By Sandra Simpson – Gonzaga University School of Law
While teaching Professional Responsibility this semester, I realized that Model Rule 1.15 regarding trust accounts and lawyer billing is dry and boring, yet vitally important to the typical lawyer. To make things interesting, we played a game called “Who Wants to Be a Professor?” I teach this class out of a book by Professors Brooks Holland and Leah Christensen, titled “Professional Responsibility: From the Classroom to the Practice of Law.” The book has a plethora of exercises and hypotheticals. Without regard, this subject is boring. Enter the game. The students have law firms already established but you could just have them form groups. I gave each group a section of the rule (but you could use case holdings) and gave them 60 minutes to design a multiple choice question, five possible answers, and all of the explanations. I told them that after they were all done, we were going to have the students take each firms’ quiz question. The law firm would then have to defend their question, their answer, and the proper explanations. Each group would have 10 minutes to present and defend. I also told them that after everyone has presented, the law firms would submit their vote for the best question (and the students could not vote for their own question). The winning law firm would get some extra credit.
I knew the students would like it, but the results were more than I could have hoped for. I was literally running from group to group answering questions, reading possible answers, and listening to each group’s conversations. There was so much positive energy in the room, and the learning was obvious. When the presentations started, I started to get goose bumps due to the excitement, competitiveness, and the learning that was happening in the room. The students appropriately picked apart weak questions, confusing answers, and incorrect information; they also recognized good questions for their depth and difficulty. At the end, I realized how much I gained as well. I got a rare peak into their minds as they analyze multiple choice questions.