Friday, March 14, 2008

Teaching Legal Research and Writing with Actual Legal Work


Should legal research and writing teachers always invent their own writing problems, or should they sometimes use actual legal work to generate writing assignments?  Two authors contend that working on actual problems can better motivate students to learn the basic skills of research, analysis, and writing.  They also recommend that LRW teachers work more closely with clinical faculty to design, co-teach, and evaluate courses where writing problems are based on actual pendinMmillemanng cases.

Steven D. Schwinn (pictured here on the left), now a professor at The John Marshall Law School, and Steven D. and Michael A. Millemann, the Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law at the Univeristy of Maryland School of Law, write about two experimental courses they developed and co-taught where students worked on actual cases.  Their article is Teaching Legal Research and Writing with Actual Legal Work: Extending Clinical Education into the First Year, which appeared in volume 12 of the Clinical Law Review.  The article is also available at

Are there any other benefits to this idea?  Professors Schwinn and Millemann believe that in the longer term, engaging law students in work on behalf of poor and underrepresented persons will encourage students to provide legal services to similar clients later when they are lawyers.

Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago

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