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The Elephant in the Virtual Law Classroom: Different Perspectives but a Common Loss

Perez, Tiffany, The Elephant in the Virtual Law Classroom: Different Perspectives but a Common Loss (May 1, 2021). Compliance Elliance Journal 2021 , Available at SSRN: or

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, law schools had to pivot to virtual legal education quickly. In the wake of the pandemic, scholars have eagerly written about the dos and don’ts of the virtual law classroom. Although some articles have represented the law students’ perspective and some have represented the law professors’ perspective, none have done both in an attempt to create empathy and bridge the gap between what students’ desire, and what law professors are currently providing, and what good virtual legal education requires. As such, based on several interviews with law professors and students, this Article begins by describing one online Contracts class first from the professor’s point of view and then from the student’s point of view. The professor’s and students’ different perceptions of the same class are then analogized to John Godfrey Saxe’s poem The Blind Men and the Elephant. Then, using the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle as a vehicle to build empathy and understanding, this article attempts to demonstrate the similarities that exists between students’ and professors’ feelings about online virtual education, namely that both professors and students alike are avidly grieving a common loss: in-person, Socratic law school days of old. As such, they are both experiencing denial and anger about their situations. In keeping with one of the key strategies recommended by the Mayo clinic for overcoming denial in grief, this article “journals” their realities and provides both the student and professor perspective in the hopes that, by doing so, it will rid the misconceptions and bridge the way for a new type of virtual legal education to be created—one that meets (and/or exceeds) both professors’ and students’ expectations.”

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