Press Release

The National Law Journal’s Law Schools Report Finds Educators Far Advanced from The Paper Chase’s Prof. Kingsfield

The National Law Journal’s Law Schools Report Finds Educators Far Advanced from The Paper Chase’s Prof. Kingsfield

NEW YORK – September 29, 2014 – ALM’s The National Law Journal focuses on innovative legal educators in its latest Law Schools Report, published in today’s issue and online at

“Reporter Karen Sloan shows how far we’ve come from The Paper Chase’s Professor Kingsfield, the brilliant Harvard law professor whose intimidating Socratic method of teaching long set the standard for legal educators,” said Beth Frerking, editor in chief of The National Law Journal.

Although Socrates lives on in legal classrooms, recent research shows that the most successful teachers focus on connecting with students and working to make content relevant and inspiring, even in subjects that they have taught for years. Professors who practice these teaching approaches also reach out beyond the curriculum, helping their students navigate law school and contemplate career paths.

Outstanding legal educators profiled in the Law Schools Report include:

Yale Law School’s Heather Gerken, a leading federalism and elections law authority, who does not sacrifice teaching to scholarship. Students praise her ability to draw in the whole class, not just the most ambitious. She can be demanding when grilling students, but unlike Kingsfield uses a “five -second rule,” pausing after questions before cold-calling students. “If you don’t wait a little while, the only people with their hands up will be gunners, and most of them are going to be men,” said Gerken.

• The University of California at Los Angeles School of Law’s Hiroshi Motomura remains a force in students’ lives long after graduation, providing career advice and even professional contacts. Emphasizing practical skills, Motomura asks immigration law students to interview him as though he is their client in order to learn how difficult such conversations can be and to start thinking about how the law applies to specific situations.

The University of South Carolina School of Law Susan Kuo believes teaching means ensuring students absorb key concepts. Rather than just put individuals on the spot, Kingsfield-style, she uses handheld devices to allow an entire class to answer multiple-choice questions in real time to gauge whether students understand the material. Although time-consuming for the grader, she gives regular quizzes so students know how they are doing before final exams.

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