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”
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”
Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas! We look forward to seeing you in the new year!
The TeachLawBetter Team
By: Professor Kirsha Weyandt Trychta, West Virginia University College of Law
It’s often difficult to keep law students engaged around the holidays when they’re anxious to spend time with friends and family. Below are a few fun ways to promote student engagement by integrating the holidays into your classes.
If you find yourself over-stuffed this week, I do not recommend trying to sue “Thanksgiving, Pilgrims, Mayflower Movers, Pilgrim Pride, Turkey Hill, Black Friday, Corn on the Cob, [or the] Cleveland Indians.” Riches v. Thanksgiving, 2007 WL 4591385 (N.D. Cal 2007). A prisoner who was “offended” by the Thanksgiving holiday tried to do just that, but the court dismissed his claim finding that “[t]o the extent any of these defendants are actual entities that may be sued, they are private organizations that do not act under color of state law, an essential element of a § 1983 action.” And if you want a second helping of prisoner litigation, dish out Professor Abigail Perdue’s suggestion: Karmasu v. Hughes, 654 N.E.2d 179 (Ohio App. 1995) (concerning a prisoner who sued the prison dietician for serving turkey stuffing for Thanksgiving). Continue reading “Serve Up a Holiday-Themed Scavenger Hunt this Thanksgiving”
By: Abigail Perdue
“I feel the need . . . the need for speed.” – Top Gun
Apparently fictional fighter pilots and forward-thinking Jewish rabbis have that in common. The widespread modern phenomenon of speed dating purportedly began in the late nineties when an innovative Jewish rabbi organized the first speed dating event as an efficacious way for busy Jewish young professionals to meet and mingle (Kennedy 2013).
Speed dating soon became so popular that its model was exported to the business world. Speed mentoring events sprang up across the country, and after attending a particularly impactful one, I brainstormed how to implement “speed editing” in my writing classes. Speed editing simultaneously achieves multiple learning goals from encouraging collaboration to demonstrating how to work effectively under tight time constraints. It teaches students how to thoughtfully give and receive constructive feedback and further hones their editing and oral communication skills. Here’s how it works.
As our time on an assignment module draws to a close, I provide a brief overview of the effective editing techniques we have already discussed and then dedicate the remainder of our 1.5 hour session to speed editing. This generally occurs in one of two ways, each of which I will discuss below.
Continue reading “Speed Editing”