Teaching Techniques

Below are descriptions of various teaching methodologies. On the right hand column, there are examples of course exercises, approaches to introducing PPS in doctrinal courses and other teaching materials. In addition, there is a document with sample teaching tips available on the left hand column.

Expanded Case Content. Expand the use of traditional cases (or other material) that are normally assigned to include discussion of such skills as interviewing or counseling clients or negotiating with other lawyers. This may stimulate students to conceive of lawyers’ roles more broadly than merely advocates in litigation. It may also lead students to take a prospective view of the facts in contemplating client decisions in addition to a retrospective perspective of the facts in appellate litigation, where the facts are essentially fixed by the factual findings at trial. For example, instructors could ask students to consider why the parties chose to litigate the case, what other procedures they might have used, and why they might prefer the various procedures. Instructors can also ask students how lawyers might have advised clients to avoid the problems that ended up being litigated in the cases in the casebook.

Business-School Case Method. Use a business-school case method (“problem-based learning”), where instructors give students hypothetical facts and ask them to apply the law to the facts in class discussion. This is similar to what instructors ask students to do on exams. Instructors could use prior exam questions or hypothetical facts in teaching manuals or “notes” following the principal cases in casebooks to teach particular areas of legal doctrine.

Simulations. Simulations based on fictional or real scenarios. These can range from short exercises to major simulations that comprise most or all of a course. Students (and possibly some faculty) might play lawyers, clients, mediators, judges, arbitrators, or other roles. Exercises may be done during or outside of class (or both).

Videos and Media. Videos, film excerpts, YouTube clips and other media.

Guest Speakers (which may be particularly useful for instructors with limited or no practice experience in the subject).

Interaction Between Students in Different Courses. For example, students in a Pretrial Litigation course could play lawyers in mediation where students in a Mediation course play the mediators.

Exercises where students create and use legal documents (such as briefs, discovery, office memos, letters to clients, internal preparation memos, contracts and settlements, proposals, case files, etc.).

Background stories or information on well-known cases from public records, books, or journalistic accounts (including information on the clients, settlement attempts between the parties before the final outcome, etc.).

Interactive student exercises (such as group projects, discussion pods, online student discussion groups or labs, etc.).