Spring 2014 will be the first semester that I have used the Pearce, Capra, Green, Knake and Terry casebook. I am still in the process of adapting and figuring out my rhythm for this casebook since I had used my prior casebook for more than twenty years.
One of the things that I appreciate about the current casebook is that my co-authors Russ Pearce and Renee Knake posted their PowerPoint slides on the blog. On the one hand, I found this is extremely helpful. On the other hand, I find it very difficult to use other people’s slides – especially lengthy slides – because it limits my flexibility in the way I teach the class. For example, when I teach Civil Procedure, I use a casebook that has lengthy slides available. But I find that I only use a slide here or there (usually those with good graphics). I prefer to have a file folder of Word documents so that I can keep my flexibility in switching in between documents.
Although I am only at the beginning of Week 2 of this Semester’s Professional Responsibility course, I feel that I am beginning to get a sense of how I will prepare for class. I thought I would share my approach (and PowerPoint slides) in case anyone else would find them useful (especially those teaching from this casebook for the first time).
I teach the course primarily as a statutory course in which we try to figure out what the rules say, how they should be applied, and whether the students approve of the policy choices reflected in the rules. I focus quite a bit on methodology and consider that equally important as the substantive material we are covering. In my experience, students (and lawyers), are not as facile in dealing with statutes as I think they should be. This is one of the reasons why I like to teach using the problem method. After identifying a particular problem, my opening question is usually “how do we tackle this problem?” That question should elicit the correct rule. My second question often asks the students to “eyeball” the rule and try to understand and explain its structure – for example, whether a particular section sets forth a mandatory prohibition, whether it functions as an exception, or whether it is a definition. I will then ask the students to walk us through the particular elements, identifying whether elements are conjunctive or disjunctive. After that, we will turn back to the problem and apply the analysis to the particular fact pattern.
For this reason, I decided that I would prefer to have PowerPoint slides that contained ONLY the questions, rather than a PowerPoint that contains all the material we will use in class. I flip back and forth between the PowerPoint problems and the relevant ABA Model Rule, which I have saved as Word documents. (I prefer using a Word version of a Model Rule to the free online version because it is easier to annotate the Word version plus it includes the comment.)
For this reason, most of my PowerPoint slides set forth the structure of the material we are covering or the discussion problem (but not the choices or the applicable rule). I am happy to share my Word documents Via Dropbox if anyone is interested in them. Just this week, I decided that in the future, I would prepare a second PowerPoint file for each assignment and that this second file would include the case illustrations and video links. By having these in a separate file, I have more control over whether and how they are used.
I hope these observations have been helpful.