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July 15, 2010

How could (and should) field trips become a regular part of law school experiences?

Over at The Faculty Lounge, Matt Lister has a great post titled "Field Trips for Law School Classes." In addition to discussing his field trip plans to take his students to the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Matt touched off a great comment dialogue by asking to "hear what people think of the idea, and if anyone else has incorporated field-trips into their teaching, and if so, how well they worked."

I have long thought that law school instruction could benefit from more field-trips, and I am often disappointed that my own inertia combines with structural/logistical challenges to prevent me from taking many of my classes on multiple trips. Especially for my bigger classes, I worry (perhaps too much) that many students will not be able to fit a multi-hour trip into their schedules and/or that those who cannot attend will feel unfairly disadvantaged by missing the trip. In addition, trips are rarely cost- or complication-free even if planned locally and only for a small group.

With these realities in mind, Matt's post got me to wondering if law students and/or faculty would possibly get behind the idea of working the field-trip concept into law school norms -- e.g., by having a few days each semesters specially "reserved" for trips and the allocation of some special funds to support the trips. Alternatively (or perhaps in addition), law schools might try to schedule mega-trips for the whole student-body, such as a local courthouse trip during orientation week for 1Ls or a law firm trip before on-campus interviews during 2L week.

Do readers think this is crazy talk, or might there be an innovative idea worth developing here?

Posted by DAB

July 15, 2010 in Serving students, Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack