The pioneering use of narrative methodology in a first-year law course to provide an authentic, inquiry-based entry into the discipline of law
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Law is saturated with stories. People tell their stories to lawyers; lawyers tell their client's stories to courts; and legislators develop regulation to respond to their constituent's stories of injustice or inequality. My approach to first-year legal education respects this narrative tradition. Both my curriculum design and assessment scheme in the compulsory first-year subject Australian Legal System deploy narrative methodology as the central teaching and learning device. Throughout the course, students work on resolving the problems of four hypothetical clients. Like a murder mystery, pieces of the puzzle come together as students learn more about legal institutions and the texts they produce, the process of legal research, the analysis and interpretation of primary legal sources, the steps in legal problem-solving, the genre conventions of legal writing style, the practical skills and ethical dimensions of professional practice, and critical inquiry into the normative underpinnings and impacts of the law. The assessment scheme mirrors this design. In their portfolio-based assignment, for example, students devise their own client profile, research the client's legal position and prepare a memorandum of advice.
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