Steven Friedland develops experiential learning in the law school classroom
Professor of Law Steven Friedland is on a mission to boost experiential learning in law school classrooms through hands-on techniques like simulations, role-playing, small group problem solving and interactive workshops. His teaching “team” includes fingerprint experts, K-9 police officers and their dogs, prosecutors, defense attorneys and Elon Law graduates.
“In traditional legal education, experiential learning often is relegated to the latter half of the three year program and generally is designated as optional,” said Friedland. “There is value in embedding experiential learning in core offerings throughout legal education, starting with day one. To really do so, though, requires a change in rhetoric as well as a substantial modification of the overall educational narrative.”
One of 26 law teachers featured in the 2013 Harvard University Press book by Michael Hunter Schwartz, Gerald F. Hess and Sophie M. Sparrow, What the Best Law Teachers Do, Friedland considers interactive and experiential education not only superior in maximizing learning outcomes, but also a key dimension of each student’s pathway to practice.
“Experiential learning ends up being what students are doing in the real world,” he said. “Students enjoy being participants and consequently become more engaged, promoting the learning process as a result.”
Friedland has written and edited a number of books. His books on legal education were co-edited and then published by the Carolina Academic Press, including Techniques for Teaching Law, Techniques for Teaching Law 2 and Teaching the Law School Curriculum. His article, “The Rhetoric of Experiential Legal Education: Within the Context of Big Context,” was published in the Northeastern University Law Journal in summer 2013. Friedland’s substantive law scholarship includes a co-authored book chapter, “Privacy and the Fourth Amendment,” which will be published in Perspectives on Privacy: Social Networks and Increasing Regulation in European Countries (de Gruyter 2013), and “Controversial Five-to-Four Supreme Court Decisions and the Politicization of the Majority of One,” to be published in the Dartmouth Law Journal, as well as text books in the Evidence, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law fields, such as the co-authored Evidence Problems and Materials (4th Ed. Lexis Pub.), Constitutional Law: Cases, Materials, and Problems (3rd Ed. Aspen Press) and Criminal Procedure: Cases, Problems and Exercises (5 Ed. West Pub. Co.).
Recently elected to the American Law Institute, Friedland says he has enjoyed analyzing and developing legal policy in the context of the changing dynamics of both lawyering and legal education. His current scholarly focus is on government surveillance and advancing technology, particularly facial recognition technology, cell phone searches, and whether there exists a field of protected privacy in public.
“The government surveillance issue brings up basic tensions in our freedom. We want freedom from terrorism and we also want freedom from excessive government intervention,” said Friedland. “But what does that mean in terms of data aggregation and what happens when we’re in public? Abuses of power need to be avoided, but at the same time government operations regarding the intervention of terrorism have to be secret.”
As the Director of the Center for Engaged Learning in the Law (CELL) at Elon Law, Friedland is planning an international conference to be held at Elon in the spring of 2014. Co-sponsored by the Alliance for Experiential Legal Education out of Northeastern University Law School, the conference will focus on how experiential learning can make law schools stronger in the years to come.