Teaching the Skill of Listening in Law Schools

The wonderful research by Marj Shultz and Shelton Zedeck tells is that listening is one of the fundamental lawyering skills that all lawyers, especially recent graduates, need to have in their toolkit upon graduation.  So for the last few years, I have been trying to find ways to incorporate lessons on the skill of listening into my teaching.  I just saw a TED talk on listening. http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better.html  In it, Julian Treasure recognizes the role of listening in stemming injustice and also gives some ideas that could inspire innovation in how we can teach the skill of listening.  What do you think?  Any ideas on how the exercises can be adapted for legal education?

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for this post, Michele. It is an interesting TED talk, and thanks for the reminder about the Shultz/Zedeck work. The Shultz/Zedeck “26 Factors” are especially interesting. At UDC-DACSL, we use an elaborate, competency-based system developed years ago by a task force convened by Antioch Law School. (The Russell Cort/Jack Sammons law review article describing the system is cited in Best Practices.) Like the Shultz/Zedeck paper, the Antioch task force identified lawyering competencies deemed to be at the core of good lawyering. Shultz/Zedeck list eight broad categories, whereas our system includes six (Oral Communication, Written Communication, Legal Analysis, Problem-Solving, Professional Responsibility, and Practice Management). These “Major” competencies are given greater specificity in increasingly-detailed “Specific” competencies and “Criteria.” It is essentially a list of teaching goals, and therefore a great framework for course design, assessment, and grading.

    • Thanks Matt. You may be aware that I am working with a group of law professors on an ambitious project to collect teaching materials in a central online repository. I would LOVE to add the assessment materials you mentioned above to the site. Take a look, let me know if you’d be willing to share them with the community.

      legaledweb.com — the link to the website

      Here is the link to the assessment tools page. http://legaledweb.com/assessment-tools/

  2. Listening is also an essential skills for leaders according to the new book, The Athena Doctrine. Marjorie Corman’s new book, Client Science, which I reviewed for the upcoming issue of the ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine, also covers the importance of listening — words, body language, deeper meaning, etc.

  3. Great, Paula, thanks for the referrals. Will take a look. Also, consider whether you’d want to make a short video (10 min or less) on the topic of listening and lawyering for our new website, legaledweb.com.

  4. Hello, thanks for this! It is inspiring. I recently completed a three year project on the role of listening as part of human rights truth and reconciliation initiatives. I was a visiting scholar at NYU, Columbia and Cardozo law school. I am also an artist, so I set up a performance art laboratory which I used for my research as well as a creative platform for research and teaching. Check out: http://lostforwordsblog.com/. I have also published in academic journals about this. This message is NOT self-promotion but an invitation to discuss and exchange on this issue as I think that it is fundamental as part of legal education, research and practice.
    best wishes,

    Dr Miriam Aziz

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