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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Fostering a Positive Learning Environment: A Law Student’s Perspective

By: Rachel Pender (WFU Law ’20)

The first year of law school can be challenging. In my experience, most law students were the best and brightest at their undergrad and now have to compete against other, equally qualified candidates. Most 1Ls do not have any legal experience and are easily intimidated by professors who are titans in their fields. Despite these hurdles, my first-year professors have established warm and inviting classroom environments that put students at ease while still challenging us to improve. As a teacher turned law student, I wanted to share the following strategies that may help create a more positive learning environment in your classroom: Continue reading “Fostering a Positive Learning Environment: A Law Student’s Perspective”

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New Perspectives on an “Old” Technique

By: Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer

No citation of authority is necessary to establish that many beginning law students fear the Socratic method of teaching above all else. One reason is their dislike of having to stand in a room full of strangers while responding to their professor’s questions. Yet standing to recite has several benefits. Continue reading “New Perspectives on an “Old” Technique”

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Moving Forward by Looking Back: Encouraging Students to Practice Mindfulness and Reflection

By: Abigail L. Perdue

Encourage honest and productive self-exploration.

During the first semester of law school, 1Ls process a tremendous quantity of information in an incredibly short and hectic period of time. Hopefully, they also gain discernment as they evolve from analytical surface-dwellers to deep thinkers. For these reasons, a positive and productive 1L year provides an unparalleled opportunity for growth.

Yet to optimize the benefits of the first semester of law school, it is critical for students to practice mindfulness. Thus, throughout the year and again as we commence the spring semester, I encourage my 1Ls to engage in contemplative lawyering and to thoughtfully reflect upon their goals and performance. Below are some suggested ways that you can create a more mindful 1L experience for your students and thus, maximize their learning.[1] Continue reading “Moving Forward by Looking Back: Encouraging Students to Practice Mindfulness and Reflection”

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New Year, New Attitude: Teaching Students to Practice Gratitude

By: Jennifer Richwine with an introduction and contributions by Professor Abigail Perdue

The new year is the perfect time to consider fresh ways to foster the formation of a healthy professional identity in law students. So I invited my esteemed colleague and friend, Jennifer Richwine, author of With Gratitude: The Power of a Thank You Note, to share her insights regarding the importance of teaching law students to practice gratitude. As a result of my insightful conversations with Jennifer through the years about the importance of saying thank you in the professional world, I devoted a section of my book, The All-Inclusive Guide to Judicial Clerking, to the importance of expressing gratitude to recommenders, mentors, and judges when applying for clerkships. I also included a sample thank you note. Now Jennifer has generously agreed to share her observations with TeachLawBetter.com, and in keeping with her topic, we are so grateful. Thank you Jennifer! Continue reading “New Year, New Attitude: Teaching Students to Practice Gratitude”

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