Monday, October 16, 2017
Judith M. Stinson (Arizona State), The Teaching, Scholarship, and Service Triathlon:
How can legal writing faculty, who spend a significant amount of time and energy teaching, commenting on student papers, and working individually with students to explicitly teach the skills of legal analysis and communication, be successful in a discipline that requires the balancing of so many roles? For each professor, one part may be easier than the others or more enjoyable than the others. In addition, individual faculty members may be better at one part than at the others. But legal academia does not offer the luxury of choosing which core requirement or requirements to fulfill. Likewise, triathletes deal with the fundamental challenge of balancing three complementary but different core tasks. Swimming, cycling, and running each require different skills – yet the real difference between a successful and unsuccessful triathlete is how well one accomplishes all three components.
The obvious analogy between the legal academy’s teaching, scholarship, and service requirements and triathlons suggests some of the advice offered by successful triathlon coaches might be helpful to faculty teaching in law schools. This advice is especially true for those in the field of legal writing, where all three requirements have not been traditionally imposed and the learning curve for some may still be steep. Seven key points emerge from the advice provided to triathletes: 1) plan; 2) focus on the weak sports; 3) stay close to home; 4) go short before going long; 5) smooth the transitions; 6) rely on support; and 7) rest. And, by following some of the advice that helps triathletes be more successful, legal writing faculty can be more successful.