Document Type


Publication Date



Law school programs are increasingly expanding collaborative experiences for their students. In many clinical programs, collaboration -- through team pairings and group work – has been the norm, and gradually, collaborative work is being developed throughout the doctrinal law school curriculum. This trend fits within a broader societal emphasis on a collaborative model of working and learning. In both professional and educational settings, collaboration is viewed as critical to the success of ideas and products. Learning theory consistently identifies learning as being “inherently social” and best retained when engaged in with others. And, collaboration can substantially benefit the final work product and dramatically increase professional and educational satisfaction. However, when the collaborative process is not engaged in with intention and when not open to a variety of practices, collaboration can inhibit learning, productivity, and creativity. Research consistently finds that individuals who have an opportunity to consider problems on their own before collaborating outperform those whose ideas are generated exclusively in a group setting. Despite this, many collaborations value a team process that tends to isolate and ignore individuals who do not speak up quickly or easily, many with introverted personality styles, as well as others who do not fit within the “Extrovert Ideal.” The Extrovert Ideal rests on an assumption that an extrovert’s approach to group work, learning, and decision-making is the standard towards which all individuals should strive. This assumption may be particularly problematic for law students and lawyers who, as a group, include a higher percentage of individuals who identify as introverted than the general population. This article considers whether law faculty are giving enough thought to the collaborative learning opportunities that are becoming a new normal in legal education and the legal profession. It considers how as currently executed, law school collaborations may not maximize student learning because they are grounded in a process that often interferes with the creation of ideas and the learning and environmental preferences because of rules that work best for only some -- not all -- students. This article concludes by offering concrete collaborative methods that allow space for intentional silence and reflection, and suggestions for helping students identify their own collaborative identity.

Publication Citation

65 J. Legal Educ. 897 (2016)