Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Pace of Law School Classes

There's a nice post from the weekend over at Yayarolly Goes to Law School regarding the pacing of law school classes. You know what I am talking about--the professor who spends a lot of time on stuff early in the semester, and then in a panic covers skads of material in the last few weeks. Bad.

One of the easiest mistakes to make in teaching a law school class is to try and cover too much material. It is far better to try and cover fewer things well than to cover many things in cursory fashion. It goes back to the cliched (but true) statement about learning to "think like a lawyer." Surprisingly, however, sometimes students don't understand this, and feel cheated when you don't cover the whole book. (Kudos to Yayarolly for getting it.)

So here, in no particular order, are some of my thoughts on the matter:
  • I never liked it when a prof could not pace a class well. Fortunately, that rarely happened to me in law school.
  • Pacing a class well does not always = keeping a consistent pace. I typically move more slowly early in a course, and then speed up once we have first principles under our belts. In 1L classes this tendency is more pronounced.
  • All classes are different, and teaching is not a rote activity. So this also affects the pace in a semester.


Anonymous said...

You speak the truth. Recently, our contracts professor instituted extended classtime on a class that was already an hour and 20 mins. long - with no provision for a break to answer nature's call!! Good thing he's a riveting professor - 2 hours of contracts I will put just about anyone to sleep. Maybe that's why he didn't allow for the b-room breaks - keeps everyone awake.

Anonymous said...

This comment is not on point but I thought I'd make it anyway...there's a great discussion about first semester grades at this link:


And, no, I don't know this person who writes this blog, and actually, it's really not reassuring at all to read comments from a bunch of people who flunked out of law school. It has, however, put my expectations of first semester grades in perspective...and as exams are creeping up on us, I think that's a good thing. If I expect C's, perhaps I won't be tempted to throw myself off a nearby tower if I make them.

Sorry to be off-topic, but I remember that you've posted before lamenting the lack of quality law student blogs...this discussion, at least, is about as quality as it gets. Of course, that depends on your subjective determination of value...

Gregory W. Bowman said...

Anonymous #2--

That's a good point about grades and expectations. Most people who come to law school have been at or near the top of their class before, be it in high school and/or college, but in law school there is a new shaking out. Somebody has to be at the bottom of the class. So perspective is really important. Try for good grades, but maintain some perspective about their ultimate importance and what they DO NOT mean. I'll try to post more on this soon.

As for student blogs, I have found a few good ones lately, and have added one I particularly enjoy to my blogroll. I'm hopeful I can add a few more soon.