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”
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 Spring 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 Spring Break! We’ll see you when we return in mid-March.
The TeachLawBetter Team Continue reading “Everyone Deserves a Break”
By: Professor Meghan Boone
“More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.”
– Harold J. Smith
I know what you are thinking – this post must be incorrectly titled. Surely, the author means to discuss how to help law students avoid making mistakes, right? Wrong. I am talking about the fine art of making mistakes, which I argue is critical for the long term professional success of our students. Continue reading “Helping Law Students Learn How to Make Mistakes”
By: Professor Abigail Perdue
I’m a dancer . . . or at least I was. From the age of five until I entered college, I took one or more dance lessons per week, performing in recitals, talent shows, and later, competitions.
Dance taught me many lessons that have proven critical to my professional and personal success. My first major recital was particularly formative. I danced for the most prominent studio in our very small town. The studio owner required every group to rehearse its number in full costume the day before the big event. Continue reading “Tiny Dancer, Big Lesson”
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”