Passion, Context, Redux (Part 1)

A fun aspect of getting a few gray hairs: we’re around long enough to see our ideas come to fruition.   Some years ago I wrote about the important role of experiential learning in providing context for law students.  Passion, Context, and Lawyering Skills: Choosing Among Simulated and Real Clinical Experiences, 7 Clin. L. Rev. 123 (2000) and Infusing Passion and Context into the Traditional Curriculum Through Experiential Learning, 51 J. Legal Educ 51 (2001).

Last year my law school initiated an academic orientation program for 1Ls.  Foundations for Legal Study (FLS)  traces a real case from initial interview to judgment.  Context rules!

My colleague Tom Andrews “showcased” FLS at the Crossroads Conference:  Page 17 in  print materials; additional supplemental materials. In addition to lectures on such topics as federalism, legal research, and the corporation, this year’s orientation included:

  • demonstrations of a client interview and a state supreme court argument
  • active learning exercises, such as a “Match Game” for facts and element and drawing or writing song lyrics to explain the concept “summary judgment
  • experiential exercises, including a roleplay on choosing the right dispute resolution mechanism, and arguing a summary judgment motion

I can’t take the credit for initiating this effort, as I was on sabatical.  But, along with several others, I pushed to include more experiential learning.  And, though I worry about whether we’re trying to do too much —  is it more than the students can absorb? — I love the concept and the initial results.  Students begin class with some sense of the big picture and of what lawyers do.

 

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