Playing to Their Passion: A Legal Research Course that Resonates with Law Students


The first year of law school is chock-full of new experiences. Students can become overwhelmed in the face of so much change that they forget why they chose law school as a career path. They often lose sight of their end goal and need a touchstone to ground them back to their initial interests. Legal Research is the ideal first-year class to connect the acquisition of legal skills with interesting topics in a way that encourages students’ engagement in their present and future learning. By adding a student-selected subject context to their class, Legal Research instructors can incorporate contextualized learning and active learning techniques that improve student engagement and student learning. This article discusses the transformation of a generic, required, first-year legal research course into one that divides into four small (18–20 students) classes, each with one of four topics: patent, trademark and copyright, traditional practice, and social justice. In addition, it envisions future innovations to improve student engagement and student learning.



Publication Date

Fall 10-26-2018

Journal Title

Legal Reference Services Quarterly


Taylor & Francis

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type