Introducing Students to Elementary Legislative Process and Statutory Analysis Through Experiential Learning in a Familiar Context
Charles R. Calleros
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Gonzaga Law Review, Vol. 38, pp. 33-54, 2003
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 and for helping students gain familiarity with important legal institutions and their methods of legislation or adjudication. When an instructor introduces students to new legal rules as a means to teach analytic skills or other facets of legal method, however, the rules have a tendency to get in the way and capture an inordinate share of the students' attention and concern. Consequently, to keep students' attention squarely riveted on lessons of legal method, Professor Calleros advocates an occasional resort to exercises set in familiar nonlegal contexts that help students develop the same kinds of analytical skills they might apply to a legal problem.
In a series of exercises named Rules for Monica, Professor Calleros uses the familiar, nonlegal context of parental rule-making to provide novice students with an overview of skills they should master in the first semester. The incremental parental decision-making in the exercises mimics common law development, and students perform the same kinds of analyses they might when working with common law developed by courts. Rules for Monica also includes a statutory analysis component introducing students to the processes of making and interpreting a statute. This article discusses the pedagogic objectives and techniques of both the common law and legislative components.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: legal education, legal method, first year curriculum
Date posted: April 24, 2010