Traditionalists, Technicians, and Legal Education

Jack L. Sammons, Traditionalists, Technicians, and Legal Education, 38 Gonz. L. Rev. 237 (2003).

[PDF]    [Westlaw]    [LexisNexis]

Legal education, the ethical training ground for lawyers, is in desperate need of a conversion from the two schools of thought that have dominated our educational inquiry for some time now. We are surely trapped in a seemingly endless dialogue between what I will call here the traditionalists and the technicians. The MacCrate Report, coming down rather heavily on the side of the technicians, did absolutely nothing to change this. Nor did the various reforms prompted by it.

The traditionalist and technician schools of thought rely on competing assumptions about the central constitutive components of the practice, legal pedagogy, and the legal apprentice’s relationship to the practice. Traditionalists assume that thinking like a lawyer, is the central constitutive component of the practice. It is central in the same way that practical wisdom is central to all Aristotelian virtues because the ideas are the same. Thinking like a lawyer, as the practical wisdom of our practice-although traditionalists have seldom expressed it this way-is both the practice’s primary internal good and its primary product. It is not a skill and it cannot be well learned by teaching its parts, nor can it be well measured by its products. It is much more a matter of what a good student of the law will become in the process of study than of what that student can do at the end. It requires nothing less than a transformation of the person, an acquisition of a manner, bearing, and style of thought for life.

The traditionalist assumption about legal pedagogy is that a particular teaching methodology will initiate good students into this desired manner, bearing, and style of thought and, most problematically, that this initiation will somehow transfer to actual practice….Read More

Comments are closed.