Using video to enhance Law School clinics

Brenda Berlin, Supervising Attorney, Children’s Education Law Clinic, School of Law
Mark Dorosin, Supervising Attorney, Community Enterprise Clinic, School of Law
Andrew Foster, Director, Community Enterprise Clinic, School of Law
Carolyn McAllaster, Director, AIDS Legal Project, School of Law
Allison Rice, Supervising Attorney, AIDS Legal Project, School of Law
Alan Weinberg, Director, Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, School of Law
Jane Wettach, Director, Children’s Education Law Clinic, School of Law

Project Description

Faculty in the Law School’s Clinical program sought to use their new facility’s video equipment to enhance clinicals and facilitate student self-evaluation as the students work with actual clients on real cases.

Students in the Law Clinics gain their first experiences with clients under the guidance of faculty. As part of this program, the students are trained in interviewing techniques and given practical legal instruction by the faculty as they work through cases. The faculty were seeking ways to use video recording of these student-client sessions to evaluate student interviewing skills, and to allow students to self-evaluate their performance.

Through a year-long Faculty Fellows program, faculty learned about using the classroom video systems in their facility, and practical ways to integrate video technologies into the student interaction observations. The Fellows met with other faculty from Duke who had used video for student performance evaluation, and had a campus visit from Larry Farmer, a Law faculty member at Brigham Young University, who has considerable experience in the use of digital video in student observations.

During the Fellowship year, faculty developed a rubric to evaluate student performance in interviews and logistics for recording material, including processes for obtaining releases from clients and access and disposal of video recordings to protect client privacy. In addition, the faculty, using local multimedia support staff, developed video examples of model client interviews used in training students in the orientation to the Clinical program.

Faculty noted improvement in interviewing skills of the students who used the rubric, and surveys of students showed that many students found the rubric helpful to examine and improve their own performance. The model video encounters created for training were helpful, allowing the faculty to use excerpts to make key points about interviewing and make the training more focused, improving on “live” model interviews done during student training in the past.

As the technology changes, the Fellows continue to explore the best ways to improve video for student performance evaluation, examining new technologies such as DVD recording and portable video recording on laptops, in addition to methods for easily marking and retrieving video segments for student discussion.

Project start date: 12/2005
Funding awarded: $19,000 (includes $2,500 stipend for each faculty member)