Some Strategies to Teach Reluctant Talkers to Talk About Law
Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 54, p. 570, December 2004
18 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2008
Date Written: 2004
Talking confidently about law is an important skill in legal practice, yet law teachers rarely devote much attention to developing students' oral skills when fluency does not come to them naturally. Learning to talk about law can be important to success within law school as well. There are many reasons why some students do not speak in class. Many people, both male and female, do not take naturally to public speaking. Even if law students intuitively grasp the importance of learning to talk about law, they often feel intimidated and distressed in the classroom and consequently are reluctant to speak in class. Some students do not recognize the value of learning to talk about law. Finally, there are cultural and political reasons why some students choose silence over participation; the relative silence of women is well documented.
If learning to talk about law is important to success in law school and later in law practice, law teachers should put more emphasis on oral communication skills. This essay suggests several strategies for drawing out reluctant talkers. The underlying assumption is that repeated forays into public speaking about law will reduce the student's anxiety about each outing and the individual significance of each attempt. All of the suggestions outlined in this essay have helped me or other law teachers to get students into the habit of talking about law and all have been used or are adaptable for use in many different courses.
Keywords: legal education, oral skills, Socratic, law students, professionalism, law practice, feminism, mentoring, oral argument, teaching, pedagogy
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation