Philosophy of Teaching


How one teaches is necessarily influenced by what one perceives as the goals of legal education. Certainly, the primary goal is to prepare you to be effective lawyers, judges and policy makers. At a minimum, that includes helping you to develop the ability to:  *think critically, precisely, and clearly; 

*Express yourself succinctly;

*understand the expressions of others; particularly those who are different than yourself;

*understand human nature, particularly the motivations and needs of your clients, opponents, jurors, judges, etc.;

*use the techniques of the legal profession to represent a client in general matters, to recognize where you lack competence, and to comply with accepted ethical standards

While it is hardly arguable that preparing you to be an effective lawyer is an important goal, it is not the only one. Many of you will be lawmakers and policymakers, thus training you to understand the values implicit in the law is an important goal. Another important goal is to train you to address in a systematic manner your social responsibilities as an individual lawyer and your collective responsibilities as a member of the bar. This includes your responsibility to assist your community in maintaining an accessible, effective and socially responsible legal system. 

Thus, my objective is to help you continue the process of meeting those goals. The primary focus of my teaching method is to provide you an educationally sound introduction to AIDS and the Law.  Furthermore, given the impact race and gender have on the law (and vice versa) my approach to teaching is to explicitly explore diversity issues as a component of all aspects of the course. 


A. Teaching Objective #1: Educationally Sound Pedagogy

      An educationally sound legal pedagogy is a philosophy of legal education which is grounded in known educational theory. To be so grounded, and educationally sound legal pedagogy:  *trains you to solve legal problems by providing you with a working program for solving problem;

*provides you with the opportunity to excel;

*provides you with criteria for excelling and specifically what progress you are making;

*provides you with the opportunity to practice each new skill throughout the learning process; and, 

*provides you with adequate instruction on how to study for law school and this course.

Thus, it is my goal, through an educationally sound pedagogy, to provide you with an opportunity to learn and to excel. 


B. Teaching Objective #2:  AIDS and the Law

     AIDS and the Law teaching objectives are those objectives that relate directly to the substantive area of the law. They can be divided into two categories: knowledge and skills/abilities. The objectives of this course are:  

*to provide you with a basic understanding of the law as it relates to AIDS; 

*to provide you information about selected principles of black letter law and significant issues (or unsettled matters);  

*to help you understand the value implications of legal choices;  

*to help you develop and improve your analytical skills including understanding, issue-spotting, problem-solving, judgment and synthesis; 

*to help you to understand the importance of inference and intuition in problem definition and problem-solving; and  

*emphasize that "personal neutrality" is not necessary to scholarly objectivity.


C. Teaching Objectives #3: Diversity-Conscious Legal Pedagogy

Class, disability, gender, race and sexual preference issues are such an integral part of our society (and the legal profession) that we often overlook how the law affects individuals with different backgrounds differently. In a diverse society, such as ours, awareness of how different class, disability, gender race and sexual preference are effected differently by the law is essential. This is true whether the person is a defendant, plaintiff, lawyer, juror, judge or law student. Diversity awareness should be a normative part of the value system of the practicing attorney. An education which is aware of diversity:  *explores how racial, ethnic, gender, class, disability, cultural and sexual orientation are related to and impacted by the structure of law. In particular, it illuminates the connection between racial and gender issues and the values, interests, rules and theories that appear to be neutral but, are in fact a representation of the values of the dominant culture;

*broadly frames classroom discussion so that we step outside the doctrinal bounds of the law to critique the rules  and legal practice; and, 

*focuses discussion on  problems, interests and values that reflect a broad range of perspectives