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Incorporating a Creative Component in First-Year Law

(2015) The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: 6:2 (SoTL through the Lenses of the Arts and Humanities), Article 8

17 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017  

John C. Kleefeld

University of New Brunswick

Patricia L Farnese

University of Saskatchewan - College of Law

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

For some students, law school leads to a perception of legal education as favouring technical proficiency and structural similarity over innovation and creativity, leading to disengagement in learning. To address this, we offered a creative option in two first-year law courses, worth 20% of the grade. Students who chose this option created a diversity of artistic works, including short stories, visual arts, literary criticism, culinary art, music and lyric composition, film, a blog, a video game, and a board game. Some of these works were of startling originality; all engaged in law in unconventional ways.

We assessed the work using a rubric with descriptors relating both to artistic merit and legal knowledge or law studies. Later, we surveyed all 30 students who had submitted a creative project. The survey instrument used both open-ended questions and a set of statements that students rated on a 1-5 Likert scale. When asked to rank whether the project positively contributed to their law school experience, the response was overwhelmingly in agreement. The students said that completing a creative project developed their understanding of property or tort law, the two subjects in which the option was offered; that it helped them to develop practical legal skills; and that, for some, it contributed to a sense of belonging and community, thereby assisting with overcoming some of the alienation associated with law school.

Based on our experience, we enthusiastically encourage other law schools to try offering a creative option to their students, particularly in first year.

Keywords: legal education, law, creativity

Suggested Citation

Kleefeld, John C. and Farnese, Patricia L, Incorporating a Creative Component in First-Year Law (2015). (2015) The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: 6:2 (SoTL through the Lenses of the Arts and Humanities), Article 8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2992008

John Kleefeld (Contact Author)

University of New Brunswick ( email )

PO Box 4400
41 Dineen Drive
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5A3
Canada
+1 506 453 4635 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.unb.ca/faculty-staff/directory/law/kleefeld-john.html

Patricia Farnese

University of Saskatchewan - College of Law ( email )

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Canada

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