Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Despite all my best intentions, I was not able to post weekly or on any other regular basis about what is still one of my favorite aspects of this job--teaching contracts. My hat is off to colleague Jeremy Telman, who manages to teach, write and blog with one hand while writing limericks and even real poetry with the other. Thanks to Jeremy and the other blogmeisters for inviting me, and I promise to do better next year!
Likewise, although I had grandiose plans for teaching skills, and teaching across the curriculum, my collaboration with our legal writing faculty trailed off as the semester progressed. I did manage to assign two drafting (and one redrafting) exercises and to conduct a class session on the basic components of a written contract, which was perhaps of more value than three or four sessions on nineteenth century consideration cases. The exercises that seem to work best are drafting problems suggested by cases the students have read. In order to incorporate contract drafting into the class on a more regular basis, I am thinking that it will be essential to spend some time prior to the semester preparing the assignments and thinking carefully about how I will provide feedback. One colleague suggested using a research/teaching assistant for this purpose.
I also want to thank the community of contracts teachers, and particularly friends in the bankruptcy and financial services corners of the field, who have been so forthcoming with their own class exercises and problems, lecture notes, and other vital teaching resources. Curiously, our teaching profession, unlike the profession and practice of law, does not come with continuing professional education requirements, or even much infrastructure for the purpose, apart from the excellent AALS workshops for new law teachers (http://www.aals.org/events_nlt.php. ). It has been a pleasant surprise to find that senior scholars, and even casebook authors, will almost invariably help out a new teacher and take the improvement of our teaching quite seriously. To new and aspiring contracts profs out there, my advice is: don’t be shy, just ask, even if he or she is famous.
Finally, I want to mention that my legal research and writing colleagues have been among my most valuable consultants on questions of pedagogy, and I thank them as well for the excellent and sometimes unrecognized work that they do in what is, or ought to be, our central mission, training lawyers. Happy New Year! and now back to those exams…
[Posted, on Alan's behalf, by Jeremy Telman]