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Reasoning skills of a certain sort are taught well in the traditional law school curriculum. No matter how good her previous education, the typical law student surely acquires an improved facility at testing propositions by considering hypothetical applications. Many students learn a lot about linguistic indeterminacy, unintended consequences, the allocation of decision-making responsibility, and how much turns on which questions are asked and how they are framed. It is a rare, indeed obtuse, person who completes a legal education still temperamentally inclined to refute unwelcome ideas when distinguishing them will do.

Where legal education falls short, I think, is with respect to reasoning skills that require patience, attention to detail, selectivity, and a sense of argumentative architecture. Surprisingly, law graduates are not noticeably better than persons trained in other disciplines at constructing or criticizing complex arguments. Even the brightest of fledgling lawyers seldom produces a well formulated appellate brief in her initial efforts. Tenure articles written by young law professors are notorious for their distended proportions, reflecting the determination of the untrained writer to leave none of his thoughts or research findings unreported.' Law schools teach many skills effectively but sustained analysis and argumentation are not among them.


Law | Legal Education


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