The Law School Student-Faculty Conference: Towards a Transformative Learning Experience

96 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2006 Last revised: 8 Dec 2012

See all articles by Robin Wellford Slocum

Robin Wellford Slocum

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law


A fundamental purpose of legal education is to teach students to 'think like lawyers.' One-on-one exchanges between law professors and students provide a unique opportunity for significant breakthroughs in a student's ability to think like a lawyer. However, merely conferring with a student in one's office does not automatically result in better, or even effective, learning. In order to evaluate the topic in a thoughtful and reflective manner, legal educators must consider not just the cognitive process of learning but also how the psychology of human behavior and the dynamics of the student-teacher relationship affect the learning process.

This article relies extensively on research and scholarship from the fields of cognitive science, psychology, psychotherapy, composition theory, and critical discourse analysis to consider how law professors can work more effectively with students in a conference setting. Specifically, this article considers how composition and cognitive learning theories can inform the manner in which law professors work with students in a one-on-one setting to help them develop the cognitive skills of legal reasoning and writing. Adapting research from the fields of cognitive psychology, psychotherapy, and critical discourse analysis, this article also explores the characteristics of a student-teacher relationship that offers the greatest potential for learning, and the nonverbal and verbal signals and patterns of discourse that law professors can employ to develop such a relationship. Building on research from the fields of cognitive science and psychology, this article also explores how law professors can motivate students to succeed, and how professors can help sustain the motivation of defeated students.

Keywords: legal education, student conferences, conferences, student/teacher relationship, one-on-one teaching, legal research and writing, legal writing

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Slocum, Robin, The Law School Student-Faculty Conference: Towards a Transformative Learning Experience. South Texas Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 255, Spring 2004, Available at SSRN:

Robin Slocum (Contact Author)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
714-628-2579 (Phone)
714-628-2576 (Fax)

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