Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Ok, Zoomer: Teaching Legal Research To Gen Z

Olivia Schlinck (Cardozo; Google Scholar), Ok, Zoomer: Teaching Legal Research to Gen Z, 115 Law Libr. J. 269 (2023):

Law Library Journal (2023)Generation Z has entered law school. With each new generation comes new education preferences. While research on Gen Z in the legal academy has grown over the past few years, to date none deal explicitly with teaching legal research to Gen Z. This article connects Gen Z’s childhood and resulting peer personality to 10 tangible pedagogical changes for teaching legal research to Gen Z.

When Millennials matriculated, legal educators jumped through hoops to make law school more appealing to the digitally connected, collaboration-obsessed generation. After six years of Gen Z law students roaming the halls, it is past time we do the same to better educate the new generation of future attorneys. The 10 suggestions above are intended as starting points for engaging Gen Z in the legal research classroom as well as in law school instruction more broadly

Zoomers are complex. They prefer to learn alone but enjoy collaborating on creative projects with their peers. They feel lost without their cell phones but prefer face-to-face communication. They are confident technology users but struggle with legal and academic research. They are deeply pessimistic about the America they have inherited but dedicated to fixing the nation’s problems.

With every new generation comes new opportunity to adjust how we teach. And with each new generation comes an opportunity to see our students through a positive and open minded lens rather than a belittling and critical one. We have the choice: treat Zoomers as we did Millennials by disparaging their skills, calling them lazy and entitled, and blaming them for educational missteps made when they were literal children, or learn about their peer personality to adjust our view and treat them with respect. We can play to their strengths instead of bemoaning their weaknesses. 

Gen Z believe they will change the world. They are resilient and “channeling their energies into holding themselves and others accountable.” They will come to law school looking to learn the skills needed to do just that. If we “evolve our pedagogy” to their preferences, we can help them learn how to change the world and perhaps even learn something from them in the process.

Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink