutional goals, and (2) all decisions should be made with plenty of input from faculty colleagues.   After the formal presentation we had a short business session to elect the new officers of the section.  Maureen O’Rourke of Boston University is the new Chair and the Executive Committee members are Peter Alexander of Southern Illinois; Alex Aleinikoff of Georgetown; and Blake Morant of Wake Forest.

After that it was time to head to the second meeting of the AALS House of Representatives where the incoming President of the association, Rachel Moran of Berkeley Law School gave an address.  Ruth Okediji, Chair of the Nominating Committee, presented the slate of officers for the Executive Committee for the next year.  They include:  President Rachel Moran;

Selection of New Executive Board

Selection of New Executive Board

President-Elect H. Reese Hansen, Brigham Young University; Serving through 2009 are W.H. “Joe” Knight, Jr., University of Washington and Lauren K. Robel, Indiana University-Bloomington; Serving through 2010 are R. Lawrence Dessem, University of Missouri and Leo P. Martinez, University of California, Hastings; and Serving through 2011 are Katharine T. Bartlett, Duke University and Daniel B. Rodriguez, The University of Texas.  Prof. Moran’s theme for year 2010 is “Transformative Law.”   After that business was done, the House of Representatives meeting was adjourned.

That evening I met up with Athornia Steele the Dean of Nova Southeastern University Law School.  We walked over together to the Texas Wesleyan reception hosted by Dean Frederic White because all of us are very good friends who have long memories going back through our LSAC service.  It was good to see Fred again as he’s moved a lot closer to me down at Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth (he had formerly been the Dean at Golden Gate University) and to wish him well in his new

San Diego Gas Lamp District

San Diego Gas Lamp District

deanship.  Also as you might recall, Mike Green (my very long time and very close friend in the academy and also another labor and employment lawyer from the south side of Chicago) is the Associate Dean for Research there at Texas Wesleyan, so that was a must do event.  The other thing that was a must do about that reception is that it was entitled, “A Taste of Texas.”  I was curious what the hors d’oeuvres might be that reflected a  “Taste of Texas.”  We ran into a number of good colleagues and friends at the reception including Joe Knight and Gil Holmes.

Afterwards I had arranged to have dinner with Len and Danielle Strickman from Florida International to continue the celebration of FIU’s accreditation by the ABA and admission to AALS, as well as to reflect on Len’s very long tenure as a law school dean and the fact that he is stepping down from FIU’s deanship at the end of this academic year.  Thorny decided to join us as well as an old and dear friend of Len’s, Betsy

some poelpe

Dean Dennis Lynch, his wife, and Dean Thorny Steele

Levin (former Executive Director of the AALS and former dean of the law school at the University of Colorado), and Kenneth Ferguson of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.  We went to an Italian restaurant called Bella Luna Ristorante Italiano.  The food was okay and the service was dismal, not recommended at all.  I’d give it a two thumbs down.  Most important though, was the chance to visit with Len and Danielle.  Len’s always going to be special for me, because he was the dean who gave me my start in the legal academy and has been a friend and mentor over all these many years.  And, it was nice to get acquainted with two new friends in the legal academy.  The dinner was not memorable for food or service, but for the collegiality.   After dinner we walked back to the hotel.  There was a margarita party held by Marquette Law School (and you know I do love margaritas) but I just felt too tired to go.