Enhancing student learning and engagement in the Juris Doctor through the rich tapestry of legal story-telling

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The written hypothetical problem scenario is one of the most common methods for teaching and assessing in law. Whilst this device is considered to be an effective and appropriate teaching tool, it has limitations. In legal practice, it is rare for a problem to be presented entirely in written form. More usually the problem is presented verbally. Another common limitation of the written hypothetical is that hypothetical scenarios tend to focus on a single issue. A real-life legal problem may raise multiple legal issues.

This article examines the use of visual media in teaching the Juris Doctor (‘JD’) law degree at the University of Western Australia Law School (‘UWA’). This paper particularly discusses a visual media project introduced at UWA in February 2017, which modified the use of hypothetical problems in law teaching. The project involved creating a filmed hypothetical scenario that was shown to law students in the first class of the foundational unit in the JD. The film raised a range of legal topics as well as moral, ethical and professional issues that may arise in legal practice. The film will continue to be used at UWA as the basis of problem-solving, role-plays, and case studies throughout the JD degree and will form the core around which legal education issues of: wellbeing, work-readiness and legal professionalism, will be developed. The film’s arguable benefits are: enhanced law student engagement, critical thinking, legal problem-solving and communication. The film also aims to provide a more cohesive and integrated capstone learning experience for all JD students, and to build a learning community across JD year groups to promote a sense of belonging, connectedness and well-being. Significant benefits for staff include a reduced need to create different problem scenarios and, importantly, increased collaboration and sharing of ideas across JD teaching teams.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-40
JournalJournal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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