Monday, May 16, 2011

New scholarship: "Educating our students for what? The goals and objectives of law schools in their primary role of educating students--how do we actually achieve our goals and objectives?"

Authored by Penn State Professor Louis F. Del Duca and published at 29 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 95 (2010). From the introduction:

Should law schools go beyond producing competent and ethical lawyers? Should they train lawyers to stand up for the rule of law, to work for law reform, to be community leaders? What is the impact of globalization? Are we training lawyers for local, national, transnational, or international practice? How do we actually achieve our goals and objectives? In the post World War II era, new technologies and globalization have simultaneously on the one hand generated opportunities for expanded world commerce, communication, and cultural interchange. On the other hand, they have also generated worldwide concern over environmental, financial, commercial, and human-rights issues accompanied by creation of regional and global political and economic organizations, and a plethora of public and private transnational legal issues, treaties, legal guidelines, standard form contracts, alternative dispute mechanisms and domestic legislation attempting to respond to new problems and new opportunities for their creative resolution. How should our legal-education systems respond to these changes?

At a symposium on Emerging Worldwide Strategies in Internationalizing Legal Education, John Sexton, then Dean of the New York University Law School, perceptively commented on this phenomenon. He noted the analogy between the impact of the nineteenth century industrial revolution and its technology, and the current impact of technology and globalization on law, legal institutions, and legal education. Commenting on the introduction in 1870 by Christopher Columbus Langdell of the case-law method for training students to enter the legal profession, Dean Sexton stated:
The more and more I look at the work of Christopher Columbus Langdell, the more and more I understand that the paradigm shift we see now in sovereignty, technology and information distribution was occurring then. For them, it was not a paradigm shift involving nation states but a paradigm shift involving [individual] states [of the Union] after the Civil War. It was not technology involving computers, but it was technology involving increased literacy and newspapers, the dissemination of information. For them, it was not the internationalization of markets, but the nationalization of markets. I am now beginning to re-understand what Langdell did in those terms. I guarantee you that, when he developed his method, he did not only teach Massachusetts cases.
In today's world of many legal cultures and traditions, development of an optimal curriculum and optimal legal methodology for individual law schools amongst a range of law schools with varying asset basis is a challenge not likely to generate a single universally useful, acceptable or desirable solution. Nevertheless, one can attempt to identify the framework within which the search for such an optimal curriculum and legal methodology can best be conducted.


| Permalink


I agree with the author's conclusion. I comment to emphasize that in a global world we need law schools that can deal with different problems. All law schools should not look the same. While learning about globalization is important, developing lawyers who can deal with routine problems and individuals is just as important.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | May 16, 2011 11:28:31 AM

Post a comment