TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, July 21, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Comment: Last week, I mentioned several general education books that law professors can use to help improve their teaching.  This week I am listing legal education materials that are particularly useful.

  • Michael Hunter Schwartz, Teaching Law by Design (2009, 2016).  Dean Schwartz was the first legal educator to extensively incorporate recent general education research into law teaching.  This book by Dean Schwartz and two colleagues contains a wealth of information. "'Teaching Law by Design should be mandatory reading for new law professors regardless of their subject matter and whether they teach casebook or skills courses. The book provides suggestions that will be helpful even to the more experienced professor... For the new teacher, the book provides teaching exercises, such as think-pair-share, that one would otherwise need to attend a teaching conference to learn about. For the experienced teacher, the book provides not only some fresh teaching tips, but also helpful reminders of sage advice, such as the value of including real life experiences (videos, field trips) into law courses... Deans would be wise to distribute Teaching Law by Design to assist their faculty in honing their law skills.' --Robin A. Boyle, Professor of Legal Writing and Director of Academic Support, St. Johns University School of Law."
  • Michael Hunter Schwartz, What the Best Law Teachers Do (2013).  "What makes a great law professor? The first study of its kind, What the Best Law Teachers Do identifies the methods, strategies, and personal traits of professors whose students achieve exceptional learning."
  • E. Scott Fruehwald, How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School, 1 Texas A & M L. Rev. 301 (2013 In this article, I adopt techniques from general education research to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds improve their performance in law school.
  • Tonya Kowalski, True North: Transfer for the Navigation of Learning in Legal Education, 2010 Seattle U. L. Rev. 51.  This important article shows how to help students transfer knowledge or skills from one area (domain) to another.
  • Judith Welch Wegner, Reframing Legal Education’s "Wicked Problems," 61 Rutgers L. Rev. 867 (2009).  A detailed article on the problems with legal education.
  • Kathleen Vinson, What's Your Problem?, 44 Stetson L.Rev.  777 (2015).  This article shows how to teach law students problem-solving.
  • Jane Kent Gionfriddo, Thinking Like A Lawyer: The Heuristics of Case Synthesis, 40 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 1 (2007).  Studies demonstrate that most students struggle with synthesizing cases.  This article covers this essential skill.
  • Leah M. Christensen, Legal Reading and Success in Law School: An Empirical Study, 30 Seattle U. L. Rev. 603 (2007).  Legal reading is an essential skill that is often neglected in legal education.
  • Jessica Erickson, Experiential Education in the Lecture Hall, 6 Northeastern U. L.J. 87 (2013).  This article shows how to employ experiential techniques in substantive classes.
  • E. Scott Fruehwald, Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (2013).  This is an introduction to law text that includes numerous exercises.  In this book, I cover the five types of legal reasoning, deep legal reading, interpreting statutes, how to organize arguments, and problem-solving.

The above barely begins to cover the wealth of materials on law teaching.  For more, see my website, Legal Education Reform Central, or Gould Law Library, Legal Education Reform Bibliography (2014).

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