June 5, 2013 | CUNY School of Law
Professors David Nadvorney and Deborah Zalesne’s new book Teaching to Every Student: Explicitly Integrating Skills and Theory into the Contracts Class was released this spring and highlights how academic skills, legal reasoning skills, and theoretical perspectives can be incorporated directly into the syllabi of first-year courses in general, and contracts courses in particular. The book recently earned praise from D.A. Jeremy Telman, professor at Valparaiso University Law School, and Gerry Hess, co-director of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and a professor of Law at Gonzaga University School of Law.
In a post for the ContractsProf Blog, Telman writes, “Introducing new approaches to the legal curriculum involves teaching old dogs new tricks, because law schools have to work with the faculties they’ve got.” He continues, “Nadvorney and Zalesne provide such guidance for contracts profs … and I think its approach is unique — or at least highly unusual — in that the authors insist on incorporating theoretical perspectives while also highlighting their very practical, skills-based approach to teaching first-year contracts.” Telman says, “Even if one chooses not to adopt the book, I recommend it to law professors interested in looking for new stimuli that will enable them to shake up their approaches to teaching.”
In his review in the Law Teacher, Hess writes “Nadvorney and Zalesne have lots to offer teachers of any first-year course. Most of the exercises are easy to adapt to another course, although the applicable cases would be different, of course.” He continues, “The sample syllabus, although in the context of a Contracts course, is an outstanding illustration of how to make doctrine, skills, and theory equal partners in a first-year course.”
Professor Nadvorney is the Director of the Skills Center. Before returning to the Law school, he was a Fellow in Georgetown University Law Center’s Street Law Program and worked with the National Institute of Citizen Education in the Law.
Professor Zalesne teaches in the areas of contracts, corporations, and commercial law. She has published numerous articles on sexual harassment, discrimination, and poverty law. Prof. Zalesne is also a member of the boards of Beyond the 11th, a charitable organization devoted to supporting disenfranchised widows in Afghanistan, and Iris House, a Harlem-based not-for-profit that addresses the needs of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.