Larry Farmer and David Binder welcomed us to the conference. David Binder started us off with an interesting overview of his teaching techniques which included the use of T-funnelling to direct client attention, using transcript analysis. Videotaping was used, of client interviews and analysis of student notes. He also used a ‘credibility checklist’ – a list that helped students to analyse what clients say – too often, according to David, they take what clients say as the truth. Robert Cochrane gave us a thought-provoking presentation on the subject of moral discourse & interviewing, citing Kate Kruse.
Stefan Krieger made very effective use of the cognitive literature, drawing upon the literature that describes how learners tend to use backward-looking models. Experts, on the contrary, use forward-looking models. In his view the use of hyper-deductive methods actually created a bad model for students in interviewing practice – it creates bad diagnosticians, and cognitive overload is frequently the result. His ideas for good practice:
- Clinicians shd use simple case materials, eg Consumer law cases or simple criminal cases
- Provide repetitive experiences, so that students use their schemas.
- Develop cases incrementally
- Use doctrinal knowledge
- Use simple models
- Help students to see when to use backward directed deductive reasoning on complex issues, and when to use their forward looking models.
In the final Q&A the following ideas came up:
- How people process information – this body of research needs to be more widely known
- How to explain complex law to clients is something that needs analysis
- Students need to be aware of the presence of transference and counter-transference within the interview, as well as trauma and vicarious trauma
- Feeing – how it was done, how it was best carried out vis-à-vis the client
- Ethics – both rules and best practice
- The use of multidisciplinary teams in a clinic
Claudia Angelos talked on deliberate practice, (but no mention of Shulman) + reflective practice. She used Schön, reflection in/on practice + reflecting in planning. Ian Weinstein observed that we don’t always remember what we know, but we know what we remember. He described memory as an act of reconstruction. Mental representation took place within a topography formed by the mind from its experiences. He mentioned the cognitive map analogy, and the opportunity to develop cognitive models that will retain information was one way to help retention. How to do this? Structures of substantive law + experience. Timothy Mallow drew upon some ideas centered around coaching – chunking, repetition, feedback and adjustment; on the subject of simulation as intrinsically interesting. He gave examples from his teaching on environmental law.
Nina Tarr talked about self-evaluation for sustainable learning. She mentioned the following as useful steps to effective self-evaluation:
- Focus the evaluation
- Identify the goals of the activity
- Identify responsibility for cause and effect
- Articulate specific components of the theory
- Articulate a new theory
John Mayer arrived – great to see him again – and was podcasting all the sessions. Karen and Clark presented in the plenary session on the Standardised Client project. Interesting discussion during and afterwards, focussed on the issues of design.
Larry Farmer addressed the problem of repurposing a proven pedagogy – deliberate practice pedagogy within the domain of client counselling skills. Larry showed how the repetitive features of deliberate practice were critical for skill formation and performance fluency; how the integration of reflective practice was importance. Problems were: the expense of this (small numbers of students).
How was it done?
- identify a practice task
- practise the task
- reflective analysis of the practice experience
- modify practice tasks then repeat process
Larry went on to summarise what he’s doing regarding the provision of feedback via the web.
Mike Norwood talked about reasons why clinical education was the ‘gourmet meal’ of legal education – working with the client, engaging in client representation. He described how the clinics in U. of New Mexico set up projects, eg family law (dealing with relatives in prison, protecting children), juvenile justice (eg interviewing incarcerated children). The blend of experience was invaluable to students.
Live client settings rely upon competent performance, which was dependent upon direction and feedback. The Virtual Clinic was one attempt to provide a method for students to learn via video demos, discussions, text explanations, links to resources, forms and outlines and evaluative instruments.
In the Q&A that followed, one delegate observed that she had designed TWEN pages, which weren’t particularly liked by students. Mike pointed out why the Virtual Clinic was helpful to students. Another participant pointed out the usefulness of simulation as a precursor to live client work or externships, and the discussion of pre-requisite or co-requisite was interesting. One delegate warned against the reification of normative values in interviewing simulation; and the subsequent exclusionary facts that this action brought in to play. Interesting point, but we need to integrate this observation with the points made earlier about the advisability of starting simple and working up to more complex issues.
My session on training our SCs in the Standardized Client Initiative was next. See under SCI resources for the relevant PowerPoint file.
After lunch we broke into the technology sessions. Karen and I presented twice, taking delegates through the interviewing skills element of the Diploma, and how technology was used in a variety of ways there. Again, file under SCI resources.
This was a very useful conference – our thanks to Larry Farmer for the invitation to speak, and for the opportunity to talk with clinicians and hear their debates. The clinical domain of legal education in the States has a developed literature, with its own journals, its community of practice and developing and yet sustained practice in the schools. It was impressive to hear of the projects that people were involved in, and their comments on ours; and Karen and I learned a lot from discussions with conference participants. In the final winding-up session Larry asked participants if it should be held again, and the overwhelming response was positive. A biannual conference was suggested, given the demands of other conferences on people’s time.