Friday, October 19, 2007

Humanizing Legal Education Conference

The Humanizing Legal Education Conference, sponsored by Washburn University School of Law, began tonight with a banquet and talk by speaker Barb Glesner-Fines of UMKC School of Law.  Professor Glesner-Fines spoke about the HLE movement and the challenges of defining the movement and its principles.  She established three: 

First, do no harm.  Teach with compassion and benevolence; create an active, engaged, respectful, and mutual learning environment.

Second, remember that we teach students, not subject matter.  Even more important, we should teach the whole student, not just the legal technician.  Taking the attitude that "it's not my job" to do other than teach the subject matter contributes to law student disengagement and abdicates our responsibility for helping students learn how to become a lawyer.

Third, teach peace and justice.  Lawyers are healers and problem solvers, and myriad trends in the profession (therapeutic law, collaborative law, clinical educatio, ADR) support those values.  The practice of law is not all about being a gladiator or warrior, and we need to recognize and support all ways of lawyering.   We also need to find ways to enable debt-burdened students to pursue their goals instead of sacrificing them on the altar of monthly loan payments.

In closing, she quoted Rousseau: 

"Propose what is feasible, they repeatedly tell me. It is as if I were being told to propose what people are doing already, or at least to propose some good which mixes well with the existing wrongs. Such a project is in certain ways much more unrealistic than my own, for in that mix the good is spoiled and the bad is not improved. I would rather follow exactly the established method than adopt a better method halfway. There would be fewer contradictions in man, for man cannot aim at the same time at two opposite goals. Fathers and mothers, what is feasible is what you are willing to do."


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