Friday, December 21, 2012

New legal "skills" scholarship: "Use of Role Play and Interview Modes in Law Clinic Case Rounds to Teach Essential Legal Skills and to Maximize Meaningful Participation"

This article is by Professor Helen Kang (Golden Gate) and available at 19 Clinical L. Rev. 207 (2012) and SSRN here. From the abstract:

Case rounds are a common feature of the seminar component of clinical programs. This article describes using in the case rounds setting multiple design elements, including role plays and formalized interviews, to enhance student learning and engagement. In the rounds described here, a student presenter is asked to adopt the role of her opponent in her clinic case and to explain succinctly the opponent’s case, followed by an informational session in which the student presenter is allowed only to give short answers in response to questions from her clinic peers; and after the question-and-answer session, students and their professors debrief the role play. The role play aspect – where the clinic student adopts the role of an opponent in her clinic case – compels clinic students to better anticipate the other side’s legal strategy and arguments and to delve into facts that they might overlook without having assumed the other side’s role. Adopting the other side’s position also allows students to explore legal and policy issues deeply. In addition to providing these benefits, the question-and-answer format of the rounds allows students to develop presentation and interrogatory fundamentals. Having the opportunity to practice questioning the “opponent” also provides students with the prospect of learning how best to obtain information through experimenting with different modes of inquiry. For example, students can learn that hyperbole common to stereotyped exchanges between opponents may not be appropriate for gathering facts and exploring nuances in facts and areas of uncertainty. At the same time that students are learning these skills, preserving the essential elements of rounds (involving real cases, with real practice issues, and exchanges between students) means that students have the opportunity to learn to think like lawyers as they do in traditional rounds that do not use role plays or formalized question-and-answer structures. Students, for example, gain insights about professional reasoning, judgment, and values and engage in self reflection in preparing for and participating in the role play. Combining the elements of traditional case rounds – that are so critical in teaching clinic students how to think like lawyers – with opportunities to practice the essential lawyering skills of storytelling, counter-analysis, and interrogatory basics has many benefits worth exploring.


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