Vocation, Formation and the Next Generation: The Role of Catholic Law Schools in Light of Catholic Social Thought
Villanova Journal of Catholic Social Thought, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 14, 2009
There are two separate aspects to what is distinctive about a Catholic law school as opposed to a secular one – one having to do with formation and the other having to do with the transmission of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The focus of this article is on the first of the two distinctive aspects of Catholic legal education – formation. It addresses the question how Catholic social thought informs (or should inform) our thinking about the formation role of Catholic law schools. I argue that from the perspective of Catholic thought, Catholic law schools must do more than merely train students to practice law. In addition to educating students to become lawyers, Catholic law schools have a formation and development task that involves at least several related aspects – creating a vocation-based culture and understanding of success, helping students discern their place in the legal profession, and giving them the tools they will need to carry out their calling in a manner consistent with the Gospel. In talking about these roles, the article also suggests some ways this formation and development mission of the Catholic law school might be carried out and briefly identifies some of the challenges that will be faced by Catholic law schools in trying to carry out this role.
Keywords: legal education, Catholic law schools, Catholic intellectual tradition, professional formation, Catholic social thought
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