What's (Race in the) Law Got to Do With It: Incorporating Race in Legal Curriculum
28 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2022
Date Written: February 8, 2022
The title of the 2021 Connecticut Law Review Symposium, “What’s Law Got to Do With It?,” provides insights into why cognitive dissonance has such an impact on discussing race in legal education. In the same way that Ms. Turner sang that love can be a second-hand emotion in relationship-building, race is often treated in legal education and bar examinations as a second-hand consideration. And it is impacting the future of the profession.
In this paper, Section I will describe cognitive dissonance theory, color blindness ideology, and the relationship of these theories to racial inequality.
Section II will outline the knowledge, skills, and values students need to discuss racial inequality in the law school classroom. It will also provide classroom techniques that encourage dialogue and address tensions related to difficult conversations, using implicit bias and microaggressions in the legal community as examples. This training can serve as teaching/modeling for students to lead peer conversations and support students’ preparation in working with clients.
Section III will conclude that adding these skills and training to our curricula could lead to much-needed systemic change in the legal profession and society.
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