Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Law School "Family Day"

Last Friday, Mississippi College School of Law (MCSOL) held its first "Family Day." Law students could invite family members to attend a luncheon and a "mock class"--actually two mock classes of one half hour each. The idea, of course, was to give family members a flavor of what law school is like, and also show them what some of the law profs at MCSOL are like. I taught a mock Contracts class on specific performance, and my colleague Debbie Challener taught a Civ Pro class on federal question jurisdiction. It was a fun event, and a good number of the students' parents and kids attended. I hope the family members had half as much fun as I did.

What struck about the mock class was that it truly had the vibe and energy of a 1L class on the first day of school. It's now late February, and student burnout is setting in hard. My Contracts class meets in a windowless auditorium, and I wonder whether the lack of natural light subdues things--class participation is tapering off fast. On the other hand, my International Law class meets in a classroom with long banks of windows, and the students in that class all seem to be mentally gazing out the window, if not physically doing so. Can't win for losing.

I remember this period of time vividly from my own 1L year. Burnout in the 1L year is a nearly universal experience. I really, really started disliking nearly all of my classmates in February or March: despite the fact that they were nice people, I resented being cooped up in a classroom with them 15 hours a week.

So back to the Family Day mock class: there was a positive charge in the air. There's little in law school teaching that beats a classroom filled with eager, excited people who are ready to learn. And there it was. On top of the benefit for the families and the school, I found it recharged my teaching batteries. That was an unexpected and wonderful gift.

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