Teaching disturbing law

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5 Responses

  1. Keith Blair says:

    I, likewise, don’t have experience with this situation. I think, though, that I might put a short notice in the syllabus stating that the readings for the class will necessarily include disturbing events, etc. That puts students on notice without overemphasizing (assuming that the events could be overemphasized) the issue in a class discussion.

  2. Max says:

    Must be a problem only for law professors. I don’t know too many lawyers who didn’t end up deep in the personal affairs of at least one stranger, and probably multiple neighbors and friends, during their career.

    Just this summer, at a purely transactional & real estate firm, I ended up researching a sex club, since one of our clients was trying to get a TRO.

    One tip: don’t conduct class in a patently offensive manner, as one famous professor who I won’t name did when he/she “wanted to hear the other side” on a rape class, calling exclusively (for three days of class) on males who disagreed rape had occured in the case at bar.

    Some professors I know have introduced controversial/explicit cases with a disclaimer, a method I always felt insulted the students. My favorite method is for the professor to go directly into it and try to pull political/social/etc commentary back to the legal issues. It tends to raise the level of debate without making people feel silenced on their beliefs.

  3. Kaimi says:

    UPDATE (also added to original post): Paul Secunda posted on the same question, and has received a number of great suggestions and comments from his readers. Anyone interested in the topic should check out the thread over at Workplace Prof Blog.

  4. CaliforniaOperator says:

    My Comment:

    You are a Professor of Law I assume; and you are teaching adults. College is about learning about real life. Teach those examples as they are. If a student in pre-law has a problem with your examples, the language or assignment then they need to reconsider their career choice. College is the ground work for career success.

    Life is not sterile. We don’t get to pick and choose life as if it was a theatrical production. Teach from fact, not fantasy.

  5. Mark says:

    A friend applied for a teaching position at Boalt a few years back, and reports that he was told by a senior faculty member that “we don’t teach cases here involving rape.”

    The mind reels.