As with the law itself, law students are always changing. And law professors should regularly consider how those changes will impact the classroom and our pedagogical approach. For our year-long Legal Writing course, the law students of 2021-22 surprised us with the careful and nuanced way they thought about language. Our 1L students were more interested in parsing the meaning, effect, and approach to potentially offensive language than any students we had taught before. We learned a lot from them.
In the Spring of 2020, one of my first-year legal writing students introduced me to the Underground Scholars Language Guide for Communicating About People Involved in the Carceral System (“Language Guide”). I was not familiar with the Language Guide, or the terms included in it, but I immediately understood its value as a tool for eliminating bias and vowed to use it in my classroom the following year.