Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Mary Bowman (Seattle) & Lisa Ellen Brodoff (Seattle), Cracking Student Silos: Linking Legal Writing and Clinical Learning Through Transference:
Why do highly competent and hard-working law students struggle to apply what they learn in legal writing to later clinical courses and law practice? The authors of this article are uniquely qualified to answer this question and to provide strategies for helping students overcome these common struggles. The authors direct the nationally renowned legal writing and clinical programs at Seattle University School of Law, where they have engaged in cutting-edge collaborative teaching projects for nearly a decade. Even so, they found that their students, when faced with the messiness of real client representation, struggled with typical research and writing problems even as the legal writing faculty exclaimed "We know we taught them that!" So the program directors extensively studied the educational literature on transference, then spent nearly two years taking each other's courses to understand more deeply how we could help our students apply what is taught in each program to future client work. This article describes what we learned from these endeavors.
It details the typical barriers to transference, most significantly the effects of course-dependent siloing of student learning. The article is the first to explore the ways in which faculty siloing of clinics and legal writing can exacerbate underlying transference issues. Finally, and most importantly, this article offers specific, extensive, and attainable strategies for both legal writing and clinical faculty to implement that can overcome these challenges, crack their students' siloed learning, and help them become reflective practitioners engaged in the life-long learning necessary for excellent legal practice.