Each year, just before the start of the Winter (not Spring) semester, the faculty of the Maurer Law School holds a one day retreat at a site away from the law school. Only rarely (I'm told), is the retreat tied to resolving major issues in the law school (curricular reform, etc.). But why then hold a full-day retreat?
It turns out to be a useful mechanism for learning about one's colleagues and their work and building collegiality on the faculty as a whole. Today, the morning session was devoted to the useful issue of how to integrate students into our research for their benefit more than our own. Even for more senior faculty (like myself), who have hired (and even published with) research assistants for many years, it was an interesting exercise to rethink ways in which I might improve the value of the experience for the students. Now that I'm working more closely with grad students and post-docs, in addition to law students, the issue has even greater currency for me.
The afternoon session was devoted to three broadly defined subject-based panels: Family Law, Business Law, and Criminal Law. At each panel, three of my colleagues made a brief presentation of their current work. During the course of the school year, individual faculty members may make "brown bag" lunch presentations to their colleagues, but spending an entire afternoon learning more systematically about the various, unfailingly interesting work my colleagues are doing was both enlightening and made me feel proud to be a member of such a productive and scholarly faculty.
Coming immediately on the heels of the four-day AALS conference in New Orleans, I can't say I had as much energy as I would have liked. My lack of energy did not, however, prevent me from appreciating all the great work my colleagues are doing.