Legal Education in Search of a New Meritocracy and Values for Admissions, Grading, and Pedagogy

24 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2020 Last revised: 10 Apr 2020

See all articles by Paul J. Zwier

Paul J. Zwier

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: March 14, 2020


Throughout its history, including through its placement of Graduate Fellows into the ranks of higher education professors, and even in its closing conference, the Temple Law School Graduate Fellow Program has played a provocative role in leading US legal higher education into an examination of its core values. In this essay I want to reflect on how the program centered me on a career of teaching and scholarship that explored the relationship of merit, skills and values. I was taught, or, perhaps, better, caught, during my time at Temple and continue to explore in what follows from the program’s mission that my particular role in legal education, is to disrupt hierarchies through how legal educators decide questions of merit in three contexts. First how should law schools decide who gets admitted. Second, how should I, as a professor, judge the performance of my students, once they are admitted? Third, how will I teach values: the value of fealty to the rule of law, and, at the same time the need for lawyers to argue for its change? Moreover, of key importance, how will I, as a legal educator, help contribute not only to the quality of the skills possessed by lawyers when they enter the practice of law, but also to their character, having formed attitudes that put service of client and institution above self?

Keywords: Legal Education, Meritocracy, Admissions, Grading, Pedagogy

Suggested Citation

Zwier, Paul J., Legal Education in Search of a New Meritocracy and Values for Admissions, Grading, and Pedagogy (March 14, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Paul J. Zwier (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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