Law schools are rethinking the traditional Langdellian classroom as they construct the law classroom of the future. Although the reform of legal education has long been heralded, law schools are now on the cusp of actual change. Carnegie’s Educating Lawyers and the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Best Practices for Legal Education are promoting a rethinking of the law classroom. Also encouraging the examination of legal education are changes in the incoming student population, such as the influx of students from the Millennial Generation; technological innovations; and shifting realities and economics of law practice, such as the increased focus on efficiency and collaboration. These changes are informed by recent developments in adult learning theory, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology. All of these sources lead to the conclusion that learning is best when students are self-regulating, engaged, and motivated learners, and when the learning process is active, experiential, collaborative, and reflective. One of the best ways to cultivate and develop this learning environment is to have students write a variety of assignments and receive content-specific feedback in a variety of courses.
To that end, this article serves as both inspiration and a resource for the law classroom of the future. The critical component is the inclusion of writing exercises that engage the students and enhance student learning to better prepare students for the practice of law. The featured exercises are drawn primarily from the authors’ experiences teaching civil procedure, professional responsibility, and trusts and estates. The exercises range from in-class exercises that take as little as five minutes of class time to extended projects to be completed outside of the classroom. We will highlight the theoretical underpinnings, transferability of these exercises to other courses, and manner of assessment. Each exercise is designed to be academically rigorous, foster the development of self-regulated learners, and reflect the realities of current law practice.
Timothy W. Floyd, Oren R. Griffin, Karen J. Sneddon, Beyond Chalk and Talk: The Law Classroom of the Future, 38 Ohio N.U.L. Rev. 257 (2012).