Archives for the month of: January, 2009

The next day promised to be a really busy day.  There were ten events on my itinerary for the day.  It’s always a little crazy like that because in addition to the substantive sessions (for example criminal law, administrative law, agricultural law, labor law, immigration law) there are broader sessions about the academy itself.  There are also sessions on development, so it’s always sort of a scramble to try to get to the different sessions and to choose between a substantive program and, for example, curricular re-design or legal education more generally.

The conference began Wednesday morning with the welcome by John Garvey, Dean of Boston College and the presiding President of the AALS.  The plenary session that morning was on “Race and Gender in the Legal Academy” and that ran from 9:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.  I was on my way downstairs to register because they pretty much strictly enforce the fact that you have to have your badge, or at least show it, to get into the sessions (and I had to go register because as you know I skipped it the night before) and I bumped into D’lorah Hughes, one of our newest faculty members.  She is a lot of fun and has become a wonderful new addition to our law school community.  We ended up having breakfast and catching up.  So I missed that first session, but did get to the second part of that plenary session on “Race and Gender in the Legal Profession.”  In that session, the panelists reported on recent research on gender and race in the legal profession, drawing especially on new findings of the “After the J.D. Project,” and discussed how to incorporate such research into teaching programs consistent with the Carnegie Foundation’s mandate in Educating Lawyers.  The panelists for this session were Ronit Dinovitzer, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; William D. Henderson, Indiana University – Bloomington; Sam Kamin, University of Denver; Melinda S. Molina, St. John’s University; and the moderator was Bryant G. Garth, Southwestern Law School.

That afternoon, my next session started at 2:00 p.m. and that was the “Workshop on Redesigning Legal Education” and I think I’ve talked about that before on the blog.  The panelists for this session were:  Paul L. Caron, University of Cincinnati; Anne Colby, Senior Scholar, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Palo Alto, California; William D. Henderson, Indiana University, Bloomington; John Mayer, Executive Director, Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ellen S. Podgor, Stetson University; Susan Westerberg Prager, AALS Executive Vice-President and Executive Director; Nancy B. Rapoport, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Maimon Schwarzchild, University of San Diego; and William M. Sullivan, Senior Scholar, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Palo Alto, California.    This session addressed some of the most promising – and most troublesome – possibilities in legal education; the integration of academic and skills training, the use of technology in the classroom and beyond, the assessment of student learning, the lessons that pedagogic theory offers about standard, often unexamined legal teaching methods, and the appropriate level of formality or informality between the classroom teacher and the students.

At 5:15 p.m. that evening I went to the meeting of the House of Representatives of the AALS.  Our official law school delegate to the House was Prof. Hughes.  All the Deans attend that session as well though because you find out what’s going on with the Association.  The schools all receive an agenda in advance for the business session so we pretty much know what will be covered in the meeting.  The agenda for this first business session included a call to order, adoption of the agenda, the report of Susan Westerburg Prager who is the AALS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, as well as the report of President John Garvey, and the report of Prof. Adrian Wing who was Chair of the Membership Review Committee.  One of the most exciting things that happened during the meeting is that someone near and dear to us, Len Strickman, Dean of Florida International University College of Law, saw his law school admitted to the AALS.  Prof. Wing moved that Florida International be admitted and the vote was unanimous.  A number of the FIU faculty members were there along with Dean Strickman, who gave a brief statement about the accomplishments of the school and invited everyone to the Florida International reception that evening from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Marriott Hotel.

One of the things that also takes place at the first business session is the acknowledgment of members of the legal academy who have passed away during the year.  Several of those were people that I had come to know over the years.  It’s always a very solemn occasion during which the names are read while everyone stands silently.  Afterwards there is a moment of silence.

After the business meeting, there were a number of receptions including the LSAC Board of Trustees reception.  This is the first year in many years that I went as a non-volunteer with LSAC.  It was a strange feeling, but it was really good to see all of my friends – Kent Lollis of LSAC; Dan Ortiz of Virginia; Ellen Rutt of Connecticut; Athornia Steele, the new Dean at Nova; Dan Bernstein, the CEO of LSAC; Joan Van Tol, the Chief Counsel of LSAC; and a number of other good friends I made during my many years of service in the organization.

I also popped in to the Widener University School of Law reception.  I always like to go by there and say hello to my fellow Dean, Linda Ammons.  In addition, there was the Florida International University College of Law reception, and you know there was no way that I could miss that reception.  It was fun to celebrate with Len over FIU’s recent ABA accreditation and admission into AALS.  It was also great to see Danielle and a number of FIU faculty members that I’ve come to know there over the years.

I ended the evening with the University of Iowa College of Law reception.  It always feels like going home.  I really love to see everyone.  I’ve developed good friendships with some of the newer (since I graduated) faculty, including Peggie Smith, Marcella David as well as Dean Carolyn JonesMike Green came to the reception.  He’s at Wake Forest now, but he was my torts teacher.  Joe Knight was there.  He is the former Dean at Seattle and is now teaching there.  He taught me commercial law or at least gave it a valiant effort.  Anyway, it’s always quite a reunion, and a fun event which capped off my evening.  Later that night there was a Deans Dessert sponsored by Cumberland School of Law and Dean John Carroll aboard the yacht America that was moored at the Grand Hyatt, but after all the receptions and sessions it was just too much so I called it an evening.

Now those of you who followed the blog in the past may expect me to say that my flight was dismal,

San Diego Marriot

San Diego Marriot

dreadful, delayed, there was some malfunction with the plane, but I had an unusual stroke of good luck and was able to board my plane at XNA and make my connection in Dallas with no problems at all.  I had a very pleasant flight out to San Diego.  The conference hotel was the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina on Harbor Drive in San Diego, and there were several hotels very near by to house the large number of participants for the conference.

Just a little bit of background about this conference, for many years it was held only in three locations, New Orleans, San Francisco and Washington, DC.  So as you might imagine, it was a nice change to have the meeting held elsewhere.  I think the problem before had been the lack of hotel rooms.  The theme for the AALS meeting for this year was “Institutional Pluralism.” John Garvey notes in his welcome in the conference brochure:  “Institutional pluralism is a good thing for our students in the same way choices are good for consumers in other fields.  It may also contribute in an important way to a healthy intellectual life.  Progress in the life of the mind is a cultural achievement.  A community of scholars working on the same problem, or in the same idiom, may accomplish things a group of disconnected individuals could not.  (Think of the Manhattan Project, or fin de siècle Vienna.)  The Association should cherish the interests of its members in pursuing these ends.”  This was the second most well attended AALS annual meeting.

edgewater-grill2

Edgewater grill

I arrived at the hotel in mid-afternoon and after unpacking and checking e-mail, I went down to register.  The line was very, very long so I decided that I didn’t really need to register that evening.  I found my friend, Mike Green, and he and I ran in to Dean Jim Chen from the University of Louisville.  He’s also been mentioned on the blog before.  He’s been out to visit the law school for our Day with a Dean program.  He is a good friend and a real football fanatic.  He’d traveled to the meeting with his Development Director, Robert Micou, and Matt Williams, his Assistant Development Director.  Now, if you know Jim Chen and since you do know me and you’ve read about Mike and my adventures before, you can imagine that going to dinner was, well, an adventure.  We started out with directions from the concierge and headed out of the hotel, but by the time we got to the door we had greeted and hugged and talked with so many people that we forgot the directions.  So, once we got downstairs to the door that we were supposed to leave out of, we asked one of the employees of the hotel and his instructions were completely undecipherable.  It was very funny.  Everybody was like, “Didn’t you get the directions?,” ” I thought you had the directions,” and  “I’m following you.”  Anyway, to make a long story short, we headed off towards an area where there were many, many restaurants right along the water and we walked and walked.  We did know the location of the restaurant recommended by the concierge, so we stopped a jogger and asked him where the restaurant was.  He said, “It’s way up there where you see the light.”  At that point, we decided it really wasn’t as important to go to that restaurant, so we turned around and went into Edgewater Grill.  When we got to the restaurant I said to the host, “You know, you

Edgewater Grill

Edgewater Grill

probably want to seat us away from families and children.  This is a pretty rowdy crew.”  He took me quite literally and sat us in a private room by ourselves where we sort of lived up to that warning.  It was quite a hoot to be with Jim again and his staff.  It was a very funny, rollicking conversation and great food.  I’d put this on the plus list of the recommended restaurants and it was reasonably priced.  I had a New England Clam Chowder and a Seafood Fettuccini with shrimp, scallops and crab.  It was delicious.  Everyone enjoyed their meals and the portions were large enough that no one wanted dessert, so we just walked back to the hotel.  We said goodnight to Matthew and Bob who were staying at a different hotel and headed back to our hotel and called it an evening, or so I thought.

When I arrived in my room I had a phone call on my cell phone from my credit card company saying they had flagged a number of unusual transactions  – and they were unusual.  I did not know what those businesses were, so that credit card got canceled.  After working through all that, I called to make a hair appointment while I was there.  I got on the internet and Googled “black hair salon in San Diego” and got a number of numbers, many of which were out of order or no longer in service.  I did reach this young guy (at least seemingly young) and he said, “Hello, this is Jesse,” and I was like, “Are you a stylist?  Do you style black hair?” and he said, “No, I’m a financial planner.”  I told him that I got his name off this website and he was kind of tickled about it.  He offered to give me a free certificate for my Honda or some other kind of car to get serviced as thanks for giving him the tip about his name being on the website.  We ended up having a long conversation.  It was very strange.  Anyway, as you know I tend to accumulate adventures and the first night of San Diego was no different.  A shout out to Jesse who can be found on AM radio out in San Diego with his financial advising radio show.  I don’t remember the call letters, but I bet you can find him. Link

Monday was a day to catch up and go through correspondence.  There was a back log of correspondence that had come in over the holiday weekend.  Later I met with our development staff  to look at upcoming events and to make sure we were on top of those for this semester.

Chancellor David Gearhart

Chancellor David Gearhart

Later that afternoon I had a meeting in the student union.  Chancellor Dave Gearhart has formed a new group called the Chancellor’s Administrative Policy Committee in which he shares some of the challenges facing the University, initiatives we hope to undertake, and get feedback from a broad array of constituencies.  It’s really a marvelous group in the sense that it allows for input from all the various stakeholders in the University community.  It’s a good time to find out what’s going on around campus because each member of the group shares what’s happening in their unit.  I look forward to those meetings in terms of what’s going on.  I’ll just share with you a couple of initiatives.  One which has been highlighted in the press is the University’s support and scholarships for veterans who would be returning to school.  Also, the Chancellor is looking at creating more public art on campus.  I also think this group shows the Chancellor’s openness and willingness to share policy decisions and to be inclusive in terms of the decision making process.

Vice Chancellor Brazzell

It was also a sad occasion both for the University and for me personally because it was Vice Chancellor Brazzell’s last meeting with us.  She is leaving the University as of the end of January. I still remember meeting Johnetta when we were trying to recruit her here and very much wanted her to join us and become part of the   U of A community.  We will greatly miss her.

That evening I stayed late and tried to get through a lot of the accumulated correspondence and e-mail because the next day I was leaving for the The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Annual Meeting.  The AALS meeting is the annual conference for law academicians and administrators.  Concurrently run with that is a conference for development and alumni professionals, so it’s the largest total gathering of those of us in legal education from around the country.  I always look forward to it every year because I often see friends that I only see that one time every year.  It was held in San Diego, and given the recent weather here in Arkansas in January that was also a plus.

will-smith-7-pounds-poster3The 2nd was spent catching up with life.  I don’t know another way to explain it, but it included dealing with all the dry cleaning and paper that needed to be shredded and hauled out.  By the way, does anybody know where all that paper comes from?  I think that my mail mates on my counter and multiplies.  I’m not really sure, but there was just a ton of stuff that needed to be sorted and recycled or shredded and it seemed like a good way to start the New Year by tackling those projects.  I also went to the movies with my nephew, Kendall, and his wife, Kendra, and we saw “Seven Pounds” which was a real tear-jerker.  It left everyone in our row in the theater in tears.  I thought it was a pretty powerful movie.  I know that the critics have panned it, but I found it to be an interesting film.  We all liked it very much.

logo_petcoIn addition to the things around the home, that whole sort of cleaning up and spiffing up and preparing for the New Year led into Saturday with a number of errands around town including trips to the dry cleaners, Petco, the book store, things that had been put off in all the busyness of the holiday season and the holiday travel.  It felt good to get those things done.  Saturday I also had to say goodbye to my nephew as he headed back to Fort Benning in Augusta, Georgia.  I will certainly miss him very much.

Sunday was church day and Mom and I had to get there a little bit early because I was running the information booth at church to give information to visitors who may be attending our church for the first time.  The Pastor’s sermon focused on the difference between knowledge and wisdom and how we should use that wisdom.  Having just preached my first sermon the previous week, I had a much greater appreciation of what it takes to put a sermon together.  I was probably a little more attentive than I may have been in the past.

Afterwards, we had breakfast with the breakfast bunch.  We went to a new place called The Sunrise Cafe.  It’s on Garland Street and it’s a 24 hour old school kind of diner.  We had a pretty good breakfast there.  The best thing out of all the menu items that were ordered by our group was corn beef hash because unlike the corn beef hash that comes out of the can, it was actual slices of corn beef and real potatoes.  It looked so good, unfortunately I didn’t order that but the next time I go there I will.  It was a lively environment, so if you want quiet on your Sunday morning I wouldn’t recommend it.  Everybody there was pretty friendly and it was a nice change.

Sunday afternoon was quiet, mainly focused on preparing for returning back to work on Monday morning, getting everything lined up and locating things that had been spread around the house over the holidays like keys and that kind of thing.

The blog is back!  Happy New Year 2009!  Looking forward to a very exciting year filled with love, laughter and major accomplishments for the School of Law community.

New Year’s Day started out with a wonderful dinner at Mama Dean’s.  That’s now become a tradition, to go down and eat at Mama Dean’s.  I was very happy to have my nephew, Kendall Rapier, back from the U.S. Army and to be able to eat with he, his wife and his little baby, Xavier, along with two of the breakfast bunch, Jackie and Gene Elsasser.  A good time was had by all.  If you don’t have plans on New Year’s Day and you want to go and eat a traditional new year’s supper in a family environment, I highly recommend Mama Dean’s.  It’s always a lot of fun and the folks there are always very warm.  It was a wonderful meal.  Although we all ate different things, each of us knew to have our blackeyed peas and greens.  At least in my family’s tradition, blackeyed peas represent coins and greens represent paper money.  Among us our meals included baked chicken, fried chicken, fried pork chops, I think someone had brisket, macaroni and cheese, dressing, mashed potatoes and fried okra.  Mama Dean’s had cooked up some chitlins, but I didn’t have those this year.  It was a crazy good meal and a great start to the New Year.  I really appreciate them being open, and the warm welcome they extend.

Judge Courtney Henry

Judge Courtney Henry

A special nod to one of our current LL.M. students, Judge Courtney Henry, who was sworn in to the Arkansas Court of Appeals.  We are very, very proud to count her among our alums and as a current student.  She will soon be a double alum.  As far as I know (at least in my time at the law school) this is the first time we’ve had a current student sworn in as a judge.  It’s awesomely exciting and we’re very proud of her.