I’m in sunny Las Vegas with our friends from the Saltman Center (ten years old!) attending the SALT Teaching Conference. For the conference, I co-submitted a proposal with Suzanne Rowe, the director of Oregon’s Legal Research and Writing (LRW) Center, so today I’ve been hanging out with LRW types. Here are some things I’ve learned about LRW professors:
- They are passionate about pedagogy.
- They are student-centric — equipping the students for practice is their primary goal.
- They are institutional team players.
- As such, they are often the ones tasked with carrying out innovations and weighty administrative reforms.
- And even so, they are often under-valued in their faculties. Many are not eligible for tenure, for example, and their work is considered less important than what “real” law professors do.
Sound familiar? Listening to LRW people talk to one another about their work at their institutions is a lot like listening to us (ADR people) talk about ourselves and our institutions. Yet I am not sure if the ADR and LRW communities are as connected as these similarities would suggest. Perhaps we could benefit from greater affiliation with LRW.
Two possibilities come to mind. First, we in ADR should consider attending certain LRW conferences, and vice versa. From what I heard today, it sounds like these events are rich sites of information on pedagogical innovations replete with instructional sheets, sample exercises, classroom strategies, and the like. Fortunately for me, the next Legal Writing Institute (LWI) is taking place in Portland — if anyone wants to check it out with me, let me know!
Second, I think we in ADR should look for opportunities to collaborate with LRW when possible. Lawyers and professionals who go into conflict resolution need not only negotiation and mediation skills, they need to be proficient writers. And this writing goes beyond briefs and memos — the ADR professional may need to write op-eds, fact sheets, newsletters, articles, white papers, blog entries, short pieces, press releases, emails, conflict assessments, and other pieces that inform, persuade, or advocate.
Along these lines, I recently collaborated with one of our LRW professors (Megan McAlpin) on an exercise for our master’s students in conflict resolution. Here at Oregon we have an ongoing commitment to training our graduate students to become better writers, so I thought that having more involvement from LRW could be a great boon. Most of these folks are not JD students, though, so we can’t just enroll them in our LRW classes as they exist today.
As a first step, therefore, Megan and I put together an exercise that has LRW and ADR components. It is a three-hour exercise but can be trimmed or expanded, depending on your needs. If you would like a copy of the exercise, please email me (jwr at uoregon.edu). We are hoping that this first effort will be the beginning of a larger collaboration that benefits not just non-JD students (by providing them with the attention of a legal writing professor) but also JD students (by developing more differentiated writing curriculum).
By Jennifer Reynolds