Educational Videos for Legal Education


Educational videos are becoming one of the most popular online learning formats in K-12 and higher education.  It is time for law professors to start thinking about how to incorporate online educational videos into our courses as well.


Since last year, I have been working with law professors to begin to incorporate educational videos into legal education.   Together with, a group of law professors recently launched a series of educational videos on immigration law and additional videos are currently being produced.  The videos were made by several law professors from a host of law schools, including: Lenni Benson (NYLS), Amanda Frost (AU), Lindsay Harris (Georgetown), Cesar Cuauhtemoc Garcia Hernandez (Denver), Laila Hlass (BU), Hiroshi Motomura (UCLA), Michael Olivas (U of Houston), Jayesh Rathod (AU), Philip Schrag (Georgetown), Ragini Shah (Suffolk), Juliet Stumpf (Lewis and Clark), Shoba Wadhia (Penn State), Virgil Wiebe (University of St. Thomas), and Michael Wishnie (Yale).

I learned a lot from making these and other educational videos on law and law teaching.  Many of my colleagues have asked for advice on how to get started.  Over the next 3 blog posts I will detail the 3 easy ways to produce educational videos for legal education together with some lessons learned. The three posts will be on (1) Voiceover Powerpoint/Keynote Slideshow, (2) Screencasting (3) Whiteboard Animated Videos.



Post 1:  “Making Educational Videos for Legal Education”

Voiceover Powerpoint/Keynote Slideshow


Both Powerpoint and Keynote allow you to record yourself talking over each slide in a slideshow.  It is quite easy to record an audio narration over a Powerpoint or Keynote slideshow.  Open the slideshow on your computer and speak about each slide at your normal pace.  As you move through the slideshow, your voice is recorded.  Then, when you are done, save the presentation as a movie, a function available on both Powerpoint and Keynote.  Here are useful articles about recording narrations over slideshows.

   Powerpoint help article

      Keynote help article

If you use Prezi, the program does not have an embedded system for adding audio.  You will have to record your voiceover using a different program, such a Quicktime or Garage Band and then import the audio clip to your Prezi.  Here is a quick Prezi that walks you through that process. 

Watch this slideshare for tips on how to make slides pop.  There are also tools such as Haiku Deck that you can use to create your slides before exporting to Powerpoint or Keynote.

Stock Images

Free Images- These two links list several great resources to find free images for your presentations. Make sure to read the terms of use since each site’s terms may vary slightly.

Paid images- iStockphoto is the largest and best solution for paid images.

Pricing depends on the size and quality of image you need.  Getty Images, which has a lot of professional photography, recently announced that its photos can be embedded for free in certain material.

Lesson Learned:  To improve the visual quality of your Powerpoint or Keynote slideshow, use as many images as you can and try to reduce the amount of written text on each screen.  Research on learning sciences teaches us that learners have both an auditory and a visual track.  When they see an image, while listening to a presentation, both tracks are fully engaged.  This is best for retention and transfer.  When text is on the screen, learners use their auditory track to read the text.  Therefore, if you speak as they are reading the text, your students have to make a choice of whether to listen to the narration or to read – they can’t do both at the same time.

What type of images do you use? Do you have any experience with keynote or PowerPoint? Please share with us! If you know of any additional resources add them in the comments below.

At LegalED, we are also looking for teams of law professors to curate (think book editor) video content for the site.  If you are interested in curating a collection of videos in your subject area, please let me know!  You can leave a message on twitter or email me at

Don’t forget to follow the conversation @LegalEDweb




Post 2:  “Making Educational Videos for Legal Education”




Screencasting refers to a technique where you can record your computer screen while adding a voiceover. It is commonly used for technical training, software training, and step-by-step video tutorials. You’ll likely want to edit the beginning and end of each video segment, so look for a screencasting tool with some editing capabilities. For Mac users, iMovie works well for basic editing.

Tools for Screencasting


Lesson Learned: Best practices are to keep each video segment short (evidence suggests 6 minutes or less).  Think of the videos as short chunks of information that can be packaged in many different ways.  If your topic warrants more than one video, then break it into 2 or more, trying to keep each video to 6 minutes or less. 

Have you used Screencasting before? Share your experiences in the comments below and don’t forget to follow the conversation at @LegalEDweb

At LegalED, we are also looking for teams of law professors to curate (think book editor) video content for the site.  If you are interested in curating a collection of videos in your subject area, please let me know!  You can leave a message in the comment section below or email me at




Post 3 “Making Educational Videos for Legal Education”

·         Take a look at the 1st post in this series-Voiceover Powerpoint/Keynote Slideshow 

·         And second post on Screencasting. 

Whiteboard Animated Videos


Whiteboard animations are very professional looking and visually engaging.  However, they require an upfront investment of time in connection with learning the software and planning your presentation.

I have made many whiteboard animation videos.  Here is a link to two whiteboard videos on flipping the law school classroom and here are two on persuasion for lawyers. 

The first time I made a whiteboard animated video, the process was cumbersome and time consuming.  It took about 6 hours to create a 7 minute video.  Now I can do it in much less time, but each video still takes about 2 hours to produce.  I find that because of the significant upfront investment of time, this technology is best for topics that will not change over time. 

Programs to make Whiteboard animations. 

·         Sparkol Video Scribe

·         GoAnimate

·         Powtoon       

Note: *I use Videoscribe.  I have not tested the others.


Lessons Learned: 

1.      Tape the voiceover first: We want the audience to engage with you.  Rehearse your lesson, including the intonation, the pauses, the places where you need to provide emphasis. This is a performance.  It is different from teaching a live, interactive class. So find that hidden actor within and exploit him or her.

2.      Audiotaping the voiceover: Audio quality for videos is important.  See whether you can borrow a microphone from your school or firm’s IT department.  If not, you can use the audio recording on your computer, iPhone, iPad or other mobile device.  Audiotape in a quiet place.  And relax.  It may take a few attempts before you feel OK with the product.  That’s all part of the learning process; in my experience it gets easier with practice.

3.      Upload audio into the program:  Once the audio is uploaded, you can use it to design the video and set the timing of your animation.    Again, with practice, this will get easier.


Do you have any experience with whiteboard animation or want help testing it out? Let us know in the comments below!







Voiceover/keynote PowerPoint

Whiteboard Animation videos

If you want to add video to your course materials, the 3 methods discussed in my previous 3 posts each provide an easy way to experiment with video-based lessons.  Thanks to popular online education websites, students are more accustomed to learning from video and many like the ability to go back and review material as many times as needed for mastery.  Our digitally native students also appreciate the convenience that online learning affords. 

I encourage you to experiment.  As with anything else, this also gets easier with time.  Through experimentation, you will find out what works best for you, and what doesn’t work at all, and each time you try it you will learn and grow.  While producing educational videos does take us out of our comfort zone, you can feel comfortable knowing that you’re not alone in testing these new learning modalities.  Feel free to reach out to me with questions along the way.

Once the videos are produced, please consider sharing them with LegalED (  That way, other law professors can see your work and possibly assign them in their courses.  In our view, there is no need for everyone to do this alone.  If we collaborate, together the community can create a dynamic collection of teaching materials that everyone can learn from.

At LegalED, we are also looking for teams of law professors to curate (think book editor) video content for the site.  If you are interested in curating a collection of videos in your subject area, please let me know!  You can leave a message at  

Don’t forget to follow the conversation at LegalEDweb.



AuthorMichele Pistone
5 CommentsPost a comment

Top Ten Things Law Professors Can Do This Year to Learn About EdTech

Let's face it, the role that technology can play in the practice of law is becoming more evident – with predictive coding, eDiscovery, and companies like LexMachina that use legal analytics to, among other things, predict the outcome of patent litigation.  But many in the legal academy still cannot conceive of how technology can change legal education.  If you are in that camp or know others who are, let me suggest that we do not dismiss the potential for change in legal education without knowing more about the emerging field of edtech and the forces behind it.  Want to learn more?  Here are ten things you can do this year that might change your thinking about the role of technology in the future of legal education.  The suggestions come from my article, which has other suggestions as well.

1.  Catch up on some important reading.  Read David Thomson, Law School 2.0: Legal Education for the Digital Age (2009).  Also, read the work of Bill Henderson, including A Blueprint for Change, 40 Pepperdine L. Rev. 461 (2013) and Andrew P. Morriss & William D. Henderson, Measuring Outcomes: Post-Graduation Measures of Success in the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings, 83 Indiana L. J. 791 (2008). Read David Barnhizer’s article, Redesigning the American Law School, 2010 Mich. St. L. Rev. 249 (2010). 

2.  Read, too, assessments about how technology has impacted and will continue to impact higher education generally, works such as Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education, and The Department of Education’s Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies

    3.  Learn about the millennial generation who are “born digital” and how their more networked and connected lives affect the way they approach learning.  A great book on this topic is by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser of Harvard Law’s Beckman Center on Internet and Society, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (2008).  Think about the implications of the fact that between 2000 and 2002, the largest group of first time internet users were between two and five years old, placing the oldest members of this group in college now – and in law school soon.  Begin to understand how the emerging “participatory culture” is changing what one needs to learn to be fully prepared to function in the twenty-first century.  You can do this by reading Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (MacArthur Foundation)

    4.  Begin to explore the potential for law schools to employ teaching methods that use technology to a greatly enhanced degree.  For example, read about flipping the classroom, a teaching methodology that blends online lectures (which students view at their own pace as homework) with in-class instruction, as it is used in K-12 education, Jonathan Bergmann & Aaron Sams, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (ISTE/ASCD, 2012), or watch these videos on flipped learning in legal education.  By migrating lectures to the web, flipped learning can free face-to-face classtime for active learning, including Socratic dialogues, drafting exercises, simulations and role plays.  

5.  Investigate innovations in adaptive learning, a technique using computer software first to assess what a student knows and then to adapt the content taught to the knowledge level of the student, thus providing a more personalized learning experience for each individual.  Computer-based adaptive learning is already being used by the Kaplan test preparation company for college students planning to take the LSAT and GMAT; by Khan Academy for younger students; and by many companies, such as Knewton, for a wide range of users.  

6.  Consider the impact that gaming can have on education.  Follow the work of Jeannette Eicks (Vermont) and Stephanie Kimbro (Stanford), both of whom are working on projects that involve gaming and law.  Read James Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2003); James Gee, Good Video Games and Good Learning, at  Educational games are available for a variety of topics, including civics, see (a game-based website started for former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor); climate change, see; national conflicts, see; and even algebra, see

7.  Monitor the impact that recent decisions by law schools to develop online programs for non-JD degrees has on programs at other schools, such as the decision by graduate tax law programs at, among others, Alabama, Georgetown, NYU, Villanova, and Boston University to offer their programs online. Read Distance Learning in Legal Education:  A Summary of Delivery Models, Regulatory issues and Recommended Practices. Attend a meeting of the Distance Learning in Legal Education Working Group, organized by Vermont Law School professors Rebecca Purdom and Oliver Goodenough.  The group meets three times a year, once in the fall (which is in a few weeks at William Mitchell School of Law), once during the AALS Annual Meeting, and a third time in the spring.  

8.  Monitor the effectiveness and reaction of law graduates who take online bar preparation courses such as Themis. 

9.  Explore some of the new apps being developed for iPads and Androids to teach legal concepts.  Law Stack is an Apple app for legal research loaded with various federal statutes.  Law School Dojo, by Stanford Law’s Margaret Hagan, is an app with quizzes on legal concepts for a range of subject matters, including contracts, torts, civil procedure and international law.

10.  Register for and attend the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference, May 4-7 in beautiful Rancho Mirage, CA.  The theme of the conference is the "New Normal." One of the three tracks for the conference is devoted to the future in the "new normal," both for the practice of law and for legal education. As to law practice, we hope to address how professors can understand the rapid and profound technological change that could well remake law practice and how those changes can advance our work for social justice. We want to explore how changes in service delivery and structure of law practices can and should impact our teaching. And we hope to address how professors can better use technological advances and insights from learning sciences in their teaching. 

The internet, the driver of all the changes and developments noted above, is a technology and a tool that, for the reach and extent of its often disruptive and its often liberating effects, can be compared only with the printing press.  When writing of Gutenberg’s invention, Elizabeth Eisenstein, a careful and meticulous historian of immense reputation, wrote (favorably quoting Renaissance scholar Myron Gilmore) in her two-volume magnum opus, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, that “’[i]t opened new horizons in education and in the communication of ideas. Its effects were sooner or later felt in every department of human activity.’” As I explain in my recent article, I strongly believe that "[s]o too it is, or sooner or later shall be, with the internet."

Are there things I am missing?  Add them in the comments below.

(this post is cross-listed from Best Practice in Legal Education blog)

AuthorMichele Pistone
2 CommentsPost a comment

Teaching Powerhouse:  LegalED & the 1st Igniting Law Teaching Conference


Jeremiah Ho

Assistant Professor of Law

University of Massachusetts School of Law


This past April 4th, LegalED’s first TEDx-styled Conference, “Igniting Law Teaching,” went “live” for one entire day at American University Washington College of Law.  I had the great pleasure to be part of the one-day conference that was live-streamed and much-tweeted about during that early-April Friday.  While our individual TEDx-style videos are being edited for summer launch on, for me the anticipation of watching our messages collectively spread our excitement and innovations about law teaching gives me pause to think fondly about that moment this past spring.  In other words, as self-conscious as I usually am about the sound of my own voice and how short I always look on TV, my worry over image is overshadowed by what I think all of our innovations will bring to the conversation about current legal education.    


Speaking honestly for myself, I really wasn’t sure what to make of the Call for Presentations for “Igniting Law Teaching” that a colleague from another law school passed onto me last January.  With all the troubles with law schools these days, and the vitriol toward law professors and teaching, I wasn’t sure how a conference like this would contribute to showing the world that there are good, enthusiastic law teachers and new techniques for bringing effective learning to our students.  Would it capture a collegial solidarity that could possibly convince the outside world that we do think very critically about our work as instructors as I know many of us do?   And could a group of law teachers have anything worthy to share about their experiences in the classroom that just might shift the focus from poor teaching to thoughtful invention and development of our craft?  I had only heard rumors of a place on the internet called,, and only knew of Professor Michele Pistone, who pioneers it, by her solid reputation.  All I could think to do was to give “Igniting Law Teaching” a shot, respond to the presentation call with an abstract for a ten-minute talk about what I do in my law classes, and see what would come out of it.  After all, I love to investigate law teaching and love TED talks—I have wished more law professors would do them.  If Michele or Billie Jo Kaufman had said no to me, then I would have at least thought about my teaching and what would be so bad about that?            


The whole enterprise of igniting the conference was more ambitious than I had assumed, once I heard that I would be part of it.  Although I have been part of several very laudable law teaching conferences in the recent past, the behind-the-scenes collaboration that went into “Igniting Law Teaching” was more intense and passionate than I had ever encountered.  Not only did we all have to prepare the content of our talks—which could be tricky when you’re dealing with things like pedagogy and technology—but the TEDx format really put us all to the test in researching exactly the best way to convey our messages in this media.  Not only that, but the collegiality of those involved was so evident and infectious from the day of our first teleconference in February that I knew this conference was going to be something special to help bring our ideas about law teaching to light.


My own TEDx-style talk was about bringing active learning opportunities into the classroom—especially in the way I build lessons in my doctrinal classes through an approach that attempts both the teaching of a particular law and practical lawyering skills at the same time.  I’ve done this in every law class I have ever taught.  In my presentation, I show how to seamlessly incorporate both skills and knowledge about a law together in lesson planning.  If a teacher can draw out characteristics of a law that can show off a particular skill, then the professor can design lessons that highlight different skill sets for lawyering throughout the semester.  Legal topics in intentional torts lend themselves well to developing fact inquiry skills while a U.C.C. provision in contracts is great for showing statutory reading and construction.  I break the method down into three easy steps:  (1) find the nature of the law avails itself particularly to showing us a certain skill in legal reasoning; (2) gauge the relevancy of that skill for students; and (3) find a point of execution, a place where my students can discover this relevant mimesis through their curiosity.  The video of my talk elaborates more how this is done.  But the synopsis here hopefully conveys an example of the kind of presentations to watch for when all of our videos are launched.  I hope that our talks will inspire creativity in others law teachers out there to share ideas that will benefit our students and make teaching even more worthwhile.


From more familiar topics, such as constructively applying learning theory into our teaching to smart tips about flipping the law classroom and the use of new technologies, the forty or so of us each brought something special to the conversation that day.  The “live” version of the conference that day prompted more than viewings on-line from other law teachers around the country than we had anticipated.  Though I was in physical attendance, I can’t wait to see our presentations again and I’m thankful they are preserved in TEDx-style, because there’s so much to learn from each other.  

AuthorBen Pietrzyk

            Before I stepped into the session on classroom flipping at the AALS Annual Meeting in January 2014, I had read about flipping and thought it would work well in my Civil Procedure II class.  Because it seemed like quite a bit of work, I had put it off.  When I walked out of the session, I was motivated not only to flip my classroom, but to start the next week.

            Now that my first flipping experience is drawing to a close, I offer some reflections.  First, the plusses – and they are tremendous.  If you have ever wondered how you could cover everything you want to cover in a class, flipping is your answer.  By covering black letter law online in advance of class, you have the freedom to apply that black letter law in class to hypothetical problems, to practice-ready assignments, or simply to a deeper understanding of the law.  You have the freedom to take things to the next level without additional credit hours.  Within a week, I knew that my students were reaching more deeply into the material than they ever had before.

            Students love the flipped classroom.  My Civil Procedure II class was in the perfect position to evaluate my flipped classroom this semester because they sat through my more traditional Civil Procedure I class last fall.  Students feel empowered by having listened to my lecture before class.  They think I’ve given them all the answers.  They have the freedom to watch my flipped lecture online before they tackle assigned readings, after they tackle assigned readings, after class, and as many times as they want before the exam.  I certainly haven’t given them all the answers, but I have made sure that the ball is not hidden. 

            The only drawback I have found in my first flipping foray is in the amount of planning and preparation required.  I jumped right in, flipping many more classes than those that I did not flip.  Each class required me to adapt my traditional lecture notes and powerpoint slides into a simple video (I used my old slides and did a voiceover lecture using Camtasia software – remarkably easy); that was the easy part because it relied on material I had been using for years.  The hard work was identifying what new material I wanted to add to my class time and preparing for our class meetings.  It was almost like prepping a new course.  In hindsight, I could have taken things more slowly and only flipped a class every few class meetings. 

            Another drawback was finding a textbook and supplement to help provide enough material and depth of coverage to get me through the course.  With so many “practice-ready” casebooks and supplements on the market, you’d think that would be a piece of cake.  Unfortunately, “practice-ready” casebooks seem to cut back on the number of topics covered and the depth of coverage, presumably to allow faculty more class time to get to practice-ready assignments.  “Practice-ready” supplements featuring practical assignments are also extremely light on the number of topics covered, to enable faculty to also cover traditional cases in class.  Neither of these options recognizes that the flipped classroom enables faculty to cover the same number of topics with the same number of cases as a traditional classroom with plenty of extra time for practical assignments on any number of subjects.  I opted for a traditional casebook and an in-depth problem supplement that was definitely not intended for a flipped classroom.  In hindsight, I wish I had been less confident that the textbook market could readily fill my needs; had I known that from the start, I definitely would have decided to flip fewer classes all in the first go.

            If you are interested in enhancing student learning in your classroom, I would tell you to just go ahead and flip it!  Take it slow and do it.  Once you start, you will know without a doubt that you are doing the right thing for your students.  If not now, when? 

By Katharine T. Schaffzin, Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Development

University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

AuthorMichele Pistone

There is a lot of talk these days about flipped learning, blended learning, online learning and lots of other ways to integrate online content into law school courses. There are a lot of advantages to blending online and in-class instruction. For one, it frees up class time for law students to begin to gain exposure to essential lawyering competencies during each course while still covering the doctrinal material that professors hope to assign during a typical semester. 

Top Five Things to Consider When Flipping a Law School Course

1.    What topics do you want to flip?

Before you begin, identify the topics that you typically cover for which the flipped classroom model would make the most sense in the course.  

2.  You don’t have to produce all of the videos.

Don’t be reluctant to assign video content produced by other professors. Like other teaching and scholarly activities, such as writing an effective article, practice guide or even blog post, the production of effective and engaging video content takes time.  As a result, I often assign my students to read law review articles and casebooks prepared by other professors.  Assigning videos prepared by other professors is analogous. Indeed, by assigning material prepared by others, our time is freed up to spend on more active teaching activities.

3.  Begin with planning what will be “flipped in” rather than what will be flipped out.

Plan what you want to do with the additional face-to-face time with students that blended learning will afford.  This is the point of having a flipped classroom.  For example, consider adding new activities into the classroom (such as interviewing, negotiation or drafting exercises) that hone practical lawyering skills and competencies.  

4.  Produce chunked, short video content.

Research shows that effective videos do not exceed 8 minutes in length, and some are even shorter. Break up a longer subject matter into a few chunked segments, making sure that each video addresses a discreet legal topic. Remember to make the video engaging and to speak clearly and concisely.

5.  Hold the students responsible for watching the videos.

Start each class with an assumption that the students watched the video. That will create an expectation for the group. Start the class by expanding on the videos lessons and assigning activities/discussions that ask students to use the theories learned from the videos actively through role plays, simulations, small group work or Socratic dialogue.

Best of luck innovating legal education.  Let us know, in the comment section below, how it goes for you.  What works?  What could be improved?  What insights can you share with the community?

And if you want to learn more about blended learning and other innovations in teaching pedagogy, consider attending LegalED's first conference, Igniting Law Teaching, on April 4th at American University, Washington College of Law, in Washington D.C.

Note: below is a preview of the talk I am giving tomorrow at AALS in NYC.  I am speaking on the Curriculum Committee Program, along with Warren Binford (Williamette), Todd Rakoff (Harvard), Deborah Ramirez (Northeastern), and Ellen Suni (U of Missouri-Kansas City).  Really looking forward to the discussion.  If you're around, please come by; it's from 1:30-3:15, tomorrow, Fri. Jan 3rd.

There are several reasons why law schools should begin to incorporate more online learning into our teaching.  One of the main reasons is that we will begin to develop expertise within the academy on how these technologies can best be used.  The edtech market is booming – in 2013, investment in K-12 alone, was close to half billion dollars.  In higher education we have Coursera, edX, Udacity.

There’s something happening here, and we have to know what it is. Yet few in the legal academy are looking into how we can use technology to reconceptualize our own overall approach to teaching.  If we embrace online technologies now, we will begin to develop expertise within the legal academy about how to best use newer technologies for legal education.

This is important because it will put us in a position to incorporate insights gained from the learning sciences into our teaching – like the importance of feedback and assessment.

Online materials can provide feedback – through quizzes and other assessment tools.  And when the materials are online, student who have not mastered them can go back and watch the videos again and redo quizzes, as many times as needed to reach mastery. This gives students much more control over their own learning and provides all students with the tools to master the relevant material before graduation.

And, when students learn online, we can learn how our students learn.  Now, students take a test at the end of the semester, yet it is hard for us to use the results to assess our own teaching.

In the future, data relating to every keystroke, every video watched, skipped, fast forwarded, rewound, will be collected and available for evaluation.  We can use that bigdata to evaluate what works and then to iterate based on the results.

But we can’t even start to learn about how these technologies work until we have the underlying teaching materials – LegalED is working to develop that library of resources. Because we can’t begin to flip the classroom if we have no materials to use for doing it.




AuthorMichele Pistone

I wanted to share some more about the team-teaching that I am engaged in this semester with Harriet Power, a professor from Villanova’s Theater Department.

Today we spoke with our students about client interviewing.  Before today’s class, we have done a lot of teaching about interviewing.  During our clinic orientation, each student: (1) participated in 3 hours of classtime devoted to interviewing (both interviewing techniques and working with an interpreter); (2) conducted, with his or her partner, two 20-minute mock interviews with actors standing in as clients; (3) received written and approx. 30 minutes of oral feedback on their performance during the mock interviews; and (4) reviewed their new client’s case files. 

Within the next few days, each team of students will meet with their clients for the first time.  So, our goal’s for today’s 55-minute class were to get the students to: (1) think about the goals they and their clients would set for the first encounter; (2) identify any barriers or inhibitors that might impact achieving the goals; and (3) discuss the logistics of the interview, including what to wear, how to set up the room, and how to sit in the chair and take notes.

I have taught this class, or a class like it, about 30 times over the course of my teaching career.  Yet co-teaching today’s class with Harriet brought a new perspective to the attorney-client interaction.  She got us thinking about setting, costume and posture in a deeper way than I had in the past.  For example, from her acting and directing perspective, Harriet examined what students would wear -- their costume -- at a much deeper level.  I usually think about clothing, whether students should wear a suit, a tie, a skirt.  Harriet asked about the entire costume, from head to toe.  What would the students do with long hair? (she noted that having to pull one’s hair from the face is always a distraction, told the students to plan to secure it off their faces).  What kind of shoes would the women wear?  Would they wear jewelry?  Whether to wear a long or short sleeved shirt (she prefers long sleeved). 

We also talked for about 10 minutes about setting.  We asked a team of students to get out of their chairs and configure the seats in the room for a client interview.  Then we sat in the seats (I was the client; Harriet was the interpreter; the students were themselves).  We talked about how the arrangement felt and about we wanted to ensure that the client’s head would not need to jockey between looking from one student to the other.  Then we shuffled the chairs around a little so that the width of a table between the client and the students was a little shorter; it felt more comfortable.  The table did not feel as much as a barrier as it had when the longer part separated us.

We ended class with a short (7 minute) exercise about body language and posture.  We asked each student to sit in his or her chair as he or she would in an interview.  Then Harriet noted that by sitting toward the front of the chair with our arms resting on the table, our bodies appear more open, attentive and inviting.  She then demonstrated a few other seated positions that did not communicate the feeling of openness or attentiveness – such as sitting too far back in a chair, having one’s hands on the lap instead of the table, holding one’s head up.  We could also have students practice this in front of a mirror so that they begin to become attentive to what their bodies unconsciously say about their intentions.


I flipped my class yesterday.  And I think it worked!

The class was on persuasive lawyering.  Over the summer I made a video about persuasive lawyering.  It talks about persuasion in relation to classic rhetoric, and the elements of logos, pathos and ethos.  The video is available on LegalED here.

Here is what I did during the 55-minute class segment that I allocate in my syllabus for introducing the topic:

I assigned the video for students to watch as homework.  It is less than 5 minutes long.  Then, when we got to class, instead of starting the discussion of persuasion with a short lecture on the topic, I started with an exercise.  The students were asked to work with a partner to persuade my co-teacher (I am very fortunate to be co-teaching with Harriet Power from our university’s theater department this semester) and I that we should serve wine and cheese during each class.  The student teams had two minutes to come up with their arguments.  Then, each student team had one minute to stand up and persuade us, with each partner contributing equally to the argument.  Most argued about the health benefits of wine, others about how drinking wine would make the students more relaxed and open, which would facilitate better in class discussions, and others pointed out how the professors could benefit from the wine as well, at the end of a long, busy day.  The theme of culture was raised as well; some arguments tied the wine and cheese to our abilities to learn about different cultures through their food and drink.

My co-teacher and I then facilitated a discussion of the arguments in relation to the theory of persuasion.  We used the students’ arguments as jumping off points – we broke them apart to identify what worked and why, relating everything back to the theory the students had learned from the video and the tactics of persuasion – logos, pathos and ethos.  For example, the argument drew on logos when it referred to the research on the health benefits of drinking red wine.  The part of the argument that was more personal about us as professors and how we could also enjoy the wine, was about pathos, appealing to the audience’s emotions. 

I have taught a class on persuasive lawyering about ten times before and this one seemed different; it was better.  Instead of my talking at the students about the foundations of persuasive argument, by flipping the classroom my students could learn the foundational information before coming to class.  That opened up the class for an activity in which the students could actually try it out. 

Another added benefit was that we could provide feedback on the students’ presentation skills as well.  We told them whether their tone was appropriate and authoritative.  By getting the students out of their chairs, we could provide feedback to the students on their posture and stance and how body language can enhance or detracted from the persuasiveness of an argument. 

I hope to make shorter videos on each of the three elements – ethos, pathos and logos – in which I flesh each out in more detail in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments section below.  I’d be happy to share more about the experience.  I also welcome comments on the video. 

Flipping learning refers to a growing educational practice (increasingly being adopted in higher education) of using videos to teach doctrinal subjects -- which students watch outside of the classroom -- and then using face-to-face classtime for active, problem-based learning that reinforces what students have learned through online video instruction.  

I think flipped learning could be applied in legal education too.  If students watch doctrinal videos as homework, then classtime can be devoted to activities that reinforce the learning and provide more feedback and assessment.

This website will assemble a growing collection of short videos (each 15 minutes or less) on law and law-related topics (substantive, procedural, practical skills and professional values) so that we can begin to “flip” the law school classroom and devote more face-to-face class time for active, problem-based learning.  A series of videos on contracts is already up and being used by students around the country.  The videos on substantive law could be assigned to students for viewing outside the classroom, thereby freeing up class time for activities that bring in more training on the other competencies proven necessary for successful lawyering, practical lawyering skills and professional values.  This is a blended model of teaching, where we leverage the web for passive learning (listening to lectures) and open up class time for more activities that call on students to use their knowledge in active ways that reinforce and support learning.

We realize that many professors are not trained to teach in this new way.  Our website is designed to support them as they make this transition.  The website also hosts a collection of tools directed at professors interested in bringing teaching innovations into their classrooms.  We are assembling a series of teaching materials (videos, assessment tools, problems and in-class exercises) created, contributed to and curated by world-class teachers in their fields.  The series on pedagogy will be directed at law professors.  These videos will explain how to incorporate more active learning and teaching of lawyering competencies into doctrinal courses with the hope of inspiring others.

Join our growing community!  If you have materials that you would like to share, please let us know.