Telling tales in school: storytelling for self-reflection and pedagogical improvement in clinical legal education

In the past twenty years, there has been a surge in legal scholarship that recognizes the value of story in law, and law schools are beginning to tap into the extraordinary power of story. Largely absent from this mix are stories told by law students about their own experiences with the law. The authors used class time formerly devoted to clinic rounds to offer students the opportunity to tell stories about their cases outside the presence of their supervising attorneys. Clinical faculty then compared their own, recorded version of the story of a case with the student’s version. This article explores how the integration of storytelling into law school clinics can help law students move through the six levels of cognition identified in Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives in order to become more practice-ready, and how listening to student stories can help faculty deepen their understanding of students and cases. In addition to helping students develop insights into their casework, storytelling offered an opportunity to practice oral advocacy skills and to understand the role of story in case theory. Providing clinical faculty a formal opportunity to tell their own stories about student work on cases can deepen faculty members’ understanding and inform their pedagogical approach.
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