Day One of the Retreat went better, on the whole, than I had feared.
Unlike the icky retreat Daniel Drezner recalls, we didn't have “bad pizza, bad flourescent lighting, and bad pontificating”—or at least very little of the latter. Nor did we have Prof. Bainbridge “Bad coffee, bad food, uncomfortable folding chairs, bad PowerPoint” that he says probably “cut at least two millenia off [his] stint in Purgatory.” In fact, we had no PowerPoint at all. The meeting was held in a lovely resort (not hard to find in Miami), and had good food plus a lovely view of the resort's pool and the ocean beyond it. There was an absolutely gorgeous sunset. We even got them to turn off the horrible Muzak that comes standard in the conference room.
And at dinner I learned that my collegue Alan Swan has an operatic-quality voice and is a fairly serious singer.
The basic ground rules are confidentiality as to content, so all I'll say about that is that we're all being encouraged to think about practical things the law school should do in the next few years — either new things entirely, or doing old things better. The negative consequence of this strategy is that it discourages any discussion of fundamental structural issues; the positive consequence is that people are being constructive in ways that may show some tangible results in due course. But it's slow going. I can't help but feel that we could have done a lot of this in faculty meetings, on paper, or via any of a number of nifty web-based collaborative tools, and faster too. Then again, people are busy, faculty meetings often have crowded agendas, and this at least gets everyone focusing at the same time.
Meanwhile, while I was part of a group being well behaved, mildly constructive, and somewhat bored, Eric Muller continued blogging his fantastic conference. Read the parts three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. Beats retreats any day!
One more day to go…