Discussion Seminars

From small group discussions, great ideas grow.

Starting in Fall 2019, Stanford Law School introduced a new component of its 1L curriculum–Discussion Seminars. These Discussion Seminars allow students to explore the real-world impacts and implications of law and the values undergirding our and other legal systems as well as to reflect on the nature of the legal profession, on their professional identity as lawyers and on provocative topics in law.  Designed to connect with the passions and interests that brought students to law school, the Discussion Seminars provide a guide to help navigate a new landscape. Because faculty and students are getting to know each other on a different level, faculty can advise them on their law school journey and possible trajectories after graduation.

Each Discussion Seminar will count for one unit and will take place four times during the Fall quarter over dinner either at a faculty member’s home or at a congenial space on campus.  Taking advantage of our high faculty-student ratio, these discussion seminars will further enhance our already vibrant sense of community and facilitate intellectual engagement and dialogue among students and faculty.

Faculty Home Discussion Groups were first introduced in 2013 as an elective for 2Ls and 3Ls.  The idea caught fire among students and faculty alike. As of Fall 2019, they have been made a part of the standard IL curriculum.

Faculty Salon Discussion Groups
When I came to Stanford, I was struck by the intimacy of the law school. I thought we could take advantage of that by creating opportunities for small groups of students to interact with faculty members outside the classroom, in informal, intellectually stimulating environments that would foster the kinds of bonds that are difficult to forge at larger institutions. We introduced the concept and two weeks later we had eleven commitments for seminars.

Elizabeth Magill, Former Dean, Stanford Lawyer, Issue 89

Up for Discussion (2023-2024)

Student Life 4
I was surprised by how much better the energy was than in a typical small class. The students were relaxed, highly engaged, and completely prepared, and everyone participated. It was a great opportunity for them to think about a set of really interesting issues and to speak without being afraid of the consequences, since there was no paper or final exam.

Mark Kelman, James C. Gaither Professor of Law and Vice Dean, Stanford Lawyer, Issue 89