See above for illustration accompanying an issued patent for A Method of Tilting A Head to Indicate Confusion.
This method is routinely employed and likely infringed by most law students when first confronted with Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a) and 19(b) regarding Joinder of Required Parties, as amply illustrated by the appropriately numbered illustrations above.
Note for example the bugged-out eyes and pupil dilation occurring upon exposure to Rule 19(a) governing necessary and feasible persons to be joined, which leads to an almost canine-like confused tilt of the head upon turning to Rule 19(b), which determines whether the court should dismiss the civil action for non-joinder.
Be warned: it should be noted that the patent’s claims are not limited to law students, or for that matter, humans. It is unlikely, of course, that family members or house pets would be willing to endure explanations of Rule 19; nonetheless, the patent’s claims are sufficiently broad to include grandparents and German Shepherds.
Um, just kidding. Nobody would ever file such an absurdpatent.
Last month I participated in a great conference on legal education by the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, “Engaging and Assessing Our Students” (link here). There were numerous workshops, and my only regret is that I couldn’t attend all of them. My topic was on teaching with online simulations:
Live websites provide a dynamic “sandbox” for role-playing simulations that cast students as lawyers acting for fictional clients. Such simulations, initially crafted for a Cyberlaw class, can also be used in a wide variety of other courses. This provides a highly configurable platform for the immersive and holistic learning of knowledge, skills, and professional identity, including realistic fact-finding, advocacy, negotiation, ethical traps, and much more. The workshop will first provide background on relevant technology and methodology. We will then move to a mini role-playing exercise using the live Internet, followed by a discussion of the benefits and challenges of online simulations.
Interested readers can find my presentation materials, including a sample scoresheet incorporating all MacCrate skills factors, here.
This weekend the NY Times is running an online debate entitled “The Debate over Law School.” The main focus is whether law school should be reduced from three years to two. Geoffrey R. Stone says “The critical question is what law schools can do to educate future lawyers that legal practice cannot do.” In addition:
Does the three-year program of legal education work well? This depends entirely on what legal educators do with the three years. If legal educators are lazy, uninspired or indifferent to their responsibility to educate, three years is certainly too long. But if they are thoughtful, focused and creative, three years may not be long enough.
Ultimately, the question about reducing the cost of legal education should be less about its length but rather its quality. Law schools must put greater emphasis in developing and strengthening programs that would help law students become engaged and ethical lawyers. These include increasing the availability of skills-based courses, clinical and internship programs, enhanced academic support and mentoring services, providing more mentoring and offering more interdisciplinary courses. By enhancing the traditional model instead of radically changing it, many law students might just view their legal education as an important investment in time and money.
One common mistake of new law students is conclusory argumentation, as discussed in this post on avoiding “Monty Python” argumentation. Another common mistake is incomplete analysis. An essay answer might include analysis that scratches the surface but doesn’t explore deeper. But it’s crucial to consider the strengths and weaknesses of any argument, and to explore valid counter-arguments.
Failure to consider and address valid counter-arguments may leave an essay answer on thin ice, as illustrated by Bruce Wayne in the movie Batman Begins. Below is a video showing Wayne (pre-Batman) being trained in combat by Henri Ducard, who later turns out to be the villain Ra’s al Ghul. Ducard/Ghul reminds Wayne to “always mind your surroundings.” But Wayne, hoping for a quick and easy win, ignores the fragile ice below his feet, leading to an equally quick and humbling defeat. At about 1:00 into the video the battle reaches its climax:
Wayne: Yield! Ducard/Ghul: You haven’t beaten me. You’ve sacrificed sure footing for a killing stroke.