By: Professor Lynn Su and Professor Anne Goldstein
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. Continue reading “Getting Them at Hello: Creative Teaching Techniques and Exercises to Engage New Law Students”
By: Professor Abigail Perdue
According to the Pew Center, roughly 40 million Americans self-identified as a person with a disability in 2015. Of those, over 20 million adults reported having “serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.” Approximately 11 million reported serious hearing impairments, while 7 million reported significant visual impairments.
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”
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”
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”
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”