Friday, May 24, 2019

Yale Law Dean defends theory/activist law school education

"At its best, a J.D. is a thinking degree, a problem-solving degree, a leadership degree. Lawyering is a job that requires an enormous number of skills and literacies. You must possess a supple mind and sound judgment. You need to have institutional sense and sharp analytics. You must be literate and numerate. You must be able to distill an unruly, messy set of materials into a coherent form. You must question everything, especially your own priors. You must possess enough critical distance to evaluate a situation but enough human empathy to understand it. Your education must be rigorous enough to breed humility rather than hubris."Heather Gerken, Dean - Yale Law School
Resisting the Theory/Practice Divide, Harvard Law Review Forum, June 2019

I thoroughly agree.  In the fall of 1970 - my first semester of law school at Rutgers-Newark - I was part of a group of students reviewing the transcript of the Chicago 7 trial.  I wrote a point in the brief on appeal, which was the work of Arthur Kinoy who soon blocked unlawful FBI surveillance, leading to the FISA court.  In my second semester Ruth Ginsburg laid out her vision for the years ahead.  Paul Trachtenberg set in motion the landmark educational equity jurisprudence of the New Jersey Supreme Court.  I could go on ...and I have in the pages of the Fordham Urban Law Journal which published my essay People's Electric -Engaged Legal Education at Rutgers-Newark in the 1960's and 1970's. - gwc

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