Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fourth of July Exercise

There were some great questions in class yesterday that drew my attention to gaps in the exercise and areas that I need to explain more thoroughly. So I'm glad we have a little time to clarify the objectives, the work product, and the roles.

If, after reading the following, you still have questions please feel free to e-mail me. I realise that time is of the essence and I'd like to reply promptly. Right now I'm having trouble accessing my UConn e-mail from home, so send your questions to That way I can respond even while I'm at home.

Objectives and Work Product
When I designed the syllabus I envisioned two items of gradable work product coming out of this exercise, namely a settlement agreement and a reflective memorandum. Generating a settlement agreement, however, would demand considerable negotiation. Practice is immensely beneficial and you would reap real educational benefit from another Balance of Power-like experience. But crafting a settlement agreement would probably take more time than I can fairly ask of you and, given the fact that you do have other classes and a life outside of law school, would be unduly burdensome. So no settlement agreement.

I still want the reflective memorandum, but instead of a settlement agreement I would like you to write an office memorandum, the kind of detailed memo you would put in the file to refresh your memory the next time you pick it up, or to explain the case to a colleague who is picking up the file for the first time. So there are two possible audiences for this office/file memo: yourself and your colleagues.

Now, even though I do not require a negotiated settlement it would be helpful for you to converse with one another informally. Yesterday evening after class one of the adjunct faculty, Attorney Mike Harrington, mentioned to me that the second round of meetings (when you counsel your respective clients) will be more productive and realistic if you have talked to one another beforehand. For example, those of you representing the Town Manager could check in with counsel for the parade organizer and the chair of the protest committee. Mike is absolutely right, so please do sound out your counterparts in other teams so get a sense of what their clients want.

Getting back to the gradable work product, what should the office/file memo look like? As in real life, this document should reflect the substance of your conversations with your client. It should be no more than five pages long, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font. At the top of the document you should write "memorandum." In the "to" line write "file," and in the "from" line write your name. The subject line should state the name of your client.

In our exercise, Attorney Mike Harrington is playing the role of the Town Manager, Michael Bartolo. Attorney Karla Turekian's character is Alex Sachs, the parade organizer. Attorney Thomas Jones will star as Joseph Kelly, the chair of the anti-war group Amherst Committee for Peace and Justice (ACPAJ, pronounced ack-paj).

In addition to the documents on TWEN, you might want to do some additional background reading to get a sense of the real-life parade dispute. So here are the sites that flashed before your eyes briefly in class:

For the minutes of the Select Board meeting click here.

To browse the Amherst Bulletin's news, columns, and letters to the editor you can use the paper's search engine.

For the relevant post on the Only in the Republic of Amherst blog click here.

1 comment:

  1. Geeze Peter, you gotta give us 'outsiders' a better view of what the hell this is all about.

    I do of course have a sitemeter and it recently showed hits from (whatever this exercise is)