Honoring our Veterans in the Classroom and Beyond
By: Abigail Perdue
This Veterans Day, Teachlawbetter.com wants to extend a heartfelt thank you to all members of the U.S. military and their families for their outstanding service and tremendous sacrifice. As educators, it is important that we celebrate the courage and dedication of these brave men and women. Here are a few ways that you can use your next class session to honor them:
- Have a Moment of Silence: Have a moment of silence at the beginning of your next session in honor of all those who have fallen to secure the freedom that we too often take for granted – the same liberties that we, as attorneys, pledge to respect, preserve, and protect.
- Introduce the Veterans Court: If you teach a course on the judiciary, federal courts, etc., use this session to introduce the veterans law system to students, including a discussion of the unique role of the Board of Veterans Appeals (“Board”), U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“CAVC”), and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The CAVC, which was created in 1988, enjoys exclusive jurisdiction over Board appeals. Although based in Washington, D.C., the CAVC hears cases across the country. It exemplifies the diversity of the judiciary and calls attention to critically important specialty courts about which students may not yet have learned.
- Invite a Guest Speaker: Invite a current or former service member, military judge, CAVC judge, JAG attorney, representative from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a veterans law advocate to speak to your students about the realities of military service, the military justice system, and how they can assist veterans once they enter the practice. (more…)
A Few Thoughts on Providing Written Comments on Student Work
As a Legal Writing professor, commenting on student papers is one of my primary tasks. It is an essential teaching tool, but not one that always comes easily or naturally. I’ve found over the years that it has been a continual learning experience for me, one that I hope has resulted in improvement over time.
I’d like to share a few insights on commenting. I’ve gleaned many of these from colleagues; others I’ve developed through trial and error. Note that effective commenting can not only take the form of written comments delivered either electronically or on a hard copy, but also live feedback delivered during a student conference. It is even possible now to combine written and verbal feedback, as Professor Abigail Perdue interestingly described in Listen Up: The Advantages of Audio Commenting. My focus in this post is on written comments, but some of the advice translates to live verbal feedback as well. (more…)
Teaching Technophiles to Collaborate
Millennials are so named because they were the first generation to come of age in the new millennium. According to a 2010 Pew Center survey, technology use is the number one factor that makes Millennials unique. In Teaching and Reaching Millennials: Fresh Perspectives from an Insider, I explored specific ways to adapt law school pedagogy to the characteristics most commonly attributed to Millennials so as to better prepare these “digital natives” to exceed the expectations of their (mostly) non-Millennial supervisors. Similarly, in Gen Z Goes to Law School: Teaching and Reaching Students in the Post-Millennial Generation, my esteemed colleague, Professor Laura Graham, notes that Gen Zers, who were born between 1995 and 2010, are likewise “saturated with technology.” Yet unlike Millennials, Gen Zers generally dislike collaborative work. This interesting research on generational theory spurred me to develop an exercise that would teach my technophile students how to use technology to meaningfully collaborate. (more…)
Listen Up: The Advantages of Audio Commenting
One of the most surprising things about teaching is that each new semester brings entirely new challenges. Just when you think you’ve finally mastered the craft, Life throws you a curveball to keep you on your professional toes.
I experienced one such curveball this semester when I began experiencing persistent discomfort in my wrists and fingers, which often made typing onerous and even painful. As a Professor of Legal Writing, this pain simply wouldn’t do because I must provide oral and written feedback on multiple written exercises for my three classes and 50+ students throughout the term, not to mention the countless emails I must draft on a near daily basis or the book manuscript I’m currently trying to complete. (more…)
Judging the Benefits of Experiential Learning
By: Samuel Gilleran, J.D. ’20
This summer, I had the fantastic opportunity to participate in Wake Forest’s D.C. Summer Judicial Externship Program (the “Program”). Founded and directed by Professor Abigail Perdue, the Program places select 1Ls and 2Ls into unpaid externships with judges, special masters, and other federal adjudicators in Washington. The Program, which includes an evening course on judicial clerking, is a wonderful experience for many reasons, but I want to focus on one in particular: the significant difference between the externship experience and the traditional 1L curriculum. (more…)
Learning Law Differently: Accommodations and Support for Learning Disabilities in Law School
Over the past decade, increasing numbers of students have sought accommodations for disabilities during undergraduate studies. The most recent estimates indicate that approximately 14% of students in undergraduate programs report having a disability. A smaller percentage of these students pursue graduate degrees, with around 2% of graduate students self-identifying as having a disability. However, official records estimate 7% of graduate students have a diagnosis indicative of a disability. The intersection of the increased complexity and rigor of graduate study with reduced willingness to self-identify and seek accommodations can create an environment less conducive to student success as evidenced by the finding that less than 3% of 25-64 year olds with a disability persisted with graduate studies in order to attain a graduate degree.
Law professors are at the forefront of seeing students struggle who may have an invisible disability impacting learning that the student may not have chosen to disclose. Law students may have been able to compensate without accommodations or a formal diagnosis in an undergraduate environment depending on the size of the classes, underlying strengths and relatively lower intellectual demands compared to the intensity of a graduate environment surrounded by high-performing peers. A cognitive shift may be needed on the part of the student to understand academic accommodations as an interactive process that “levels the playing field” based on a careful assessment of the impact of a disability on academic performance rather than an unfair advantage over other students. Faculty encouragement can be a critical piece towards this mental shift, since direct encouragement from a faculty member to seek help may be the impetus needed for a student struggling academically despite maximal effort to persist and thrive in a rigorous law school environment. (more…)
School’s Out for Summer
In the words of Chicago, “everybody needs a little time away.” Even us. And that’s why here at TeachLawBetter.com, we’re huge supporters of summer break! So we hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re getting some well deserved rest and relaxation! In other words, have an amazing summer! We’ll see you when we return this fall.
The TeachLawBetter Team (more…)
Getting Them at Hello: Creative Teaching Techniques and Exercises to Engage New Law Students
The first few weeks of law school can be both thrilling and terrifying—an avalanche of reading, Latin lawyer lingo, and exacting methodology for thinking and writing about the law. This world of intellectual challenges takes place in an unfamiliar setting. Not only are students meeting new people and getting accustomed to a rigorous academic schedule, but many have also left behind the comforts of home, relocating to a new city, state, or even country to embark on the study of law. Forging into the unknown is fraught with great possibility and a bit of trepidation.
Because they are on the frontline of teaching first-year law students fundamental lawyering skills, Legal Writing professors can work to capture students’ imaginations and demystify the law school experience. Legal Writing is likely to be the course with the lowest professor to student ratio in the first year of law school and typically continues for two semesters. Teaching small groups of first-year students for a full year, Legal Writing professors are uniquely well positioned to ease students’ transition. (more…)
Maintaining Humble Confidence in Law School
By: Brandon LaRose (WFU Law ’20) with contributions by Professor Abigail Perdue
If I could give one piece of advice to the person I was on the first day of law school, it would be to remain humble and be confident. One’s mental state plays a heavy role in ensuring a positive law school experience. Confidence anchors this idea of mental wellness, the importance of which is emphasized from day one. There is a fine line, however, between confidence and cockiness. (more…)
A Letter to my 1L Self
By: Thayse M. Almeida Wall (WFU Law ’20) with contributions by Professor Abigail Perdue
If I could give one piece of advice to the person I was on the first day of law school, it would be to keep in mind how lucky you are. For me, the law school application process started with the infamous LSAT. You might think this test is no big deal, but as a native Brazilian, I only started learning English during college. So I could barely understand the questions when I first read an LSAT exam let alone answer them correctly. But after a year of studying reading comprehension, logical reasoning, logic games, and taking too many practice exams to count, I finally got a score that would allow me to apply for a “well-ranked” law school. (more…)