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A Populist Manifesto for Learning the Law

Eric E. Johnson

University of North Dakota School of Law

August 1, 2010

Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 60, No. 1, p. 41, 2010

In this article, I examine the questions above and conclude that there are intelligent, well-formed arguments for taking a more populist approach to teaching law. The pedagogical view I present in this article can be summed up as three interrelated propositions:

• Law professors should cease to regard as sacrosanct the process of learning law through the reading of judicial opinions.

• Law professors should let go of old taboos about student study-aids and other shortcuts to learning.

• Law professors should strive, insofar as possible, to make learning doctrine easier and less time-consuming.

In its briefest form, my argument is this: We lack good rationales for insisting on more difficult modes of learning, and in the absence of a convincing case to the contrary, we ought to try to make learning the law easier. All things being equal, the easier way is the better way, because the easier we make it to learn, the more we will be able to teach.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: legal education, education, pedagogy, blackletter law, textbooks, casebooks, case method

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Date posted: August 29, 2010 ; Last revised: December 15, 2012

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Eric E., A Populist Manifesto for Learning the Law (August 1, 2010). Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 60, No. 1, p. 41, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1666952

Contact Information

Eric E. Johnson (Contact Author)
University of North Dakota School of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202-9003
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.ericejohnson.com
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