Law students navigate the change to virtual legal instruction
Notes from the Dean: The Inside Story
April 24, 2020
In this third chapter of The Inside Story, I am focusing on our courageous law students. COVID-19 and the shift to completely remote online instruction has impacted students in a number of ways.
As students shelter in place, their homes have had to become their classrooms and study rooms as well. Finding a quiet space with sufficient wifi is not always easy, and going to the library or local coffee shop is not an option this spring.
Students with children at home face additional obstacles as they attempt to study - and in some cases work - in the midst of home-schooling children and caring for their needs. (I can only imagine trying to keep up with studying while also working and being a full-time teacher and caregiver to my children!)
Online exams, going on now, require new study habits and resources. The Boley Law librarians set up virtual study rooms where students using Zoom or similar technology can study together. Faculty changed the spring exam grading system to pass/fail to relieve at least some of the stress facing our students.
Students are also contending with significant financial hurdles, both short-term and long-term. Many students who fund their legal education with an outside job have found themselves unemployed due to COVID-19. Summer jobs and internships are up in the air as employers navigate the uncertainty of their operations. Some students are spending savings meant to cover fall tuition costs on basic needs instead and are feeling anxious about the future.
Thankfully the law school is able to help with emergency relief funds, both from donors and from the federal government. There are some regulatory issues to straighten out, but we are working to swiftly distribute this emergency aid. The CARES Act provided a generous amount for distribution, so that, joined with the funds we raised, should help with our students’ most urgent needs.
For students who lost summer jobs, the law school was able to provide them with opportunities by adding more faculty summer research positions. The alumni relations department also hired students who lost their campus employment when our building was closed. And, thanks to our tireless Career Services team, we are finding more ways for many of our students to keep summer jobs and internships even as their employers’ situations remain uncertain.
Now we are focused on helping students return in the fall, doing all we can to ensure that COVID-19 does not halt their legal education. For those of you who are able and want to support students, the best way to do this is through a gift to the Law Fund so that we can bolster our scholarships for incoming and continuing students.
I am inspired over and over again by our students, and by our faculty, staff, alumni and friends in the legal community as they rise to support our law students. Together we will get through this. Stay well!
Next Week: Innovations at Boley Law Library
My very best,
Dean, Lewis & Clark Law School
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