From the Reference Desk: Starting with a Secondary Source

By Amy Flick

In class, I stress to students the importance of starting their research with a good secondary source. For international law research, I frequently recommend the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (“MPEPIL”).

In practice, I don’t always follow my own advice. Hearing that the needed document was a treaty or international agreement, I started with a search of UN Treaties in Hein Online’s United Nations Law Collection, then in the United Nations Treaty Series Online. No luck. A Google search sent me to kimberleyprocess.com, which had a category for “core documents,” but the student insisted that he was looking for an accord or treaty, and the “certification scheme” documents on the site did not at first glance appear to be what he was looking for.

Finally going to a secondary source, I searched “Kimberley” in MPEPIL – and there was an entry titled Kimberley Process. The article explained the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (“KPCS”) and its history, and it included citations and links to  UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/5556 of January 29, 2001, “Breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts,” along with other documents from the UN Security Council, the European Union, and the WTO. It also explained that “the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme does not establish legally binding obligations on its participants (it is rather a political agreement).”

We went back to kimberleyprocess.com with a better idea of what we were looking for. The FAQ page gave some simple yet helpful information: answers to What are conflict Diamonds? What is the Kimberley Process? Who is involved? As it explained, the Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds. The KPCS outlines the rules governing the trade in rough diamonds, with a set of minimum requirements that each participant must meet. And important information I missed on my first encounter with the site, “[t]he KP is not, strictly speaking an international organization….Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.” Those core documents on the website that we saw earlier did turn out to be the documents the student wanted – the 2003 Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the amended 2013 KPCS Core Document.

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One question the student wanted answered was whether the United States is a party to, or participant in, the KPCS. The KPCS website also lists participants and observers, and the United States is listed with 2003 as its date of entry, with statistics but not legislative documents (also there are some for a few other countries). My standard secondary sources for reference questions include CRS Reports, although here I was not thinking of this as a U.S. statutory question. A search of EveryCRSReport.com led me to Diamonds and Conflict: Background, Policy, and Legislation, RL30751, a report most recently updated in 2003, so not entirely up-to-date on the KPCS. But it did include U.S. legislative actions as of 2003, including Public Law 108-19, the Clean Diamond Trade Act. We found one U.S. case on the CDTA and the Kimberley Process, US v Approximately 1170 Carats of rough Diamonds Seized at John F Kennedy International Airport: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCOURTS-nyed-1_05-cv-05816/pdf/USCOURTS-nyed-1_05-cv-05816-1.pdf

From there, I did have other, more detailed secondary sources to refer to the student. There are several titles in Emory’s catalog on the Kimberley process, and more generally on international trade and human rights. There was even a 2008 Emory Ph.D. dissertation by Franziska Bieri, From Conflict Diamonds to the Kimberley process: How NGOs Reshaped a Global Industry.

5 Tips for Teaching Foreign Law Students (Webinar Recap)

By Caitlin Hunter

As U.S. law schools recruit a growing number of foreign students, law librarians are increasingly called upon to teach students who are new to the U.S. education system. On December 5, four librarians discussed their experiences teaching foreign law students, in a webinar moderated by Jessica Pierucci (FCIL librarian at UCI Law) and featuring panelists Jodi Collova (Director of LL.M. Legal Research and Writing at Berkeley Law), Karina Condra (FCIL librarian at Sturm College of Law), Heidi Frostestad Kuehl (Director of the Law Library at NIU Law), and Mike McArthur (FCIL librarian at Duke Law). Panelists described teaching foreign law students in a variety of contexts, ranging from short, pre-semester introductions to U.S. law for LL.M.s to full semester research and writing classes including a mix of LL.M. and JD students. The full webinar is available here.

Here were my key take-aways on how to help foreign law students succeed:

  1. Recognize students’ individuality and diversity.

It’s important to prepare for common struggles faced by foreign students but it’s equally important to recognize the diversity of cultures and individual personalities.

Some students need to be encouraged to speak up; others need guidance on interjecting tactfully. Some students need to be encouraged to visit their professors during office hours; others need to be warned that U.S. professors will not provide the level of handholding they expect.

  1. Teach students how U.S. law school works.

Things that are obvious to a librarian who completed law school in the U.S. and has worked at a U.S. law library for years are not obvious to a 25-year-old who just got off a plane from China.

Librarians can help students succeed in all of their classes by pointing them to resources that they may not know about, such as:

  • Study aids, online and in print.
  • Legal dictionaries. Show students where to find English legal dictionaries and discuss how the same word can mean different things in conversational versus legal English.
  • Office hours and research and writing help. Students may not realize that they can visit professors during office hours. Likewise, they may not be aware of the school’s writing center or know that they can ask reference librarians for advice on citations, research for other classes, and research in practice. Tell them!

Also, alert students to norms that may differ between the U.S. and their home countries, such as:

  • The Socratic Method and active participation. Many students are from cultures where being a good student means staying quiet and taking notes. Clearly explaining the different expectations in the U.S. can make students more comfortable speaking up.
  • In many countries, it’s normal for classes to start a half-hour or more after the posted time. Let students know that classes in the U.S. start at the posted time.
  • U.S. students are drilled from elementary school onwards to use their own words, rather than copying from the book. However, anyone who has ever taught U.S. law students knows how many of them struggle to understand what this means in practice. The problem is multiplied for foreign students who may have been taught that they should copy directly from the book to show respect for established scholars. Talk with students about the importance of using quotation marks and providing attribution in U.S. education.

Of course, many of these norms (especially the Socratic Method) are new to most law students. LL.M.s can benefit from participating in JD orientation, where they can join their American classmates in learning to brief cases and participating in mock law school classes.

However, foreign students face a particularly steep learning curve. LL.M.s may not know how to read a case at the beginning of the semester and, yet, by the end of the semester they must compete on exams with third year JDs.

  1. Create assignments that set students up for success.

Foreign law students are getting used to U.S.-style legal assignments and are typically reading and writing in a foreign language, so try the following:

  • Stay away from big stakes final exams and assignments with tight time limits and use a mix of methods to assess students.
  • Start the semester by having students memorize basic legal terms and then quizzing them. This gives students necessary U.S. legal vocabulary and memorization is familiar and comfortable for students from many countries.
  • Always provide written instructions.

Most foreign law students come from civil law jurisdictions, where law is based primarily on statutes with little to no emphasis on cases. These students tend to excel at dissecting and applying statutes but struggle with analogizing and distinguishing cases. To make the transition easier for students from civil law countries:

  • Start the semester with problems based on statutes and other codes, such as the evidence code, procedural rules, or rules of professional conduct for attorneys.
  • When introducing case law, provide exercises that teach students to make fact-to-fact comparisons between cases, rather than simply mining cases for sweeping rules.
  • Tailor cases and add discussion questions to make them more manageable. Have students discuss and compare cases as a group.

Although most of the librarians primarily taught legal research, they reported that many students’ biggest struggle was actually with writing and suggested the following:

  • Add a short memo or scholarly paper to a legal research class.
  • Try Plain English for Lawyers to help non-native English speakers get comfortable with English mechanics and help native English-speakers transition to the plainer American style from the more flowery style common in some other English-speaking jurisdictions.
  • During class, walk students through writing techniques that are less commonly used in other countries, such as drafting issue statements, case analysis and synthesis, and outlining.
  1. Be approachable.

Mike notes that:

Nothing can replace a positive, approachable attitude. Your demeanor conveys more than anything else and it can open and close doors with students.

He makes a point of participating in orientation week activities, such as lunches and barbecues, which provide opportunities to bring up differences in educational styles in a casual environment, where students can compare experiences with each other.Nothing can replace an approachable attitude

He also hosts a regular discussion group, where foreign students and scholars meet to discuss articles that he selects on unfamiliar U.S. legal topics that interest them, such as the mechanics of impeachment and why it’s surprising when Justice Thomas speaks.

Similarly, Karina coordinates an orientation event where incoming LL.M.s meet with four or five faculty, so that they can get to know and feel comfortable with their teachers and fellow students before classes start.

  1. Help students learn from each other.

Most students enjoy explaining how their own legal systems work and it’s easy to create opportunities for them to do so:

  • Ask for volunteers to discuss how the legal system and law in their jurisdiction differs from the U.S.
  • Encourage students to work together in class by pairing LL.M.s and JDs on in class assignments, grouping students from a mix of jurisdictions to discuss how a topic differs in their jurisdictions, or assigning students from a mix of jurisdictions to practice groups or firms to complete assignments.
  • Encourage students to get to know each other outside of class, by introducing JDs and LL.M.s, encouraging JDs to attend LL.M. events, and encouraging LL.M.s to participate in student organizations and journals.

The panelists universally agreed that foreign law students bring immense value to classes and that giving them the opportunity to share their perspectives provides invaluable benefits to other LL.M.s and JDs alike.

From the Reference Desk: Primary Documents on Presidential Foreign Policy

By Amy Flick

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Presidential busts from the now-defunct Presidents Park in Williamsburg, VA. Photo by Mobilius in Mobili via Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobili/25185934159/in/photostream/, Creative Commons license.

“My professor said to cite primary sources in my paper on Harry Truman’s foreign policy, and she said to visit the Truman Library. Is there anything I can use here without going to Missouri?”

I don’t think that the professor meant for the student to travel to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri and browse through the archives to write a seminar paper. But I have received several requests for presidential documents and primary documents on presidential policies this semester. Recent questions have included:

  • Harry Truman’s statements regarding NATO
  • Harry Truman’s relationship with the CIA
  • Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan’s differing approaches to the Soviet Union (as influenced by their religious beliefs)
  • Theodore Roosevelt’s speeches and inaugural addresses
  • Donald Trump’s public statements about Ukraine (I wonder why that would be of interest?)

So, what counts as a primary source on presidential policy, particularly for questions about foreign policy? And where can we find these primary source documents, particularly for past administrations?

Part of the question here is the professor’s definition of “primary source,” since some of these questions are coming from students in legal history classes. Kent Olson’s Principles of Legal Research Concise Hornbook offers the definition “primary sources are the official pronouncements of the governmental lawmakers,” but he explains in a footnote that “[t]his sense of the terms primary and secondary is different from that found in history and other disciplines, where a ‘primary source’ can be a letter or contemporary newspaper account while a ‘secondary source’ is a later scholarly analysis.” [Olson, p. 7] I am assuming that the professors want the students to find the presidents’ own speeches and writings, particularly with the requests for presidential statements, but messages from administration officials would be helpful as well.

The first source to look at is Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, which includes speeches, messages to Congress, news conferences, memoranda, and addresses to international conferences. These types of research questions are good examples of the benefits of starting with the indexes – North Atlantic Treaty and North Atlantic Treaty Organization both appear as index terms in the Truman volumes. Public Papers of the Presidents is available on govinfo.gov, but the Hein Online U.S. Presidential Library is more searchable, and I don’t have to download the entire PDF volume. It’s available, and searchable, on Lexis and Westlaw as well. The Hein collection also includes published compilations of documents from presidents before Herbert Hoover, including the Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents for finding the speeches of Theodore Roosevelt.

The Hein US Presidential Library, Westlaw, Lexis, and govinfo.gov also have the Compilation of Presidential Documents, formerly the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Westlaw’s Daily Presidential Documents database has even more current documents than GPO’s.  These databases are good for finding press conferences and remarks at less formal events, including current tracking of President Trump’s statements. It’s possible to scan the ent recent documents in any version of the Compilation for remarks related to foreign policy, but since briefings and exchanges with reporters might cover a variety of topics, searching for statements on Ukraine, or the Soviet Union, is probably required.

The American Presidency Project at UC Santa Barbara is a great resource for finding presidential statements, speeches, and documents for earlier presidents, and for modern presidents, it also includes news conferences, interviews, and visits by foreign leaders. This database includes all the presidents, even 12 documents related to William Henry Harrison (who died in office 31 days into his term). The database can be searched or browsed by president, and the headings and document categories are helpful for finding useful documents. Direct statements about Carter or Reagan’s religious beliefs and the Soviet Union are going to be difficult to find, but there are many statements here about the Soviet Union to read and interpret.

The professor’s suggestion that the student “visit the Truman Library” presumably meant to visit its digital collections.  Presidential Libraries and Museums are repositories for the papers, records, and historical materials of the presidents. The National Archives and Records Administration administers 14 presidential libraries, starting with the Hoover administration. Some materials in the various libraries have been digitized and made available to the public, although much more would be available on-site. With some digging, the student researchers might find some relevant materials in the digitized collections. For instance, a draft of Reagan’s “evil empire” speech to the National Association of Evangelicals is available. The Truman Library’s online collections are especially helpful, with categories of digitized documents including The Development of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency predated the requirement that presidential papers be preserved, so the collecting of his papers, and their digitization, is a work in progress.  In spite of that, the Digital Library of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University includes a searchable collection of Roosevelt’s letters.

Since most of these requests were for the presidents’ foreign policy, I suggested Foreign Relations of the United States, available on the website of the State Department’s Office of the Historian, and on Hein Online. It was most useful for the requests on Truman and Carter policies, since most of the Reagan volumes are not yet available. For President Truman, there are multiple volumes on Western European Security that go into US participation in NATO. These include memoranda of conversations between the president and the Secretary of State, and messages from foreign governments reacting to Truman’s statements. FRUS was also helpful to the student researching the CIA, with a volume on Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment.

I also suggested additional secondary sources to some of these students, to supplement what they already had and as another source for finding statements and speeches. Besides the many biographies written on all the presidents, there are autobiographies and memoirs, although some may be ghostwritten. There are published collections of the speeches of Roosevelt, Truman, and Reagan. News databases are useful for finding excerpts and full speeches of the presidents, especially ProQuest Historical Newspapers for finding text of entire speeches by Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

One more source seemed necessary for finding statements of the current president.  Although finding President Trump’s tweets mentioned in news articles was not difficult, there is also the comprehensive and searchable Trump Twitter Archive. As of November 6, 2019, I find either “Ukraine” or “Ukrainian” mentioned in 141 tweets.

Donate to the Syllabi and Course Materials Database & Pay It Forward to Help Others

PayItForward
By Paul Moorman

I recently received a call from a student at my undergraduate alma mater asking for a donation. The student who called me was a pre-law history major who lived in the same dorm I had lived in and had received a scholarship to help pay for his tuition­—so basically he was me 30 years ago (although I was a political science major, but let’s not quibble over details). While I was talking to him, all the great memories I have from my undergraduate years came flooding back. When it came time for him to make the “big ask,” I was ready to say no like I usually do, but then I thought about it some more and decided that this time I would say yes and donate some money for a scholarship fund.  What ultimately helped me decide to make a donation was a realization that I had benefited from all those who had given generously to the school in the past.  I was now in a position in my life to be able to step up and help “pay it forward” by showing the same generosity that was shown to me by donating to others.

So why am I telling you this story? I’ll get there, but first let me start by saying that I’m one of the current co-chairs of the FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Interest Group. I, along with my co-chair, Amelia Landenberger, have a lot planned this year. One of our most important goals is to update the Syllabi and Course Materials Database and I am taking the lead on this project. As the readers of this blog likely know, it’s an amazing source of useful information for anyone teaching foreign, comparative, and international legal research and I’m confident many of you have used and consulted it while planning their courses. The database only exists because your colleagues have generously donated their courseware to help you. As useful as the current database is, it hasn’t been updated for a few years and it is starting to get long in the tooth. Legal research has changed dramatically in the past few years and FCIL-related legal research is no exception. As the tools and methods we use change, the way we teach our research courses needs to adapt to those changes.

So now it’s time for me to make my “big ask.”  Please consider this blog posting to be my first official request for you to donate your courseware to the Syllabi and Course Materials database. Unlike my alma mater, I’m not asking for money—instead I’m asking you to help by sharing your knowledge, expertise, experience, and hard work to help others who could benefit from it. If you have any FCIL-related courseware (you know who you are!), whether it be a syllabus, test, assignment, PowerPoint presentation, or even an entire module (really anything course related), now is the time to “pay it forward” and help your colleagues. If you’ve donated your courseware to the database in the past, please donate a more current version.  If you’ve never donated before, now is time to review your files and see if there’s anything you have that others could benefit from. Your colleagues have helped you in the past, now it’s time to help your colleagues.

My plan for the next few months is reach out to those who have donated to the database, and also to those who teach FCIL-related legal research courses, and ask you to donate your courseware to the database.  If you send the materials to me now by emailing it to me a pmoorman@law.usc.edu, you’ll save us both a lot of time and effort. Thank you in advance for your generosity.  Your colleagues and I are grateful.

From the Reference Desk: I Need a Topic for My Paper!

By Amy Flick

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Every fall semester, I get the same question from new students on the Emory International Law Review and students taking one of the international law seminars. They usually have only one or two weeks to come up with a topic for their major writing project, and they may not have taken an international law class yet.  The topic must be original, specialized, interesting to potential readers, current, not preempted by other articles, not likely to become moot before the article is published, and involve a legal issue for which the student can propose a solution. The topic should interest the student enough that they can commit to spending the next few weeks or months researching, writing, and editing it, and it should lead to a journal note or seminar paper that enhances the student’s résumé.

I do not keep a list of possible topics that students might write about. I definitely do not have a list of topics that meet all these requirements. I occasionally see a news item that I think would make a good student paper topic, but rarely at a time that I can match it to a student.

Instead of offering a fully-vetted proposal to students, I give them starting places to look for a topic. These are some of the resources that I suggest to the international journal and seminar students who are looking for research topics. These resources can be found in my research guides, most of them borrowed from other research guides. (I also have suggested resources for the students on the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal, but those are a subject for a different blog.)

Current awareness and legal news sources are good for finding developing issues and new and noteworthy legislation and cases. Browse through headlines and new documents in:

I follow news sources with good coverage of global issues and legal developments. Few law students seem to keep up with the news, but they may not have my NPR-fueled Atlanta commute. I look for headlines in these sources, which I also browse for potential homework problems:

International law blogs will point out not just new statutes and cases, but the legal issues they raise. Keep in mind that a blog post by a professor may be a precursor to a full academic article that he or she has planned.

For students with an interest in human rights, topic ideas might be found in:

Students looking for a national security-related topic might find one in:

Students looking to research the more commercial areas of international law, such as international tax and international trade, might find ideas for topics in:

  • Law360 for International Arbitration and International Trade
  • Bloomberg Law News in International Trade and International Tax
  • Business news from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal

Just as students look for pending Supreme Court cases and circuit splits when writing about U.S. law, students might look at pending cases before international courts and tribunals such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

Students who have found a news article that interests them, but who are having trouble developing it into an issue, might look at other articles and blog posts to find differing views. They might compare one recent case with similar cases from other courts, using the Oxford Reports on International Law database, or they might compare legislation from other countries using sources like WIPO Lex and ECOLEX.

At this stage, students may have only a general idea for their article or paper topic. It doesn’t need to be fully developed yet, but they will have to do a lot of reading and research to turn their topic into an outline, and I can at least give them some sources for that reading and research.

If you have any great ideas for suggesting topics to desperate students, I would love to hear about them!

Creating Training Resources for GOALI

By Latia Ward

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Title slide from the GOALI Basic Course Tutorial.

Purpose of GOALI

Global Online Access to Legal Information (GOALI) is a project of the International Labour Organization (ILO) (a United Nations agency) and its partners which include publishers and academic institutions.  One of these partners is Cornell University Law Library where I work as a Research Services Librarian and Diversity Fellow.  As part of my work I have created how-to resources for conducting research with GOALI.

The purpose of GOALI is to facilitate access to legal information for researchers in the Global South.  To that end, GOALI aligns with Goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals:  “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.”  Researchers have access to GOALI through their institutions and the Research4Life website lists nations eligible for GOALI.  In their paper entitled Global Online Access to Legal Information (GOALI) – A New Legal Training Resource for Developing Countries, Richelle Van Snellenberg, Unit Head of the ILO Library and Edit Horvàth, User and Outreach Officer of the ILO Library note that GOALI is about more than providing information resources to researchers in the Global South, but also about closing the “knowledge gap in academic research” between nations of wealth and nations of more modest means.  The facilitators of GOALI aim to close the “knowledge gap” through the provision of information resources from authoritative and current sources.  In addition, Van Snellenberg and Horvàth contextualize the implementation of GOALI within the Free Access to Law Movement and its Declaration on Free Access to Law which states that “Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity.”  Included within this definition of public legal information are both primary and secondary sources of law.

GOALI is one of the five programs or platforms for information that the Research4Life partnership has produced.  Research4Life is a partnership of WHO, FAO, UNEP, WIPO, ILO, Cornell University, Yale University, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers, and other international publishers.  The four other platforms for information are Hinari (health research), AGORA (agricultural research), and OARE (environmental research), ARDI (development and innovation research).  GOALI, the newest platform, became available for use on March 6, 2018.

Through GOALI, researchers may access journals, books, databases, and reference sources.  GOALI includes resources from the legal field as well as other fields within the social sciences.  An example of resources provided by GOALI include open access resources which cover a variety of jurisdictions such as African Journals Online (AJOL) and the ILO’s NATLEX database of national labor, social security, and human rights legislation.

Guides for GOALI

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Screenshot from the GOALI Tutorial Video.  Image of computer monitor from Pixaby.

During the spring of 2018, I created a video, tutorials (which consist of slides showing research paths), and exercises on how to use the GOALI database.  My goal in creating the video (for which I included closed captions), the tutorials, and exercises was to provide a step-by-step manual on how to conduct research within GOALI.

When I created the tutorials and exercises for GOALI, I began by familiarizing myself with the platform by searching for resources and reviewing training materials that other information specialists had developed for Research4Life’s AGORA platform.  I reviewed AGORA exercises and modules for the AGORA Portal and Summon Searching to use as templates (although I had to research and create exercises and tutorials specific to GOALI).

The first tutorial and set of exercises are called the GOALI Basic Course.  In the GOALI Basic Course, I explain how to browse the entire GOALI collection, how to locate specific journals, publishers, and subjects, and how to find specific citations.  In the second tutorial and set of exercises, I explain how to do a basic Summon search, refine the search, and conduct an advanced search within GOALI.  In the third tutorial and set of exercises, I explain how to access publishers’ websites from the GOALI platform, identify general features on publishers’ websites, and how to use these features to find articles.  In the GOALI video, I include demonstrations on how to find journals by title, language, and publisher and how to access full-text books.

News about GOALI

The GOALI Launch Event of March 6, 2018 is available on YouTube and includes additional information on why GOALI was created and commentary from Research4Life Partners.  To keep up with current news regarding GOALI, follow #GOALI on Twitter (look for posts related to @R4LPartnership and #Research4Life as there are many posts related to soccer and people named Ali) and visit the ILO’s GOALI website often.

Seven Things I Learned From Co-Teaching an FCIL Research Class

By Amelia Landenberger

LessonsLearned

Image from Pixaby.

This spring I co-taught an FCIL Research Class, my first since beginning as an FCIL librarian at Boston University in August of 2018. The best teachers I know engage in a good deal of self-reflection after teaching, and I’ve decided to share some of my self-reflection with you.

  1. Find a Mentor. I was lucky enough to be able to co-teach this class with my mentor, who has many years of FCIL and teaching experience. I know that isn’t an option for everyone, but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to do this without guidance and support. It is always a good idea to find a mentor, if you can. If you can find a mentor or colleague who is willing to co-teach the course, even better!
  2. Have Patience with Yourself. Because this was my fourth year of teaching legal research, I had unrealistic expectations about my ability to teach FCIL research. Learning a new subject while also teaching it takes far longer than adapting to new methods of teaching citators or adapting to new database interfaces, for example. I wish I could go back and change my expectations, but I also wish I could make peace with my own pace.
  3. Preparation and Timing. My mentor and I had preparation meetings for each week of the class. We would talk about the objectives for the week and figure out which parts of the class would work best as in-class exercises. The class was scheduled for 4:30-6:30pm. Many people are not their best during these hours of the day, so we focused on making sure the class was broken into manageable chunks and made sure to give the students a break in the middle of class.
  4. Movement: We made as many exercises as possible group exercises or interactive exercises, with a focus on getting the students to move and speak. We took a lot of ideas from our Lawyering Class (the 1L Legal Research Component of the Legal Research and Writing Class). We used a relay-race format for an exercise in Lawyering, so we worked that format into the FCIL class as well. Students appreciated the competition, and some of them insisted on working through the break to complete the relay race. The movement exercises were one part of the class where it was very helpful to have two teachers. It can be hard to coordinate all the moving pieces of an exercise while also making sure no students are stuck or frustrated, but with two teachers, the exercise ran much more smoothly.
  5. The Structure of FCIL Law. I didn’t understand the importance of repeating the structure and grounding each class in the structure of foreign and international law. We focused on making sure students knew where each part of the class fits into the broader scheme. Most students coming into the class expect the class will be entirely about foreign law, so it was important to orient their focus to public and private international law as well.
  6. Don’t Focus on Foreign Law. Our students wanted to learn foreign law, but we aren’t qualified to practice law in foreign jurisdictions, and neither are they. We had to focus on what would be most useful to our students rather than what they thought would be the most useful.
  7. Something Will Go Wrong. In one class, an entire database unexpectedly wasn’t working. I might have been overwhelmed, but it was wonderful to watch my co-teacher keep her cool and move on to a different exercise. The students learned what they needed to learn, and we were able to show the database the next week.

I learned a lot from co-teaching FCIL research this spring, and I’ll be teaching the class again in the fall, without a co-teacher this time. Wish me luck!