Seton Hall Law Professor Visits Campus

Mock Law Class Gives Students a Glimpse into a Law School Learning Environment

Seton_Hall_professor_visits_campusSeton Hall Law School Profes­sor John “Kip” Cornwell taught a mock 1L class to the University students in Young Auditorium on Thursday, April 18. About 20 stu­dents interested in applying to law school attended the event.

Prior to attending, students had to read a criminal law case regard­ing pre-meditated murder. Pro­fessor Cornwell simulated a law school class by using the Socratic Method. This method, used pri­marily in law school, was created in order to effectively teach large groups of students.

In the Socratic Method, the pro­fessor will randomly call on stu­dents and ask questions. By doing this, the professor is able to keep the entire class engaged, as no one knows who will be called on next.

The students who went to the mock 1L class read the case of United States V. Watson. This was a murder trial in which the defendant was found guilty of first degree murder of a police officer.

The defendant appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, because he claimed that he did commit murder, however, it was in self-defense and not pre-meditated. The case then revolved around how a judge can decide whether or not a murder had been planned out.

Professor Cornwell, who is six-time professor of the year as voted by students at Seton Hall, led a discussion with the class to decide how to determine this exact stan­dard. Using the facts in the case, the students were able to effectively analyze why the U.S. Court of Ap­peals threw out the appeal by the defendant.

Students were surprised by how candid Professor Cornwell was, and they were expecting much worse.

Dylan Maynard, a junior politi­cal science major and future Vice President of the Pre-law club, thought that the class was helpful.

“The 1L simulation was extreme­ly useful due to the fact that it gave some insight as to what exactly a law school class was like, dimin­ishing some of the myths concern­ing the imperiousness nature of law professors,” said Maynard.

Professor Cornwell was quick to point out in his presentation that he, unlike many other law professors, uses the Socratic Method to teach students and not to scare them as many law school movies and por­trayals would like you to believe.

Maynard thought this type of teaching worked best. Maynard said that Cornwell was cautious not to call on unprepared students but attempted to create an open class­room environment. Every student in the room is planning on going to law school, so this presentation was useful to show them a slight glimpse into the stressful world of obtaining your law degree.

Senior Political Science major and current Treasurer of the Pre- Law club Lexi Todd appreciated the class.

“This mock class has changed my perspective of law school for the better. The classroom felt very relaxed and we were all given an opportunity to participate.” The students were all prepared for the class, and even impressed Profes­sor Cornwell, who said that his real law school students don’t prepare this well. This reassured Todd, who will be attending St. John’s Law School in the fall.

“If you are prepared, then you do not have to fear being called on,” said Todd.

The mock 1L class was set up by Monmouth Pre-law advisor Profes­sor Gregory Bordelon. A lawyer himself, he thought the class was very realistic. “I think the class re­ally revealed to our students how important a focus on facts is and how careful and deliberate a law­yer has to be in attempting to prove those facts,” said Bordelon.

All 20 students answered ques­tions asked by Professor Cornwell. Bordelon is particularly happy about that. “I think the mock law school first year class was a suc­cess. All of the students that attend­ed were engaged in the process and genuinely seemed absorbed in how meticulous Professor Cornwell was in breaking down the case,” said Bordelon.

PHOTO COURTESY of Dr. Gregory Bordelon