Using a Literary Case Study to Teach Lawyering Skills: How We Used Damages by Barry Werth in the First-Year Legal Writing Curriculum
First-year law students arrive for their first day of classes with varying perceptions about the practice of law and what it means to be a lawyer. Although some students have first-hand knowledge of the profession based on their work in a law office or from family members who are attorneys, many students base their entire conception of what it means to be a lawyer on images from popular media. The Authors discuss how they used a literary account to acquaint students with an authentic picture of litigation, while still teaching the rudiments of legal research and writing. The book used was "Damages," Barry Werth’s account of a medical malpractice case. This Article details the use of "Damages" in the first-year legal research and writing program at Western New England College School of Law. Section I of this Article describes the pedagogical objectives achieved by using the book and reviews the literature about the best practices in teaching. Section II describes the substance of the book and, briefly, how the book was used both to teach discrete topics and as a source of legal research and writing assignments. Section III details the evaluation of the use of the book and how it served to achieve teaching goals. Finally, Section IV provides the Authors’ conclusions and plans for the future.
12 J. Leg. Writing 59 (2006)