Experiencing Experiential Education: A Faculty-Student Perspective on the University of Tennessee College of Law's Adventure in Access to Justice Author
42 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2016
This article functions both as a brief history lesson in experiential education and as a case study of an experiential course entitled “Human Rights Practicum” offered at the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2015. After briefly discussing historical and current trends in law school reform, including the rise of experiential education within the law school curriculum and the role played by technology in this context, the article turns to explore the impetus for the Human Rights Practicum, its development and implementation, as well as the software technology used to develop its final work product, a web-based “guided interview” for completing a legal form.
Specifically, our Practicum sought to train students to use Access to Justice Author (“A2J Author”) a computer programming software that enables the creation of “guided interviews”, which are intended to simplify the filing of complex legal forms and thereby reduce barriers to justice for self-represented litigants. Once trained in A2J Author, students in the Practicum worked to design and implement a guided interview intended to walk pro se litigants through the process of filing discrimination complaints with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, an independent state agency tasked with safeguarding individuals from discrimination through enforcement and education.
Our experience offers a unique contribution to the growing literature on experiential education for at least two reasons: first, technology-driven experiential courses are a relatively new addition to law school curricula and as such they represent a largely unexplored and developing subfield in the realm of experiential education. Second, because the article is co-authored by a professor who taught the practicum and a student who enrolled in it, our perspective provides a more holistic assessment of the challenges and rewards that can flow from similar undertakings, including suggestions for improvements, that in turn will more fully inform faculty and students contemplating either offering, or enrolling in, similar courses in the future.
Keywords: Experiential Education, A2J Author, Guided Interview, HotDocs, pro se, Discrimination, Access to Justice, Experiential, Experiential Learning, Law School, Human Rights, Justice Gap, Technology, Practicum, Education, Tennessee, Employment, Housing, Title VI, Public Accommodation, Social Justice
JEL Classification: I21,D63, K00, K10, K4, K3, J15, O3, O30, O33, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation