Melanie DeRousse takes on leadership role at Best Practices for Legal Education blog

Clinical Associate Professor Melanie DeRousse

Melanie DeRousse recently became editor of the Best Practices for Legal Education blog. DeRousse has been a blog author and commentator for several years. She is also a clinical associate professor and the director of the Legal Aid Clinic at KU Law.

Since 2007, the Best Practices for Legal Education blog has discussed, documented and recorded reforms in legal education. The blog, which is updated twice a week, serves as gathering place for discussion of ideas about how to best educate lawyers.

“I’ve always been interested in the recent energy around reforming legal education and bringing new ideas to the table,” DeRousse said. “I am continually intrugued by how we teach and train lawyers for the market they are now entering and the clients that they need to serve.”

DeRousse began her new role in July. She co-edits the blog with Davida Finger, a clinical professor and associate dean at Loyola New Orleans College of Law. DeRousse and Finger took over leadership of the blog from former editor and founder, Mary Lynch.

The blog grew out of the work of the Clinical Legal Education Association’s (CLEA) Best Practices Committee. DeRousse has served as co-chair of CLEA’s Best Practices Committee since 2018.

As an editor, DeRousse takes an active role with the blog’s 39 contributing authors by organizing a posting schedule, soliciting topics, communicating with authors, publishing blog posts, moderating comments, and ensuring deadlines are met.

“It gave me a chance to have a platform to encourage authors to think more deeply about issues and start writing about them as they relate to legal education,” DeRousse said.

DeRousse and Finger plan to highlight three content areas on the blog: teaching justice by doing justice work, pedagogical evolution and large-scale policy changes affecting teaching.

“As we move forward into this new era of leadership, Davida and I have talked about continuing to develop that robust discussion. Keeping it as an experimental space where we can discuss new ideas and vet them among colleagues who are also interested in those ideas,” DeRousse said. “We also want to push the blog in a direction where we talk about equity and inclusion in legal education.”

The Best Practices for Legal Education Blog is recognized as a voice in the national dialogue about legal education. The blog was named to the ABA Journal‘s Blawg 100 Hall of Fame in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. It was ranked as the #1 legal education blog by FeedSpot in 2020.

“This blog is such a great opportunity for KU to be a national voice in the conversation about changes in legal education,” DeRousse said. “It’s a good fit for what KU is as an institution.”

DeRousse joined the KU Law faculty in 2015. The lawyering program at KU Law emphasizes experiential teaching methodologies, which piqued DeRousse’s interest in teaching at the university.

“KU has a really strong position on teaching and legal pedagogy,” DeRousse said. “We have really diverse methods of teaching, and my colleagues here strive for a level of inclusivity and engagement in their teaching.”

Prior to entering academia, DeRousse was an attorney at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri Inc., where she focused her civil practice on the legal needs of survivors of intimate partner violence. She also clerked for Hon. Kathianne Knaup Crane at the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.

— By Ashley Golledge