Embracing Online Teaching with a Growth Mindset

By: Professor Heidi Brown (Brooklyn Law School)

I have a confession: I am incredibly technologically challenged. My Apple TV no longer turns on unless I yank the little black box thingy out of the wall and plug it back in. My Bissell vacuum cleaner won’t stay charged. Every clock in my Brooklyn apartment shows a different time of day. My watch battery is dead. I still have a landline. I would rather converse on my landline than my cell phone . . . that is, if I speak on any phone at all (#introvertproblems). All signs would point to me being the least likely law professor in the universe to be enthusiastic about shifting to online teaching. Yet somehow, I am excited to take on this challenge. I’m eager to figure out a way to help our students navigate these uncertain times in their 1L year, which is already a stressful life experience. Continue reading “Embracing Online Teaching with a Growth Mindset”

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Back to the Future: Conducting Virtual Oral Arguments

By: Professor Abigail Perdue (Wake Forest)

As COVID-related course interruption prompts schools, universities, and now courts to suspend in-person meetings and transition online, two questions sprang to my mind: Are we prepared for this change? Are there established best practices for videoconferencing during court appearances? Thankfully, the answer to both questions is a resounding YES! Continue reading “Back to the Future: Conducting Virtual Oral Arguments”

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Untangling Students’ Fears about 1L Oral Arguments

By: Professor Heidi Brown

It’s 1L oral argument season again. Many legal writing faculty colleagues are eagerly gearing up to schedule argument practice rounds for their students as part of the course curriculum. I’ll admit, this component of our 1L legal writing curriculum gives me residual angst. I sit in my office staring at my syllabus and wishing my students could just slide their appellate briefs into a dropbox and skip right to summer break. I know, I know…I’m the educator now, not the traumatized 1L student I once was. My disastrous oral argument was nearly three decades ago. I should be over it by now, right? I should be excited to impart wisdom to my students about the substance and style of oral persuasion. I’m not. Instead, I absorb the anxiety and fear that many of them experience about this law school rite of passage. The anxiety and fear are real. They’re palpable. Continue reading “Untangling Students’ Fears about 1L Oral Arguments”

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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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Tiny Dancer, Big Lesson

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”

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