Hello from my home office, where Ruby and I continue to meet with students, faculty, and other colleagues.

Ruby on a Saturday trip to my
College of Law office earlier in the year.
Let me first say that we miss seeing our students every day!

The challenge of grading our JD and other students for coursework done at a time of substantial change is one faced by law schools across the country. We know of only one law school that (for now) has retained its grading practices untouched.
Grading is only one of the challenges that the coronavirus brings. We are reaching out to our alumni and professional community to help us with ideas and support for our students, who are contending with a situation that none wanted and none imagined.
Challenges for public and private employers, and whether and when the next bar exam might be given, and whether alternative paths to practice might emerge on an emergency basis -- these are just some of the national and local conversations happening every day.

Looking for ways to help our community? See info from the Innovation for Justice Project in this edition or click here to donate to assist UA students dealing with financial challenges as result of this crisis.

Until the footnotes,
Faculty Adopts JD Grading Policy

The Arizona Law faculty voted last week to adopt a mandatory pass/no pass policy for all Spring 2020 JD grades.
This change was not made lightly. Given the disruption to the semester and the continued disruption that will occur for many students as they continue their studies from home while taking care of themselves and their families, and navigating the many rapid changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the faculty decided that the pass/no pass system is the most equitable means of completing the semester.
The new mandatory pass/no pass policy applies only to our JD students at this time. Similar policies have recently been adopted by other major law schools across the country.
I am deeply grateful to the Arizona Law faculty and our students for the thoughtful discussions and consideration that produced this decision.

This is a complex topic on which a wide range of views were held among students and faculty. I can convey the ultimate decision, but I can speak only for myself in saying that, in the short and longer term, this is the choice that is most supportive of the community.

Many students expressed concern that pass/no pass grades would create a negative impression for future employers. 

The disruption in our educational lives is being echoed for employers, and the overwhelming message we are hearing from employers is that they will adjust. For example, there is a compelling national movement to shift private firm recruiting next year from August to January, providing students with a summer of work and another full term of grades and employers with a better sense of their future needs.
We will work with students to clearly communicate to employers the extraordinary nature of the change to this semester's grading. And, as always, we will work to clearly convey the particular strengths and abilities of each student, which even in the best of times grades do not fully reflect.
Any policy change on something as central as grading has many implications. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Catherine O'Grady and Assistant Dean and Registrar Michael Brooks are taking the lead on adjusting the college's bylaws to eliminate or minimize burdens on most students and are working with individual students on varied issues in play across our student body.
The change in grading policy is not the only, nor probably the most serious, adjustment that will come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At every turn, we need to think carefully, and listen to all. And at every moment, we need to remember that as fellow Wildcats we are in this together.
My sincere thanks for the respect and reflection that this important policy change called for and that this community embodies.

Around the College -- Online

Grand Closing Argument Competition Results
1L Sean Aiken presents as part of the competition.

The final round of the 2020 Grand Closing Argument Competition was held on Tuesday, March 31, via Zoom.

Professor Barbara Bergman shares: "We had a great group of competitors for this year's Richard Grand Closing Argument Competition. Please join me in congratulating them all for a job well done."

The results are:

Clarissa Todd (1L) ~ 1st place ($2,500 prize)

Maura Hilser (3L) ~ 2nd place ($1,500 prize)

Sean Aiken (1L) ~ 3rd place ($500 prize)

Neal Brubaker (1L), Rachel Madore (1L), and 
Mea Donnelly (1L) ~ 4th place ($250 prize each)

The final round of closing arguments was judged by previous winners of the competition.

The members of the Barry Davis Mock Trial Team for the coming academic year were also selected based on the Grand Competition results. The team will include Clarissa, Sean, Neal, Rachel, and Mea as well as:

Stephanie Baldwin (2L)

Yulingxuan Liu (2L)

Andrew Morse (1L)
Congratulations to all our competitors!

Innovation for Justice Lab Invites Online Collaboration
Hello Arizona Law! If you're searching for ways to contribute your expertise to problem solving during (and beyond) the Covid-19 outbreak, the Innovation for Justice Program (i4J) wants to connect with you.

An i4J workshop held at the college last August.

Director of the i4J program Stacy Butler writes:

"We are a social justice innovation lab that designs, builds and tests disruptive solutions to the justice gap. As one of ten legal innovation labs in the country, we are starting to hear from courts and legal service providers from across the U.S. who want our help. Our legal systems are grappling with the sudden and unexpected fact that they need to operate remotely and online: court forms and processes need to be automated, low-income community members need remote assistance, and creative thinkers and doers are in high demand." 

In response, the program is forming "Team i4J" for students, faculty, staff, and other colleagues, including Arizona Law alumni, who want to contribute their time and talent now and in the months to come.
If you're new to Slack, learn the basics here. 
As the team hears about opportunities for you to volunteer, or receives requests for assistance with special projects, they will post them in the Slack workspace.
Diverse skill sets welcome! Team i4J sees a need for legal research and policy advocacy, document automation, help with collaborative tech onboarding, grab-and-go legal information for community members, community engagement assistance, design help, surveying/interviewing, and more. 

How You Can Help Students Right Now

Many of you will be wondering about ways to support our students going forward. Here is one such opportunity. Please consider donating to Fuel the Responsea UA fund to help provide financial relief to all UA students -- including our professional and graduate law students -- in times of significant hardship.

In the News, quoting public health and law professor Leila Barraza
Centre for Biosimilars, with commentary by professor Christopher Robertson
Appellate Advocacy Blog, authored by professor Tessa Dysart
The state of tech's antitrust probes amid the pandemic
Axios, quoting professor Barak Orbach
Wynn whistleblower argues she can't get a fair shake in court
New York Times Post, quoting professor Keith Swisher

Every day the ground shifts under our feet. That makes it hard to stand up. And harder still to keep our eyes on the horizon.
But we must both support each other as we face our daily challenges and changes and keep our eyes and minds on the future implications of what is happening today and how we might adjust and adapt in the months ahead.

We know many of you are adjusting too, in your personal and professional lives. 

If you have ideas for us, let us know.

If we can help in any way, let us know. 

Stay safe,


Marc L. Miller,
Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law


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