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Legal Education Digest

Legal Education Digest
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Nelson, J --- "In This Issue" [2006] LegEdDig 1; (2006) 14(3) Legal Education Digest 2

In This Issue

Dr John Nelson

[2006] LegEdDig 1; (2006) 14(3) Legal Education Digest 2

As no book or other monograph recently published on legal education worthy of review has been sourced for this issue, there are an unusually large number of digested articles. A couple of these articles appeared in journals several years back and were previously overlooked but, because they are judged to have something significant to say, have been included in this issue of the Digest.

Skills is the most heavily populated category. Tracy provides a thoughtful article on teaching fundamental structure in legal writing courses through the use of examples drawn from practice. Koller suggests ways in which legal writing courses can be used to bolster a law school’s academic support mission. Davies & Jackson describe how, through a collaboration between law tutors, librarians and IT staff, information literacy can offer a model through which essential skills training can be embedded into law teaching. Highlighting the impact of the poor language skills of many South African law students on their capacity to complete their degrees, Kok & Nienaber trace the development of a literacy and study and research skills course for first-year students. Finally, under this Skills heading, we have an article by Korn outlining the elements of a course designed to assist students to develop oral communication skills.

Under Teaching Methods & Media, after pointing out that rape law is an area of the criminal law curriculum in which student anxiety and emotional responses are at their most intense, Heath discusses how these reactions can be harnessed to improve student learning. Brennan reflects upon how cultural differences impact upon the way in which Confucian heritage law students relate to courses of study in an Anglo-Western cultural context and identifies the common law method as a possible source of inter-cultural misunderstanding in legal education. Finally, recognising talking confidently about law as an important skill in legal practice, Ricks sets forth a number of techniques which teachers should use in order to develop oral communication skills in first-year students.

Two articles have been assigned to Individual Subjects/Areas of Law, both of which offer suggestions about additions to the first-year law curriculum. Kwall argues that Intellectual Property should be taught in first-year Property courses and Wriggins makes out a case for teaching domestic violence as part of the first-year Torts curriculum.

The remaining articles are a miscellaneous lot. Under Assessment, while acknowledging the obvious pitfalls, Haddock nonetheless maintains that collaborative exams have significant potential as a means of helping students learn. Joy and Kuehn under Clinical Legal Education provide an insightful essay on how conflict-of-interest and competency issues can be identified and dealt with in law clinics. In the category Context, Criticism & Theory there is an account of a reflective article by Feldman probing the profound identity crisis confronting law professors and tracing the widening gulf between legal scholarship and the practices of lawyers and judges.

Under Institutions & Organisations, Matasar takes a broad historical sweep on the rise and fall of American legal education, concluding that in a declining market for law school graduates expensive schools with modest reputations will be in jeopardy and that, if they are to avoid a decline, they must stand for something worthwhile as well as create a better product. In an article under Teachers, Anzalone contends that law teachers should employ professional self-awareness and critical reflection to identify their own learning styles and preferences as the first step to improving law school teaching. In the concluding article found under Technology, Garon & Gely, while acknowledging a backlash against the use of technology by some law teachers, suggest that handheld wireless transmitters can infuse classrooms with active learning vigour and address the charges levelled by critics against the in-class use of PowerPoint slides and laptops.

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