Little Red Schoolhouse Goes to Law School: How Joe Williams’ Teaching Style Can Inform Us About Teaching Law Students
8 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2011 Last revised: 21 Nov 2011
Date Written: January 1, 2009
Professor Williams was a classical rhetoric professor who dedicated his professional career to educating lawyers and doctors about how to communicate with their lay clients using language and style that their clients could understand. Additionally, at the University of Chicago, Professor Williams taught a course entitled “Academic and Professional Writing,” commonly known as “Little Red Schoolhouse.” In this course, he demonstrated excellent teaching techniques while teaching students how to write well. Although Professor Williams’ books and articles communicate how to write well, some of his excellent teaching techniques become lost in the translation from his classroom to his books and articles.
In this article, I review two of Professor Williams’ most prominent and successful teaching techniques and discuss ways to incorporate these methods into law school classrooms. In part II, I discuss how Professor Williams encouraged students to accept and embrace the basic hallmarks of legal writing. In part III, I discuss how Professor Williams taught students to implement their new knowledge using “Diagnosis to Revision” strategies. In part IV, I provide ideas about how this pedagogy could be incorporated into various aspects of legal education. In part V, I conclude by inviting readers to share their use of these techniques or other successful techniques at conferences, in newsletters, and on listservs and blawgs.
Keywords: law, legal, writing, rhetoric, teaching, pedagogy, Williams, Best Practices, Carnegie
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