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3 Law Tchr. 1 (1995-1996)

handle is hein.journals/lawteaer3 and id is 1 raw text is: t*



Institute for Law School Teaching

Fall 1995

Hardhat teaching

By Gregory M. Stein
F or the past five years, I have taught a Land
Acquisition and Development Seminar. This upper-
level course tends to attract the ten or fifteen students
in each class who, like their teacher, cannot walk past a
construction site without peering over the fence for a few
Several times in past years, students have suggested that it
would be valuable to visit a construction site at some point
during the semester; perhaps to meet with the owner, the
general contractor, and the
architect; and to get a sense from  How          my
people in the business about how
a project progresses. For some  students to a const
reason, I never followed up on        watching U1
their suggestions.
But an irresistible opportunity
arose last year, when the University of Tennessee College of
Law began a thirty-month renovation and expansion project.
Toward the end of the semester, the university's director
of facilities planning, the general contractor's project
manager, and the project architect met with the class and me.
By this point, students had spent most of the semester
representing the various parties involved in the construction
of fictional Trumpet Tower. They had studied the intricacies
of development financing and had drafted and negotiated
construction and permanent loan documents. They had
examined the American Institute of Architects' standard
construction documents. But nothing that I did in class could
simulate bargaining leverage, scheduling desperation, time
pressure from actual clients (as opposed to a fictional client
who grades students at the end of the term), sinkholes,
unexpected aquifers, or heavy rains. In short, the students
had been playing poker with chips not backed by cash, and I
needed to bring in people not unlike their future clients to
import some reality into the Trumpet Tower project.
I entered the special class session with some trepidation.
Although I had practiced real estate law for four years and
had been exposed to construction law, I had been teaching
for five years and was increasingly worried that I had
become rusty. Perhaps my background provided an accurate
portrayal of the world of 1990, but was I hopelessly out-of-
date? Perhaps the books and documents we had used in class
were credible, but are the scholars who write in the field as
knowledgeable about the construction process as I had
always optimistically assumed?


I was introducing experts to the class who could credibly
dispute my knowledge. I was reminded of the time in
seventh grade when I became convinced my Spanish teacher
was actually making everything up as she went along,
perversely inventing grammatical rules and verb tenses,
perhaps teaching us Portuguese or a fictional childhood
language of her own. How would we have known? Back
then, I would periodically turn on old UHF channel 47 -
the local Spanish-language station - as a way of verifying
I her credentials. Today, the
nd development           students would verify mine.
The class went quite well,
uction site was like      at least as best as I could
F channel 47.            judge. Nearly all of the
students showed up for this
optional session on a beautiful
spring Friday at the peak of the dogwood season. I had asked
each of them to bring in a short list of questions - in
particular, questions about local practices that they had asked
me during the year and for which I had been able to offer
only uncertain answers. Nearly all of the students asked
pointed questions based on their increasing knowledge. They
received straightforward responses from knowledgeable,
skilled experts. They interacted, as professionals, with
The first hour of the two-hour session produced a few
substantive law surprises. As it turns out, lien waivers, a
topic on which we had spent a great deal of class time, seem
to be infrequently used on projects in this part of the country.
And the AIA form documents are only rarely negotiated in
state projects - the state simply drafts supplementary
conditions, attaches them to the commercially prepared form
document, and seeks bids on the package. But all in all, the
first hour of the class accomplished exactly what I had
hoped, by adding the one missing ingredient - reality - to
Continued on page 2
Pictures may be worth more than words ...... 3
Legends in the classroom ......................... 5
Using questions effectively ....................... 6
The  YUK   word  .......................................... 9

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