Tag Archives: #lawschool

The Age of Corona Virus –One Week In and the World has Gone Online

Blog post is my own and does not represent any institution.

I began blogging a decade ago when I was a senior faculty member and assistant dean at the nation’s first fully online law school, founded with legal education pioneers just before the turn of the 21st century. I taught law school online and online bar review for two decades before migrating to more traditional law schools and to the nonprofit world.

My early blog posts centered around helping law students to form and maintain positive growth mindsets, preparing for and achieving success during law school and while studying for and passing the bar exam.  Eventually, they became the foundation for what is now Bar Exam Success: A Comprehensive Guide, (Bar Exam Success: A Comprehensive Guide (for law students with audio book) –a book I hope will continue to infuse optimism and a host of practical tools to help students succeed in the face of the today’s many great and unforeseen challenges.

This past week, thousands of law professors began a crash course in online teaching.  I have never been more proud of legal education –and I have been an unapologetic advocate for legal education my entire career.

Law faculty nationwide have joined teachers the world over, adapting overnight, bringing content, energy, wisdom, and collaborative spirit to shaken students. In many instances, faculty are teaching much more about survival, connectedness, and how to stick together during times of crisis than they are even about their individual subjects.  Learning is hampered (understatement) when students are consumed by fear; thus, professors stepping up to provide reassurance will continue to be an essential part of teaching in our new world.

And, how law faculty have united in supporting one another!  Last week, law faculty were posting detailed instructions on Zoom, voice-over power points, and even how to conduct moot court and oral arguments online.  They answered each other’s questions at all hours of the day and night, freely sharing tips and strategics for success. They were each other’s moral support and tech support –on top of the extraordinary work being done by actual law school and university IT departments and law librarians (often tech experts in their own right).  Everyone pitched in.

The word “heartwarming” doesn’t begin to express the depths of my admiration and appreciation.  Law schools are essential to a nation governed by the rule of law.  We will need new lawyers more than even in the months and years to come. Lawyers will need to step in to help individuals, small and large businesses, and government agencies to rebuild.

As we move through this crisis, into entirely uncharted waters, let us strive to continue full support for one another, and pledge an unwavering commitment to education and the arts (more on that in future posts), which have persisted even in the most heavily war-torn societies.

We need education more than ever in our time of crisis.  Let us do whatever is necessary to continue supporting those who are teaching our future workforce.  We will need today’s students (tomorrow’s leaders) to be as informed as possible –and we will need them to be nimble and ethical critical thinkers.

All posts on this blog are my own; they do not represent any institution.

Five Powerful Ways to Engage with Law School Learning without losing yourself

New law students often raise their hands in class to share their personal opinions about cases.   I’ve heard professors respond ruthlessly, “I don’t care what you think.”  I will sometimes explain,  “What matters, for class discussion and exams, is what the court decided and why, and not what your personal views are.”  (I frequently tell my law students that I don’t want see anything written in the first person –not on law school exams and not on bar exams.)

So how to stay engaged when your opinion doesn’t matter?

  1. Your opinion does matter, just not for class or exams.  My classmates and I argued outside of class for hours every day, about what we thought about cases, about how we might have decided them if we’d been the judges –you name it.  So, talk with classmates –before and/or after class!
  2. Go to office hours.  Ask your professor his or her opinion of the court’s decision in a particular case, and discuss yours.
  3. Teach what you are learning to a friend or family member who is not in law school and share your feelings about what you are learning.
  4. Write in the margins of your casebook what you think of a case.  Don’t just “book brief” in the margins.  Add your reactions, in your own words.  (Read a fabulous case tonight with students about the foreseeability of a particular injury. One of the court’s splendid lines reasoned that simply because an injury had not previously resulted from the particular action in question did not mean the injury was not foreseeable.  I told the students that I wrote in my margins something like, “Yup.  Makes sense to me.  Just like when we tell kids not to play with matches.  They may not have gotten hurt before, but it’s totally foreseeable that they’ll get burned one of these days.”  My students who were parents especially appreciated the editorial.
  5. Read newspaper and law review articles that critique the area you are studying.  You will find this stretches your brain and helps you see even beyond the thoughts or reactions you had.  You may find support for your own views.  You may find arguments that oppose your opinions. You may find you see things in an entirely new light altogether.  Whatever you discover content-wise, the process itself will help train your critical reading and analysis skills.

Bottom line, your opinions and your feelings may have no place on law exams, but they are vital to your humanity. Keep them alive.  Just keep them in context!