Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Semester Ends. My Students Shine

The Semester Again Ends

I work here for one reason.  I love my students.  

The young women here are getting the skills they need to serve as leaders in this quickly evolving country.  Those graduates with especially good English-language skills will find opportunities that open as Qatar plays an expanding role on the international stage.  

They remind me of me when I graduated from law school in 1982, when only 8 percent of all lawyers in the U.S. were women. They will face many of the same challenges entering the legal profession here.  At the same time, they understand that the ongoing recognition of human rights in the country will support their career ambitions.  They have many great female role models to emulate. 

We are close to ending the Fall 2017 semester.  I teach one of the skills courses QU College of Law offers: Legal Research & Writing I.  This required course serves as the first course in our Legal Skills Program.  Before graduation, students must also complete the second course in the series, Legal Research & Writing II.  Students typically leave the courses to the last year.  Accordingly, they have created great pressure on themselves to pass both courses on the first try. 

During Week 1 of the course, I promise students that -- if they work hard, attend class, do the homework, and file their assessments on time -- I will get them through the course.  They are worried at first.  It requires them to shift thinking from civil law to common law.  It requires them to write in English as a second language.  They must complete 18 assessments!

In the past few weeks, they have begun to relax.  They know they can do the work.  They will pass the course. Their attention has shifted to their letter grades and GPA.  

But, we have also gotten more playful with each other.  They laugh more in class. They smile when I crack jokes or do a silly pantomime to illustrate the story of a case. Last week, I played the role of a confused Alabaman trying to decide in which donut shop she had entered -- Donut Joe's or The Donut Chef.  

I have had larger enrollments in the course this year, so it has been harder to get to know each student individually.  During the past two weeks, I have held conferences with each student.  These meetings have given me an opportunity to see their individual personalities.  I really do love them so.  

I have been so pleased to see their work product.  I am so proud of them.  

Two more weeks, and I set them off on the path to graduation.  I hope they keep in touch.  I would love to know how they change this part of the world over their lifetimes. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Charity Groups Supporting Gun Law Reform

Have we Reached the Tipping Point?

After the Vegas shooting, I decided to research the charity groups working to reform gun laws.  Time passed.  I got busy.  My attention was drawn to other news.

Sadly, this week in a Texas church, we had the second deadliest shooting this year.  Gun law reform is back in the news.  So, I am getting this post up so I can send it out every time we have another "mass" shooting.

I am making this post after the good news for Democratic candidates across Virginia and other states in the November elections.  A Democratic candidate won running on a platform to end gun violence (after he had lost his girlfriend to gun violence) and, in doing so, defeated a candidate heavily supported by the NRA.  His story is here.

It also comes after segments on Morning Joe that discussed the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Heller that makes everyone feel so helpless.  Experts on the show said that reform can happen at the state level, even if our national legislators are too afraid of the NRA to act.  The segments ran the first week of November 2017: "Can Texas be a catalyst for change in [sic] reform?" and "Debating the Second Amendment and gun control."

I also recommend that you watch a very good segment with Chelsea Handler.  She interviews representatives from two reform groups shortly after the Vegas shooting.  They outlined paths to reform.  One representative suggested texting your federal legislator "Love Vegas" 877-877.  Handler was recently honored for her efforts to end gun violence.

As far as the listed groups, I have picked one of them and plan to make automatic monthly contributions.  I am committed to this reform.  I worked at a small law school that experienced gun violence.  Faculty and students were murdered or gravely injured.  These were preventable tragedies.

Note to the haters:  I curate all comments, so yours will never appear.   My blog.  My content.

The List:

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Everytown for Gun Safety

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence

Newtown Action Alliance

Violence Policy Center

Americans for Responsible Solutions with Gabby Gifford

States United to Prevent Violence

Stop Handgun Violence

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mom & Me & Mike & My Hair

Looking Back

For some reason, several people recently began asking to see photos of me as a younger woman.  Perhaps because I am no longing hiding behind thick eyeglasses, people are looking at me differently.

So, to satisfy this ongoing curiosity, here are some photos from my past.  I don't have many old ones in digital format.

Just how far back do you want me to go?

Mom and me.  1954 or 1955.  She was 18 or 19 years old.  We are posing in some rural part of Illinois.  Both my parents grew up in small towns. Dad got Mom off the farm and to the big city.  She loved it.  We always said she had lived a past life in San Francisco or New York. She had good taste and a designer's eye. She was a pretty woman. She also loved little kids.  Her most beautiful attribute was her loving heart.

Here I am entertaining my younger brother, Greg. I was a tall three and a half year old with dishwater blond hair.  I still have those red corduroy coveralls in my keepsake box.  My Mom saved them.

I ended up having three younger brothers who tormented me.  They also gave me the ability to deal with men later in life, even the problematic ones.

My parents lived in public housing -- the infamous Pruitt-Igo projects -- while Dad finished dental school and Mom worked at the Rawlings factory in St. Louis, Missouri.  We were one of four white families living in this part of town.  Mom rode the bus to work.  Dad drove a 1954 VW bug that I later drove in high school with great joy and freedom.  I learned to take care of myself from a very early age.  I have done just that my entire life.

This next photo shows my Flynn Park class in the third grade.  It was 1963.  Oswald shot John F. Kennedy that year.  It was our 9/11 memory.  In the photo, I am seated on the floor on the left side, with bangs.  My Mom probably made the skirt and blouse outfit I was wearing.  She probably cut my bangs. I had buck teeth from sucking two fingers as a toddler.  Suzanne Magee, second row, second from the right, invited me to go to Dubai the year we both turned 60.  It led me to Doha. 

Big leap in time.  After my first year of law school,  I spent the summer studying Oil and Gas Law and the History of English Common Law at "Teddy Hall" at Oxford University.  You can see an Oxford don in his teaching robes in the background of this photo.  I worked three jobs earlier in the summer to pay my way.  My Mom surprised me at the last minute by buying the airplane ticket.  At that time, I never would have guessed that I would one day teach law. 

This trip sparked my love for travel, which I can indulge now that I live in Doha. In the last two years, I have visited Vienna, northern Italy, Taiwan, Thailand (twice), Vietnam, Malaysia, and Australia.  I love Asia. 

This photo captures me at a sidewalk cafe in Paris that same summer.  Eighteen months before, the doctors had diagnosed my boyfriend, Mike, as having a malignant melanoma -- a very deadly form of skin cancer. He had completed a round of experimental cancer treatment before he joined me in Paris for the Grande Tour of Europe.  He took the photo.

This next photo shows me enjoying the sun on one of our frequent canoe "float trips" in the Missouri Ozarks.  I rarely posed for cheesecake shots.  I was too worried about protecting my credibility as a woman lawyer.  I think I was in my second year of law school.

This photo features some of my friends at a concert on Art Hill in St. Louis.  I made the "F Troop" sign so folks could find the real estate we had staked out.  I also made the dress I'm wearing.  In those days, I permed my fine, thin hair to give it body.  It was a short-lived look.  Mike is sitting in the front in the pink shirt. He had finished cancer therapy at that point. (He is still alive and very active physically.) At that time, I was still in law school.

Mike mentioned how much he loved my shoulders.  They were the product of a regime of lap swimming, which I have started again in Doha.  I swim 700 meters four times a week now.  I think I was a dolphin in a past life.  Or, a mermaid.

This next photo shows me playing an Amazon woman in Queen Hippolyta's court for an outdoor production of A Midsummers Night Dream.  I had no lines, but given my height, it was perfect casting.  My boyfriend, Mike (another Mike), had a speaking role in the play.  So, did his dog.  She barked on cue.

We lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the natural gas supply bubble of the mid-1980s.  (I have lived long enough to see another natural gas supply bubble brought on by the success of fracking production.)  I worked for the largest law firm in Oklahoma doing natural gas pipeline regulatory work.  Mike never found a full-time job despite his MBA from Washington University, so we moved to Washington, D.C.  We met when I was clerking for May Department Stores Company in St. Louis during my third year of law school.  I was crazy in love with him.  The dog's name was Ruta.

Mike (the second one) and I also toured Paris.  This photo was taken outside the Pompadeau Museum.  That was a great summer, too.

This photo shows my extended family, including my aunts, uncles, parents, brothers, cousins, and grandmother.  Mike (the second one) is on the back row.  I am in the front row.  I was perfecting my woman-lawyer-look at the time. You rarely saw me without a jacket (which is still true).  My Mom is in the middle in the white blouse next to my Dad.  We had a big celebration with home-made oyster stew on Christmas Eve.  My nephews were not yet born.  My brother, John, was not yet dead.

This photo was taken when I was a young associate working for the Energy Department of the D.C. office of Skadden Arps.  At that time, it held the position of the third largest firm in the world.  I met some very smart, creative, and hard working people during that time.  I also learned that repeated "all-nighters" would not kill me.  I also became fearless.  I was about 31 years old.

During that time, my best friend Carol (who is still one of my best friends) got married at a Utah ski resort.  I was a bride's maid, a role I rarely played. My Arab students are very curious about my single, childless status.  They marry young and have several children.  I have had five marriage proposals.  But, I never followed through.  I tell my students that I was an "American career woman," and rightly so.  When I entered the legal profession in 1982, only 8 percent of all U.S. lawyers were women.  Even by 2000, eighteen years later, only 29% of  U.S. lawyers were women.

My D.C. friends also rented a beach house on the Delaware shore every summer.  I had never lived near the beach before.  Now, my Doha apartment is a block from the beach.  This photo shows me reading in the beach house before we headed out for dinner.  I am back to big hair.  I have also always worn scarves.  In junior high, I would borrow silk scarves from my Mom's dresser drawer.  What junior high school student wears silk scarves?  I must have been a French woman in a past life.

Some evenings, we would stay home, fry softshell crabs, steam clams, and drink white wine.  These were some of my happiest days.  I'm tanned, fit, have money to spend, and enjoyed my smart friends.  I do not know the guy in the background of this photo.

I did find one other cheesecake photo.  Same summer.  It makes me laugh.

This photo shows me with my Mom shortly before the doctors gave her a diagnosis of terminal colon cancer.  She was my closest confidant and greatest booster.  She had remarkable listening skills.

By this time, I was covering my gray hair with red hair color.  I made a pretty good red-head with my green eyes and pale skin color.  I was in my early 40s, back in St. Louis, and working at a small boutique firm doing insurance insolvency litigation for what was then the largest insurance insolvency in U.S. history.  I spent about half my time, for about a decade, in Los Angeles working on different aspects of the insolvency.  In the mid-90s, I was a law partner at a time when less than 17 percent of partners were women. (In 2017, the number finally crept to 19 percent.)  I must have been a man in a past life.

Now, I look a lot like my Mom did then.  I've written about her death at age 61 here.

This photo shows me with one of my childhood friends, Mike (a third one).  We once misbehaved in fifth grade English class, and the teacher sent us both out into the hallway.  (I was typically teacher's pet, so this was a new experience for me.)  My favorite teacher, Mr. Dwyer, saw me in the hall-of-shame, and I never let it happen again.  I continued to call Mike my friend despite my humiliaton. St. Louis. Mid-40s. Rocking red hair.

This next photo still has me rocking my red hair color.  I was coaching the Appalachian School of Law (ASL) negotiation team that went on to place 10th out of 180 teams in the ABA national competition.  The year is 2004.  The student in the photo was one of the negotiators.  I had been teaching about two years by then.  I was 50 years old.

Here is a photo of Lily Golightly Young the day I adopted her at an ASL C.A.R.E.S. event.  The tree-covered Appalachian Mountains make the backdrop, as well as my trusty SUV.  Dogs have played an important role in my life.  Now, in Doha, I don't have a dog in the house for the first time since 1985. I enjoy the freedom, but miss the love.  I also don't own a car.  Instead, I have a driver who navigates the dangerous roads of Doha.  I miss the freedom of driving.  I also miss that red jacket.

I started to grow out my hair to its natural silver color when I was recovering from ankle fusion surgery in 2007, after I broke my left leg in three places in 2005.  My grandmother, Babe Young, and her sisters had the same silver hair. 

This photos shows me displaying some of the treasures I bought on a month-long tour of the American West at the age of 57.  I drove solo in my SUV at a slow pace from Virginia to Montana and back.  Scrounging around antique stores is one of my favorite hobbies.  I found many Western and Native American treasures in those stores on this trip.  You can spot a buffalo skull on the bed behind me. My best friend from high school, Kenn Ann, is laughing in the background. Love her Beatles T-shirt. I also love a good cowboy hat and own three. Doha is short on antique stores.  It is also short on people wearing cowboy hats.

I left for Doha the summer I turned 61.  It is no coincidence that I launched this new adventure at the same age that saw an end to my Mom's life.  I am living the life she couldn't.  

This photo shows me posing in front of the East Tennessee airport the night I flew to Doha.  My personal assistant, Brenda, helped me close up a two-story house filled with furniture and treasures.  We were both exhausted by the time this night came.  We had a big seafood dinner at Red Lobster before my departure.  She said a little prayer over me for a safe trip.  I brought four suitcases and a box.  That's starting over for sure. I've learned the teapot pose from my ASL students. For more about manifesting this new life, take a look here.

As I said earlier, Doha lets me travel easily to places in Europe and Asia.  My friend, Jessica, took this photo at the bird park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  We stopped in KL on our way to Taiwan in January 2017.  

This photo shows my colleagues in the Lawyering Skills Program at Qatar University College of Law.  They are a wonderful group of professors.  We were having lunch together before the summer vacation began.

Here I am celebrating my 63rd birthday at a Ramadan Iftar dinner in Doha.  I am wearing an abaya.

And here I am posing with two of my best male students in June 2017.  One student is Palestinian.  The other is Bahrainian/Qatari.  My hair was a little flat that day.  I am always a little worse-for-wear by the end of the semester.  I described my experience that semester here

I took this photo after my cataract surgery in Thailand this summer.  No more thick eyeglasses needed.  I bought the coral necklace and the hand-painted linen blouse in Bangkok.  I am still healthy, have money to spend, and enjoy smart friends.  I still love to travel.  I am standing in my one bedroom Doha apartment that I decorated in a Nantucket beach house decor. My hair looked really fluffy that day.  Just how I like it.

As I got about half way through this blog post, I realized I was inspired by Maya Angelou's book, "Mom & Me & Mom."  My book club read it last month and met to discuss it last week.  We decided it represented a late career reflection.  Maybe this post represents the same impulse.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Stand or Else: Trump's Attack on Black NFL Players


I am sharing a comment that first appeared in my Facebook feed written by my former colleague, Professor Joseph Carl Grant.  His bio appears at the end of this post.  I appreciate his point of view and his courage in conveying this powerful point of view.  I monitor all comments, so if you plan to say anything hateful in response, no one will ever see it.  My blog.  My rules.

"I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on Trump's criticism of NBA and NFL players.  This weekend I watched Trump's Huntsville, Alabama rally, tweets, and sporting events and commentary very closely and carefully.

First, what really strikes me is the passion with which Trump, especially in the past couple of weeks, has gone after Jemele Hill, Stephen Curry, and the mostly African-American males in the NFL peacefully protesting racial inequality and injustice by kneeling during the National Anthem-the "S.O.B.'s" in Trump's lexicon.  There is one common thread, Trump is knowingly and purposely targeting African-Americans to appeal to his political base-this is about race.  (Yes, LeBron, you're next, Trump has no better sense than to attack you rather than listen to your wise and insightful observations about who and what a president should be).  Trump is attacking African-Americans who are exercising their Constitutional rights to dissent with more passion and verily than he could muster to condemn the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville.  He wrongly insinuates "both" sides are wrong-there's no equivocation here-Trump has chosen the side of the alt-right (just another word for modern white supremacists).

Overall, Trump is constructing and articulating an "Us" versus "Them" vision or paradigm of American society.  What really struck me this morning was Trump's tweet praising NASCAR for not having racers kneel this weekend during the National Anthem.  Alright, maybe I'm dumb, but there's something apparent here, I can't name one African-American who participated as a driver in NASCAR this weekend, and you'd be hard-pressed to find many African-Americans who attended NASCAR this past weekend in sizable numbers.  I lived in NASCAR country/culture for three years in rural southwest Virginia-that demographic is largely Caucasian.  To illustrate my point, Trump is basically saying good white folks who attend NASCAR I'm your man-I'm with you!  However, NBA and NFL, which are largely populated by African-American male athletes, Trump is mining a dark vein by targeting and saying to his mainly white audience, we don't like it and suffer discomfort when you (Black folks) take a knee to protest what's going on in terms of the prison-industrial complex and police brutality/murder in the communities you come from.  This is that Us v. Them dichotomy I mentioned.

Through language, Trump called these men ("S.O.B.'s"), all Black men have mothers, many of whom raised us alone through struggle and sacrifice, all the culturally attuned Black men I know honor, respect, and hold their mothers in a place of high reverence.  Black women/mothers are not b*+=<%s! Trump has insulted a true pillar of the Black community-our women.  This is something Black men cannot stand for-this is a bridge too far.  Black men have stood beside Black women in the past, and now more than ever we must stand in solidarity with our sisters, because they have never left our side in any of our struggles as Black men.  Trump wouldn't insinuate that white women are b%#*+}s!  (Knowing his track record, perhaps he would).

Next, another thing that troubles me about Trump is that he perpetuates a slave master mentality concerning Black labor in this country.  In a nation where Black bodies were commoditized and sold with impunity and disregard for humanity a true president must pick and choose his/her words wisely.

In the South, where my roots run deep, my own ancestors were bought, sold, and transferred from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to Alabama.  A slave could be sold at a whim, or if he/she gave a word or a look of protest to their master.  A "good" slave stayed in line to preserve their individual comfort.  Rebellious or "bad" slaves spoke up and thereby posed a threat to the majoritarian social norms/institutions.

By saying that NFL owners should fire these men for kneeling, Trump in direct and indirect ways is harkening back to a dark period in our history where Black men had no control over their labor.  We were owned by slave masters in the not so distant past-the new plantation aristocracy are white NFL owners.  The net effect is that Black men don't have a right to dissent, express themselves, and seek regress of their grievances-the implication is that we own your body and we own your labor-therefore we own you!  Speak too loudly or cast a glance in our direction we don't like, we will take your livelihood away from you in an instant.  You, and your body are commodities that we market, control and profit from.  NFL'ers are akin to the modern gladiators of Ancient Rome.  Entertain us and subvert your own humanity.

Finally, the Constitution holds freedom of religion, speech, expression, and the press on the highest platform.  Time-after-time, Trump has shown us he neither respects or embraces these most important of core American values.  I may not like what someone else says or does, or how they express themselves, but the beauty of this country is that none of us have to follow the path of the masses-we may peacefully and lawfully dissent and protest social inequality and injustice.  The president in his/her use of the bully pulpit should always be trumpeting these most American of values.  This president on a basic, and elementary level has shown he has no knowledge and respect for the Constitution.  This a know-nothing president!  He embarrasses America!  There will be a day we must articulate and try to market these most American of values to others in the world, maybe under Trump, he will be unbelievable because he doesn't practice what he might one day have to preach to American or perhaps a worldwide audience if circumstances demand our core values be articulated.

If Frederick Douglass, A. Phillip Randolph, Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and untold others decided to remain silent where would I be?  I commend the social expression and consciousness of the Black men and women of the NBA, NFL, and WNBA to move the needle of justice in the right direction.

Dr. King said: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."  There is still much progress to be achieved, justice will be served.  I feel that the memory of history is long, history will judge and remember Trump for the counterproductive and destructive force that he has been to our democratic values and institutions.  Hopefully, he'll be a blip on the radar screen, who forces the needle further in the direction of unity among fair-minded and justice loving people.

There is so much going on in the world. Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico are in the midst of a tremendous humanitarian crisis, North Korean tensions are rising, healthcare hangs in the brink.  Why is Trump paying attention to the NFL when there are bigger fish to fry?  His presidency has been a failure from inception."

Professor Joseph Karl Grant joined the Florida A&M University College of Law faculty in 2013.  Professor Grant teaches Property, Business Organizations, Trust & Fiduciary Administration, and Estates & Trusts at the FAMU College of Law.  Professor Grant received his J.D. from Duke University School of Law (1998), and A.B. from Brown University (1995).  He spent his junior year of college at the University of London, Queen Mary & Westfield College.  After law school, Professor Grant returned to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, where he practiced in the Corporate and Securities, and the Labor and Employment law practice groups at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, LLP, and in the Corporate and Securities practice group at Thompson, Hine & Flory, LLP.  After leaving large law firm practice, and prior to his entry in the legal academy, Professor Grant founded and managed The Grant Law Firm, LLC in Cleveland, Ohio.  Professor Grant has served on the faculties at several law schools, including West Virginia University College of Law (2004-2005), Appalachian School of Law (2005-2008), Capital University School of Law (2008-2013), and the University of Oregon School of Law (Fall 2011). 

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Western Expat Notices Abaya Fashion Trends

Pushing the Form

I have now lived in Qatar for three fall seasons.  I teach at Qatar University College of Law, so I am perfectly positioned to see youthful fashion expressed in the abaya.  

Many Westerners, when they see a photo of a group of Arab women wearing abayas, probably assume that the abayas they wear are the same in style, fabric, and embellishment.  Not true.  As the outward statement for these young women, you see many expressions of their personality and fashion sense in the abayas they choose to wear. 

Some students, who view the abaya as a utilitarian piece of clothing, may wear the same abaya all semester.  Other women, more fashion conscious, may have four or five abayas that they rotate throughout the semester.  

As a seamstress, I am fascinated at the thousands of interpretations of this basic form.  In Qatar, most abayas are cloaks with long sleeves that a woman wraps in front of her and holds with one lower arm and elbow.  A rare one will have a front zipper that gives more freedom from having to clutch it all day.  

In the fall of 2015, I noticed that some of the fashion-forward students wore gray or taupe abayas, sometimes with a matching scarf.  Here are three examples. All of these images are commercial photographs, so I am not breaking any cultural rules by sharing them.  Some photos stop at the shoulder, which preserves the privacy of the photographed woman. 

You can quickly see that manufacturers of abayas use many different fabrics and embellishments. 

In the fall of 2016, I noticed a new trend: dramatic compositions in which white played an important role.  In my mind, this trend challenged taboos about which gender should wear which color.  (Men here wear a white thobe in the hotter months of the year.)  Also, while one of these models is not wearing a hijab, a Qatari women would not venture into the public sphere without one.    

This fall, I am seeing a new trend:  black abayas short enough to show off the designer shoes many women wear here.  I would have loved to overhear the conversations between mothers and daughters during the back-to-school shopping.  Mom:  "That's too short!"  Daughter:  "Mom, nooooo!  You can only see my shoes!"  I'm sure it sounded like the conversations I had with my Mom about how short my skirt could be during the '70s Twiggy fashion era. 

I asked my students this week if I was right in noticing that they are pushing one aspect of the abaya (its length) while preserving a traditional aspect of it (the black color).  Yes, they agreed.  Change comes in one increment at a time.  

For more images of this elegant and diverse piece of clothing, see here

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ADR in the Arab Gulf

The Future is so Bright, We Will have to Wear Shades

One panel speaker, Assistant Professor Andrew Dahdal, had this to say about last week's ADR conference sponsored by Qatar University College of Law:   
The conference was insightful in many respects. Given that some of my recent research has been looking at the relationship between financial centres and broader national jurisdictions, the discussion concerning the enforcement or arbitral awards in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) was especially interesting.

The conference -- entitled, The Future of Alternative Dispute Resolution -- A Qatari Perspective -- brought together lawyers, scholars, and ADR neutrals to discuss ADR in the Arab Gulf and MENA regions.  Most of the presentations focused on arbitration, which remains the dominant (and nearly exclusive) form of ADR in the region.

The agenda included opening and keynote speeches by:

  • Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, Dean of Qatar University College of Law.
  • Lord Nicholas Phillips, President of Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC).
  • Sultan Al-Abdulla, Managing Partner of Sultan Al-Abdulla & Partners, a sponsor of the event.
  • Prof. Bridgette Stern, Emeritus Professor of International Law at the University of Paris,I, Pantheon-Sorbonne.
  • Dr. Talal Al-Emadi, Chair of the Advisory Board of the QU College of Law Center of Law and Development (CLD).
  • Prof. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Chair of Private International Law and Professor of Dispute Resolution at Cairo University.

The conference also consisted of four panel presentations.  Topics included:
  • Alternative Means for Resolving Economic Disputes.
  • Arbitrating Natural Resources Disputes: Current and Future Trends.
  • Arbitration in Intellectual Property Disputes.
  • Conciliation versus Court Ruling -- Management of Chances and Risks.
  • The Role of Civil and Commercial Court of Qatar Financial Center (QFC) Consumer Dispute Resolution Scheme.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution in Contemporary Times.
  • Future Challenges and Paradigmatic Changes in International Arbitration: A View from Behind the Curtain.
  • Effect of Minority Not Signing Arbitration Award on the Validity of Arbitral Award.
  • New [Qatar] Arbitration Law no. 2 of 2017: Pros and Cons.
  • Arbitration and Criminal Law: The View from Qatar and UAE.
  • Alternative Methods for Resolving Administrative Contract Disputes in Qatar.
  • The Rise and Fall of International Administrative Arbitration: A Revision on the Commerciality of International Arbitration under Egyptian Law.
  • Enforcement of Arbitral Awards.
Several of my QU College of Law colleagues covered these topics, along with representatives of QICDRC and regional lawyers.

I hope that my colleagues create more opportunities to discuss ADR in the region.  As my own research is beginning to reveal, ADR is still in the early stages of institutional development in the Arab Gulf region.  I also hope that the papers presented at the conference get published in a symposium issue of a law journal. 

I have encouraged the conference organizers to create a webpage where people can access conference slides.  I'd hate to see this material go unrecognized in the future. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Week 13: Pansies Versus Crocodiles

The Semester Comes to a Close

I had hoped to post a blog every week of the semester about my experience teaching Legal Research & Writing 1 to my Arab students.  But, the semester gets so intense about Week 10 that I feel happy just to keep up with class prep and grading.  

Over the past two weeks, I have conducted individual conferences with students. We look at their attendance record, the point scores on their assessments, their current ranking in the course, and the chance they have for a higher letter grade.  I then review their written work. 

My female students met with me first.  All of them have been working hard this semester. They are dedicated to their studies and show it by good attendance, preparation for class, and a level of engagement that still surprises me.  After all, we meet from 3 to 4:45 p.m. at the end of a very long day.  

I told them that coming to class is like looking out on the sunny, eager, upturned faces of pansies in a flower garden.  I just love them to pieces.  Now that we know each other better, I see their humor, their struggles in balancing home, careers, and children, and their desire to get a good education with a good GPA. 

Then I met with my male students.  That experience is much different.  After a two-hour class, I feel like I have been "wrestling crocodiles."  Their needs are greater, because they are less prepared for the course.

Most of my male students have several children, jobs or businesses, parents who need help, and then a full course schedule. Their attendance for a 9:30 a.m. course is more inconsistent. I need to set more boundaries with them.  I am strict about enforcing course rules. I police more cheating. And, I find myself in more futile negotiations over assessment scores (futile for them). 

Despite being strict with them, I am impressed by their open hearts, good humor, and strong desire to complete the course.

I have about eight male students who show me every class just how smart they are.  One student has perfect attendance and almost perfect scores on the assessments.  They consistently use my office hours to work on their memos. They ask good questions. They help me communicate with my weaker students who struggle because they have poor English language skills.   I am very thankful to them.

We are all exhausted.  My patience runs thin. I need more sleep.  But, all that is true for my students, too. 

I keep telling them:  "I will get you through the semester!"  I keep telling them, as I did the first week of class, that my job is to get them ready for Legal Writing 2.  Most of them are ready.  For the struggling students, their outcome will depend on how they do on the final exam.  I hope they surprise me.