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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sponsored Post: Learning Criminal Procedure

The following post is by Ric Simmons (The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law) and Renee M. Hutchins (University of Maryland Carey School of Law) and is sponsored by West Academic.

The ABA, employers, and students themselves tell us that law schools must do more to produce students who are better equipped to enter the practice of law.  The goal of complete practice-readiness might be something of a tall order.  True competence in even one area of the law may take five or even ten years to develop.  We have our students for just three.  But, there is certainly much more we can be doing to make our students what we will call “practice-primed.”  There are steps we can take during those three years to ensure that the students have the basic knowledge they will need as young lawyers.  There are things we can do to ensure students are exposed to a fuller array of the skills they will need in practice, not just the narrow range that has been the focus of more traditional approaches to the curriculum.  This is a large part of the reason we came together to write the Learning Criminal Procedure.

And, so many former students report back that they are using the book precisely as we intended:  First, as a learning tool to expose them to criminal procedure doctrine.  And, then as a desk reference to help them navigate the early years of practice as defense attorneys or prosecutors.

As a learning tool, Learning Criminal Procedure eschews the traditional method of law school teaching, which asks students to read cases and then derive the law by parsing through the court’s decisions.  Instead, the book presents the applicable legal rule to the students in the very first section of each chapter. The next section uses case summaries to explore the scope and policy behind the rule. The book takes this approach because it frees up class time for you and your students—instead of guiding them through the cases to eventually arrive at the rule, you can start with the rule and then use the text in class to engage students with the doctrine in the many ways students will see the doctrine deployed in practice.  For example, when teaching students about Terry’s stop-and-frisk doctrine, you might first work through each of the review problems that we present at the end of each chapter, allowing students to immediately apply the knowledge they have learned and use the law as a practitioner would.  After you have a sense that students have a preliminary grasp on the material, you can then do a deeper dive.  For example, you might explore one of the simulations mapped out in the Teacher’s Manual and require your students to use their newly acquired knowledge in the dynamic environment of role play.

As a desk reference, your students can use the book to refresh their knowledge and inform their thinking after they have moved out into practice.  The book’s clear organization and direct approach to presenting the law make it easy for new lawyers to refer back to the book when they have a specific legal question.  Indeed, former students routinely report back that the book has been essential to them as they bridge the gap between law school and the early years of practice.  Just the other day, a former student reported that his first draft of a response to a suppression motion had been adopted with few changes by the supervising attorney at the state prosecutor’s office.  “Your book was essential to that draft,” the student said.  Mission accomplished.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 30, 2016 at 09:31 AM in Article Spotlight, Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Sponsored Announcements | Permalink

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