A Conversation About Canadian Legal Education: Lakehead University and Dialogue Pedagogy

(2020) 21:1 The Western Michigan University Cooley Journal of Practical & Clinical Law 1

61 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2020 Last revised: 7 Jun 2021

See all articles by Frances Chapman

Frances Chapman

Lakehead University - Faculty of Law; Lakehead University

Date Written: September 1, 2020

Abstract

Through my experiences opening the first new law school in Ontario in 44 years, I have had time to reflect on my own teaching style and have employed what has been termed “Dialogue Pedagogy.” Using an auto-ethnography methodology in this paper, I will examine ways of teaching the law including the case-law system of study distilling black-letter law and the Socratic Method which is widely considered the preferred method in legal education. I argue that there is a better, and more humane, way to teach our law school students.

Experience has shown that although students get training on issue identification, they are not taught to plan a solution by dialoguing with the relevant actors. It has been my challenge to come up with an adequate teaching and evaluation method that allows students to do an interactive assignment. I have found that law students need more opportunities to access their emotional intelligence and interactions with real people, and I have captured this skill in my mandatory 1L Tort class through an exercise I call the “Torts Crime Scene.”

Connecting our students to life and humanity and having empathy for others is perhaps one of the most important things that we do. Having students learn dusty legal maxims is, for good or bad, essential. However, being able to connect what they are learning to them personally, their family, their friends, their fellow human beings is paramount. Our students have changed, and so too, our teaching must change. The transformation cannot simply be a system of add-ons but of fundamental review and evolution.

Keywords: Legal Education, Pedagogy, Socratic Method, Dialogue, Conversation, Law School, Canada

Suggested Citation

Chapman, Frances, A Conversation About Canadian Legal Education: Lakehead University and Dialogue Pedagogy (September 1, 2020). (2020) 21:1 The Western Michigan University Cooley Journal of Practical & Clinical Law 1, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3690384

Frances Chapman (Contact Author)

Lakehead University - Faculty of Law ( email )

955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E1
Canada

Lakehead University ( email )

955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E1
Canada

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