‘Just Trying to Be Human in this Place’: Storytelling and Film in the First-Year Law School Classroom
38 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 8, 2010
In 2007, the latest in a long line of studies and research projects that critically examined American legal education were published. The Carnegie Foundation Report, “Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law”, and the empirical research findings of linguistic anthropologist Elizabeth Mertz, “The Language of Law School: Learning to 'Think Like A Lawyer'”, identified many shortcomings and negative consequences that result from the traditional pedagogy of the American law school classroom. In this Article, Professors Kate Nace Day and Russell G. Murphy explore some of the findings of these studies in the context of their experimentation with the use of storytelling, feature films, and documentaries in first year law classes. The Article suggests that these materials can effectively supplement doctrinal teaching by “humanizing” the first year experience through refocusing on the real world experiences of lawyers and clients, examining the social consequences of legal controversies, and factoring “justice” into the case dialogue method. Further, in light of Mertz’s findings on the disturbing silences in the classroom, the Article argues that storytelling and film can transform the vision of law received by outsider students.
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