Preparing to Teach

Course Preparation Checklist

Editing Course Details

To assist students in their course selection, it is critical that instructors provide an overview of the course content and evaluation method. These course descriptions are published in the Curriculum Guide. Faculty are offered the opportunity to review and edit their course descriptions through LawNet. The Office of Registration Services has provided a guide to editing course descriptions in LawNet

If you experience difficulties logging into or using LawNet, please contact the IT Help Desk at (212) 854-1370 or [email protected]

Components That Can Be Edited 

Instructors can edit the following fields:

  • Evaluation Information – Indicate if you are evaluating students by exam (proctored or take-home), paper, or other.
  • Registration Limitations – Indicate in this field if the course has limitations on enrollment (e.g., limited to JD or LLM students, 3L's only, Law students only, etc., or if admission is by instructor permission). If admission to your course requires your permission, specify in the course description by what date and how to apply for admission (e.g., send a CV and statement of interest to your e-mail or postal address, or to that of your assistant).
  • Pre-Requisites – List in this field if you require students to have taken specific Law courses in order to be eligible to take your course.  You also can indicate recommended courses and/or background, without listing specific Law courses. 
  • Co-Requisites – List in this field any Law courses that students must take in the same term they are taking your course.  Instructors may list as a co-requisite course the same Law course that they list as a pre-requisite and which they are allowing a student to take concurrently if not taken before.
  • Writing Credits – Indicate whether students can earn one or more of the following in conjunction with your offering:
    • JD Minor Writing Credit. Please indicate if students can earn Minor Writing Credit in either of the two following ways:
      • automatically upon successful completion of the course (if your course requires a term paper or several reaction papers of at least 6,500-8,000 words in total);
      • upon consultation with you.
    • JD Major Writing Credit can be registered only upon consultation with the instructor; Major Writing requires at least two drafts of a major paper, with the final draft responding satisfactorily to the instructor's comments and suggestions on an earlier complete draft.
    • LLM Writing Project must be completed in conjunction with an offering of at least two (2) academic points, graded A-B-C, and must be a paper of at least 6,500-8,000 words that is based on the student’s original legal research. Reaction papers, journals, and other non-research based writing projects do not fulfill the LLM Writing Project requirement.  
  • Course Description – Enter your course description to provide students an overview of the content of your course and any other information that will assist students in developing their academic plans for the coming semester.
  • Learning Outcomes - The Law School’s Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan requires that each instructor list a “goals” or “objectives” statement as part of his/her course description in the online Course Guide.  Identification of 3 to 5 goals would be optimal and some instructors may want to use a hierarchy of goals, designating “primary” and “secondary” goals.

Components That Cannot Be Edited 

Instructors cannot edit the Course Type or Course Category. If the information currently in LawNet is not correct for your course, please email Marin Conaughty, Executive Director of Registration Services, at [email protected].

As part of the Law School’s Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan, each course must list “goals” or an “objectives” statement as part of its course description in the online Curriculum Guide. Identification of 3 to 5 goals would be optimal and some instructors may want to use a hierarchy of goals, designating “primary” and “secondary” goals. Students will be able to use these goals statements in making course selections and in framing their expectations for the course. At the end of the course, as part of the course evaluation process, students will be asked the extent to which particular goals have been realized, on a goal by goal basis.  

Understanding that some faculty will want to create their own course-specific outcomes, while others prefer to select from a pre-existing list, the faculty also agreed to a set of outcomes that could be utilized by individual instructors:

At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in:

  • a specific body of law, including major policy concerns
  • doctrinal analysis, including close reading of cases and precedents, and application to facts
  • statutory and regulatory analysis, including close reading of statutes and regulations, and application to facts
  • ethical and professional issues
  • judicial, legislative and/or administrative processes
  • values-based considerations in law-making
  • jurisprudential considerations in legal analysis
  • the historical development of law and legal institutions
  • use of other disciplines in the analysis of legal problems and institutions, for example, philosophy; economics, sociology and other social sciences; and cultural studies
  • the influences of political institutions in law
  • comparative law analysis of legal institutions and the law
  • transactional design and value creation
  • finding, understanding, using and critiquing secondary legal literature
  • various lawyering skills, for example, oral advocacy, legal writing and drafting, legal research, negotiation, mediation, working collaboratively, client communication, and case theory and planning

Any member of faculty who has questions regarding the learning outcomes for his or her course can contact Andrea Saavedra, Associate Dean for Registration and Student Services, at [email protected].

All textbook requirements should be posted on CourseWorks prior to student pre-registration to ensure compliance with federal regulations. 

All faculty support staff have been trained on how to enter required and recommended textbook information for each semester's courses in CourseWorks. Instructions are available here

Any difficulty posting textbook information on CourseWorks should be reported to the IT Helpdesk (212) 854-1370 or [email protected].

The textbook information that is posted electronically on CourseWorks (Canvas) serves also as an official book order with the Columbia University Bookstore. Paper textbook orders are no longer accepted.

If you need to reschedule an on-campus class, please email [email protected] to reserve a room for your make-up session.

Additionally, once the room has been reserved, notify the AV Support Team.

  • Class Recording Policy. All class sessions are recorded by default, unless you opt out. You may, if you choose, post recordings of any or all your classes to CourseWorks, or you may make recordings available only to students with approved disability accommodations and/or to those who must miss class due to illness, including students who are isolated because of COVID-19. Please communicate your class recording and access policy to students and to [email protected] at the start of the semester. 


  • Religious Holidays. Religious holidays for the school year are listed here. By default, recordings of classes held on these holidays are posted to CourseWorks for your students. Contact [email protected] if you have different preferences.


  • Hot Mic Warning. By default, AV records three minutes past the scheduled end of class time because many professors run a little over. This has led to “hot mic” problems where faculty or students engaging in conversation after class forget they are being recorded. Be aware that microphones in your classroom are sensitive, and may be continuing to record even after class has formally ended. 


  • Microphone Use. Please reinforce consistent use of microphones in class—even if participants’ unamplified voices are audible to the individuals present. This is critically important to allow those listening later to hear class discussion, including for transcription if the Office of Disability Services (ODS) has authorized that accommodation. Please contact [email protected] with questions regarding transcription accommodations.

Faculty often choose to hire research assistants to help with a range of research-related tasks for a defined project or period of time or teaching assistants to help with classroom support. TAs and RAs can either receive course credit or can be paid. 

For paid work, this document provides guidance on eligibility, budget allocation, solicitation of applications, and the appointment process for research assistants. 

For course credit, students should formally register for either L6822 (Teaching Fellows) or L6685 (Unpaid Faculty Assistant Service), and submit the necessary form to Registration Services digitally through LawNet. You will then award the student a Credit/Fail grade at the end of the semester. The number of credits should be proportionate to the hours worked with one credit corresponding to five hours/week over the course of a 14-week semester. 

We cannot post, distribute or sell materials that require copyright permission which has not been applied for.

All copyrighted material, whether it be CourseWorks (Canvas) postings, course packs, or handouts, must be cleared for each semester it is used. In the interest of expediting the process, we do not require you to wait until permission has been granted before producing or posting course materials. We presume that permission will be granted. If there is a problem obtaining permission, we will get back to you with options.

This applies to all copyrighted materials taken from casebooks, periodicals, journals, and web postings. Most government-produced documents, as well as court cases, rulings and opinions, statutes and anything in the public domain do not require copyright permission.

Permission must be applied for through Copyright Clearance Center online at prior to or concurrent with your materials being posted, copied, or distributed. You do not have to apply for everything at once. You can monitor your order even as you are still deciding what materials to use. All orders can be revised, amended, or cancelled.

Please also note that if you are using both printed and electronic materials, you must place your order for each format separately. Some materials that we can reproduce in print form are not available for electronic formats. You can, however, post hyperlinks to URLs for materials posted on the web. But if the title is being reproduced in print or posted on CourseWorks (Canvas)—even as an excerpt—permission must be obtained.

Please see the document titled "CCC Online" for procedures and instructions on how to apply for copyright permission online at Any general questions you have about the copyright process or requests for confirmation that your copyright order has been submitted should be directed to the Secretariat at [email protected].

Instructions on how to post materials on the new CourseWorks (Canvas) system are available on the Educational Technology website.

Help for importing materials from previous semesters can be found at:

Any difficulty accessing or posting course materials on CourseWorks (Canvas) should be reported to the  IT Helpdesk (212) 854 1370 or [email protected]​​​​​​. 

Disability Accommodation

Columbia Law School is committed to the full inclusion of students with disabilities in the life of the University. Some professors have found it useful to place language describing our disability accommodation policy in the syllabus. You can find sample language on our commitment to disability accommodation here

Regarding disability accommodation, you should reserve seats for students with physical disabilities. Additional guidelines can be found here.

  • Class Lists. Class lists with pictures and student biographical information are available on LawNet. LawNet also contains the names preferred by your students (if different from the name in the class list), audio of the name pronunciation, and students’ preferred pronouns (if indicated). Students have also been provided with name placards to help with name memorization in class.
  • Pronunciation Aid. Students express deep appreciation for professors’ efforts to learn and pronounce their names. The Committee on Teaching has created a great tool to help. In LawNet>Registration Services>See Class List, pick your class, and click View Class. You will see the button that says Pronunciation Slideshow. Try it out.
  • Seating Charts. Seating charts can be created on LawNet. Faculty coordinators and the Secretariat can assist with creating and printing seating charts.

Do you need assistance setting up your course in CourseWorks (Canvas), designing hybrid elements of a course, or creating an online course? Did you build a course in CourseWorks (Canvas) and you want expert feedback? Are you thinking about integrating a new form of technology in your classroom? Would you like to attend a face-to-face or online training program or workshop? 

Nicky Hentrich is the learning designer assigned to the Law School and will be able to help you. 

[email protected] |   212 854-1869

Basem Aly is the Law School's Instructional Technologist who can field questions about Courseworks, Echo360 and any other pedagogical tools. He can also provide one-on-one training, if needed.

[email protected] | 212-853-4294

  • Faculty Resources Website. Discussions among faculty, and faculty-student working groups, have led to a number of strategies and techniques that really work to help create and enhance the student learning experience. These resources are collected on the CLS faculty resources webpage Effective, Inclusive, and Antiracist Teaching. Additional resources on inclusive teaching from the CU Center on Teaching and Learning are here.
  • Law Classroom Teaching Tips. The Committee on Teaching has created a CourseWorks site with tips and videos specific to the law school classroom. The site links to tips on “difficult conversations,” “Socratic innovations,” “race in the 1L classroom,” and more. In particular, please review successful techniques Columbia faculty are using, described in some detail in the Inclusive Classroom Strategies document.
  • A Note on Career Assumptions. Students pay close attention to the explicit and implicit messages we send when discussing their potential careers, particularly the choice between public and private pathways. The Public Interest/Public Service Lawyering Committee (PIPSL) circulated a memo to the faculty with useful insights on conveying the message that all career trajectories are equally valued at Columbia, along with tips for encouraging students to keep an open mind about public interest and public service careers.
  • Resources for No-Laptop Classrooms. Many faculty restrict laptop use in the classroom, while seeking to ensure that students are well-supported in their notetaking. Other faculty allow laptops but are concerned about distractions. The Committee on Teaching has developed a concise best-practices guide relating to both sets of concerns. (Note: If a student’s DS accommodation includes laptop use, you must allow it as an option for that student.)

Course evaluations are an important way for students to give feedback and for faculty to improve their pedagogy.  We have found that when class time is set aside for the purpose of completing evaluations, response rates are significantly higher, making the information collected more meaningful. Remember that you can easily adjust the evaluation questions your students are asked, for example, to get feedback on classroom innovations or on your TAs.

Please plan to designate a 10-20 minute period at the beginning or end of a class session near the end of the semester specifically for the completion of course evaluations.