From Professor Griggs: A thank you and a request to bar examiners

Professor Marsha Griggs wrote an eloquent blog on the ASP blog site.  She both thanks bar examiners for their hard [and often under-appreciated] work and she urges them to listen to ideas from students, deans, and the legal community when it comes to thinking outside the box  during this pandemic.  The blog is worth a read.  

Top 5 Tips for Synchronous Learning for Law Students

Top 5 Tips for students participating in online synchronous law courses

By Michele Pistone, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

  1. Comfort: Select a comfortable place to engage in the class – a quiet location is ideal, otherwise use headphones.
  2. Video: Turn on your video so that your professor and class colleagues can see you
  3. Sound: Moot the sound on your computer when not speaking
  4. Chat: Chat is a great way to connect with your professor and fellow students, ask questions, respond to questions, and stay active during the class session. You can chat publicly, your professor or to anyone in the class.
  5. View: You can change the screen to see only the speaker or all the participants. The function is in the top right corner of your screen


Resources About Transitioned Classes and Online Simulations

Noam Ebner (Creighton) has been doing online teaching for a long time and he provided the following information for faculty teaching dispute resolution, but it is generally applicable to all law faculty:


The video of the webinar that Sharon Press and I gave last week on conducting simulations in courses transitioning to Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms is now available here.  The question about setting up breakup rooms in zoom in advance, asked at about minute 29:00 in the webinar, is answered here.

Once again, our thanks to the ABA’s Section on Dispute Resolution for hosting the webinar!

A few further resources:

Here’s the essay we mentioned in our talk.  It discussed the issues covered in this webinar and includes links and resources to material you can use in your course:

Pandemic Pedagogy II: Conducting Simulations & Role Plays in Online, Video-Based, Synchronous Courses.

For a basic intro to teaching online with Zoom, here is the Mitchell Hamline Best Practices for Online Teaching program mentioned in the webinar.

For a basic intro to “What do I need to consider while transitioning courses online?” read ‘Next Week, You Will Teach Your Courses Online’: A Reassuring Introduction to Pandemic Pedagogy.

In general, you can find material on negotiating and mediation online, essays on negotiation and mediation pedagogy, and simulations to use for teaching online negotiation and mediation, on my SSRN page.

It was such a thrill to see so many of you online! I hope the webinar, live or recorded, and this further material helps you to weather the transition and the semester.

Best of luck to all, and stay well.


Noam Ebner
Professor of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NCR) Program
Creighton University, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

In addition to the materials in Noam’s post, you might check out the materials that Touro’s Legal Writing Institute posted, as shared by the AALS Section on Teaching Methods.

Online Learning

I write to share some resources about online learning.  First, here is a link to a webinar on Making Educational Videos:

Here is a link to the powerpoint I prepared for the webinar,

Finally, one of the webinar participants asked for a list of tips for students during online synchronous classes.  I will add another post on that.

And here is a link to LegalEDweb’s You Tube channel, If you make educational videos, please consider sharing them with the community.  We can post them on the channel.

I hope this material is helpful.  Please let us know if there are other topics you would like to learn about from the Technology Committee.


Covid 19 and the 2020 Bar Exam

See this link for a short policy paper on alternatives to licensing this year’s law graduates and why state supreme courts should consider extraordinary measures in extraordinary times. If you know a state bar examiner, state bar leader, or state supreme court justice, please consider sharing this with them. 

Thinking outside the box for this year makes sense on many levels. As the paper notes, legal needs will increase as result of this crisis. Today’s graduates have a technological savvy that makes them  particularly well equipped to handle moving to online delivery of legal services. Additionally, delaying their entry into the profession will cause them to  suffer serious financial and emotional issues beyond those they already confront because of this virus.  And, any changes to state licensing requirements is a relatively low risk proposition given that the change would be a one-time emergency action.  

The paper hopefully lays the groundwork for  discussions on the state level about options beyond postponing this year’s bar exam [an option that, as the paper explains, carries its own risks and uncertainties].  Again, if you think that at least discussing options has merit, please share widely.




I plan to write and post more and much, but for now, Enjoy! by Michael Bruening, an associate professor of history and political science at Missouri University of Science and Technology  


as a Mitchell-Hamline Professor Brad Colbert  currently signs off – stay sane and sanitized!

Be well,




Preparing 1Ls for Persuasive Communication by Integrating Procedural Rules and Substantive Law

By Louis Jim, Assistant Professor of Law, Albany Law School

My last post discussed my experience of using “classroom clickers” in the first week of law school to build a foundation to understand the hierarchy of authority, a foundation that is critical to success in all classes. In this follow-up, I discuss my experience with using “classroom clickers” to improve student understanding of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure before students write their motion and appellate briefs.

Many law schools require 1Ls to complete a legal analysis, communication, and research course. Although models may vary, those courses typically span two semesters: the first semester focuses on “objective/predictive writing” and the second semester focuses on “persuasive writing.” At Albany Law School, the course is called “Introduction to Lawyering,” which is a six-credit, two semester course (“Lawyering I” in the fall, “Lawyering II” in the spring). I started teaching the course in August 2018.

In Lawyering II, I require the class to write a summary judgment motion and an appellate brief; the students then complete an appellate oral argument. For the summary judgment, every student represents defendants who move (and are inevitably granted) summary judgment. Every student then represents the plaintiffs-appellants for the appellate brief. Students choose their side for the appellate oral argument.[1] By forcing students to switch sides, students must first write their statement of facts and argument from the perspective of the defendant, and then re-write their statement of facts and argument from the perspective of the plaintiff. This model fosters a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both parties. But more importantly, because students must write from diametric perspectives, this model forces students to think about how organization and word choice affect the persuasiveness of their motion and brief.

The semester-long hypothetical is set in fictional State of New Scotland, and the venue of the civil action is the fictional U.S. District Court for the District of New Scotland,[2] which is in the fictional U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court hears appeals from the Fourteenth Circuit. The hypothetical involves a real circuit split on a constitutional or statutory issue and asks students to persuade the fictional district court and fictional circuit to take a position. As an “open universe” problem, students perform independent research, though I assign short research assignments to get them started. Students must recall their knowledge of “binding” and “persuasive” authority and analogize or distinguish the hypothetical problem’s facts to the facts of real cases on either side of the split.

When I first taught “Lawyering II” in Spring 2019, I presumed that every student fully understood how summary judgment actually worked because they took “Federal Civil Procedure” in the fall. But after reading the motions, I realized that I had failed to ensure that each student had a solid foundation to understand how summary judgment actually worked in practice.

Not wanting to repeat my mistake this spring, I created an in-class exercise to assess the class’s understanding of motions, appeals, and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 and 56. A copy of the exercise that includes my comments on the objective of each question is available here:

The exercise involves two separate federal housing discrimination claims against “YBR Apartments, Inc.” The plaintiff in the first claim is “Oscar Zoroaster,” and the plaintiff in the second claim is “Dorothy Gale.” Both plaintiffs claim that they have the fictional “Ruby Slippers Syndrome.” Each question in the exercise builds the prior question, and each question assesses a different aspect of Rule 12 or Rule 56. By using a “classroom clicker,” each student participates without fear of being singled out for being incorrect.

I start with Rule 12 because it serves as a good opportunity to focus the students’ attention to the elements of the claim (i.e. “Can plaintiff state a prima facie case for federal housing discrimination?”). The discussion on the questions about Rule 12 also gave me an opportunity to stress that plaintiff’s counsel should draft complaints precisely and accurately as possible in light of the information available to counsel at that time.

The exercise transitions then to assessing the students’ understanding of Rule 56. For the Rule 56 portion, I wrote hypotheticals that would assess their understanding of (1) what it means for a fact to be “material,” (2) what a “dispute as to [a] material fact” and “judgment as a matter of law” actually mean, and (3) how a district court uses persuasive authority when there is no binding authority. The posture of the last two questions in the exercise are designed to mirror the posture of summary judgment motion and appellate brief for the semester-long hypothetical, i.e. convince a district court and a circuit court to adopt the position of another circuit absent any binding authority.

Not only was the exercise useful in assessing (or reviewing) their understanding of Rules 12 and 56, but the exercise also challenged students to begin forming and making persuasive arguments to support their responses. By practicing how to develop their persuasive communication skills early in the semester, students engaged with the primary learning outcome for Lawyering II—persuasive communication. Students could then apply the exercise’s lessons to the semester-long hypothetical. Finally, students saw how substantive and procedural law is actually integrated and used in practice, an opportunity that may not always arise in other courses.[3]

[1] Students sign up on a first-come, first-serve basis.

[2] Albany Law School is located at 80 New Scotland Avenue in Albany, New York.

[3] My students complete a biweekly reflection in which they must tell me two things they learned in Lawyering that week and two things they want to learn in Lawyering. The students then have the option of writing any comments or asking any questions even if the questions and comments are unrelated to Lawyering. One student commented that she wished she saw more of how doctrinal law is actually used in practice.

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