Didaktische Zugänge zur Rechtslehre in Nordamerika (Law Teaching and Legal Education Discourse in the USA and Canada)

EXZELLENTE LEHRE IM JURISTISCHEN STUDIUM: AUF DEM WEG ZU EINER JURISTISCHEN FACHDIDAKTIK, pp. 41-57, Judith Brockmann ed., Nomos Verlag, 2011

21 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2011 Last revised: 26 Sep 2011

See all articles by Helge Dedek

Helge Dedek

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 10, 2011

Abstract

This paper is based on an invited presentation given at a conference on legal education in Hamburg, Germany. It attempts to explain to a German audience the importance of teaching for the self-image of an American or Canadian legal academic. The starting point is the diagnosis that in the USA and Canada, there exists a longstanding tradition of scholarly reflection on legal education and legal pedagogy, whereas the discourse on legal education in Europe in general and Germany in particular is still in its infancy. The paper explores two possible explanations for this cultural difference. First, I argue that academics in the US and Canada are socialized into an academic culture that assigns more value to teaching than its German counterpart. An academic who aspires to a tenured position, is typically not only assessed on the basis of scholarly merit, but also on the evaluation of her teaching. One might object that even under the tenure-track system, scholarly excellence will mostly outweigh teaching skills as decisive criterion; however, teaching and pedagogy undoubtedly play a far more important role in the life of a young American or Canadian academic on tenure-track than for a young German academic who is almost exclusively assessed on scholarly merits (a second doctorate, the “Habilitation”). Second, I posit that legal education is a topic more present in legal academic discourse particularly in the USA because the origins of legal scholarship as an academic discipline in the USA are inextricably intertwined with the idea that law should be taught at university, and concrete ideas as to how it should be taught. The paper concludes with an introduction to recent literature on the case dialogue method, the – in the words of the Carnegie report – “signature pedagogy” of the American law school classroom.

Note: Downloadable document is in German.

Keywords: legal education, comparative law, tenure-track, Langdell, Dwight-method, case-dialogue method

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Dedek, Helge, Didaktische Zugänge zur Rechtslehre in Nordamerika (Law Teaching and Legal Education Discourse in the USA and Canada) (April 10, 2011). EXZELLENTE LEHRE IM JURISTISCHEN STUDIUM: AUF DEM WEG ZU EINER JURISTISCHEN FACHDIDAKTIK, pp. 41-57, Judith Brockmann ed., Nomos Verlag, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1809111

Helge Dedek (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
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