Monday, September 4, 2017
The best way to teach law students is to incorporate skills into doctrinal classes. Not only will this help give students the basic skills they will need as lawyers, it reinforces doctrinal knowledge. Numerous studies have shown that students remember doctrine much better when they apply it.
West Academic has an excellent series that allows professors to incorporate skills in doctrinal classes: Developing Professional Skills. They have issued several volumes in the series on bankruptcy, business associations, civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, criminal procedure, environmental law, property, and workplace law. Other volumes will appear in the near future, including one on secured transactions.
A lot of my practice was in bankruptcy, and it would have helped me considerably if I my classes on bankruptcy and secured transactions had included exercises as contained in these books. If a class doesn't include practical exercises, it can seem very abstract to the students, and the students will have problems transferring their bankruptcy knowledge to practice.
Here is a description of the bankruptcy volume:
"Developing Professional Skills books are designed as supplemental texts that can be used to incorporate skills training in legal drafting, client interviewing and counseling, negotiation, advocacy and policy-making into traditional doctrinal courses. The skills exercises in each book are based on fundamental rules and doctrines learned by reading the professor's primary textbook, which makes it possible to incorporate the skills exercises without sacrificing the scope of coverage or assigning additional reading. The exercises may be completed either inside or outside of class in one hour or less. Each exercise requires the student to complete a work product template that may be used for assessment purposes.
The Teacher's Manual for each book contains a key to major casebooks, a summary review of the rules and doctrines that underlie each exercise, and suggestions for conducting the exercise and assessing student performance. The Teacher's Manual also provides suggestions for expanding classroom discussion to include ethical issues, professional responsibility concepts and the norms of modern legal practice."
You can find out more information on this series here, including the tables of contents for most volumes.
P.S. Since these books are soft bound, the prices are low, generally $25. Available even cheaper as an ebook.