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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
7/25/2014 3:23:59 PM

AALL 2014: Something Out of the Ordinary at the Mid-America Chapter Luncheon

I've long been curious about 3D printing, and thanks to the speaker at the Mid-America Association of Law Libraries (MAALL) chapter luncheon at AALL 2014, I learned a lot.

The speaker, Mark Barnett, coordinates Geekbus, a mobile science-eduation lab for K-12 students in San Antonio. He said that 3D printing has been around since 1984, but is now getting more exposure because the patent has expired. His printer cost around $2,000, and some think that within 10 years printers will cost $500-800 and will become common household items.

Mark described how his students use CAD software (the same as used by architects and engineers) to design items to print in plastic. Other printers can print with metals, but those are much more expensive. Unfortunately, the printer couldn't be demonstrated during the lunch because it got out of calibration in transit, but just to see the machine itself up close was interesting.

Below is a side view of the printer. On the right is the green plastic, which is fed into a heated chamber and melted. Some printers have color ink cartridges, but this one doesn't.




Below is a front view. On the tray is a spiky bracelet that was designed by a student. The mechanism dispensing the melted plastic goes back and forth, creating distinctive layers in the printed items. (The stuffed animals are MAALL mascots Marbury and Madison.)

Posted By Colleen Williams at 7/25/2014 3:23:59 PM  0 Comments
7/25/2014 2:41:11 PM

AALL Session Review: Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverence While Teaching Legal Research (C3)

Presenters: Kristina L. Niedringhaus (Georgia State University College of Law) and Carolyn Broering-Jacobs (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law)

This session was unique (to me) in that it focused not on tips for teaching legal research, but instead on the importance of instilling a certain mindset for learning.

The presenters gave a brief presentation before the audience broke into groups to brainstorm (conveniently, we were seated at round tables).

The highlights of the presentation:

  • studies have shown that the quality of perseverance is more important than talent as a  predictor of success
  • instructors need to create an environment in their classrooms where students feel safe to risk failure, thus instilling a "growth mindset"
  • students need to become self-directed learners; as attorneys, they will be life-long learners 
  • be sensitive to students; attempt to avoid a perception of disparate treatment
A handout with ideas for instilling grit is available at http://lawlibrary.gsu.edu/grit/.

Posted By Colleen Williams at 7/25/2014 2:41:11 PM  1 Comments
7/25/2014 10:23:46 AM

Book Review: Teaching Law: Justice, Politics, and the Demands of Professionalism

Robin L. West, Teaching Law:  Justice, Politics, and the Demands of Professionalism (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2014), 246, pp, incl. bib. and index.  ISBN9781107678194, $29.36.

Robin L. West is a professor of law and philosophy at Georgetown University Law Center.  In Teaching Law:  Justice, Politics, and the Demand of Professionalism, West offers an explanation for the current problems affecting legal education and suggests changes to the legal curriculum that she asserts will improve legal education.  Many doctrinal faculty members will be interested in reading this book.  Thus, I recommend it for academic law libraries. 

In the Introduction, West explains why changes to legal education are necessary, namely the large number of law students who are unemployed after graduation.  West provides a roadmap for the book, explaining briefly what concepts are missing from legal education (i.e., the study of justice), how Langdellian and Realists theories have shaped legal curriculum, and why this curriculum is now inadequate.  West then explains what changes to the curriculum and legal scholarship are necessary to help improve legal education. 

In Chapters 1 and 2, West explains why certain subjects, such as justice, are overlooked in legal education and the impact that this oversight has on law students’ education.  West argues that most of the legal curriculum focuses on common law as the primary source of law, essentially ignoring the study of justice (i.e., the fairness of substantive law) and minimizing the critical role that the legislative process plays in creating law.  West asserts that these problems with the legal curriculum are rooted in Langdellian and Realists theories that have shaped legal education.  West details how Langdell created a “learned profession” where law students learned the law by studying common law subjects.  According to West, without an education that incorporates common law, justice, and statutory law, law students do not adequately develop critical thinking skills, appreciate the Constitution as a source of law, or advocate for change through the political and legislative process.  Chapter 2 concludes with West suggesting changes to the first-year curriculum by incorporating additional legislative process and statutory law courses.  West also suggests that law schools should create “institutes” that focus on public policy issues and provide students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience.

In Chapter 3, West acknowledges that most of the legal community criticizes the legal academy’s scholarship and that the criticism may be attributable to a “bifurcated faculty”, which is comprised of three distinct groups: doctrinal faculty, interdisciplinary faculty, and clinicians, all with opposing goals and different scholarly priorities.  West explains that this bifurcated faculty often focuses on making students “practice-ready” and teaches interdisciplinary courses, such as law and philosophy, at the expense of scholarship that assesses the law and recommends changes, as well as traditional pedagogy.  West advocates for a pluralist yet united faculty, with a common goal of promoting the legal profession and professional identity through teaching and scholarship.

In Chapter 4, West refutes the legal education reform proposals that have been advanced by other scholars, namely the Carnegie Report and Brian Tamanaha, author of Failing Law Schools.  While West touches on curricular changes in previous chapters, she fully develops these ideas in Chapter 4 by proposing a required or highly recommended curriculum.  According to West, this required or highly recommended curriculum combines common law courses with international, legislative, and administrative courses.  Specifically, West advocates for introducing significantly more administrative and legislative courses into the first and second-year curriculum with the third-year curriculum dedicated to students’ employment interests and “practice-ready” courses or externships. 

In the final chapter of the book, West summarizes the primary points of the book but also introduces a few additional topics, including answering affirmatively that doctrinal faculty should be required to teach additional hours during the academic year.  West also proposes a reduction in faculty research and travel budgets to help reduce law school costs. 

The audiences for this book are doctrinal faculty and legal administrators.  West assumes that readers are familiar with the issues affecting legal education, including the current economic problems plaguing law schools, knowledge of the ongoing debate for reform, and the legal philosophies that have shaped modern legal education.  Due to the specific subject matter of this book, it is suitable for academic law libraries only.  

Reviewed by:  Nancy B. Talley, Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian at Rutgers University School of Law, Camden.

Posted By Nancy Talley at 7/25/2014 10:23:46 AM  0 Comments