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Thursday, January 03, 2008

My NYC (or: What I Didn't Do Today at Noon...)

Here is what I didn't do today between 12 and 2 -- don't tell anyone, not my dean at least.

I didn't go to any session, didn'™t schedule any schmoozing lunch, in fact I didn™'t even go pick up my name tag from the AALS registration desk.


Here is what I did do: I went to one of the best yoga classes ever. It was a two hour master-class with Sri Dharma Mittra. Intense stuff -- the small, beautiful, bearded, warm man with twinkling kind eyes decided to critically pick on me in almost every pose, I guess because I was new (or simply needed the critique). Yogi masters don't get any better than this guru.

So, to give our readers a suggestion about an alternative space to the huge spaces of the Hilton and Sheraton lobbies, check out the studio's scheudule.

BUT to balance things out, let me also encourage you to attend two particular panels on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the plenary session is one that I was involved in organizing as part of my work on the AALS Committee for Curricular Reform. There are 1000 people registered to attend this which we were told is an unprecedented number. This should indicate the great interest in the topic at this particular moment in time.

2:15 - 4:00 p.m.
AALS Concurrent Plenary Session:
Rethinking Legal Education For The 21st Century
Trianon Ballroom, Third Floor, Hilton New York
Moderator: Edward L. Rubin, Vanderbilt University Law School
Speakers: Vicki C. Jackson, Georgetown University Law Center
Robert Mac Crate, Esq., Senior Counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell, New York, New York
Martha L. Minow, Harvard Law School
Suellyn Scarnecchia, University of New Mexico School of Law
William M. Sullivan, Senior Scholar The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Palo Alto, California
Judith W. Wegner, University of North Carolina School of Law

Here is the description:

There is a growing sense among legal educators that it is time to re-think legal education.  Dissatisfaction with the Langdellian model, now over a century old, has combined with enthusiasm about new approaches to both content and pedagogy to produce a potential turning point in the way we educate our students.  A number of law schools have announced major initiatives in the past few years, and others are planning to do so.  The Carnegie Foundation, long a leader in American higher education, released a comprehensive report on law school in March, and will follow up by partnering with legal educators in an effort to implement some of the ideas in its report.

But change is never easy, and rarely uncontroversial.  Law schools are complex, ongoing institutions, and the age of its educational model can be regarded as tradition as well as obsolescence.  External demands for change are not insistent; employers seem willing to train starting lawyers on the job, the ABA has been quiescent since the MacCrate Report -- which found more resonance among practicing lawyers than legal academics -- and universities are typically content to tax their law schools and be done with them.  Most of the material incentives for legal academics these days depend on scholarly production, so it is not always easy to engage a law school faculty in educational reform.  Nonetheless, as conscientious educators, many legal academics are increasingly committed to new approaches that recognize the tremendous changes in both the substance of law and legal practice and the understandings of and approaches to learning that have occurred during the past century.

This plenary session will provide a general picture of the possibilities for changing legal education, and the challenges that such changes necessarily confront.  The subject encompasses both curriculum and pedagogy: content and form; at the same time, the session will consider the related processes of institutional change. It will describe new ideas that are currently in operation or under consideration at various law schools, the major recommendations of the Carnegie Foundation report,  and some aspects of learning theory that support these ideas and recommendations.  It will also explore the role of change agents, the difficulties they face, and some strategies for their success.  Finally, the session will assess the need for change and the limitations on its potential scope.

The second panel I recommend - how can i not-- is on Sat at 3:30:

"Economic Analysis of Labor and Employment Law in the New Economy"

The session will look at the impact of the new information technology and the globalization of the economy on the employment relationship and the regulation of that relationship. Topics and speakers will include:

1) "Hi-Tech Workers: Issues of Intellectual Property and Restrictive Covenants in the Information Economy" Alan Hyde (Rutgers--Newark) commenter Michael Risch (West Virginia University)

2) "Lo-tech Workers: Issues of Immigration in the Global Economy"

Jagdeep Bhandari (Florida International University) commenter Ruben J.

Garcia (California Western)

3) "International Labor Regulation" Richard Block (Michigan State

University) commenter Orly Lobel (University of San Diego)

Posted by Orly Lobel on January 3, 2008 at 06:08 PM in Orly Lobel | Permalink

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Dear Orly,

With all due respect, asanas (yogic postures and positions) are part of yoga, and a small part at that, at least in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as well as in light of the three principal yogas discussed in the Bhagavad Gita (bhakti, karma, and jnana). A psycho-physiologial orientation represented by, say, Hatha Yoga, is more modern and not surprisingly accords a more prominent place to asanas than traditional forms of Yoga. Asanas, according to Patanjali, are only *one* of the five limbs known as "outer-members" (bahir-anga) classed within the honorific epithet Raja Yoga. As such, asanas belong to the "limbs" that are largely the physiological and psychological *prerequisites* of yogic practice (and thus include, for instance, include ethical vows of non-violence, truthfulness, sexual restraint, etc., as well as such things as tapas, contemplative devotion to one's deity, self-examination, control of prana [breath/vital energy], and 'sense-withdrawal'). Your focus here on "poses" thus gives, I think, a misleading picture of what Yoga is all about. The last three limbs (antar-anga or 'inner-members') in Patanjali's system are far more arduous than asanas, involving as they do intense forms of concentration and meditative awareness (nirvikalpa) and absorption. The highest of these meditative states of consciousness (asamprajnata-samadhi) is a non-conceptual awareness of reality that is said to be a fully interiorized form of non-intentional awareness (i.e., lacking in an external or mental object). And thus I find it a bit incomprehensible that you could make a judgment to the effect that "Yogi masters don't get any better than this guru," esepcially if such an assessment is based on the conduct of a putative guru in the context of teaching asanas. The text and the picture serve to reinforce misleading and inaccurate stereotypes of what true yoga is all about (yes, I believe one can discriminate between 'true' yoga and its converse). Of course none of this denies the possibility that you receive some psychological and/or physical benefits from the disciplined performance of asanas.

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Jan 4, 2008 2:17:54 PM

sorry for the "include" repetition in the fourth sentence (in parentheses) above

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Jan 4, 2008 2:22:27 PM

thank you Patrick, of course you are right -- i was simply excited about the class, i didnt mean to seriously award the "ultimate award for gurus," which would be in contradiction to yogic principles anyway. i just get really happy after a good practice. by the way, today i took a class at jivamukti uptown. recommended.
thanks again for the reminders about the more complete picture of what yoga, the union of mind and body, really is.

Posted by: Orly Lobel | Jan 4, 2008 5:20:56 PM

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