Saturday, December 1, 2012

Does a Liberal Arts Perspective Contribute to Legal Education

With the growing interest in law school courses that are of immediate practical value, this question arises. Is there room in the curriculum for courses that seem not practical—for example a course in legal history or law & literature? My answer is yes.

Let me begin with a quote from Steve Jobs of Apple fame:

I think our major contribution [to computing] was in bringing a liberal arts point of view to the use of computers,” he said. “If you really look at the ease of use of the Macintosh, the driving motivation behind that was to bring not only ease of use to people—so that many, many more people could use computers for nontraditional things at that time—but it was to bring beautiful fonts and typography to people, it was to bring graphics to people … so that they could see beautiful photographs, or pictures, or artwork, et cetera … to help them communicate.

Our goal was to bring a liberal arts perspective and a liberal arts audience to what had traditionally been a very geeky technology and a very geeky audience.

Just as a liberal arts perspective contributed to computing, it also contributes to lawyering. It better enables us to think creatively, communicate creatively, and persuade creatively.

(I found the quote from Steve Jobs in a letter that Professor J.P. Olivelle wrote to the Alcade, the magazine of the alumni association of the University of Texas)


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