Podcasting Legal Writing Lessons

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School

Over the course of the six years I have taught here, the Law School’s technological resources have gotten better and better. For instance, every classroom in which I teach now has equipment that allows me to project documents onto a screen at the front of the classroom, working on edits as we discuss them in the classroom. I can project from the web as I discuss legal research tools, such as the law library’s helpful start page. I can play audio or video files for the class, such as tapes of oral arguments from oyez.org or from the Wisconsin Supreme Court site for my appellate writing and advocacy class.

Most recently, with the help of our IT department I have been using digital recording technology (a headset microphone and audacity software) to record some of my instruction and make it available for students to work through at their convenience. The podcasts are especially effective for material that some students need more help with than others, such as citation, grammar and punctuation, or editing for conciseness. Last semester, my students’ responses to the podcasts was overwhelmingly positive.

The pioneer podcaster among the legal writing faculty was Alison Julien, who, I understand, has moved on to “webcasting,” i.e., digital videorecordings of her instruction.

One thought on “Podcasting Legal Writing Lessons”

  1. Now if only Professor Julien was webcasting her classes when I was a 1L and dealing with impacted wisdom teeth . . . 🙂

    In all seriousness though, I’m glad that the pod- and web-casting of classes is beginning to take root. I understand that there are professors who view their lectures as intellectual property — and rightfully so — but I know a lot of students who have been agonizingly sick and yet still drag themselves to class because they’re terrified of missing a lecture. Yet they don’t really learn much because they’re not fully focused, and the rest of the class risks getting infected with whatever illness that student has. Sure, you lose a bit by not being present and interacting with other students and the professor, but if the goal of the law school is (as they tell me) for us to leave it well-versed in the subjects we study, it seems counterproductive not to give students every opportunity to learn that material, especially when they’re like me and learn through lectures and analysis rather than simply reading the language of the cases.

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