THINK LIKE A (WHOLE) LAWYER
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IX. Authentic Practice
The final essential element is creating authentic relationships with stu-
dents. Authentic relationships are relationships that are open, honest, safe,
and transparent. Law professors must be willing to establish meaningful,
genuine relationships with their students. Authentic relationships help stu-
dents break down barriers and share openly and honestly with the facilita-
tor.
Law professors must be willing to learn beside their students, and to open
themselves up to their own self-awareness, sharing their perspectives, val-
ues and beliefs. It is only through mutual respect and understanding that
the student will feel comfortable with the experience.
Professor Robin Wellford-Slocum recognized the importance of self-
awareness, and determined that, in her skills-based client negotiation class,
there was a disconnect between students’ self-awareness and connectivity
with the outside world. She recognized the importance of sharing her own
journey of self-awareness, and how those assumptions and behaviors af-
fect her own relation to the outside world. By sharing the process of her own
self-awareness, she models the process to her students and allows herself
to be open and honest. She sets the expectations for the experience by
sharing her own experiences:
. . . really getting students and myself to look at what are the
habitual patterns of thoughts and behaviors that undermine my
ability to be really present in the moment and, and clear . . . so
at the beginning of every class we have a silent checkin. We
take a couple of minutes to be silent, to center, and then to no-
tice what emotions are arising within me or are present within
me. Which seems maybe for educators in other fields might be
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