January 10, 2013

Alum Chelsea Griffin’s Bakken Fellowship leads to publication

News_2013_Alum_Chelsea_Griffin

The Constance L. Bakken Fellowship program at Hamline University School of Law offers outstanding students a $3,000 stipend during both their second and third years of law school (for a total of $6,000) and the opportunity to perform scholarly research with a member of Hamline's distinguished faculty. Bakken scholars may provide research support for faculty, pursue their own self-directed research, or consider a combination of these two approaches.

In their first year in the program, most fellows develop their research and writing skills and hone substantive interests by assisting with faculty scholarship projects. In the second and final program year, fellows can continue supporting faculty-driven writings or opt to develop their own project by researching and producing a piece worthy of publication. Through all phases, the fellows work closely with faculty experts in substantive areas of mutual interest, and the associate dean assures appropriate progress toward fellowship goals.

Chelsea Griffin, JD ’11, decided to pursue her JD at Hamline University School of Law largely because of the opportunity presented by the Constance L. Bakken Fellowship. Her early impression of the Hamline Law faculty, including Professor Bobbi McAdoo – one of the professors Griffin worked alongside during her fellowship – sealed her decision.

“The scholarship was very enticing,” Griffin said. “Hamline’s ADR (alternative dispute resolution) program was also very attractive. When I attended an admitted student event, I got connected with some law professors, specifically Professors Mary Dunnewold and Bobbi McAdoo. They’re just so kind, and that was a big push for me to go to Hamline.”

Upon arriving at Hamline Law, Griffin dove into her Bakken research. Her fellowship included three projects – a family mediation memo with McAdoo; a report for the Minnesota Court of Appeals on the pilot appellate mediation program; and a law review article co-authored with McAdoo and Sharon Press about Hamline Law’s required first-year course Practice, Problem-Solving and Professionalism (P3).

The law review article, “It’s Time to Get It Right: Problem-Solving in the First-Year Curriculum,” was published in the Washington University Journal of Law and Policy (Vol. 39, 2012). In the article, Griffin, McAdoo and Press used P3 as a case study in legal education reform. They argued that the problem-solving emphasis of the course and its placement in the first year curriculum responds elegantly to the various calls for legal education reform over the last few decades.

McAdoo saw growth in Griffin throughout her law school career and over the course of her fellowship work.

“With Chelsea, she was always a very mature, put-together kind of student, which I recognized from day one,” McAdoo said. “What I saw [as we worked together], was this wonderful sense of self-confidence… By the time we got to writing the article, I felt like I had a very competent and confident co-worker more than a student research assistant.

“The purpose of the Bakken Fellowship program is that, ultimately, students would be able to partner with [faculty] on some kind of project. I was really committed to trying to find an opportunity with an article where Chelsea could be a co-author.”

The idea for the three to write the P3 article together stemmed from Griffin’s strong relationships with McAdoo and Press.

“It helped with Chelsea that she was so heavily involved with the ADR student group, so she had a relationship with Professor Press and she had a relationship with me,” McAdoo said. “When it came time to work on this article, it seemed quite natural to have the three of us work on it together.”

Griffin relished the opportunity to work on the article with her professors, and she is thankful for the relationships she was able to develop with McAdoo and Press. However, the Hamline Law professors enjoy developing close working relationships with their students as well.

“It is [special] for us too. That’s what’s so fun,” McAdoo said. “Having that kind of relationship where, you know that they are still well-aware that you’re the professor, but they’re about ready to go out and practice, or go on to whatever else they’re going to do professionally. I think it’s incredibly valuable when they can have an experience for more that just a semester where they really do develop a good relationship with professors.”

“Bobbi McAdoo and Sharon Press served as really wonderful mentors to me, and that really helped me get through law school,” Griffin said. “Law school is so difficult. If you don’t find those people that are really supportive of you, then it’s hard to make it through.”

Griffin certainly did more than merely ‘make it through’ law school; as a dual-degree student, she also completed her Master’s in Public Administration at Hamline while simultaneously fulfilling her JD requirements.

While Griffin credits her MPA for largely helping her land her current position as a state program administrator with the Department of Revenue, she is confident that her law degree has already helped her in her professional career. Griffin specializes in tax delinquency and forfeiture with property and serves as a policy team coordinator during the legislative session.

“I’ve been really impressed with how my law degree has presented me with new opportunities that I didn’t anticipate,” Griffin said. “For people who are interested in going into non-practicing positions, I think a law degree is still really helpful.”

Learn more:
First-Year Scholarships and Fellowships: Constance L. Bakken Fellowship Program  
Washington University Journal of Law & Policy: It's Time to Get It Right: Problem-Solving in the First-Year Curriculum  
P3 Course: Alumni teach 1Ls the 3Ps of a cutting-edge legal education