Student Video Contest 2014
Help the jury pick a winner in this year's USF Student Video Contest before April 20. watch the videos »

Is Your Professor on the ‘Best Law Teachers’ List?

Julie Nice Among 26 Profiled By Harvard Press

01-29-2014
Julie Nice

USF law Professor Julie Nice is on Harvard Press' "What the Best Law Teachers Do" list.

USF law Professor Julie Nice is among 26 elite educators in Harvard University Press’ “What the Best Law Teachers Do,” which profiles her innovative teaching techniques. 

Where Nice’s methods depart from others is in her engagement of students with different learning styles by teaching them to synthesize legal decisions on three levels using “coding,” “mapping,” and “mashups.” Drilling down in this way, through historical and cross-disciplinary lenses, shows them how “we the people” influence legal interpretation, Nice says.

Coding, mapping, mashups 

When her students studied the legal justifications for banning same-sex marriage, for example, they documented and examined each one thoroughly (coding). Then, they followed the fate of each justification through the courts over 20 years and tracked its use across the U.S. courts system (mapping). Finally, they researched other court cases in which lawyers used the same justification to argue an unrelated issue and compared how the justification fared (mashups).

Improve society

This three-tiered method takes students beyond the fractured case-by-case approach that is common in law schools, says Nice, who’s motivated to teach students to not only practice law but to practice it in a way that improves society. It’s that personal investment in her students that has led them to give Nice high marks time and again, an achievement duly recognized in “What the Best Law Teachers Do.”

“One thing that I think will stick with me for life is the confidence she gave me,” a former student of Nice’s told the authors of “What the Best Law Teachers Do.”

Written by Heidi Patton »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews