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December 21, 2006

Platoon teaching

The first casualty of law school teaching is cooperation.

Well, it only seems that way, and perhaps only on aggressively uncollegial law faculties.  At MoneyLaw, I've posted an item on the willingness of senior professors to share plum teaching assignments with their junior colleagues within a platoon system.  I believe that platooning affects law school innovation in two ways:

First, platooning rotates different faculty members into high-visibility portions of the law school curriculum.  Fresh blood, one would hope, means fresh ideas.  At a minimum, platooning defeats the ability of an entrenched veteran to rely on the same class notes year in and year out, without even the pretense of updating.

Second, the willingness of a senior faculty member to yield a teaching assignment in favor of a junior colleague who needs to develop her or his research agenda and teaching repertoire speaks volumes of the senior faculty member's collegial propensities.   If uncollegial behavior becomes ossified as the faculty norm, the law school in question is highly unlikely to innovate.

Let me make this point explicitly: Entry-level and untenured lateral faculty candidates, you are hereby put on notice.  In assessing whether to accept a tenure-track offer, ask the other untenured faculty members whether they've encountered difficulty in getting access to certain subjects.

Platooning is a very real indicator of collegiality.  It has the additional virtue of being virtually impossible to fake.  It's one thing to represent how collegial your law school is.  Actually being collegial, especially if collegiality demands yielding preferred teaching assignments, takes much more work.  As I said in my original <em>MoneyLaw</em> post: "If you want to create a culture of collegiality, start by hiring -- and being -- a faculty of platoon players."

-- Jim Chen

December 21, 2006 in Teaching -- pedagogy, The tenure process | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What a truly innovative 1L year would look like

Thanks to this post at PrawfsBlawg, I checked out Thomas Morgan's forthcoming article on "Educating Lawyers for the Future of the Legal Profession."  The piece can be accessed at this SSRN link, and it includes lots and lots of thought-provoking insights.  Since I have long been suspect of all law schools' seemingly uniform commitment to a seemingly antiquated 1L course package, I was especially drawn to Morgan's vision of what a truly modern 1L curriculum might look like.  Here's his proposed 1L courses to replace the classics of Contracts, Torts, Civ Pro, Crim Law and Property:

  1. The Power to Make Law
  2. Sources of Legal Rights
  3. Enforcement of Agreements
  4. Redress of Wrongs
  5. Resolution of Disputes
  6. Internationalization of Practice
  7. Legal Analysis & Expression
  8. Professional Roles & Values

You will have to go check out the article for descriptions of what each of these courses would cover.

Some related posts:

Posted by DAB

December 21, 2006 in Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Rise of International Law in the First-Year Curriculum

In some of the revamped plans for the first-year program, I have noticed that an international law class has snuck into the mix.  Probably, "snuck" isn't the right word, since there has been a lot of discussion about the role of international law among academics, and increasing interest from students.  I read a lot of law school applications, and I would estimate that one-quarter to one-third of the applicants express some form of interest in international law.

Notably, the first-year elective in international law at American (described in the post below) is focused on trying cases domestically under international law.   This is very different approach than some other schools, which are moving towards a more traditional, mandatory class on international law which is presented as a survey of the field.  It would seem that international law, more than other areas of legal study, is going to be a case study in law school innovation, as this new subject elbows its way into the first-year curriculum.   I look forward to seeing how things sort out.

-- Mark Osler

December 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 20, 2006

American University Washington College of Law Introduces Electives for First-Year Law Students

American University Washington College of Law will implement a plan to offer 1Ls electives for the Spring 2007 semester. According to the College's press release "in order to make room for an elective, WCL’s faculty transformed the Civil Procedure and Property courses from two-semester, five-credit courses into one-semester, four-credit courses. This frees up space for students to take an elective in the spring semester of their first year. The new electives have been developed specifically for first-year students, and will include, among others, a survey of International Law; a course on the regulatory state; an introduction to Intellectual Property Law; a course in litigating International Law cases in the United States; and a course in Trial Advocacy principles and techniques."  -- Joe Hodnicki

December 20, 2006 in Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 19, 2006

The synergies between blogs and law journals

At First Movers here, Anthony Ciolli provides this link to his Yale Law Journal Pocket Part essay entitled, "Much Ado About Nothing: Why Student Scholarship Has Nothing to Fear from Blogs." The piece is a response to Professor Steve Vladeck's earlier Pocket Part essay on student scholarship.  Here is its engaging start:

Shortly after the popularization of the World Wide Web in 1996, Professor Bernard Hibbitts proclaimed that "[t]he next decade could witness the end of the law review as we know it," for cyberspace would allow law professors to "finally escape the straitjacket of the law reviews by publishing their own scholarship directly on the World Wide Web." Earlier this fall, Professor Stephen Vladeck made an equally bold — and equally erroneous — prediction in stating that "[t]he days of the case note . . . may well be numbered."  Ten years later, we now know that Professor Hibbitts's prediction did not come true.  In this Response, I will explain why Professor Vladeck's prediction will also not come to pass.

December 19, 2006 in Technology -- for advancing scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack