Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Designing a better legal research course

UNH's Franklin Pierce's School of Law Library Director and Professor Susan Zago has a new article in the Legal Reference Services Quarterly that addresses just that - leveraging student passion for several legal practice areas to design a better legal research course for 1Ls. Her article, Playing to Their Passion: A Legal Research Course That Resonates With Law Students, can be found at 37 Legal Ref. Serv. Q. 75 (2018) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:

The first year of law school is often chocked full of new experiences. Students can become overwhelmed in the face of so much change that they forget why they chose law school as a career path. They often lose sight of their end goal and need a touchstone to ground them back to their initial interests. Legal Research is the ideal first year class to connect needed legal skills with interesting topics to encourage students’ engagement in their present and future learning. Legal Research naturally utilizes the “learning by doing” mentality but I suggest expanding this approach by providing a subject context to the class and incorporating contextualized learning and active learning techniques to improve student engagement and student learning. This article discusses the transformation of a generic, required, first year legal research course to one that divides into four small (18-20 student) classes, each with one of four topics; patent, trademark and copyright, traditional practice and social justice. In addition, it envisions future innovations to improve student engagement and student learning.


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