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Law School Clinics Across the Country Adopt Prof. Harris’ Client Interviewing Training Module

Thursday, February 28, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: UDC Law Staff
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Just four months out from the launch of the Legal Interviewing and Language Access Film Project, more than 40 clinical and experiential programs across the country have requested the teacher’s guide to the innovative series, which coaches law students on client interviewing techniques in the immigration law context. UDC Law Assistant Professor Lindsay M. Harris developed the video series with Laila Hlass, Director of Experiential Learning at Tulane University Law School.

Professor Harris, who is Co-Director of the UDC Law Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, wrote the scripts with Professor Hlass and then filmed the training modules in New Orleans this past summer before the November premiere. The Carol Lavin Bernick Faculty Grant Program at Tulane University generously awarded funding to support the project.

The training module, which is freely available on YouTube, includes a short introductory video, teaching guide complete with in-class exercises, and two short films. As clinics across the country have incorporated the training module into the curriculum, many law professors have reached out to Professors Harris and Hlass with praise. “The video provided seemingly infinite opportunities for rich and meaningful conversation,” said SMU Dedman School of Law Professor Natalie Nanasi. “I am convinced that my students will be better prepared for the work ahead as a result,” adding that the module proved an “incredible resource.”

In a writeup for the Clinical Law Prof blog, Professor Harris detailed the many use cases the training videos offer to clinical educators – even outside the immigration law context. Clinical professors teaching across a broad range of practice areas have requested the videos for use in clinical classrooms such as federal tax law, veterans representation, and general civil practice. The training series has attracted interest from experiential program instructors as well, for use in upper-level seminars spanning topics including externships and pretrial litigation.

UDC Law Professor Etienne Toussaint had high praise for the training videos. “I was really impressed,” said Professor Toussaint, who is Co-Director of the law school’s Community Development Law Clinic. “Even though the subject matter of the interviews center on immigration law, the teaching lessons are immediately applicable to our work with community-based organizations in our transactional clinic. Specifically, the videos facilitated a robust conversation around the challenges of cross-cultural lawyering when working with low-income immigrant clients, which is commonplace in our cooperative housing work. We definitely plan to use the videos again in the future.”

This May, Professors Harris and Hlass will facilitate a session alongside early adopters of the training module at the AALS Clinical Conference in San Francisco to share the benefits and challenges of using the videos as teaching aids.

The first film in the two-part series, Interviewing Victor: The Initial Meeting, depicts two law students engaged in an initial client interview of Victor, a teenage asylum seeker. By walking students through key concepts in client interviewing, such as road mapping, building rapport, role description, and trauma-informed lawyering, the video helps law students navigate the difficult task of initial interviewing in the experiential classroom.

In the second installment, Josefina: Using an Interpreter, an interpreter is added to the mix, as the same two law students interview a monolingual Spanish-speaking client seeking a U-visa as a victim of a crime. This video introduces important concepts for legal interviewing alongside an interpreter like pacing speech, using accessible language, and effectively summarizing and expanding upon interpretation.

To request a copy of the teacher's guide, please send an email to lhlass@tulane.edu and lindsay.harris@udc.edu with the name of the course in which you are considering using the videos.

 


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