A fun aspect of getting a few gray hairs: we might be 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).
In 2007 my law school initiated an academic orientation program for 1Ls, Foundations for Legal Study (FLS) that traces a real case from initial interview to judgment. Context rules!
- demonstrations of a client interview and a state supreme court argument
- active learning exercises
— a “Match Game” for facts and elements
- experiential exercises — roleplay on choosing the right dispute resolution mechanism
— summary judgment
I can’t take the credit for initiating this effort (I was on sabbatical) 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 overall results. Students begin class with some sense of the big picture and of what lawyers do.