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Tackling Boredom in the Classroom with Clinical Legal Methods

Author Ciara Fitzgerald
Abstract Lecturing contract law to first year law students can, at times, present the significant challenge of maintaining their interest levels and ensuring that they are engaging with the material. The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of any benefits (or, indeed downsides) of using practical consultations in class to help revise, discuss and analyse a relatively discreet area of contract law, namely undue influence. The class will be divided into groups of approximately six students. The group will encompass the legal team members, the clients and any third parties relevant to the story. Each individual will be given information which is specific to them and which the other parties do not have. All members of the team will be given guidance on the process of consultation with a client. The legal team will then have to extract the relevant facts from their clients (and possibly an interested third party), decide what law is relevant to the clients and what are their chances of succeeding in a claim of undue influence. Each group will then have to present their findings orally to the class. The aim of this type of session is to ensure allow the students to interact more with the material in the hope that it will be reflected in their knowledge of the area but also for them to enjoy the experience. The paper will look at the benefit of student-led sessions and formative assessments from a theoretical perspective while tying it in with the analysis of this approach. Students will be asked to give structured feedback on the session. It is also hoped to carry out statistical analysis on examination performance on this area of contract law between cohorts where this approach has been utilised and cohorts that have followed the traditional lecturing style. 'The key to to ensure that academic activities are meaningful and worthwhile.' (Biggs and Tang 2007: 37)
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2009
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