Seattle University School of Law Flashback: House of Sand and Fog

200px-HouseofSandandFogbookA little bit of sleuthing in the Law Library Reserves will reveal that SU has ten copies of the novel House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. Why? It probably has to do with the 2005 1L Orientation, when SU requested that incoming students read the provocative book in order to facilitate a reflection on the law.

 SU Professor, Paula Lustbader, describes the experience best in her 2008 article You are Not in Kansas Anymore: Orientation Programs Can Help Students Fly over the Rainbow:

“Although very depressing, it is an excellent story about two equally compelling characters, one a recovering alcoholic, the other, an Iranian immigrant, both of whom have legitimate claims to the same house. What begins as a legal struggle turns into a personal confrontation, with tragic results. The story is relevant for beginning law students because there are many points where appropriate legal intervention might have been able to alter the outcome. The story raises numerous substantive issues in the areas of property, constitutional law, criminal law, torts, alternative dispute resolution, domestic violence, transformative law (collaborative, therapeutic jurisprudence), diversity, values and culture, gender, access to justice, client counseling, case theory, storytelling, professionalism, ethics, substance abuse, and mental health.

A panel of local legal practitioners from different areas of practice discussed what legal interventions could have taken place to change the ultimate tragic outcome of the story. After the panel, students met in reflection groups of twenty to twenty-five students and four co-facilitators-an alumnus, a faculty member, a staff member, and an upper-class student. There they continued the discussion. The students’ responses to the first orientation session were extremely positive. After the session, sixty-eight percent of the students who responded to the survey indicated they thought legal intervention could have altered the outcome. Ninety-two percent indicated they believed that they could make a difference as a lawyer. Forty-one percent indicated that their inspiration to sustain a commitment to the service of justice increased.”

Paula Lustbader, You are Not in Kansas Anymore: Orientation Programs Can Help Students Fly over the Rainbow, 47 WASHBURN L.J. 327, 353-54 n.151 (2008).

Interested in reading House of Sand and Fog? Check it out: LAW-Reserve: PS3554.U265H68 2000

Or, you can watch the equally compelling film with the same title?  LAW-Reserve (Videos) VC-H014.