Monday, January 10, 2011
AALS Poster Project: Nicole Chong's How the 1L Legal Analysis and Writing Course Can Bring the "Real World" of Law Practice to the Classroom
Professor Chong is a Professor and the Director of the legal writing program at the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, where she teaches Legal Analysis, Research & Writing I & II. She is also an active member of the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors. Previously, she was an associate with Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling in Philadelphia, where she practiced in the area of commercial litigation and was involved in a variety of matters, including representing a major international telecommunications carrier in collection matters, a local manufacturer and retailer of fashion accessories in patent infringement litigation, as well as local and national companies in contract and tort litigation.
Professor Chong's publications include "'Trade Dress' Protection: The Standard After Two Pesos," co-authored with James L. Griffith, Esquire, and "The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 - Is the Federal Government's Involvement in the Criminal Enforcement of Child Support at an End After United States v. Lopez?" 101 DICK. L. REV. 417 (1997).
Here is the abstract of her poster:
AALS January 2011 Poster Presentation Abstract
How the 1L Legal Analysis & Writing Course Can Bring the “Real-World” of Law Practice to the Classroom
Nicole Raymond Chong
Director, Legal Writing
Penn State's Dickinson School of Law
Why do students come to law school? Well, the simple answer is that students typically come to law school with the primary goal of learning to be a lawyer. But, what more specific expectations do students have? Students want to be introduced to the skills that they will need to have to be a lawyer. Further, learning what it means to be a “professional” and discovering the “real-world” of law practice is implicit in students’ expectations as they enter law school. This implicit expectation is one of the things that energizes me in teaching the 1L legal analysis and writing course because the course provides students with their first experience with what lawyers really do. Therefore, this course provides professors with the opportunity not only to teach legal skills, but also to introduce the professional field of law practice to students.
Over the past few years of teaching, after being amazed at students’ lack of understanding the law as a professional career path, I decided to take steps to address this need for introducing the professionalism aspects of law practice. Therefore, while teaching students critical skills such as legal analysis, legal research, objective writing, and persuasive writing, I also began to address students’ lack of context of why they are learning these skills and their lack of perspective of what it is like to work in a professional setting. For instance, how can students fail to recognize the importance of showing up on time for a meeting with a professor, submitting a paper by the deadline, or being prepared for conferences? To help students to recognize these important issues, I have been instituting a “real-world” approach to teaching legal analysis and writing. In my class, students are not only students, but also associates in a law firm. I am not only the professor, but also the managing partner of their firm. From the start of the semester, the relationship with my students is a supervisor/junior attorney relationship.
This poster presentation will share the specifics of how this “real-world” approach works and some perceived benefits of utilizing this format. For example, I will explain how assignments are presented and formatted for students, how class discussion puts assignments into a “real-world” context, and how professionalism is promoted and encouraged through the law firm format.