Cognition and Justice: New Ways to Think Like a Lawyer

26 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2016

See all articles by Deborah Jones Merritt

Deborah Jones Merritt

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: March 14, 2016

Abstract

Practicing lawyers commonly pursue “functional justice,” which I define as the peaceful resolution of competing interests. That justice includes two sub-types: rule-abiding justice and rule-changing justice. Law schools focus primarily on rule-changing justice, while practicing attorneys most often pursue rule-abiding justice. This article, delivered as a Hartman Hotz Lecture at the University of Arkansas, explores the problems arising from that rift.

The pursuit of rule-changing and rule-abiding justice require complementary, but somewhat different, cognitive skills. By overlooking the complex skills of rule-abiding justice, law schools fail to fully prepare their graduates to “think like a lawyer.” Schools should continue to teach the skills of rule-changing justice, but must complement that work with more attention to rule-abiding justice. Otherwise, clients suffer and lawyers risk losing more of that work to other professionals.

Keywords: Legal Education, Mentoring, Professional Ethics

JEL Classification: K1, K4

Suggested Citation

Merritt, Deborah Jones, Cognition and Justice: New Ways to Think Like a Lawyer (March 14, 2016). Arkansas Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2747304 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2747304

Deborah Jones Merritt (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-247-7933 (Phone)
614-292-4868 (Fax)

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