Monday, November 15, 2021
Laila L. Hlass and Lindsay M. Harris have posted their article Critical Lawyering published in the 2021 volume of the Utah Law Review. The abstract previews the article's powerful contributions to pedagogy and theory.
Critical lawyering—also at times called rebellious, community, and movement lawyering—attempts to further social justice alongside impacted communities. While much has been written about the contours of this form of lawyering and case examples illustrating core principles, little has been written about the mechanics of teaching critical lawyering skills. This Article seeks to expand critical lawyering theory, and in doing so, provide an example of a pedagogical approach to teaching what we term “critical interviewing.” Critical interviewing means using an intersectional lens to collaborate with clients, communities, interviewing partners, and interpreters in a legal interview. Critical interviewers identify and take into account historical and structural biases, privileges, and the role they play in the attorney-client relationship. This Article urges law professors and legal professionals to operationalize critical legal theories into practice, and ultimately to develop experiential pedagogies to teach these critical lawyering skills. This call to developing new pedagogies is particularly urgent in the wake of nationwide uprisings in response to the killing of George Floyd and others, as well as corresponding law schools’ commitments to identify and dismantle institutional racism. In this Article, we first set forth the contours of the canonical client interviewing pedagogy. Second, we outline the tenets of critical lawyering—a lawyering practice animated by critical legal theories. Next, we advance the pedagogy of critical interviewing, building upon client-centered lawyering texts. We describe one methodology of teaching critical interviewing: the Legal Interviewing and Language Access films. Ideally positioned to use with virtual, hybrid, or in person learning, these videos raise a multitude of issues, including addressing bias and collaborating with clinic partners, interpreters, and clients. Finally, the Article considers areas ripe for further exploration within critical interviewing, concluding with a call for engagement with new pedagogical tools to teach critical interviewing, along with other aspects of critical lawyering.