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Beginning and Newer Law Teachers Workshop Committee

Mission

The Beginning and Newer Law Teachers Committee creates programming aimed at assisting junior faculty members.  The programming revolves around the three primary elements of a professor’s job – teaching, scholarship and service –, with the emphasis on teaching and scholarship.  The programming takes a serious look at the ways professors can develop as teachers, both in and out of the classroom, focusing not only on pedagogies, but on specific areas of interest, such as teaching through alternative methods, using technology, designing exams and other assessments, teaching professional identity formation, and connecting the classroom to law practice. Programming about scholarship includes a wide range of topics, from developing the processes to create scholarship, to how to find one’s scholarly voice. The Committee also is cognizant of the importance of promoting a collegial and egalitarian working environment, and aims to promote these values through its panels and discussion groups.

Committee Members:

  • Steve Friedland (Elon) (Chair) sfriedland2@elon.edu
  • Olympia Duhart (Nova Southeastern) (Vice Chair) olympia@nova.edu
  • Dustin Benham (Texas Tech)
  • Mark Bauer (Stetson)
  • Sydney Beckman (Lincoln Memorial)
  • Margaret Brenan Correoso (FIU)
  • Kathy Cerminara (Nova Southeastern) (Mentor Committee Liaison)
  • Brannon Denning (Samford)
  • Tessa Dysart (Regent)
  • Susan Klein (Texas)
  • Ronald Krotoszynski (Alabama)
  • Susan Kuo (South Carolina)
  • Nancy Levitt (UMKC)
  • Melissa Lonegrass (Louisiana State) (New Scholars Committee Liaison)
  • Benjamin Madison (Regent)
  • Colin Marks (St. Mary’s)
  • Scott Norberg (FIU)
  • Daniel O’Gorman (Barry)
  • Tracy Hresko Pearl (Oklahoma)
  • Elizabeth Pendo (St. Louis)
  • Nancy Soonpaa (Texas Tech)
  • Maggie Thomas (Louisiana State)
  • Connie Wagner (St. Louis)

Reports

2021 Annual Report

This past year has been one of change and reflection.  The New Law Professor Committee decided to offer a variety of programming as a result. We are offering programs that ask participants to reflect on what was important for them during the Pandemic – and how what has been learned carries over to the year or years ahead.  We also are offering basic “how to” programming – how to develop a research agenda; how to construct a course; how to approach the classroom. Yet, we have stretched the traditional model by once again offering session on other aspects of a law professor’s career.  These sessions include mentor training; after all, we are all mentors and mentees if we want to serve in these capacities.  Also, time management seems to be an issue that percolates to the surface for almost all law teachers. Consequently, strategies and tactics for managing time is another area of programming.  As always, we are also cognizant of intersecting with the aspiring and prospective law teachers, who could benefit from these programs as well.

2020 Annual Report

With Covid-19 forcing schools and SEALS to pivot to an online program in the spring of 2020, the Committee moved quickly to adapt to online presentations.  Committee members volunteered and stepped up to organize and implement the remote program.  Most of what we intended to offer in-person was translated to an online modality.  To make this transition, numerous Zoom and WebX sessions occurred in the spring and early summer to redesign each of the sessions.

The Newer Law Professor Committee 2020 program maintained its core sessions on teaching and scholarship, continued its relationship with the Prospective Law Professors group, and advanced some experiments with different session formats. For example, we decided to try break-out groups (prior to Covid-19) for discussants to meet in small numbers to talk about their own teaching packages.  The Committee advanced its effort to highlight important issues, such as mentoring, ethics in the classroom, the experience of law school, and how great teachers approach the classroom.  We hope the online version will be as good if not better than the in-person programming

2019 Annual Report

For 2019, the Committee decided to maintain the offerings involving fundamental components of a law teacher’s job, especially concerning sessions involving the fundamentals of teaching and scholarly pursuits.

The teaching sessions focus on course construction, such as selecting a text and preparing for class, as well as pedagogy and classroom issues. Assessment remains an important topic, especially in light of the newer ABA rules ensuring formative feedback and assessment.  The core scholarship session provides a framework for newer scholars on the process of producing quality scholarship, providing numerous perspectives on how people write, either over the summer or while school is in session.

The Committee also was interested in maintaining coordination with the Prospective Law Teachers group.  We have arranged to have our sessions on the same days as the Prospective Law Teachers, and are looking out for that group with intentionality.

We also wanted to continue promoting connections between the newer teachers and more experienced teachers with a meet and greet session at this year’s SEALS conference.  That session usually takes place at a dinner for all newer and prospective teachers, where spouses and significant others are welcomed as well.

The Committee also expanded its footprint this year, experimenting with two new types of sessions, those deemed to be training and those primarily occurring as demonstrations.  The training session is going to be used to help train law teachers as mentors.  Experts from around the country will offer their skills using role-plays and other illustrations.  In a similar vein, the demonstration session will be wrapped around a teaching excellence session.  Instead of just talking about teaching, the panelists will engage the audience as teachers, showing how they do things and then explaining why.

The Committee has other ideas for the future, such as advertising its offerings to law schools in advance of SEALS.  We are still working through these ideas before they can be implemented in a proper manner.

In all, the Committee’s goal of providing opportunities to expand and deepen knowledge about teaching and scholarship for a broad group of law professors continues.  The Committee has been populated with motivated and innovative law professors, so the future looks bright for the continuation of both foundational and topical offerings.

2018 Annual Report

The 2018 Beginning and Newer Law Teachers Committee created a variety of sessions aimed at both new and newer law teachers concerning the core activities of teaching and scholarship. The Committee decided to continue sessions in demand, while also adding several topical sessions. Sessions were organized around scholarship, teaching, and service.

We also offered “the deans panel” again. This panel has become a mainstay. The Committee also organized its annual optional law professor dinner for anyone who desired to meet other professors and make connections.

2017 Annual Report

The 2017 Beginning and Newer Law Teachers Committee created a variety of sessions aimed at both new and newer law teachers concerning the core activities of teaching and scholarship. The Committee decided to continue sessions in demand, while also adding several topical sessions. Since scholarship is central to the tool kit of the newer law teacher, a discussion session will be presented by top-notch scholars, titled “Becoming a Productive Scholar.” The coverage of basic matters continues with two teaching sessions, Teaching Fundamentals I and Teaching Fundamentals II. Fundamentals I focuses on designing an effective law school course or seminar. Fundamentals II focuses on classroom teaching, led by outstanding teachers from around the country.

Another session, “the deans panel,” (“What I’d Like to Ask a Dean—An Opportunity for Newer Law Professors to Ask Questions and Get Advice”), has become a salient part of the program and will be offered again. Given the importance of assessment, a discussion group about the methods of formative and summative assessment will be offered. In addition, the Committee will sponsor a new discussion group–workshop that will apply design thinking innovation to legal education.

Finally, the Committee has observed that despite the comprehensive nature of the workshops offered, we omitted an important component of any gathering of law teachers—the opportunity for camaraderie in an informal setting. Thus, the Committee will steward its second annual optional law professor dinner for anyone who desires to meet other professors and make connections.

2016 Annual Report

The Beginning & Newer Law Teacher Committee for the 2016 SEALS Program designed a variety of presentations directed at both new and newer law teachers. These programs likely will be of interest to veteran professors as well. The Committee decided to continue basic sessions in demand, while also creating new and topical complementary panels. Scholarship matters to the newer law teacher so we are again offering a core session presented by top-notch scholars, “Scholarship Nuts and Bolts.” What is known as “the deans panel,” (“What Deans Would Tell Newer Law Professors If They Asked”), has become a part of the core foundation of the program and will be offered again. There will again be a discussion group on methods and means for mentoring students, particularly those who are first generation professionals without role models to guide them. The essential panel on teaching, “Philosophies and Approaches to Law School Teaching,” is being offered again by some terrific and dedicated law teachers. This foundational session is complemented by other teaching-focused panels, including two new and pragmatic sessions, “Teaching Nuggets: Takeaways for and by Law Professors,” and “Ways to Improve Teaching and Learning.” The latter session offers ideas on the new ways to teach beyond traditional boundaries, including flipping the classroom and adopting various forms of advancing technology.

Because of the importance of assessment under the new A.B.A. Standard 302 on learning outcomes, a discussion group about assessment will be offered—“Formative Assessment and Learning Outcomes: Implementing A.B.A. Standards Easily and Effectively.” This session features Bill Adams, the Deputy Consultant of the A.B.A.’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Brand new for 2016 is a blending of substantive law teaching and legal writing in the panel, “The A.B.A. standards and Meaningful Feedback—What does that Mean.” Another brand new offering concerns the important intersection of law school and identity issues, from professional identity to race, gender, sex orientation and more, “Identity Issues Inside and Outside the Classroom.” Further, since this section was developed to help new and newer law professors transition through the stages of their careers, there will be a new panel discussing all of the issues that arise with changing schools or job description, “Changing Jobs and Changing Roles: Perspectives on the Arc of a Legal Academic Career.” For many teachers who become associate deans, administrative directors or just change schools, there is no real or formal preparation. This panel hopefully will provide a useful source of information. Finally, the Committee observed that despite the comprehensive nature of the workshops offered, we still had left out an important component of any gathering of law teachers—the opportunity for camaraderie in an informal setting. Thus, for the first time, the Committee is stewarding a dinner for anyone who desires to go to dinner with other newer law professors and make connections.

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