Along the lines of the Law Library’s FutureSHOCK! Legal Assistance Providers Forum that we held recently, there is a new national task force of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) looking at the ways that law librarians can be more involved in practice-oriented education.

The interesting thing from my perspective is that the things they are wanting to learn more about are currently happening here at the SDLL! In fact, the San Diego legal community itself could be a model “incubator” for this kind of study. Here are the examples mentioned (minus the publication aspect):

  • hosting CLE programs at your library
  • presenting at CLE programs hosted by vendors or other organizations
  • training students enrolled in law school clinical programs
  • supervising or training law students in internship/externship/clerkship placements
  • hosting, or presenting at, pro se clinics
  • creating and maintaining online portals (forms, checklists, general info) for self-represented litigants

We do these things, our local law school clinics do these things, and our local bar associations do these things, too. As Task Force Chair Jane Larrington writes: “One aspect of practice-oriented education is pro se clinics conducted by lawyers coordinated through legal aid providers, members of Legal Services Corp., volunteer lawyers, bar associations and state, county and court law libraries…”

I am excited that this nation-wide movement can find some excellent examples of this type of innovation right here in our own backyard — not only SDLL and our law schools, but SDVLP, Legal Aid, LRIS, and the many SDCBA and other bar associations working along side us to make practical legal education of paramount importance. I am looking forward to working with Jane — she is a reference librarian here in town at USD — on highlighting what is happening here in San Diego and around the country.  Here in town, USD Clinic Director and Professor of Law Margaret Dalton is bringing a very special partnership to the Law Library, sending her students to our branches around the county to serve targeted populations like veterans and the disabled who need special legal services.

Access to justice should be more than just a public law library imperative — it should be a national imperative.  It will take everyone in the legal community to make this happen.  And, as chair of this important new task force, Jane is helping lead the way.  Hat’s off to her and everyone associated with this effort. And a very hearty “Welcome to the club!”