Reflections on the First Week of Teaching

For the four weeks that I’m in residence at the Royal University of Law and Economics, I am teaching in two LL.M. programs: one in public international law and the other in international business law. Each program is two years in length, but students take the first year together as one cohort.  For each program, I am teaching short courses on Legal Research and Writing. On Tuesday nights, I teach the first year students in both programs in a combined class.  On Wednesday evenings, I meet with second year students in the public international program, while on Thursdays I teach second year students in the international business degree program.

So far, I have had one class with each group.  Since I have only four weeks with them, my goal is pretty modest: to introduce them to basic concepts of legal writing and analysis in English. As my lawyer-friends know, the heart of legal writing is the IRAC formula: stating an issue, defining and explaining the relevant rule or legal standard, applying the facts to the law, and drawing a conclusion.


Second year (“M2”) public international students working on an in-class writing assignment.


Getting ready for first year (“M1”) class.

Last week, I started out the classes with the IRAC formula, and they wrote simple paragraphs with straightforward rules.  For homework, they had to write a single issue problem with multiple subissues involving the New York burglary statute.  Several students have turned in their work already, and I have been impressed! Although not all of the students have legal backgrounds, they have caught on quickly.  An emphasis of the class is on factual analysis (the “A” in IRAC) rather than mere regurgitation of legal rules and so far they seem to be engaging with the facts pretty ably.

I am trying to keep class sessions simple, with lecture, demonstration, practice, and group feedback.  Repeating this process over and over, the students will hopefully come away from the classes with an understanding of the “formula” that lawyers use to convey legal analysis in written form.

This week, I’ll be covering legal research as well as writing about rules (the “R” in IRAC) using statutes from both Cambodia and the United States. Teaching research will be interesting, for reasons I’ll save for another post.


About Larry Cunningham

Law professor, associate dean, and director of the Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy at St. John's Law School. Former prosecutor and defense attorney.
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One Response to Reflections on the First Week of Teaching

  1. Pingback: Perspective | My Fulbright in Cambodia

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