Human Nature as a New Guiding Philosophy for Legal Education and the Profession
66 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2011 Last revised: 31 Dec 2012
Date Written: March 5, 2008
Current treatises analyzing legal education and recent empirical studies of law students create an immediate, progressive context for improving legal education. In this paper I offer a responsive, unified conceptual framework and cost-effective methods to deepen law school training. I focus on the core qualities of human nature, both because this perspective clarifies the problems highlighted by all of the current reports and studies, and because, inevitably, human nature is the primary resource with which educators must work in any case. This paper (1) summarizes recent published studies of law students in some detail; (2) proposes a definition of “humanizing” legal education by reference to those studies and to fundamental qualities of human life; (3) identifies critical ways in which common law school policies and teaching practices contradict fundamental needs and dynamic tendencies inherent to human nature, and thereby produce unwanted effects in law students; (4) contrasts the human values that provide life satisfaction with the current, dominant values system guiding law schools; and (5) proposes simple and practical steps toward harmonizing legal training with the natural needs, values, and tendencies of law students and lawyers.
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