Annie Rochette

  • "So what's the point?" : Practical language in pratical teaching in the law school

    Sara Ross is entering the third year of her PhD at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she has served as an Instructor for the Legal Process class over the past two years. She is also a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, holding an LLB and BCL from McGill, as well as an LLM from the University of Ottawa, and is the Graduate Student Representative for the Canadian Association of Law Teachers Board of Directors.

    This post was derived from an inter-faculty workshop given at the York University Teaching and Learning Conference: “Teaching In Focus”, on May 20, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario.

    A frequent complaint heard among law students after graduating from law school is that they have been inundated with information, without feeling that they have been taught the actual skills they need to be a lawyer. In my own classroom this year I have focused on using language that links everything I teach to how the student will use it in a practical context, such as a law firm, the courtroom, and so on. Couching everything within this context allows students to not only build their understanding of legal concepts; it provides them with a way of better connecting this knowledge to a professional skill set. This is what I call the “So, what’s the point?” approach.

    You might also frame this “So, what’s the point?” approach as “point-first learning” or “point-first teaching”. As lawyers and within the law school context, our distinct focus on writing, arguing, and, in general, presenting our legal arguments in a point-first manner—leading with the ultimate point that we wish to get across to, for example, a judge or a decision-making panel—is something that can take time to instill in new law students. To aid in this transition, it can be intuitive to teach law in this manner too, and helpful to carry this approach into how we structure a law student’s learning environment and classroom experience. This method of instruction can reinforce what point-first argumentation and writing looks like, but there are benefits beyond this.

    Teaching through a “So, what’s the point?” approach also speaks to and draws on an experiential education focus. As law schools are seeking to transform many of their courses into experiential opportunities—legal clinics, and so on—the desire and need to respond to and incorporate the practical element of learning and education is apparent. Encapsulated within this is the need to develop the practical skills needed within the legal employment path a student will eventually choose. And thinking about the skills or concepts you’re teaching in a “So, what’s the point?” manner helps bring an experiential element into the classroom; highlighting the real-world application of what the student is learning.

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  • published The flipped classroom in action in Home 2016-06-04 16:45:48 -0400

    The flipped classroom in action

    Many Professors are interested or curious about the Flipped Classroom, but unsure how it works, or what it actually means to "flip" a course in this way. In this video, produced by Peter Sankoff of the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law, with the assistance of students from his flipped Evidence law class from 2015, he breaks down in detail how the class proceeds - from start to finish – by showing what a "mock" class looks like. You'll also hear his thoughts on the flipped classroom, and better yet, the views of students who can tell you whether it works for them.


    If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact Peter at [email protected] .

  • published CALT's 2016 annual conference! in Home 2016-03-28 21:29:45 -0400

    CALT's 2016 annual conference!



    Our programme has been finalized and it is an amazing lineup of panels and roundtable discussions, thanks to your stimulating and inspiring proposals. This year’s conference will take place May 30th-31st at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law (with our Awards reception on the 29th).

    We are dedicating an entire day of the conference to the T&R Commission recommendations on legal education. This will be on the joint day with CLSA (Canadian Law and Society Association), on May 30th.  Our plenary panel features inspiring scholars Larry Chartrand, Aimée Craft, Sarah Morales, Karen Drake and Rebecca Johnson, who will start the day off by asking difficult questions and guiding us in taking action individually and collectively. The other sessions will incite even more discussion and exchange about implementing the recommendations in different courses and contexts.

    Access to justice is another crucial and current issue in the legal profession and in legal education this year, and it is also a central theme of this year’s conference, with three panels running back to back on the second day of our conference.

    And of course, as has been CALT’s practice for the last few years, legal education curriculum and pedagogical issues and ideas will be shared and discussed! We’d like to end things with a discussion on creating and maintaining communities of practice, thus hopefully bringing the different discussions while turning to future action.

    The CALT and CLSA joint banquet will be held on May 30th at the Calgary zoo!

    Since most of you will be arriving at least on the 29th (CLSA conference starting on May 28th), we are hosting a wine and cheese reception on that day at 5pm to honour this year’s recipients of the CALT awards: academic excellence, scholarly paper, and our new scholarship of teaching and learning award.

    To register for the conference, see the Congress website ( ) where you can also find information on travel and accommodation.

    You can download the programme by clicking here.

    We look forward to seeing you in Calgary!


    Annie Rochette

    President, Canadian Association of Law Teachers


  • CALT award for the scholarship of teaching and learning


    Terms of Reference

    1. The annual CALT Prize for Scholarship of Teaching & Learning honours exceptional contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) by a Canadian law teacher. While SoTL is defined variously, a common understanding is that of investigating questions related to teaching and learning and sharing the answers obtained through peer review, publication, performance or presentation.[1]

    2. Any member of CALT is eligible to submit a paper on teaching and learning in law. The paper does not need to be published or accepted for publication for submission. Submissions that have not yet been published will also be considered for publication in the Canadian Legal Education Annual Review (CLEAR).  Papers that have already been published must have been published in the last 3 years. Co-authored papers may be submitted if the primary author is eligible to submit a paper. Copyright in any paper submitted remains the property of the author. The committee will accept only one paper per author. Papers must be submitted for CALT’s SoTL award OR CALT Scholarly paper award, but not both.

     3. Papers must be submitted by April 22 2022 to:

    Professor Angela Cameron

    [email protected]

    4. The nominations are considered by a selection committee composed of three people (law teachers or others) appointed by the president of CALT, Angela Cameron. The committee chair is a member of the CALT executive. The president does not have a vote in the selection process.


    [1] See “What is SoTL?” Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education,