Thursday, May 23, 2013

A New Take on the Skills v. Doctrine Debate

The WSJ Law Blog recently featured an article by Professor Paula Franzese, Seton Hall, contending that framing curricular issues as skills v. doctrinal misses the mark.  Instead, Franzese contends that we should focus on right v. left brain.  From the WSJ blog:

The notion that law schools should teach more practical skills and hands-on training is in vogue these days.

But Paula A. Franzese, a property and government ethics professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, thinks that the theory v. practice debate needs to be reframed. The more important divide, she says, is between the two sides of the brain.

“Much of what we tend to do in the law school classroom is aimed at honing left-brain thinking,” writes Ms. Franzese in a forthcoming essay in Seton Hall Law Review.

The left-brain approach emphasizes “reasoning through precedent.” Students are taught the facts of a case; the strengths and holes in the arguments; how and why a court ruled a certain way; how it was different from what came before.

That kind of training often misses the bigger picture of things — a conceptual, contextual and empathetic understanding that gives the other side of the brain a workout, says Ms. Franzese.

“It behooves us to give those metaphorically “right hemisphere” abilities…their due in the law school classroom,” she writes.


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Professor Paula Franzese seems to be unaware of the past century's worth of advances in cognitive psychology and that hemispheric dominance has been now in the same scientific domain as Social Darwinism and Bigfoot.

Posted by: dubusadus | May 23, 2013 11:18:55 AM

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