Beyond Best Practices previewed at LegalED’s ILT2015

Several of the authors of chapters in the soon-to-be-released book, Beyond Best Practices in Legal Education, are speaking today at LegalED’s Igniting Law Teaching conference at American University Washington College of Law.

I am now hearing from Kristen Tiscione from Georgetown Law and then Ruth Anne Robbins will be up.  Earlier today we learned from Warren Binford, Susan Brooks and Paula Schaefer who are all also collaborators in the book.

The editors of BBP have assembled an amazingly talented group of law professors to guide us as we move into the next era of legal education. The more I hear from them, learn from them, the more excited I am for the book to come out later this year.

Live from LegalED’s Igniting Law Teaching Conference — Assessment

I am at LegalED’s Igniting Law Teaching conference at American University Washington College of Law hearing from Prof Syd Beckman about Tips for Using Interactive Technology for Assessment.

Here are his 5 Tips for Assessment:

1. Plan and tie learning outcomes to assessment

2. Execute it — use interactive technology that can help with assessment; clickers, smart devices, online quizzes — these devices can

3. Evaluate the results of your assessments — final exam comes too late (no way of fixing it) but by providing formative assessment over semester the students and the professor can both make course corrections.  Profs can go back and reteach things that students are not understanding.  Everybody learns through formative assessment and let’s you provide meaningful feedback to students.

4. Document — important for everything, including compliance and tie courses to outcomes

5.  Revise — use what we learn to make improvements, iterate, alter lesson plans, add some assignments, compensate for excellent performance, change benchmarks.

This is the circle of assessment.  Because as you revise you can use that to plan and around you go in a circle.

Live from LegalED’s Igniting Law Teaching — Michael Colatrella

Today, I am at the Igniting Law Teaching conference at American University Washington College of Law.  We are now hearing from Professor Michael Colatrella from McGeorge Pacific School of Law.  He is telling us what he learned about law teaching from being an art student.

Great ideas about how learning takes place over months and even years.  He wanted to become an artist — had given it up as a child. His grandmother had set him up to paint as a kid, but he gave it up.  Then he found an art studio in San Francisco with an atelier system for training people how to paint and draw.  The first class, 8 weeks for 4 hours/day, all you do is make sphere.  Then they given you one color.  Then black and white.

These are his take aways for law professors —

1.  it is great to put yourself back in a position of being a novice, a position of vulnerability and having lots of new information.  You get good dose of empathy from making yourself a student.

2. teach foundational skills before moving on.  Master one skill before moving on to the next.  Even if seems like you’re covering less, because doing it slowly, really doing it better and covering more.

3.  by having foundational skills, your students will go forth and be able to use them for advanced projects.

So the big secret — set clear learning objectives and provide frequent assessment and individualized feedback.  But we know that!  Research finds that there is a 400% increase in learning achievement when giving assessments and feedback throughout.  There are tools for assessment out there — use them!

You can watch the #ILT2015 conference live today,

Four Tips for How to Flip a Classroom, Prof Emmy Reeves

Live from LegalED’s Igniting Law Teaching Conference, sponsored by CALI, and hosted by American University Washington College of Law.

Now up is Professor Emmy Reeves from University of Richmond Law School

Here are tips on how to flip a law school classroom:

1.  Start small — flip a narrow discrete part, parts that don’t lend themselves to high level socratic dialogue

2.  Low tech beats no tech — don’t need to be tech guru, start will narrated powerpoint slides, crete podcasts, record yourself on your computer

3.  keep it short and engaging — 10 minutes is outside limit, try to be as engaging as possible, use inflection in voice

4.  accountability — if use LMS, or even better, use quizzes at beginning of class to ensure watched and internalized material.

You can watch it live today at

LegalED’s Igniting Law Teaching — WATCH LIVE TODAY

LegalED’s Igniting Law Teaching 2015 is taking place now at American University Washington College of Law. Watch it live today.

The conference features talks by 30 law school academics and practitioners from the US, Canada and England in a TEDx-styled conference to share ideas on teaching methodologies. LegalED’s Teaching Pedagogy video collection includes many of the talks from last year’s conference, which have been viewed collectively more than 5000 times.

The panels for this year include: Law Teaching for the 21st Century, Applying Learning Theory to Legal Education, The Art and Craft of Law Teaching, Using Technological Tools for Legal Education, and Pathways to Practice. Here is a link to the topics, speakers and schedule.

Good News for Law Students: a Law Degree is Advantageous in the Long Run!

Researchers conclude that having a law degree over a bachelors degree alone is advantageous in the end.  The salary differential between a graduate with a law degree and one without, is favorable to the former, even in a bad economy.  The research also tells us not to worry about “timing” when going to law school.  Even during hard economic times, the value of a degree only decreases by $30,000 while the overall worth in the long run is $1 million.


Reminder: Proposals for Video Series on Teaching Methodologies

38th Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education:

Leading the New Normal: Clinical Education at the Forefront of Change

May 4-7, 2015

Rancho Mirage, CA


The Planning Committee for the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference issues this call for professors to participate in a video series designed to capture the creativity and innovation that is a hallmark of our community. The video collection will feature ideas about teaching methodology for an audience of law professors. Participants will work with the Committee to develop their topics and videotape their talk on Monday, May 4, the day before the Clinical Conference.[1] The AALS has expressed a strong interest in embedding these videos on its website as part of an effort to convey more effectively the value of a legal education.

The new normal in legal education asks law teachers of all kinds to integrate practical lawyering skills and professional values into their teaching. These are topics central to our clinical teaching, and our community has the knowledge and experience to address them in interesting ways. We seek teachers who have developed thoughtful ideas about law school teaching and who want to spread those ideas to the broader community. We envision this project as a way to showcase you and the clinical community as leaders in teaching innovation and to inspire innovation by others. Starting this year, we mean to create a collection of short videos on law school pedagogy that can continue to develop over time and to foster further integration of active learning and practical skills in the law school curriculum. Topics could include:

  • 5 things every law professor should know about learning theory
  • the value of reflection in learning
  • beyond finals: 5 formative assessment tools for legal education
  • faculty teaching rounds: how they work and why you should host them
  • teaching collaboration
  • how to add a negotiation/mediation/interviewing/oral advocacy/drafting exercise into a law school course
  • how to make a simulation/role play successful
  • how to bring cross-cultural lawyering into a doctrinal course
  • top 5 tips for training externship field supervisors
  • what I’ve learned from being a law professor for __ years
  • 5 things I’ve learned about advising students

These topics are just illustrative; the value of this format is we can be open to ideas brought forth by participants.

The Clinical Conference represents an ideal time for taping. Each year, it draws us together for focused discussion of our roles and approaches as teachers and as lawyers. Taping at one time and in one location allows us to hire a professional videographer to assure a consistent look and solid production values. This year in particular, we are located in shouting distance of Hollywood, so our options are good.

Video format: We plan to produce up to 8 videos at the conference. We will consider proposals that address all kinds of teaching methods, including both clinic-specific methods and methods that integrate skills, values and professional development into other kinds of law school teaching.

The videos will each be between 5-10 minutes long, with a preference for shorter videos; studies show that shorter videos are more appropriate for an online format. The videos will be in the style of an interview, with a single person talking to the camera. You can view examples of this style, applied to substantive topics in immigration law, here.

Criteria for Selection: If you would like to take part in this project, please send a one-page summary of your video proposal to no later than March 16, 2015. In your proposal, please include the following information:

— your name and school affiliation.

— a working title for your video.

— a short description of the content you propose to cover.

— a short description of your goal for the video, including the impact you would like it to have and the takeaways that you will deliver to the viewer.

— a short statement of your relevant experience, including past experience with your particular topic, experience with videotaped talks and scholarship or presentations that relate to your proposal.

The Committee will review the proposals on a rolling basis with the goal of notifying the selected presenters by March 16, 2015. Participation as a presenter at the main conference does NOT disqualify you from participation in this project.

Commitment: We ask all people who we accept to make the following commitments:

— to participate in or review webinars that we will schedule before the conference on how to make an educational video.

— to develop an outline of your talk before the conference, in collaboration with members of the Planning Committee.

— to practice delivering your talk to others at your location before you attend the conference. We do not encourage speaking from a text, but instead encourage well-prepared spontaneity in your delivery. Practice can help you feel comfortable in this format.

— to be prepared to videotape your session on Monday, May 4. For many, this will require arrival at the conference location on Sunday, May 3. Please hold yourself available for that entire Monday. We will develop a schedule before the conference that gives each presenter a reserved time slot.

Taping: The talks will be videotaped at the conference hotel in 45 minute intervals from 9am-5pm on Monday, May 4, 2015. While the end-product will be roughly 10 minutes, you should expect to engage in multiple takes during your taping session.

This is a great opportunity to showcase your innovations to the legal academy. We hope you will consider putting in a proposal for the video project at the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Michele Pistone,, or Alex Scherr,[1] The talks in this series will be videotaped during the first day of the Clinical Conference. They complement a growing collection of material about teaching methodology, including webinars organized by the Teaching Methodologies Committee of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education.


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