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Archive for the ‘Legal Education’ Columns

On Time in Teaching

Timing is one of the hardest parts of teaching. At the very beginning of lesson planning, I sometimes have the fear that I cannot fill the time, but my more common problem is having too much content and too little time. I’ve learned to plan my timing down to five-minute increments, to hold a pause for questions far longer than I would like, and to set expectations and then set a visible timer.

When I write or revise my class plans, I mark the parts of the plan with time limits, rounded to the nearest five minutes. Normally, I think . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Commemorate the Joy of a New Semester

In the genre of self-help books which I readily consume and then promptly fail to follow, sometimes one or two pearls of wisdom enter my consciousness and reemerge in this column. One of these is Gretchen Rubin’s suggestion in her book The Happiness Project that we ought to cultivate the activities which brought us joy when we were children. When I was younger I loved getting ready for the first day of school. I loved the freedom of the summer, but as the end of August approached I liked getting my pencils in order and my binders and notebooks packed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

An Open-Access Teaching Q&A With UBC Law Professor Samuel Beswick, Editor of Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries

Samuel Beswick is an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law. His primary scholarly interests are in the areas of torts, unjust enrichment, limitations, and remedies. Last year, Professor Beswick reached out to CanLII to discuss a new casebook and syllabus he was designing for his 1L Torts class. He wanted to create a teaching resource that would utilize CanLII’s online functionality and be freely accessible to students and professors. Last August, CanLII published the First Edition of his casebook. Now, we are thrilled to be able to share the Second Edition of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Publishing

Legal Education in Times of Emergency – Some Reflections

It seems almost trite to say that we are living in strange times. One ‘emergency’ seems to follow another. Indeed, as normalcy recedes in our memories we now seem to have trouble determining if the strange events we confront really are ‘emergencies’ or just some kind new normal.

In Ontario, special measures made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9, to address the worldwide pandemic have been in place for almost two years. Under the British Columbia Emergency Program Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 111, not only have similar COVID measures been introduced, but . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Students Face Acute Mental Health Needs During Pandemic Learning

A SLAW Commentary by: Richard Jochelson, David Ireland, Melanie Murchison, Tan Ciyilepe, and Silas Koulak

The Pandemic has posed a number of new challenges for law schools in Canada and we are faced with new questions which will need to be settled in the near future. Immediate issues include: what will the acceptable quantum of online course delivery be after the Pandemic according to the National Requirement set by the Canadian Federation of Law Societies; will student and administrative meetings continue to be held via videoconference; should support staff, students or Faculty commit to some form of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Being on-Time for a Student-Teacher Meeting Is an Important Skill

Each semester my students must meet with me to discuss their research, and each semester I put a great deal of thought into how to arrange these meetings. I love the individual attention I can give each student in these meetings, and yet, scheduling these meetings always feels like a nightmare. Sometimes I think I have not properly explained the parameters of our scheduling system, but more often it is their lack of attention to detail that leads to my students showing up late, scheduling meetings when they are already scheduled to be in other classes, or otherwise failing to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

What Should Post-Pandemic Legal Education Look Like?

Surfing through the blog entries from my Decanal colleagues over the last number of months, it is clear that coping with the pandemic and adapting legal education to remote delivery has loomed large for all of us. We know it has affected our students, our colleagues and our staff and it is tempting to wish for a return to “normal” as we understood it pre-pandemic. On the other hand, there is emerging a debate about what the post-pandemic university should look like, with early commentators suggesting that there is now ‘a unique opportunity to reimagine our universities as more inclusive, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Critical Race Theory in Legal Education

Canada has a long history of (mostly) productive tension between the profession and law schools about the preferred content and mode of legal education, but occasionally, this productive tension deteriorates into stereotyping. In those low moments, the practicing bar is accused of narrow-mindedly favouring black-letter law and practical skills training, while the legal academy is off on some buzzword-heavy frolic of its own. In this parallel and distinctly two-dimensional universe, lawyers in the process of hiring articling students or associates are readily able to spot problems with legal education from student transcripts without any detour through actual law classes or . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Wanted: A Law School Vade Mecum

One of the earliest nautical handbooks published in the English language and intended for a mass market was called The Seaman’s Vade Mecum. Published in 1744 by William Mountaine (who, despite publishing a series of books on seafaring, was not himself a sailor, but a mathematician), the book remained the go-to book for seafarers until the end of the age of sail. The name itself translates from the Latin as “go with me”, and it was used to denote a pocket handbook that a prudent sailor always kept close to hand. And that’s exactly what we in the Canadian . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Civility in Legal Education

Practical skills training is currently a popular topic in legal education discourse. Beyond whether and how to increase “practice-ready” skills training in Canadian law schools, much of the discussion is focused on what practical skills should be included as part of a law student’s education–advocacy, legal drafting, legal writing, negotiation and practice management being some of the most frequent candidates. An essential lawyerly skill which is seldom explicitly mentioned in this conversation and which is in dire need of more attention in any discussion of legal education is that of civility.

Typical dictionary definitions of civility reference polite or courteous . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

eLitigation – Training Future Litigators for the Profession They Will Join

In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic changed our legal world the way no one could have imagined. Our courthouse went from a beehive of litigation activities to a silent graveyard. Practice directives containing emergency measures were issued and activated to deal with the change. Our civil litigation system that historically relied on an in-person process to undertake almost every task – from the filling and service of litigation documents to routine chambers applications and trials – suddenly moved to the online world built on technologies.

The legal profession was forced to adopt technologies to address administration and litigation needs at . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Technology

Back to (Law) School, COVID-Style

The Labour Day weekend typically finds professors feeling melancholy: the four months of our summer term, which we use primarily for research and writing, attending conferences, and graduate supervision, are again drawing to a close. We know that the next eight months will be focused on the equally important work of teaching, academic planning and governance, so our next opportunity to think deeply about our scholarship is a long way away.

Yet, since many of us are unabashed nerds, we are perpetually excited about the beginning of a new school year, replete with ambitious plans for our courses and keen . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education