Douglas Berman, a criminal law professor at The Moritz College of Law, explains to law students what they should do if they are called on in class and are unprepared.
As a general rule, Berman suggests students avoid letting this happen; always be prepared. If for some reason they are not, students should consider letting their professors know before class. Honesty is always the best policy.
If students do not talk to their professors beforehand, Berman suggests that they precede their responses by admitting to being unprepared, apologizing for not having an educated answer, and then responding as best they can. Many professors will respect the honesty and allow a student to either pass on a question, or defer to the following day when, as he often says, “I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting prepared.”
Trying to hide a lack of preparation or responding with an uneducated answer may prove to be the worst course of action. Of course, Berman concludes, “the easiest way to avoid being unprepared is not being unprepared.”