Course requirements include one or more of the following: a midterm and final examination or a final examination; a paper; presentation of a paper; class attendance; and/or class participation. It's important to explicitly advise students of the course requirements during the first session of the class.
Under the rules governing admission to the bar in the State of New York, the Law School must certify that bar applicants were in good and regular attendance, and took and successfully completed the prescribed course of instruction required at the School for the law degree. A student may be subject to dismissal whenever attendance becomes so irregular that the faculty deems it a bar to certification of the required Agood and regular attendance standard or considers it otherwise unwise to permit the student to continue.
Factoring in class attendance helps motivate students to attend class, which in turn provides a larger pool of students to stimulate dialogue, respond to questions posed by the professor, and ask questions from which the professor may draw meaningful inferences about the student's level of comprehension of the material covered. When questions are asked of the professor, there is an opportunity to identify areas that may generate some class confusion. As well, questions and class discussion reveal areas of particular interest to students which, within logical parameters, may help the professor shape the course by emphasizing matters of special interest.
Professors may find it especially helpful to emphasize the importance of attendance in classes that require papers so that students are not tempted to choose a topic and then absent themselves from the class. Of course, no penalty should be imposed on any student who is absent from class because of his religious beliefs.
If a student has not been attending class regularly, please contact the Dean of Student Affairs, Nitza Milagros Escalera (telephone number 212-636-6818).
For similar reasons, taking into account class participation encourages students to engage in class discussion. In addition, when students meaningfully participate, they may have a greater incentive to prepare for class. Some have opined that "learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race... Sharing one's own ideas and responding to other's reactions sharpen thinking and deepen understanding."
Students who are a bit reserved may find the classroom a more comfortable forum in which to risk making verbal contributions than they find other situations, such as when as practitioners they will be asked to conduct meetings or argue in court. Assessment of a student's contributions should consider the degree to which the statements reflect a working knowledge of the assigned reading, whether the student listened attentively to his classmates or was merely reiterating previous contributions, and the degree to which the student's expression of his views evinces respect for classmates with whom he disagrees.
Of course, some students still are more inclined to volunteer than others. Sometimes a member of the class may, despite the professor's best efforts to stimulate a comprehensive dialogue, monopolize the discourse a bit or may inadvertently intimidate other students to feel that their contributions may not be as meaningful. One technique to promote parity amongst students, and to try to encourage students who might be a bit more reticent, is a "discussion leader" requirement. Under this approach, the entire class is encouraged to participate, but each student is assigned a particular day on which he, perhaps along with a few of his classmates, is designated a "discussion leader." On that day, the student is expected to attend the class, to have completed all of the reading assignments, and to make it a point to meaningfully contribute to the class dialogue. Discussion leaders might, for example, have read a concurring or dissenting opinion that was not assigned with one of the case excerpts, investigated the subsequent history of a case, or researched a related or contrary decision. Students may be more willing to volunteer to speak during the particular class session in which they are designated as discussion leaders, which helps ensure that they choose a date that suits their schedules.
Further, making the student's grade dependent in part on class attendance, and possibly also on class participation and as a discussion leader, rewards the student who has demonstrated a diligent commitment to the course throughout the semester. In addition, it helps alleviate the pressure students may feel to perform on the day of a final exam, and avoids a potentially distorted perception of a grade based solely on a final examination.
Law school final exams sometimes consist, at least in part, of multiple choice or short-answer questions. At least a significant portion of the exam should consist of essay questions. Certain courses may be more conducive to an exam that consists exclusively of essay questions. Final exams generally are three hours for a three or more credit course. If you want your exam to be of a different duration, please notify the Registrar prior to the beginning of the semester.
Faculty are given the choice to participate in a program where students are given the option of taking their in-class final examinations using their laptop computers. Please move ahead to Conducting Class for further information.
Students who have completed their first year of law school may earn up to two credits per semester for independent academic work under the supervision of a member of the full-time faculty or an adjunct professor who has been approved to supervise writing projects during the academic year. To be considered for approval for writing projects supervision, please contact the Director of the Adjunct Program (see Directory).
The norm for two credits for independent study shall be the completion of a significant research and writing project in accordance with the upper-class writing requirement. With the approval of the Associate Dean, a student may undertake a three credit independent study which must involve a more substantial project than would be undertaken to satisfy the upper-class writing requirement. A copy of the completed paper must be submitted to the Associate Dean at the end of the semester.
Independent study projects are arranged by consultation between the student and the individual faculty member. A student enrolled in a two credit seminar may, with the faculty member's permission, receive one credit (in addition to the credits for the seminar) for submitting a paper that the faculty member certifies has satisfied the writing requirement, and involved substantially more work than was required to satisfy the course.
Student's are required to have the supervising professor sign the downloadable Independent Study Form located on our Registrar's Webpage.
Law Journal Submissions
Fordham Law School Students also may inquire whether it is permissible for them to use the paper as the basis for publication in one of the Law School's publications. At the discretion of the faculty member, a student may submit a paper to a student law journal for publication. Such a submission may receive student editorial input concurrently with faculty supervision and satisfy the student's writing requirement, provided that all other aspects of the upper-class writing requirement are met.
Requirements for papers likely will vary, and you should clarify whether you prefer a particular structure, whether legal research should be conducted (as opposed to reliance exclusively on the assigned reading), and other requirements. It's often helpful to suggest a page limit as a guideline. Of course, papers submitted in satisfaction of the course's requirement should be original work that has not been previously submitted to another course, journal, or the like; nor may the paper be submitted to satisfy requirements of a course the student is taking contemporaneously. Graduate students are required to write a thesis that is distinguishable from other writings by the student; thus, neither a thesis nor portions of its contents may be used to satisfy a writing requirement of any other course.
Papers are due on the date you require, but not later than the last day of class. You may, however, extend the due date, so long as the paper is handed in no later than the last day of examinations for the semester. Thereafter, the Associate Dean must approve extensions. (Please note that extending the due date will afford you less time to grade the papers.)
If a paper is assigned, rather than a uniform final examination hypothetical or series of hypotheticals, the professor likely will be asked to suggest paper topics, and should advise the class members whether they are required to have their topics approved. Professors may wish to consult, and contribute possible topics and refer students to, Lawtopic.org, located at http://www.lawtopic.org/, which is a site described as AA Clearinghouse for Legal Paper Topics@ and categorically lists topics for legal papers according to subject matter.
The professor who assigns a paper as either a course requirement or as an optional submission (e.g., in lieu of a final exam at the student's election) likely will be asked by students whether the paper may be used to satisfy the School's writing requirement. As a prerequisite to graduation, every student must participate in a program of supervised analytic writing after he completes the first year curriculum. Unless the Associate Dean approves otherwise, the student must complete this requirement by the end of his first semester of his graduating year. The writing project involves significant research and writing under faculty supervision, based on a topic approved by a faculty member after the latter's review, of an outline and rough draft for faculty comment. The final paper must demonstrate significant research and original analysis and be well-organized, carefully presented, and clearly written. The final paper must be at least 25 double-spaced typewritten pages (including footnotes), or, at the discretion of the supervising faculty member, another single work of equivalent magnitude in an electronic medium. The research and writing project may be completed in connection with a course or seminar that has a paper requirement or paper option that is offered by a member of the full-time faculty or by an adjunct professor who has been approved to supervise writing projects for that academic year, or as an independent study with a member of the full-time faculty. Eligibility for writing credit is contingent upon the supervising faculty member's certification to the Registrar that the student (1) presented a topic proposal and received comments on interim work, including an outline and rough draft; and (2) submitted a final paper that in the faculty member's independent judgment satisfies the standards of the writing requirement.
Upon recieving verbal approval from a professor student's request to be registered for the writing requirement by submitting Notice of Intent to Satisfy the J.D. Upper Class Writing Requirement Form located on our Registrar's webpage.
If you would like to be considered for approval for writing projects supervision, please contact the Director of the Adjunct Program or Academic Dean(see Directory).