After 10 years of full-time teaching at the DU Law School, I am on sabbatical leave (my first) until July. I have been preparing for this leave for a year, since I learned that my leave application was accepted last January. I am honored and privileged to have the time away from my teaching responsibilities (although I miss my students) and I want to use the time well.
While it might be tempting to fly off to Australia for a few months, I have family responsibilities, and I very much want to be productive with this precious time. As I was planning for the sabbatical, I knew that I needed to get away from my office at the law school so that I might have some distance, both for clarity and perspective. My hope was to be away, but not too far away, so I could use the time effectively.
That is why I am thrilled to have become the inaugural Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). The Institute is located on the DU campus – in fact, it is right in front of the law school – so it is close. But it is also away, because now that I am set up here, I do not have to go to the law school building at all.
IAALS is lead by Rebecca Love Kourlis, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice and last year’s winner of the ABA’s John Marshall award. Justice Kourlis is an incredibly impressive leader and thinker, and I am privileged to work with her and with the extraordinary team she has assembled. IAALS is doing great work through four initiatives: Rule One, Honoring Families, Quality Judges, and Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers (ETL). Readers of this blog know that I have been involved with the ETL initiative since its inception, and spoke at its first conference last fall. I am also conducting research on eDiscovery issues, which is part of the Rule One initiative, and spoke at IAALS’ eDiscovery Boot Camp for State Court judges last summer. So two of my research interests dovetail with two of the initiatives at IAALS.
It is also my hope that by being the first Visiting Scholar here I will be able to “define the role” for future visiting scholars from other schools. As we both explore what this role can be – for the visitor and for IAALS – I hope we will establish this residency as something available to other professors who might be on sabbatical in the future, and who have research interests that connect with the work of IAALS.
I will be working on several projects over the next several months. I am finishing the Skills & Values: Lawyering Process book. This is a textbook in the S&V Series for the first-year LP course that I teach, and as with the other S&V books, is a hybrid, with some material printed and the rest available online. I hope also to work on a short article about using data from your writing program to create a culture of constant improvement, and a longer article about the “Teaching” of Professional Identity (which was developed from ideas that started as blog posts here). I am also researching the limits of proportionality in electronic Discovery law. And I hope to start a new book, in some ways a follow-on from Law School 2.0, which will attempt to define a “way forward” for legal education over the next 5-10 years.
I also will be attending or participating in seven conferences this year, including the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference in late March. I am on the conference committee for that conference, and I will also be speaking on the subject of "Escaping Flatland," about the future of print law-review published scholarship in an increasingly digital world. Also, I plan to participate in the ALWD Conference in Milwaukee in June, and the Fourth Applied Legal Storytelling Conference in London in July.
I am very grateful to my new hosts at IAALS, and for their loaning me an office where I may work on these projects. They are wonderful people, and I am pleased to be among friends and valued colleagues. I am also grateful to my law faculty colleague Professor Robert Anderson, who has taken on the role of Interim Director of the LP Program while I am away. The administrative burden of directing the program is substantial, and I appreciate Robert’s willingness to take it on so that I might have a rest from those labors. I know the program is in good hands in my absence, and that Robert – and my esteemed colleagues in the LP Program – will do great work while I am away.