Friday, June 2, 2006
Your blogger Barbara Glesner Fines is attending the Institute for Law School Teaching this weekend, so I thought I would share some of what I'm learning here. I attended a session this morning by Jane Aiken of Washington University on Inspiring Students in which we had a spirited discussion about moving students first past their developmental learning stage of "But what's the answer?!" and then past the stage of "There is no certainty -- you just need to give the judge what they're looking for." It struck me that in family law, students are more willing to move past the black letter law certainty stage because they come into class so sure that there is no predictability in the family law system. Certainly there is plenty of discretion in family law decisionmaking, but Professor Aiken made the important point that we can teach our students how to feel empowered to be agents for justice. We must guide our students to examine the underlying values and assumptions in judicial decisionmaking (and perhaps in our own representation of clients) and how those decisions and representations may conflict with our client's values and realities. We can then devise methods to help our students exercise a role in helping law to more closely match the values and realities of our clients. Inspiring.