Using a Mock Accessibility Audit to Bring Disability Law to Life

By: Professor Abigail Perdue 

According to the Pew Center, roughly 40 million Americans self-identified as a person with a disability in 2015.[1] Of those, over 20 million adults reported having “serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.”[2]  Approximately 11 million reported serious hearing impairments, while 7 million reported significant visual impairments.[3]

Yet despite the vast number of persons with disabilities, surprisingly few law students have heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (“Guidelines”). The Guidelines include specific scoping and technical requirements, which strive to ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy equal access to public facilities. They address everything from ATMS and alarms to ramps and toilet stalls. Other sections relate to restaurants and cafeterias, medical care facilities, libraries, courts, correctional facilities, etc. Continue reading “Using a Mock Accessibility Audit to Bring Disability Law to Life”

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Why Legal Writing is ‘Doctrinal’ and, More Importantly, Profound

By: Professor Hal Lloyd 

So as long as we must use the questionable term “doctrinal” when referring to law school courses, I challenge everyone (including law professors who teach legal writing) to stop directly and indirectly referring to legal writing as a “non-doctrinal” course. Use of “non-doctrinal” can be code for “lesser” thereby suggesting that legal writing has lesser import than other law school courses. Erroneously so marking legal writing as “lesser” damages legal education across the board. It damages students and law professors not teaching legal writing by suggesting that legal writing and the theory, skills and insights taught by legal writing merit less of their time, which in turn increases the odds that both students and other faculty will remain ignorant of the critical knowledge and skills that legal writing teaches. It also damages law professors teaching legal writing because it invites disparate treatment such as lack of tenure, lower pay, and lack of equal respect. As a result, law professors teaching legal writing encounter greater difficulties in publishing scholarship, difficulties which deprive us all of the scholarship so silenced or deterred. Such erroneous code also ignores the profound subject matters addressed in legal writing courses today.

Such erroneous code further ignores fundamental principles of semantics and fundamental insights of modern cognitive psychology embraced by legal writing courses today. For all of these reasons, the term “doctrinal” should be replaced with “meaningful” when referring to courses and “proper subject matter” when referring to course content.

To learn more about this issue, read the full article. Continue reading “Why Legal Writing is ‘Doctrinal’ and, More Importantly, Profound”

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Beautiful Distinctions

By: Professor Abigail Perdue

America is at a pivotal moment in history. Recently, race, gender, and other relations have been incredibly strained. Communities, both urban and rural, have experienced social turbulence, which at times, has erupted into protests and even violence. From the #MeToo Movement to Black Lives Matter, these issues are surfacing at campuses across America. In light of this, what, if anything, can we, as educators, do to inspire our students to embrace different people and engage different perspectives, rather than fear and suppress them? Continue reading “Beautiful Distinctions”

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Empowering Nervous Students in Oral Arguments

By: Professor Heidi K. Brown

For many law students, the unpredictability of the 1L oral argument experience poses a daunting challenge, even more than an intimidating Socratic classroom exchange. Some well-meaning mentors urge reticent advocates to “fake it till you make it,” “just prepare and practice and you’ll be fine,” or “if you’re nervous, it just means you care.” Unfortunately, these slogans do not help apprehensive students and instead, can exacerbate anxiety. A better strategy for helping our hesitant students succeed, and hopefully thrive, at oral argument includes (1) acknowledging the reality of fear in performance-oriented lawyering events, (2) providing adequate context about the logistics of the scenario, and (3) modeling substantive mental and physical preparation techniques. Continue reading “Empowering Nervous Students in Oral Arguments”

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Bridging the Gap Between Substance and Skill

By: Abigail L. Perdue

So often I hear first-year law students admit to allocating less time to Legal Writing because it “matters less” than other “substantive” courses. Nothing could be further from the truth.

After all, Legal Writing is a substantive course. “Substantive” is defined as “possessing substance, having practical importance, value, or effect.” Doesn’t Legal Writing clearly meet this definition? For example, in my first-year Legal Writing course, students emerge with a deep understanding of key concepts in employment discrimination law from disparate impact to hostile environment sexual harassment. But as in the practice, they don’t just acquire substantive knowledge; they apply it in a practical way.

So too must a competent attorney bridge the intellectual gap between substance and skill.  An attorney must not only intimately understand the nuances of the relevant legal doctrine but also be able to effectively apply that knowledge in practical ways and communicate it effectively, both orally and in writing, to legal and non-legal audiences. Thus, Legal Writing matters because it empowers students to do just that. Continue reading “Bridging the Gap Between Substance and Skill”

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