Dear Legal Profession students:
I hope you and your loved ones are all well and managing through the continuing upheavals. I'm writing those of you who are registered for this fall's Legal Profession class with me with a couple of important notes.
First, I need to let you know that for medical reasons, the university has accommodated my need to continue teaching remotely via Zoom. I appreciate that this is not ideal in some respects, for you or for me, although of course there is no way of knowing precisely what will happen to in-person learning in the state or country in the coming weeks and months. I love the classroom and the energy one gets there and from interaction and discussion with all of you in a classroom setting. But personal circumstances require it for me.
Needless to say, I (like most of your teachers, I think) have been doing what I can this summer to learn more about online teaching and how to make the best use of it. One thing I can assure you is that the class will not simply be an endless series of hour-long lectures from me to you. Where I need to lecture on a rule or bit of material, I will try to keep it briefer and break it up, and/or record it for you to watch so that we can then have a class, possibly shorter in length, devoted to discussing it. I will also focus on using breakout groups, facilitating discussion despite the large numbers for this class by assigning an on-call core group for the week--in advance, so that you can plan and aren't taken by surprise--and focusing on that group for discussion purposes, having guest speakers, polling, using more visuals, and so on. It is possible that I will conduct a few classes (recorded and possibly streamed so others can watch) in the classroom, with a rotating smaller number of students on each occasion, to give and get at least a few days with the vibe of the classroom. But I'm afraid that last possibility is still uncertain.
Again, I understand that this is not ideal. Some of you are 3Ls and must get the course done before graduation, while some 2Ls may choose to wait a year and hope for the best. I respect any such choices. I can assure you that I'll do my best to work with all of you to make the class as interesting, fun, and painless as possible despite the reliance on remote teaching. There will be growing pains, as there always are, but certainly we are all in a different position from the sudden switchover that occurred in the spring, and the class will be taught with the goal of making it as fulfilling as possible in that medium. Although Legal Profession is a required course and thus people sometimes come to it with the sense of being a captive audience, it's actually a fun topic and a fun, very problem-based book. I would like it to be fun for you--and for me--and will work to make it fun. I will send out a survey before the class starts soliciting your views about what you would like to get or not get from the class and this form of instruction. But don't hesitate to write me any time with your thoughts, suggestions, preferences and aversions, and questions.
I mentioned the casebook. It's in a new edition, the Fifth. A number of you have written asking whether it's possible to get by with the Fourth Edition. Given the absurd prices of casebooks, I quite understand! In some of my courses I have shifted to my own materials, and I hope to move further in that direction. I teach this course less often, so it's a little less practicable, at least this year, but I dislike the ever-increasing cost of casebooks too.
On the one hand, my unhappiness about the expense and the fact that you're adults makes me unwilling to simply lay down some kind of law here. On the other, I should note that there have been real changes in the casebook. Unlike a con law casebook that just squeezes in some new cases or reduces some old ones in size, this is a problem-based casebook, and some of the problems, along with other materials and, in some cases, rules, have changed. Certainly some of you need to have the new edition and many of you may want it just to make things easier. And I will be using the Fifth Edition and referring to its page numbers and so on. But if you find ways to make the earlier edition work for yourself, possibly or presumably in collaboration with classmates who have the Fifth Edition, that's fine with me, as long as you're prepared to talk about the materials that are in the current book, do the work to make sure you know where we are given structural changes in the book, and otherwise take responsibility for your end of the class. If it helps you to decide what you want to do or how to do it, I have attached an excerpt from the teacher's manual that discusses some of the major differences between the Fourth and Fifth Editions. I also generally assign a rules supplement for this class. The casebook refers to most of the relevant rules and materials, and if you can get them from other sources with less expense, that's fine with me, as long as you have the text of the rules--and comments; the comments to the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility are as important as the text of the rules themselves--handy when it's time to read and discuss them.
I'll be in further touch shortly, but don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions about either of these matters.
Gordon Rosen Professor
School of Law
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Office: (205) 348-6110 | Mobile: (205) 535-6938
firstname.lastname@example.org | https://www.law.ua.edu