Thursday, October 15, 2009
This year, for the first time since I have been teaching at the VU School of Law, my colleague JoEllen Lind gave her students a contracts-based hypothetical in the pleading exercise she does with them every year for Civil Procedure. The result has been a steady stream of sheepish 1Ls apologetically trying to "confirm" that they are headed in the right directions with their projects. It is a great educational experience -- especially for me. I have learned which doctrines they have firmly in their grasp -- they really seem to understand the concept of promissory estoppel, and some of them know the statute of frauds so well, they think that all contracts must be in writing -- and which doctrines still elude them.
The exercise has provided me with a great opportunity to review the materials for my course with my students. There is nothing like an assignment -- I don't even know if it is graded -- to focus the mind. It helps that JoEllen describes her teaching persona as "Cruella de Vil." Students flee from her smoke-filled cabinet of horrors into the cozy book-lined study of the avuncular contracts prof.