LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO SCHOOL of LAW (2016 Winter Magazine) - page 10-11

on specific research topics and
present their findings at an event
attended by much of the law school.
“Students really rise to the
occasion,” Singer says of these
exercises. “They’re proud of
their work and glad to have an
opportunity to show it.”
Future lawyers in Singer’s
Corporate Transactions in Health Law
course travel in teams to downtown
Chicago law firms to play the role
of attorneys in fictional health care
cases. Attorneys at these firms,
including Beazley Institute grads, play
the clients. “Our students get right in
front of the best health care attorneys
in the city; it’s a great opportunity for
them to network and ask questions,”
Singer notes.
Group learning not only helps
transmit information and ideas more
effectively; it also readies law students
for the reality of collaboration in their
future careers.
“Not only do students learn more
by talking to each other than by just
listening to me,” says Singer, “but
working in teams also goes along
with the way people practice law
today. Good lawyers think expansively
and pull in different perspectives.”
Diane Geraghty, Loyola’s
Kathleen Beazley Chair in ChildLaw
and director of the Civitas ChildLaw
Center, adds, “Whether you’re in a
large firm or a small practice setting,
you’ll need to do collaborative work in
the practice of law. It’s not always self-
evident how to meld different visions,
schedules, and work habits, so I try to
regularly give students practice at it.”
Making it interactive
Cynthia Ho, Clifford E. Vickrey
Research Professor and director of the
Intellectual Property program, has
adopted an effective new strategy
in her Civil Procedure class. She has
students take a 25- to 30-question
quiz in preparation for each class,
which allows first-year students to
learn from the questions and answers
before they come to class. Ho uses the
results to tailor her class discussions
to the topics students found most
difficult. Students are also required to
Jenna Silver (center) and Collin Kurtenbach collaborate with Professor Cynthia Ho (left) on a poster they presented to their IP class.
take a weekly review quiz to reinforce
mastery of these new concepts.
Ho also introduces students
to initially foreign topics, such as
personal jurisdiction, using examples
students can relate to. She says,
“Context helps, so I use an actual
opinion and legal documents based
on a personal jurisdiction case
involving actor Angelina Jolie. That
makes it more real to them—and they
become invested.”
To further engage first-year
students, who may have fewer
opportunities for hands-on learning
than 2Ls and 3Ls, Ho offers extra
credit through projects students
share with the entire class. “They’ve
come up with mini-dramas, board
games, cartoons, rap songs...all kinds
of things,” Ho reports. “It’s an easy and
creative way to get them engaged
with the material and other students.”
In both her Civil Procedure and
Intellectual Property courses, Ho
requires students to write out answers
to exam-type essay questions to
further reinforce understanding. She
provides feedback on initial drafts and
sometimes has students collaborate
on final drafts. “That gives students
multiple opportunities for feedback
and the benefits of working together,”
she explains.
In addition, Ho has borrowed and
tweaked Singer’s poster presentation
idea, having students complete this
project in teams as a review before
the final. “Students can pick any topic
that applies things we’re learning.
Part of their grade is based on how
engaging their presentation is to
others,” she says. “Students tell me, ‘I
wasn’t looking forward to this, but I
learned a lot, and it was fun.’”
The art of active listening
The School of Law has greatly
expanded its dispute resolution
offerings, preparing students for a
legal system in which mediation,
arbitration, and other alternatives are
increasingly used instead of litigation.
Frisbie helps her students learn the
art of active listening, a critical skill for
all lawyers, not just those working as
mediators, arbitrators, or negotiators.
“By listening carefully, then
restating or reframing to other parties
the essentials of what they’ve just
said, you’re building rapport, which
moves things along,” Frisbie says. “It
also helps you begin to pick their
interests out of the narrative. We want
students to understand both the
strengths and weaknesses of different
legal claims—the fact pattern—and
the more subjective personal interests
of the parties.”
When students make a habit of
active listening, they expand their
lawyering skills and become more
valuable to their clients by being
attuned to everything happening in
court and at the mediation table, above
and below the surface. Interestingly,
skills that help Loyola law instructors
better impart information to
students—eye contact, relaxed facial
expressions, open body language, and
subtle mirroring of the other person’s
movements and speech patterns—are
also critical to good lawyering.
An accomplished attorney will
always consider the role of emotion
in the case before him or her, Frisbie
notes. “If someone gets emotional when
a topic comes up, there’s probably
an underlying interest there. We’re all
human,” she says.
“Lawyers still have to understand
the strengths and weaknesses of the
legal case, but when they learn these
other principles, too, they become more
sophisticated advocates and expand
the pie of possible solutions.”
Christine Dadourian (JD ’13),
currently clerking for the United States
District Court, Northern District of
Illinois, plans a career in labor and
employment law. She says, “Professor
Frisbie opened up my eyes to becoming
a counselor in a conference room
in addition to a courtroom. The
psychology she teaches in her classes
really clicked for me.
“One of her homework assignments
was to practice being a more active
listener in daily conversations outside
the classroom, by asking open-ended
questions to follow what was said,
rather than instinctively responding
with our own commentary or
judgment,”Dadourian continues.
“It was interesting to see how people
reacted, by opening up more, sharing
important details, and feeling heard.
When those skills are turned on, there’s
a change on all sides.”
Banishing bias
ustice may be blind—but often, attorneys, judges, and others in
the legal system are blind to their own implicit biases, and that
can lead to poor decision making. In his courses on constitutional law,
professional responsibility, and critical race studies, Professor Juan Perea
helps students understand that even with the best intentions, biases can
prevent them from exercising their duties fairly.
Through the Harvard University-authored Implicit Association Test
(IAT), which he invites students to take without sharing their results,
Perea helps students identify their own unconscious associations
between concepts (e.g., black people, gay people) and evaluations (bad,
good) or stereotypes (athletic, clumsy). Perea also uses a variety of other
tools, ranging from the book
Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
to a résumé study showing that applicants with culturally black names
got fewer responses than those with culturally white names, to a movie
about the “Central Park Five,”who were wrongly convicted of raping a
jogger in 1989.
The goal of each exercise: to help students understand that even
though they may have conscious commitments to open-mindedness
and fairness, everyone has unconscious preferences that can manifest
themselves in the practice of law.
“If you’re committed to fighting against racism, it’s very hard to
understand that you can have an IAT result that suggests that you
prefer whites,” Perea says. “But it’s not about blame, it’s about taking
responsibility for the fact that we’re biased and trying to find ways to
correct for that. We know, for instance, that implicit bias tends to play
out when people make quick discretionary decisions, and that’s when
we need to be most on guard.”
In American history in general and the justice system in particular,
bias has had a dramatic negative impact in multiple ways. Many
decisions—including some issued by the Supreme Court—“are just not
based on empirical evidence,” Perea says. “In the case of
v. Davis
, for example, the court said you had to prove discriminatory
intent for a law to be discriminatory. But here’s the problem
with that: a lot of implicit bias is not conscious,
so that ruling is out of line with what we
know about how people make decisions.
We need to urge judges to incorporate
empirical research about how people
actually behave rather than rely on ‘gut
feelings’ or ‘common sense’ assumptions
about behavior.”
Although the work of identifying
one’s own implicit biases can be
unsettling, Perea says he’s
impressed by the general
openness of Loyola law
students to the topic. “One
of the pleasures of teaching
at Loyola is that students
embrace the social justice
mission of the institution,”
he says. “They understand
we all have unconscious
biases; the real question is
how we deal with them.”
Professor Juan Perea
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