Exhuming Human Remains from Case Law – a Report on the First Dig Dr Dawn Watkins, University of Leicester
The basis of the project <ul><li>Developing interest in narratives </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Cultivating Humanity in Legal Educa...
‘ narrative imagination’   <ul><li>“ the imagination of human predicaments is like a muscle: It atrophies unless it is con...
‘ the narrative research project’ <ul><li>Story-telling seminars </li></ul><ul><li>Create a fictional account from case la...
Project participants <ul><li>cohort of 280 final year Equity and Trusts </li></ul><ul><li>35 students volunteered initiall...
Reasons for taking part <ul><li>I got involved because it sounded like  something a bit different  and hopefully fun. </li...
The Venue  (photograph by  Colin Brooks, AVS Department, University of Leicester)
The Story-telling Seminars <ul><li>Alison Davies (poet and story-teller) </li></ul><ul><li>Activities (e.g. the chair) </l...
Students’ reaction  <ul><li>I stopped taking part in the project after the first workshop as I  didn’t understand the rele...
The Creative Writing <ul><li>Based on one case </li></ul><ul><li>Fictional </li></ul><ul><li>No prescribed format </li></u...
Reaction to freedom from constraints <ul><li>Writing the narrative was tougher than I thought. I easily identified the cas...
Assessment criteria <ul><li>Imaginative, Creative, Interesting, Original </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrates… precision in your...
The written work See  h ttp://legalnarratives.wetpaint.com/ <ul><li>“ The wizards decided the princess acquired a quarter ...
Thinking like a lawyer <ul><li>&quot;if we have taught law students to think differently, maybe we should also take the ch...
Student feedback on seminars <ul><li>I really enjoyed the seminars and would love to have that as part of our degree but I...
Student feedback on seminars <ul><li>I really enjoyed taking part in the seminars and thought that the skills I learnt may...
The written work <ul><li>Well generally throughout my 3 years studying law the facts of cases aren’t really the emphasis. ...
The written work <ul><li>Although it wasn’t an easy task the narrative project made me look at cases differently and actua...
‘ Legitimatisation’ <ul><li>This project is interesting, as  it allowed me  to look at cases from the view point of the pa...
Unearthing the humans <ul><li>I discovered that I have never really thought about the people behind the case before and th...
Unearthing the humans <ul><li>Writing the narrative gave me a whole new outlook on cases - I saw the ratio as being the mo...
Unearthing the humans <ul><li>From looking at this case from this perspective, I got to see the petitioner and defendant n...
Conclusion <ul><li>Some humans unearthed </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciation of role of narratives </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciati...
Where next? <ul><li>More theory </li></ul><ul><li>Voluntary/compulsory? </li></ul><ul><li>Replace practice essay with fict...
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Exhuming human remains from case law: a report on the first dig

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Exhuming human remains from case law: a report on the first dig

  1. 1. Exhuming Human Remains from Case Law – a Report on the First Dig Dr Dawn Watkins, University of Leicester
  2. 2. The basis of the project <ul><li>Developing interest in narratives </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Cultivating Humanity in Legal Education’ </li></ul><ul><li>The burial of human actors in legal proceedings </li></ul>
  3. 3. ‘ narrative imagination’ <ul><li>“ the imagination of human predicaments is like a muscle: It atrophies unless it is continually used…Factual knowledge is crucial, and in its absence the imagination can often steer us wrong. But knowledge is inert without the ability to make situations real inside oneself, to understand their human meaning.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Nussbaum, 2003 pp.277-8) </li></ul>
  4. 4. ‘ the narrative research project’ <ul><li>Story-telling seminars </li></ul><ul><li>Create a fictional account from case law </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect on what they had learned </li></ul>
  5. 5. Project participants <ul><li>cohort of 280 final year Equity and Trusts </li></ul><ul><li>35 students volunteered initially </li></ul><ul><li>24 attended first seminar </li></ul><ul><li>17 attended 2 nd seminar </li></ul><ul><li>19 submitted written work </li></ul><ul><li>16 females, 3 males </li></ul>
  6. 6. Reasons for taking part <ul><li>I got involved because it sounded like something a bit different and hopefully fun. </li></ul><ul><li>I got into the project because it stood out from the rest, it isn't all that often you get to apply your own imagination to any aspect of the law, usually it is facts that dominate and to get by you must learn the facts. </li></ul><ul><li>I decided to take part in your narrative research project, as I thought that it sounded like a fun and interesting project to be part of. I also felt that it may add depth to my training contract applications </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Venue (photograph by Colin Brooks, AVS Department, University of Leicester)
  8. 8. The Story-telling Seminars <ul><li>Alison Davies (poet and story-teller) </li></ul><ul><li>Activities (e.g. the chair) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Students’ reaction <ul><li>I stopped taking part in the project after the first workshop as I didn’t understand the relevance of what we were doing and felt uncomfortable </li></ul><ul><li>I'm afraid I just felt really uncomfortable in the first seminar… </li></ul><ul><li>I found the whole process rather confusing to be honest. I was not sure what I was meant to be learning or what I was working towards. I did however find it extremely enjoyable. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Creative Writing <ul><li>Based on one case </li></ul><ul><li>Fictional </li></ul><ul><li>No prescribed format </li></ul><ul><li>No word limit </li></ul><ul><li>Could work collaboratively </li></ul>
  11. 11. Reaction to freedom from constraints <ul><li>Writing the narrative was tougher than I thought. I easily identified the case I wanted to use and the angle to write from but actually writing the piece was hard. I guess as a third year I’ve had it ingrained into me to keep things succinct - essays have very structured word limits so given free reign of writing was an odd scenario </li></ul>
  12. 12. Assessment criteria <ul><li>Imaginative, Creative, Interesting, Original </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrates… precision in your choice and use of words </li></ul><ul><li>… the ability to convey meaning (and/or more than one meaning) ( thanks Gary ) </li></ul><ul><li>… an awareness of narrative structure </li></ul><ul><li>..an awareness and understanding of the facts of the case </li></ul>
  13. 13. The written work See h ttp://legalnarratives.wetpaint.com/ <ul><li>“ The wizards decided the princess acquired a quarter interest in the castle. The man held the castle on trust as to three-quarters for himself and as to one quarter for the plaintiff” ( Eves v Eves) </li></ul><ul><li>Cinderella “had requested money to reflect the interest she felt she was owed having been almost a princess for the last 8 years” ( Lissimore v Downing) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Thinking like a lawyer <ul><li>&quot;if we have taught law students to think differently, maybe we should also take the chance to remind them of how everyone else is thinking&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>(McPeake, 2007, p.307) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Student feedback on seminars <ul><li>I really enjoyed the seminars and would love to have that as part of our degree but I don’t think that will ever happen </li></ul><ul><li>I found the seminars interesting and, although I'm not sure what we were supposed to have learnt from them </li></ul>
  16. 16. Student feedback on seminars <ul><li>I really enjoyed taking part in the seminars and thought that the skills I learnt may help me in my future studies </li></ul><ul><li>I really enjoyed the story telling seminars. I think they made me more confident in presenting myself through the storytelling in front of the group </li></ul><ul><li>I loved the seminars as they gave me a chance to meet some new faces and let my creative side out for the afternoon </li></ul>
  17. 17. The written work <ul><li>Well generally throughout my 3 years studying law the facts of cases aren’t really the emphasis. Mainly we deal with the judgment and the outcome rather than what kind of relationships or situations may have existed in the first place which then led to this outcome </li></ul><ul><li>Our tutors always tell us that it is the principles of a case that are most important rather than the facts </li></ul>
  18. 18. The written work <ul><li>Although it wasn’t an easy task the narrative project made me look at cases differently and actually take in the story behind the case rather then just learning the outcome as we have done over the past 2 years </li></ul>
  19. 19. ‘ Legitimatisation’ <ul><li>This project is interesting, as it allowed me to look at cases from the view point of the parties involved.  It allowed me to break down the cases in to the action and the ultimate resolution, as per the components of a story </li></ul>
  20. 20. Unearthing the humans <ul><li>I discovered that I have never really thought about the people behind the case before and thought about events from their perspective; each character proclaiming a different version of events. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Unearthing the humans <ul><li>Writing the narrative gave me a whole new outlook on cases - I saw the ratio as being the moral of the story…It also helped me identify with the characters as real people. One other thing that I have learned during this project is where the court judgment falls in the person’s story – it’s trying to restore a person as close to the norm following a drama/crisis. In this way the courts play a beneficial role in individuals’ lives and not just society in general. It brought case law to life!! </li></ul>
  22. 22. Unearthing the humans <ul><li>From looking at this case from this perspective, I got to see the petitioner and defendant not just from the legal perspective as &quot;parties involved&quot; in a dispute but it enabled me see them as real, ordinary people. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Conclusion <ul><li>Some humans unearthed </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciation of role of narratives </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciation of the role of others </li></ul>
  24. 24. Where next? <ul><li>More theory </li></ul><ul><li>Voluntary/compulsory? </li></ul><ul><li>Replace practice essay with fiction? </li></ul><ul><li>Role of seminars </li></ul><ul><li>3 rd year or 1 st year? </li></ul>

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