Every summer since 1993, law teachers from around the nation have gathered together to talk about what works and what doesn’t during the Institute for Law Teaching conference. This June, the annual ILTL conference will be the culmination of years of work for Gonzaga Professor Gerry Hess, along with his co-authors of “What The Best Law Teachers Do,” Mike Schwartz and Sophie Sparrow. Featuring 12 of the 26 teachers highlighted in the book, the conference will also be the first major conference for Gonzaga Associate Dean Sandra Simpson in her new position as Institute co-director.
Highlighting the Best
Published in August of 2013, “What the Best Law Teachers Do” has since earned best-selling honors from Harvard University Press. The fourth book authored by ILTL colleagues Gerry Hess, Michael Hunter Schwartz, and Sophie Sparrow, this book took into account the methods, ideologies, and outcomes of 26 of the best law teachers around the country, all nominated by colleagues and students.
This June’s conference will be a two-day discussion of what works in legal classrooms, from the basic Socratic Method and course design to the challenges of experimental methods of teaching.
“I contacted all of the 26 teachers featured in the book, asking whether they wanted to present a session at the conference. More than 12 volunteered, so I literally pulled their names out of a hat!” explained Hess. “I most look forward to seeing these presenters in action. I have tremendous confidence in their ability to deliver engaging, thoughtful workshops.”
Providing Leadership in Learning
The ILTL, which was founded by Hess and hosted at Gonzaga Law since 1991, hosts two major conferences each year. The summer conference launched in 1993, and the spring conference that started in 2009. With goals including supporting student-centered curriculum reform and innovation in law teaching, the Institute has become a central clearinghouse for the leading ideas and methods to improve law teaching. The Institute works to provide national leadership on effective teaching and learning in law schools, and this conference will highlight both successes in legal instruction and areas for further development through the lens of professors that are in the classroom every day.
Introducing New Co-Directors
This January marked another big milestone for the ILTL. After 23 years, Hess has joined Schwartz and Sparrow as consultants to the Institute, with Institute contributor and Gonzaga Associate Dean Sandra Simpson named new co-director along with Emily Grant of Washburn University and Kelly Terry of William H. Bowen School of Law.
“One of the reasons I was attracted to Gonzaga was because of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and for its commitment to excellence in teaching,” explained Simpson. “I presented my first workshop for the Institute in June of 2008, after my first year of teaching here. After that experience, I was immediately interested in playing a bigger role in the Institute.”
“Sandra is committed to improving the quality of teaching and learning in legal education,” said Hess. “Her passion and expertise have prepared her for her role as ILTL Co-Director.”
For more information about the ILTL Summer Conference, visit the ILTL website at www.lawteaching.org.