Introducing Students to Legislative Process and Statutory Analysis Through Experiential Learning in a Familiar Context

Charles E. Calleros, Introducing Students to Legislative Process and Statutory Analysis Through Experiential Learning in a Familiar Context, 38 Gonz. L. Rev. 33 (2003).

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Legal academics are fond of saying that they teach doctrinal courses only partly to introduce students to fundamental principles of law. Particularly in the first year curriculum, they purport to use the legal subject matter largely as a vehicle for teaching various skills of analysis, for helping students gain familiarity with important legal institutions and their methods of legislation or adjudication, and for developing in students a sense of judgment about viable arguments, ethics, and the role of an attorney. Most students, on the other hand, are distracted from this larger enterprise by a need to identify and assimilate legal rules that can be committed to memory.

A fellow academic recently remarked that he persuaded his law school to permit him to teach labor law as a required first year course. The labor law course provided him with an opportunity to introduce students to an administrative agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and to show the interplay between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches in creating, interpreting, and administering a legislative scheme. He and his colleagues hoped that this first year experience would improve the students’ performance in upper-division courses requiring an understanding of the role of administrative agencies. He was never certain, however, that his students shared his goals; they appeared absorbed in the task of identifying and memorizing rules governing labor relations, which diverted their attention from broader themes of legal institutions and their roles in the making and administration of law…Read More

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