Who Am I to Disagree with a Supreme Court Justice? Legal Education between Argument from Authority and Free Debate of Ideas
Revista Direito GV 11 (2010): 95-118
19 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2015 Last revised: 16 Jan 2016
Date Written: November 10, 2009
This article aims to describe an experience with participatory classes at the law school of the University of São Paulo. We argue that radical changes in the current methods of legal education are not always necessary to achieve positive outcomes. Sometimes participatory methods used in Brazilian legal education – our focus here is on seminars – fail to lead to good results either due to weaknesses in planning, or because they tend to replicate the most common problems associated with non-participatory methods. Such weaknesses include: focusing on arguments from authority; an excess of lecturing and a lack of debate; and a lack of incentive to develop critical attitudes, among many others. The replication of these problems, combined with the fact that the professor responsible for the course is frequently not present during seminars, seems to be the main reason for the widespread perception that seminars are of minor importance as a method of learning. Our experience, however, has shown that this scenario may change significantly if due care is exercised.
Keywords: legal education, methodology, constitutional rights, case law, seminars, participatory methodology
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation