Saturday, July 6, 2019
The Best Practices for Legal Education website has some of the best short articles on legal education. Its latest piece sets up a debate between Malcom Gladwell and Dean Gerken.
Dean Gerken’s Vision Versus Malcolm Gladwell’s Experience by Andi Curcio.
“When we decide who is smart enough to be a lawyer, we use a stopwatch.” Malcolm Gladwell
“Law school should be a time to luxuriate in ideas, to test their principles, and to think critically about the law and the profession.” Dean Heather Gerken
"On the same day I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating podcast about the LSAT and test-taking speed, I also read Yale Dean Heather Gerken’s insightful Commentary, “Resisting the Theory/Practice Divide: Why the “Theory School” Is Ambitious About Practice.” Both are wonderful. Together, they shine light on a dialectic tension within legal education."
You can read the article for yourself, but I think Dean Gerkin has the best position:
"Dean Gerken’s article inspires us to think about legal education in its biggest and broadest sense. She posits that, “At its best, a J.D. is a thinking degree, a problem-solving degree, a leadership degree” and she notes that for students, “law school should be a time to luxuriate in ideas, to test their principles, and to think critically about the law and the profession.”
She envisions law school as a place where students engage in deep critical thinking about the law and the profession – both in the classroom and in clinics, and she discusses the interdependent relationship between the deep learning that should occur in both."
[SF] This reminds me of something I said in a book I am working on: "I did not hear the word reflect once when I was in law school, and I doubt it is much better today." Gerkin is right that students need time to sit back and think about the law. It will make them much better lawyers and deeper thinkers.