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Posted Oct. 16, 2020

How have law schools adapted to the global pandemic?

LLM student in a face maskIt’s not much of a surprise to discover that law schools around the world have approached the global pandemic with an innovative range of solutions.

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From campus closures to online course delivery, depending on the severity experienced by the local area, different law schools have had to introduce different methods of teaching and learning to keep students and staff safe and well. Let’s take a look at some of the different ways the law schools have adapted to the global pandemic.

Teaching methods

A legal education is a combination of theory, technical legal skills and people skills. This means that the teaching methods are important and do vary between law schools and countries. The Socratic Method that is usually employed by US law schools will continue, either in person on campus or via online virtual lectures. The more instructional methods employed by law schools in Europe are more easily transferred across to online formats, so these teaching methods will not change.

Classroom sizes

Social distancing means that on-campus class sizes might be smaller, but conversely with the growth in online learning, this might mean that more students from around the world can access courses they previously could not, resulting in class sizes increasing. Class size will have an impact on the amount of time tutors, professors and lecturers have to give, but whatever your class size is, you will also only get what you put in.

Campus changes

The arrangements on many campuses have changed significantly. Catering and living arrangements will have changed and you might find that you are spending more time socially distancing that you may be used to. Library services might have limits on the number of students allowed in the building at one time, similarly with the canteen and student bar. It's best to check with the law school if you need to know the specific details as the Covid-19 crisis is a changing one and the regulations on campus and locally will change too.

Online lectures & seminars

Many law schools – such as Harvard Law School – have decided that all learning will be done online for the next semester or year. This is helpful as it gives students stability and you can get plenty out of online learning. Discussing topics in online video conferencing suites takes a little getting used to, but with the right approach you should find it rewarding and interesting. Online lectures are often very similar to in-person lectures and depending on the teaching method you might find that the fact they are recorded is a handy resource.

Curriculum updates to reflect the ‘new normal’

Some law schools are already teaching, researching and discussing the local, national and global impacts of the pandemic. The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London’s LLM in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice is already including the Covid-19 crisis in its teaching. Students can expect most law schools – like Duke University Law School and Harvard Law School – will be discussing the legal impacts and students will be researching the ramifications in essays already. Health Care LLMs are also proving popular in a post-pandemic world. This table shows some recent additions to LLM programs that reflect the coronavirus pandemic.

Law schools post-Covid
Introducing new skills for LLM students

Online skills were already vital to LLM students and lawyers currently working, and the pandemic has already shown that connecting and communicating with people online is a vital new skill. Online learning will equip LLM students with these skills and law schools will find new ways for students to network with other people.

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