Faculty Home Discussion Groups

Faculty Salon Discussion Groups

From small group discussions, great ideas grow.

At Stanford Law, we never stop experimenting with new ways to make an education in law relevant, empowering and intellectually stimulating. In 2013 we took the in-depth conversations that usually happen in the classroom into a new, informal setting: the homes of faculty members. The idea caught fire among students and faculty alike. Today, faculty home discussion groups are an essential element of learning at SLS — a reflection of our distinctive collegial culture.

Each group convenes over the course of five evenings across winter and spring quarters, when faculty members open their homes to small teams of 2L, 3L, and advanced degree students. In this casual setting, often over a meal, students and faculty reflect on the nature of the legal profession, on their professional identity as lawyers or on provocative topics in law. Students receive 1 unit of mandatory pass/fail credit, creating a no-pressure atmosphere in which creative thinking and freewheeling conversation prevail.

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, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean, Stanford Lawyer, Issue 89

Up for Discussion

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