By now, most law professors know the phrase “experiential learning.” But the responses to integrating experiential learning in a given course still run the gamut. In this post, I want to share with you a few examples of how you can invite experiential learning partners into the classroom to both help the professor create an engaging experience and simultaneously expand the impact of experiential learning beyond that professor’s course.
One method is to invite upper-level students to participate in the simulation. This can be either via students the professor knows (a research assistant, someone the professor coached for moot court or trial team, etc.) or it could be a partnership with a full upper-level class. For example, the professor doing a simulated mediation exercise in a 1L course could invite students from an upper-level Mediation course to offer feedback. Or invite members of the moot court team to serve as judges in a simulated appellate oral argument in Torts or Legal Research and Writing.
Potential partners are not limited to upper-level students—some professors use multiple sections of the same course. Professor Jones might have her Civil Procedure students collectively draft and serve a discovery request (or a motion, or a complaint, etc.) on Professor Anderson’s Civil Procedure course, which could then collectively craft a response. Students in separate Contracts courses could do the same thing with drafts of a contract. The idea is easily adaptable to a variety of course topics beyond the 1L year.
Some professors take it a step further and draw alumni or community volunteers into the classroom to serve as potential jurors in a voir dire that Criminal Law students select from, or partner with local drama schools to recruit fictional plaintiffs for simulated attorney-client meetings. If the mock trial or other event is detailed and engaging enough, you could even invite local K-12 students to come observe the simulated proceeding as a safe introduction to the justice system (and a nice way to offer something to the community at minimal cost to the school).
Experiential learning has value to students and professors, as many now have shown, but through these and other methods, it also has value to other individuals that partner with the performance. So try it out if you haven’t already! Your students will thank you.
You can read more about ways to add experiential learning to your course in this list of ideas and resources: goo.gl/59KlUP
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