Class Policies

Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality. – The Dalai Lama

  1. Respect: The first policy is not for you – it is a commitment that I hereby make to you.

    One of the things I hated about law school was that most of my professors seemed to think that treating us with arrogance and dismissal was not only acceptable, but some kind of rite of passage. That does not seem to be the norm at Barry like it was at my law school. (Consider yourselves fortunate). Regardless, I find arrogance and dismissiveness toward students to be unacceptable. If it ever appears that I am treating you that way, I want to know immediately. If you don’t feel like you’re being treated with the utmost respect, that is completely inadvertent and I want to know about it so that I can correct any misunderstanding.

    It is VERY important to me that everyone understands that their individual level of comfort and their individual views are respected. When I get my student evaluations, I could care less if I get a bad rating in every other category. I am VERY disappointed if I don’t get a perfect 5 when it comes to “respect for students.” That means that I did a bad job.

    I absolutely want to make sure that everyone feels respected. If there are any issues, discomfort, etc., send me an email (anonymously if you are uncomfortable — you can do that through the contact form) and let me know.

    I have a complete open-door / open-phone policy. You will be given my home, office, and cell contact information. Never hesitate to call or email.

  2. Respect 2: Please extend the same courtesy to your classmates. You are paying to be here, and I am thick skinned. Therefore, I’m not all that concerned with your respect for me, as I intend to earn it. But, at least respect the class.
  3. Respect 3 – The Honor Code: If I detect a whiff of an honor code violation, I will not give any breaks. If there are external pressures that tempt you to break the honor code, speak to me first. I will be creative and understanding in working to find a way to accommodate you while leaving both your and my integrity intact.
  4. No recording allowed: I’ve gotten wind that some students in other classes have been recording and podcasting professors’ lectures. While this might seem flattering to some, in my class recording is not permitted. By enrolling in my class, you agree to this condition and agree that it is an honor code violation to record class. If you have some reason that you must record the class, for example you break your hand and can’t take notes, please approach me before recording. Violations of this are not only a violation of Florida law, but will also result in an automatic F in the course and a referral for an honor code violation.
  5. Understand the class format – I don’t think that it is fair to judge you on just one exam at the end of the semester. Therefore, participation is very important to me. You are training to be lawyers, so speaking and writing is ultra important. I measure those skills through your class participation and blog participation. Blog participation is graded course work. Treat it as such. You can be a little informal in your writing, but understand that your writing will be out there for the whole world to see — including potential employers.
  6. I am not heavily Socratic. I did not enjoy that kind of abusiveness in law school, therefore I will never visit it upon my students. If you are unprepared for class, that is not a good thing, but it is also not a cause for me to embarrass you. I would rather you be honest. If you are called on and you are unprepared, please state that you are unprepared and give your colleagues the reason why you are unprepared, and please commit to being prepared for the next class. If you are prepared, then contribute to the discussion. This school has a great collection of diverse minds, and you learn as much from your colleagues as you do from your professor. Don’t deprive your classmates/colleagues the benefit of your thoughts and ideas.
  7. FREE YOUR MIND! Yes, you will be expected to think creatively! Think outside the box! Take chances! Most law courses just can’t ask that of you. You need to learn “offer, acceptance, and consideration” in Contracts. In this class, you will often be asked “what do you think?” I don’t want to hear an IRAC answer if I ask you that. I want to hear what you THINK! Break those “bar exam class” chains for a few hours a week. Take intellectual risks, have fun, and enjoy the truly mind-expanding experience that law school can be.
  8. Class is dynamic – The syllabus and class assignments are subject to change. You are responsible for reviewing the class blog every day. I will occasionally post files for your review before class. I reserve the right to post supplemental reading up until 3 hours before class. Given this fact, you do not want to be more than one or two classes ahead in your reading. No matter what we achieved at the previous class, you are responsible for the reading that is noted on the syllabus. If it takes us longer to finish a subject than planned, you should still keep up with the reading.
  9. Unorthodox issues – There are issues in my classes that may address “mature subjects.” You have also likely heard that I am a bit, hmmm… how can I put this… unconventional. If you have any concerns about that, I wish to take all perspectives into account. I teach to my audience, but I will not allow the permissiveness of 99% of the class to offend or alienate a single member of the class. Send me an email if you have any concerns. (See Policy #1). It is very important to me that all of my students feel respected, so do not hesitate to address any concerns with me. Confidentiality will always be maintained unless it is specifically waived.
  10. Stupid Questions: No question asked while seeking knowledge is a “stupid” question. (See Policy #1). Don’t ever start a question with “umm, this might sound stupid, but….” By asking a question, you are already demonstrating intelligence!
  11. Use of laptops / technology in class: You are, of course, free to use your laptops in class to take notes and/or to refer to materials that I have provided to you. In fact, I strongly advise that you have a laptop in class. That being said,
    1. use of Instant Messenger services in class is strictly prohibited.
    2. Accessing the web during class, unless it is a site that I have directed you to, is also prohibited.
    3. I have found that both practices are destructive to the class environment.
    4. The first infraction will result in an immediate deduction of ALL class participation points for the entire semester.
    5. The second infraction will result in an F in the course. It will also be referred to the administration as an honor code violation.
    6. If you do need to get a message to someone else in class, you may do it the “old fashioned way” and pass a note to them. That is allowed.
  12. I reserve the right to update and modify policies as needed. Effective date of any update or modification is the date it is posted on this blog. You are required to check the class policies and grading policies once per week. If I have changed anything of substance, I will update the “last changed” date. This will alert you to the fact that you need to re-review the policies.

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