Trial by Wire: Supervising Clinical Law Students in Virtual Courtrooms
I've uploaded an edited version of a recent conversation between 4 extremely experienced clinic professors at University of New Mexico School of Law (the least experienced of us has been teaching clinic since 2006) who have had several virtual hearings and trials over the past year (in which we had very little experience). We discuss what we're trying to do as supervisors, share some stories from the past year and identify some of the ways our supervision of our students has changed and identify some best practices going forward. 15 minutes is so fast (in fact, we went a bit over, but our video includes 3 minutes of intro that we could live without) and so we didn't cover all that we would have liked to, but you get the gist of it.
The idea here is not "how will we supervise virtual court, but only as long as the pandemic forces us to" but rather "because we believe that some form of virtual court is here to stay, how do we best prepare our students and represent our clients in that setting as we go forward." Left on the cutting room floor was a discussion of the pros/cons of virtual courts in our large, rural state, but we all agree that we will be doing some form of this going forward, and we're glad to have each other to share ideas with.
While I have seen some guides to "how to lawyer by Zoom, including how to turn off the cat filter," to my knowledge, nobody has developed (or at least has not disseminated) ways to supervise students who are lawyering in these settings. I suspect there will be some appetite for this--last week I was part of a CLE about a different subject entirely in which one of the presenters mentioned offhand that they had a virtual hearing coming up, and the very first question was about the mechanics of that hearing (instead of the very important and interesting subject of the CLE) and there was lively and engaged discussion that clearly showed an interest in and a desire for more discussion of this topic.