Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Some (or perhaps, most) law students get tired of reading judicial opinions every single day. I have found that giving students the option to listen to audio files or watch movies in lieu of reading a case helps to create some variety and spices up the learning process. For example, last week my Criminal Procedure students had the option to watch the 1980 movie “Gideon’s Trumpet” or read Gideon v. Wainwright and the corresponding notes in the textbook. I included both the audio and textbook options expressly on the syllabus. About half the class opted to watch the movie while the other half read the case; importantly, the whole class was able to engage in the discussion. Similarly, next week students will have the option to read the portion of the textbook discussing jury selection or to listen to More Perfect’s “Object Anyway” podcast.
Even if you don’t teach a substantive law course, the audio files can be helpful to aid any student who is struggling to connect with the written material. Earlier this semester a high-performing first-year student stopped by my office concerned that she had lost her fall semester spark. In the fall semester, she was excited about law school and thus enthused to work hard. Her hard work paid off, earning her very high grades in December. But, when she returned in January, she just couldn’t connect with the cases and material like she had done before. The spring semester courses of Constitutional Law and Property weren’t peaking her curiosity the way the fall semester courses of Criminal Law and Torts had. After chatting with her for a few minutes, I could tell that she needed a new way to engage with the material. I suggested some legal podcasts, especially ones that would give her the story behind the litigation. She needed to be able to relate to the parties on a more personal level, and I thought a well told story about the litigants could help. After just a few podcasts, she has already reported that Con Law has become more interesting to her now that she’s “getting to know” the justices’ personalities and she enjoys learning what happened to the litigants before and after the lawsuit.
If you’re interested in introducing an audio option to one of your courses or academic support arsenal, consider:
Oyez “is a multimedia archive devoted to making the Supreme Court of the United States accessible to everyone. It is a complete and authoritative source for all of the Court’s audio since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. Oyez offers transcript-synchronized and searchable audio, plain-English case summaries, illustrated decision information, and full text Supreme Court opinions. Oyez also provides detailed information on every justice throughout the Court’s history and offers a panoramic tour of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of several justices.”
According to More Perfect’s creators “Supreme Court decisions shape everything from marriage and money to public safety and sex. We know these are very important decisions we should all pay attention to – but they often feel untouchable and even unknowable. Radiolab's first ever spin-off series, More Perfect, connects you to the decisions made inside the court's hallowed halls, and explains what those rulings mean for "we the people" who exist far from the bench. More Perfect bypasses the wonkiness and tells stories behind some of the court’s biggest rulings.”
Legal Talk Network is a podcast network for legal professionals with hosts from well-known organizations and brands in the legal community. Over 20 different active podcasts cover important legal news and developments, including access to justice, law school, industry events, legal technology, and the future of law. The most relevant podcast within the network is the ABA Law Student Podcast, which covers issues that affect law students and recent grads.
In addition, Learn Out Loud offers numerous legal podcasts and audio files for free download. (Kirsha Trychta)
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Grit: a noun, meaning courage and resolve; strength of character.
Numerous law review articles and research studies have discussed the importance of "grit" in law school success. But grit isn't unique to academia; rather grit is essential for success in virtually any intense, high-stakes environment, including the Master Sommelier's exam and the Olympics. Don't believe me? Watch SOMM and WINNING to see just what I mean. These two documentary movies (both currently available on Netflix) highlight the importance of grit, and help remind law students that:
1. You typically learn more from your failures than you do from your successes.
2. Getting back up and trying again, especially when you're exhausted, is essential.
3. You should strive for perfection, so that if you fall a bit short, you'll still be successful.
4. You should want to succeed for yourself, not to please someone else; internal motivation is key.
SOMM "takes the viewer on a humorous, emotional and illuminating look into a mysterious world—the Court of Master Sommeliers and the massively intimidating Master Sommelier Exam. The Court of Master Sommeliers is one of the world's most prestigious, secretive, and exclusive organizations. Since its inception almost 40 years ago, less than 200 candidates have reached the exalted Master level. The exam covers literally every nuance of the world of wine, spirits and cigars. Those who have passed have put at risk their personal lives, their well-being, and often their sanity to pull it off. Shrouded in secrecy, access to the Court Of Master Sommeliers has always been strictly regulated, and cameras have never been allowed anywhere near the exam, until now."
SOMM puts the effort needed to pass the bar exam into crisp perspective. Law students will undoubtedly identify with one, or several, of the study strategies employed by the sommelier hopefuls. Students may also appreciate the various outsiders' viewpoints offered by each test-taker's significant other.
WINNING is one film about "five legendary athletes. The compelling and inspiring story of the journeys of tennis champion Martina Navratilova, golf great Jack Nicklaus, Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, track and field star Edwin Moses, and Dutch Paralympian Esther Vergeer. Through candid interviews and footage of their most exciting championship moments, WINNING reveals their dreams, challenges and triumphs and explores why some athletes achieve greatness."
WINNING highlights how impactful external pressures to succeed can be on one's psyche. Those who succeeded in the athletic arena did so because they personally wanted to win. Viewers takeaway a real appreciation for the concept that a genuine desire to prove to yourself that you can achieve your own goals will motivate you to wake-up early and stay late each day. In addition, WINNING teaches the importance of striving for perfection while also maintaining realistic goals and expectations. Students of the law, just like Olympians, are benefitted when they remain vigilant about identifying their personal weaknesses and looking for ways to improve upon those skills. (Kirsha Trychta)
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Hat tip to Aslihan Bulut, a Librarian at Harvard Law School, for sharing this wonderful resource on movies related to law and the legal profession. I met Aslihan at the the Global Legal Skills XII Conference in Monterrey, Mexico last week. The link to Ted Tjaden's Legal Research and Writing page and movie list is here: Law-Related Movies. The movies are listed in multiple ways to make the resource more useful: A-Z, substantive law, documentary, court martial related, prison related, etc. Other movie-related resources are also given on the same page. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
If you have not discovered the series that is currently running on C-SPAN about historic U.S. Supreme Court decisions, you will want to check it out. The show is on Monday nights at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The series continues through December 21st. For programs that you have missed, you can go to Landmark Cases.
Each program combines background information on the case, the important points from the case, information on the attorneys and the justices, and video clips of interviews or location tours. Two experts (usually one law professor and one historian) join the moderator each week and a few questions from callers/social media are interspersed with the prepared portions of the program. There is a companion book for purchase.
If you have an ABA Journal for October or November lying around, it will have a full-page ad for the series near the front. Cases that have been discussed already are: Marbury v. Madison; Scott v. Sandford; the Slaughterhouse Cases; Lochner v. New York; Schenck v. United States; Korematsu v. United States. Upcoming cases are: Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; Mapp v. Ohio; Baker v. Carr; Miranda v. Arizona; Roe v. Wade.
Whether you are a law student or a lawyer interested in Constitutional Law, this series will increase your understanding of these important decisions. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, August 13, 2015
In case you missed it, the August 2015 issue of the ABA Journal takes a look at legal movies in its article, "100 Years of Law at the Movies." So dig out the buried copy from your inbox and grab the popcorn. The list reminded me of some classics I want to see again and a few that I never made it to the cinema to view. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, August 10, 2015
I recently attended the last of the summer films offered by our Teaching Learning and Professional Development Center here on campus. The film showing was an edited version (1 hour) of Waiting for Superman, a 2010 documentary by Davis Guggenheim which looked at the crisis in K-12 public education.
There has been much said and written about the film - both positive and negative. Some sample links are:
Whatever the position you take on the film's accuracy or finger-pointing or pro-charter-school stance, it still brings home the depressing state of American public education. The edited film clearly showed the sad reality of the students who are lost in the system and never finish high school. It also pointed to the number of college students who are under-prepared and have to be remediated. (Many of those in the room who had previously seen the full, unedited version of the film relayed that they were in tears by the end of that screening.)
What hit home for me once again was the impact that the public education crisis ultimately has on preparation for law school. And also once again the impact that the crisis has on the lack of diversity in the legal profession because of the many leaks in the K-12 pipeline, not even mentioning the leaks in the college pipeline. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I have watched this classic law school film multiple times over the years and vividly remember seeing it in the cinema when it first came out (long before I ever ventured across a law school threshold as a 1L student). Recently I decided to watch it once more because it had been several years since my last viewing.
The film has always seemed to me to be the perfect commentary on how not to have a study group. I was reminded of those points once again. Here are some of the things we learn from the movie:
- A study group needs to have members with the same goals and purposes to avoid logistical and group dynamic problems.
- A study group needs to have some ground rules so that each member knows the responsibilities and etiquette of the group.
- A study group will falter if each person is assigned one course to specialize in because only that one person learns the course well and the others suffer if the expert drops out of the group.
- A study group will have conflict if its members become overly competitive, are argumentative, refuse to negotiate on tasks, or hold others hostage by refusing to share information.
- A study group does not belong to the person who invites others to join; it belongs to everyone and should be cooperative.
- A study group will be disrupted by members who become overwhelmed and are unable to pull their weight in the group.
- If one does not study outlines all semester long and distribute learning the material, it may require holing up for days with no sleep at the end in order to cram.
- Learning styles within a group vary; one person will consider an 800-page outline a treasure while the others will view it as a curse.
- Always have a back up copy of your outline in case your computer crashes (or your outline is accidentally tossed out a window).
My wish for all law students would be to have supportive, cooperative, hard-working study groups without drama and negativity. (Amy Jarmon)