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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Jury Duty Serves Double Duty: How an Experiential Jury Simulation Reinforces Classroom Content and Teaches Practical Skills

By: Rachel Pender (Wake Forest Law ’20)

For many law students, Criminal Law can be a difficult first-year course.  It is less like a Law and Order episode and more like a philosophy class focused on abstract ideas like the purpose of punishment and the meaning of intent. Criminal Law professors can use experiential learning to help students connect these abstract ideas to tangible cases. One excellent example is a jury simulation that several Criminal Law professors at Wake Forest jointly developed to use with their sections. While this activity involved a criminal case, many of the practical lessons learned apply with equal force to all jury trials, whether criminal or civil, and similar experiential learning exercises can be used in other courses. Continue reading “Jury Duty Serves Double Duty: How an Experiential Jury Simulation Reinforces Classroom Content and Teaches Practical Skills”

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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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Everyone Deserves a Break

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.

Kind regards,

The TeachLawBetter Team Continue reading “Everyone Deserves a Break”

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