Law 165 - Learning to Think Like A Lawyer: Using Social Science to Interrogate the 1L Experience

Laura E. Gómez

Laura E. Gómez

Professor of Law
B.A. Harvard College, 1986
M.A. Stanford University, 1988
J.D. Stanford Law School, 1992
Ph.D. Stanford University, 1994
Course Description:

Social scientists who study the professions have explored how the 1L year functions as a key moment in the professional socialization of lawyers. Law professors who teach first year courses pride themselves on teaching students to “think like a lawyer,” and, by the end of the first year, students typically achieve a kind of bilingualism with legal analysis as their new second language. But students sometimes experience the 1L year as quite alienating and overwhelming. This Modes course will use social science research to explore the 1L experience, both in and out of the classroom. The existing social science literature emphasizes how female students (of all races) and students from racial minority groups (African American, Asian American, Latino/a and Native American) experience the professional socialization of the 1L year, and this will be a major theme of the course. Issues of alienation related to sexual orientation, disability and social class will also be an important focus of this course (although the extant social science literature addresses these questions in much less detail).

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this 1-unit course, students should have familiarity with the following:

--how legal education is unique and how it aims to socialize students into a profession;

--how social science methods may be applied to understanding the effects of legal pedagogy on students;

--how different types of 1L students are differently situated to advantage/disadvantage from the structure of the 1L classroom;

--by deconstructing the 1L classroom, achieving a better outcome on spring exams than on fall exams.