A Window into Legal Writing 101 Offered Through PNAP and the NEIU/UWW Program at Stateville Prison
Every class begins with a review of the previous points as outlined on our syllabi. Not exciting? Hang on…our instructor, attorney Megan Porter, surgically excised her main points from each student with her own version of socratic, critically engaging pedagogy, or her diagram usage :).
Our class engaged men who were GED graduates, Northeastern Illinois University students/graduates, Northwestern University students, North Park University graduates, and Stateville’s finest prison legal minds (Karim, Daniels, and Taylor). As an alumni B.A. recipient from the NEIU/UWW program, and was afforded the opportunity to serve our class who desired to build and sharpen their legal scalpels – where the class was always fluid, “but on topic”, and where community flourished so we could view the legal gems on display from Professor Porter.
For me, a paralegal who has earned two degrees in the last six years (B.A. and Master’s degree) and feel humbled that PNAP programming occurs to fuel “the least” of all with an awesome legal skill set. It is because of faculty like Professor Porter that we have access to the higher-education skills that can transform and dismantle systems of injustice. It is not very often you hear a student’s words valued, then echoed, applied, and used to reteach theory by an instructor…unless you’ve experienced Megan Porter’s style of teaching.
Additionally, it is satisfying to hear a student recall a week 4 legal theory, and then critically engage it bravely “from memory” in week 11 – thank you Casper for that.
This course is for beginners, but Professor Porter and the working T.A.’s will not leave you there. This PNAP course is beyond legal jargon: rule statements, IRAC, summary judgment, etc…This course is about growth through communal critically engaged conversation to examine what is useful for oppositional writing that reorients ideas to the court. If you’ve ever witnessed an instructor echo your words from weeks prior to explain a major point, then you’ve experienced what our classroom community in Legal Writing 101 is like everytime we meet.
Thank Professor Porter and PNAP for valuing us, and validating our legal experience and minds behind 40-feet concrete walls.
Marshall Stewart, T.A.