Friday, October 31, 2014

Filling the Needs of Rural Clients

Another Gap 
Created by 
Retiring Baby Boomer Lawyers

Over the last several years, several state and local bar associations have focused on under-served clients living in rural areas.  Twenty percent of the U.S. population resides in rural counties, but only two percent of law practices locate there.  

The October 2014 issue of the ABA Journal re-visits the topic again, profiling a number of lawyers practicing in rural North Dakota and South Dakota.  The article, Too Many Lawyers? Not Here. In Rural America, Lawyers are Few and Far Between by Lorelei Laird, gives a general overview of the situation, identifies a number of resources, and suggests the adaptations to rural practice required of young lawyers. An associated podcast is here.

Additional states -- including Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, Vermont, Montana, New Hampshire, and Maine -- have started various types of programs designed to encourage younger lawyers to practice in rural areas.  

Other resources on this topic include:

January 12, 2015 Update: More on this story here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

ASL Lion's Club Shrimp Boil and Corn Hole Tournement

A Touch of New Orleans 
the Kentucky Derby Melded for a Charitable Cause

Several years ago, our Dean, Lucy McGough, joined us after having lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana most of her academic career.  Soon, events linked to that history came to campus. First, came the sale of home-made gumbo to raise funds for a local charity.  Then, ASL had its first shrimp boil.  

Last month, the local chapter of the Lion's Club sponsored  the second shrimp boil on campus along with a corn hole tournament designed to raise money for its many worthwhile projects.  The local organization especially focuses on the needs of the low-income residents of Buchanan County who need eye exams and eyeglasses.  

I profiled the Lion's Club as a student organization here.

Students and faculty at ASL enjoyed a meal of spicy shrimp, sausages, corn, and potatoes. Many of the students participated in the corn hole tournament.  Josh Kinzer, the President of the Grundy Chapter of the Lions Clubs International, explained that the event raised awareness about Lion's Club projects. 

Micah Bailey, an ASL 3L student, brought his lovely wife and son. He said: "It was a great opportunity to meet other students and mingle with the faculty members.  The turnout was amazing, and we could not be more pleased with the student body participation." 

In a small town like Grundy, students quickly learn how they can create their own fun while serving the community through many community service projects. I blogged about ASL's award-winning community service program here.

Love you all so much!  You are lovely and big-hearted.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Update On the Aging of Lawyers in Private Practice

What Happens When 
Baby Boomers Retire?

In April 2013, I wrote about the possible opportunities for new lawyers created by the increasing age of lawyers -- who will eventually retire. 

Bill Henderson, of The Legal Whiteboard blog, provides a very interesting analysis of his data on this topic here.  One of his findings:
The big surprise here is that the proportion of young lawyers (under age 35) has been declining for several decades. And not by a little, but by a lot. During this period, the median age went from 39 in 1980, to 41 in 1991, to 45 in 2000, to 49 in 2005.
Some of his conclusions:
The analysis above suggests that the JD Advantage / JD Preferred employment market started to take shape several decades ago, long before these terms were put in place by the ABA and NALP. Yet, we really don't know about these careers. To construct a more useful, informative narrative, we'd have to systematically study the career paths of our alumni. That task is long overdue.
I blogged on the JD Advantage market here and here.

More of Henderson's conclusions:  
My own conclusion is that neither the organized bar nor the legal academy has a firm grip on the changes that are occurring in the legal marketplace. This uncertainty and confusion is understandable in light of the magnitude of the shift. 
Nonetheless, these market shifts create special urgency for legal educators because we can't teach what we don't understand. The thesis of the Young Lawyers Board is surely right -- if unchanged, legal education will remain a business in decline. Much of legal education today is premised on a 20th century professional archetype--an archetype that is, based on the data, becoming less and less relevant with each passing day. Thus, we are under-serving our students. And frankly, they are figuring that out.

Change is hard for people and organizations they work in. And law professors and law schools are no different. The retooling of legal education will likely be a slow, painful process that will take the better part of a full generation to complete. I am trying to do my part. 
Yet, the brunt of the demographic shift falls on the licensed bar, which is getting older and thus weaker with each passing year. This is a problem that belongs to the ABA, the state bars, and the state supreme courts, not the legal academy.

Nov. 18, 2014 Update:  For a graphic and more cynical look at this topic, see here

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Experience with "Flipping" the Classroom

Feeling Like a 
Master of the Universe!

As many of you know, I spent the last year in a mastermind business coaching program that has made me comfortable with web-based platforms designed to build communities, deliver content, and market services.  

I have proved that old dogs can learn new tricks.  In fact, this old dog is teaching the new tricks to folks much younger than myself. 

My latest focus is on the "flipped" or "blended" classroom. These classes use the best of on-line education married with more traditional classroom approaches.  

The Instructional Technology blog from Albany Law School provides a number of links to information about the "flipped" classroom.  

Other resources include the following:

  • Sean F. Nolan, Using Distance Learning to Teach Environmental Problem-Solving Skills and Theory, 28 J. Envt'l Law & Litigation 211 (2013).
  • Gerald F. Hess, Blended Courses in Law School: The Best of Online and Face-to-Face Learning, 45 McGeorge L. Rev. 51 (2013).
  • Steven C. Bennett, Distance Learning in Law, 38 Seton Hall Legis. J. 1 (2013).
  • Dale Dewhurst, The Case Method, Law School Learning Objectives and Distance Education, 6 Can. Legal Educ. Ann. Rev. 59 (2012).

My Experience with Web-Based Learning 

In May, I launched the first, or one of the first, web-based training courses for mediators.  I called it: Mediation with Heart, Web-Based Training for Change Agents.  

It blends recorded video lectures, with slides; weekly discussions, roleplays, or exercises hosted in a Google Hangout; and several binders of written materials.  Students also read two text books, one of which has additional video resources demonstrating difference aspects of mediation.  Students in that course will complete it by the end of this month.  

While I do not yet have their evaluations of the course, based on their on-going comments, they feel they have gotten a high quality training that prepares them well for mediation practice.  Several have said that the coverage exceeds what they could have gotten in a traditional 40-hour course, squeezed into a week of live training. I agree.   

For one thing, each student received at least three hours of role-play coaching by me.  They will do a final, in-person, mediation that will involve over five hours of observation, coaching, and feedback from me. The live courses cannot provide that type of individualized attention.  Frankly, if I scale the course, I may price those opportunities separately because they are time consuming and do add significant value to the training. 

For a sample of one of my webinars, follow this link.  It discusses confidentiality in mediation.

Flipped Law School Classes

This past semester, I introduced my law students in two skills courses to the video webinar lectures that I created for my summer training course.  I used two of them as make-up classes. After watching them, students completed a quiz or exercise to prove they had absorbed and could apply the lecture material.  They were all especially thankful that we did not need to schedule a make-up class during the busiest part of the semester.  

In my Certified Civil Mediation course, the webinars give me flexibility to focus on skill-building exercises in class. Students can watch the recorded webinars before or after class.  In addition, they have access to content that might be more pertinent once they enter the field -- like skillful ways to provide mediator evaluations.  

Moreover, I am providing links to all the content as added value for those students. Long after students graduate, they will still have access to this recorded content.  They can access it when they face difficult issues as mediators.  

In addition, students who did not take my 2L Dispute Resolution course can access content I discussed in that course after I reintroduce it in the 3L mediation course. Even students who took my 2L course can review that material.  

Other Opportunities for Learning

I've recorded an interview with Bob Creo about "Master Moves" to break impasse in mediation.  I blogged about that webinar here.   I would like to record more interviews with leaders in the field, especially those ADR professionals practicing in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast states.  They are often neglected when others describe the work of mediators.  

I also plan using the video webinars to support the educational program of the Virginia Mediation Network.  Its Board is planning regional educational opportunities in lieu of its traditional spring conference.  

Master of the Universe

When I bought the webinar platform I am using, I felt so empowered!  I could now teach a variety of topics to anyone, any where, at any time.   This is the future, and students want it.  Yes, we need to ensure excellent course design, but clearly the web-based technologies offer opportunities that do not exist in the typical classroom.   

October 19, 2014 Update:  Resource that might be very helpful as I continue to grow this platform. 
For those who need help with video/ audio production for training, there is a free course on Udemy . . . . Videos are short and to the point.
November 2, 2014 Update:  More on the topic here and here

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Memory of Mom

Remembering How I Became 
a Teacher

My mom, Jo Ann Drinkwater Young, died of colon cancer this month seventeen years ago.  She was only 61.

Her death caused me to live life with more urgency, intention, and love.

Last week, a family friend sent some photos of her as a teenager that I had not seen before.  She is posing with her best friend, Leotta, shortly before Leotta's wedding.  Mom was seventeen or eighteen years old. 

Even dolled up as the bridesmaid (blue dress on right), she still looks so very young.

She married at eighteen, had four kids by the time she was 24 years old, was always a loving and supportive spouse, and gave me a very happy childhood. Despite her youthful commitment to family, she had an old soul, even as a young mother.

To say I miss her is an understatement. To say that her death released an energy in me to live the life I wanted would be deeply true.  

As many of you know, I am celebrating my silver jubilee birthday (60th) celebration this year. I am mindful that at the same age, my mom already carried the cancer that would kill her.

Friday, October 10, 2014

60,000 Page Views for The Red Velvet Lawyer

60,000 Page Views

Friends, family, and colleagues:

Another milestone reached! 60,000 page views!

My blogging experience started in March 2013. Like everything, success relates directly to the attention and energy invested in the project.

As I blogged more frequently, built my relationship with other bloggers, got more posts shared by my FB friends, and continued to create content I hoped you would like, page views grew exponentially.

Here is a summary of my experience:

5,000 page views on August 2013.
10,000 page views on November 7, 2013.
15,000 page views on November 27, 2013.
20,000 page views on December 9, 2013.
25,000 page views on January 1, 2014.
50,000 page views on July 17, 2014.
60,000 page views on Oct. 10, 2014.

Fall Conference of the Virginia Mediation Network

Meeting of my "Tribe"

Plenary Sessions Offered by Leaders in the Field

Last week-end, over 85 members of the Virginia Mediation Network (VMN) gathered for its Fall training conference. VMN is the largest state-wide organization of mediation practitioners, trainers, and scholars in Virginia.  

Attendees enjoyed clear fall weather at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel in Glen Allen, Virginia, a lovely Colonial-style facility on 20-acres of park/golf course just north of Richmond.  

The 2-day event offered three plenary presentations by leaders in the field:

Plenary Session on Careers in the Field

On Saturday morning, Bob Rhudy presented a Plenary Session based on his article, “Engaging Conflict for Fun and Profit: Current and Emerging Career Trends in Conflict Resolution.” His paper on the topic appears here.

During this interactive session, Bob shared the results of his research and engaged participants in a discussion about the emerging career trends in the ADR field. His exhaustive and well-researched study on the options for getting a job as a mediator asks the questions: 
  • Are there jobs existing or pending to be filled proportionate to the number of career aspirants? 
  • What are the career trends in this field? 
  • How can you get such a job and make your way into conflict resolution work? 
Bob is an attorney, mediator, consultant, and trainer, with nearly 40 years of experience in mediation, legal aid, public interest law, legislative advocacy, strategic planning, and nonprofit consulting in the United States and Canada.

Keynote Address About the History of Court-Connected Mediation in Virginia

Professor Robert O’Neil discussed his experiences with ADR.  He first encountered the field as a Harvard Law student interacting with Getting to Yes authors, Roger Fisher and Frank Sander. 

Later, at the request of Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice, Joseph R. Carico, O'Neil explored ADR as chair of Virginia’s “Future’s Commission,” the first state commission on the future of its judicial system.  

As director of the Ford Foundation’s Difficult Dialogues, he learned more about the application of ADR and other new approaches to meeting campus tensions over issues such as race, religion, sexual orientation, and immigration.

He founded the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in 1990 and served as the Director until 2011. He is an authority on the First Amendment and is professor of law emeritus at the University of Virginia where he teaches Constitutional Law of Free Speech and the Press and Church and State. He is a Senior Fellow at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. He became the University of Virginia’s sixth president in 1985, a position he held until 1990.

Stop Fighting and Start Fixing

On Sunday morning, Margaret Kimbrell, Executive Director of the organization, No Labels, gave her presentation entitled: Stop Fighting and Start Fixing: Working Towards Problem Solving in our Government.  She talked about the work of No Labels, a citizens' movement of Democrats, Republicans, and independents dedicated to a new politics of problem solving. 

While coming from different political parties, these legislators and citizens share a simple belief: the politicians in Washington need to find a way to work together again. No Labels is building a voice for Americans, whatever their political ideology, to ensure our leaders in government will work across the aisle to solve problems.

No Labels’ mantra of "Stop Fighting, Start Fixing" should resonate with ADR practitioners, and it is VMN’s hope that Margaret’s presentation will open a dialogue among our members to explore ways that we as conflict resolution professionals can use our skill set to add value to this very important movement.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Virginia Mediation Network Distinguished Mediator Award

Recognizing the Leaders 
in Our Field
Last week-end, the Virginia Mediation Network (VMN) bestowed its highest honor on my friend and colleague, Jeanette Twomey.

This award is presented annually to a prominent member of the mediation community in Virginia who demonstrates personal and professional commitment to advancing peaceful conflict resolution.

Candidates are recognized for one or more of the following qualities:

  • leadership in promoting and advancing the field of mediation; 
  • innovation in the development of mediation programs or creative applications of mediation; 
  • significant published writings on the subject of mediation; 
  • exemplary pro bono mediation service; 
  • cutting edge advanced mediation training; or 
  • dedication of time and energy to an active mediation practice that supports collaborative problem solving. 
Candidates must exemplify personal and professional integrity and respect for others, as well as demonstrated commitment to continuing growth of high quality mediation in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Candidates must be members of VMN in good standing.

Past Recipients:

2010: Prof. Paula Marie Young
2011: Lawrie Parker
2012: Carroll Edward Dubuc
2013: Geetha Ravindra

More About Jeanette

Jeannette is an experienced mediator, consultant, facilitator, and trainer in the field of conflict management and resolution. She has provided alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services since 1992, focusing on workplace, family, and elder issues. Ms. Twomey has provided training and facilitation to private organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of the Air Force, the U.S. Department of the Navy, the U.S. Department of Interior, etc.

She has been a leader in the dispute resolution field, serving on governing boards of both local and state ADR organizations.

She is a Mentor Mediator for the Virginia’s Mediator Certification Program and an appointed member of the Advisory Council for the Virginia Supreme Court’s Division of Dispute Resolution Services. She was instrumental in designing the mediation program for Arlington County’s General District Court.

Ms. Twomey served as President of Northern Virginia Mediation Service from 1996-1999 and was named the organization’s “Mediator of the Year” in 1994.

She is a member of the Virginia Mediation Network, the Association for Conflict Resolution, and the Virginia Bar.

She is an adjunct professor, teaching negotiation and mediation, at the American University’s Washington College of Law. She oftens teaches mediation ethics and professional responsibility.