The Language of Law School: Learning to "Think like a Lawyer"

By Elizabeth Mertz | Go to book overview

III
DIFFERENCE: SOCIAL STRUCTURE
IN LEGAL PEDAGOGY

Through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better ac-
knowledge and ground the differences among us and negotiate
the means by which these differences will find expression.1

My difference argument … is grounded in empirical realiza-
tions, in gendered experiences, and therefore, in women's lives
as constructed in society and culture.2

From here, what we need to do is work, in specific contexts, on
the problems of difference.3

Adebate has emerged in recent years over the impact of social difference on law school education. Studies and anecdotal accounts have suggested that women are disadvantaged in law school classrooms because of differential patterns of participation and inclusion and because of gendered reactions to distinctively legal discourse styles. Although far less systematic attention has been paid to the effects of race, class, or school status on students' experience in law schools, there have been accounts suggesting that students of color also feel excluded in law school classrooms. In addition, recent work documents negative effects of the law school milieu for working-class students. In this part of the book, we examine the shape of the differences and similarities among the classrooms in this study in terms of race, gender, and school status.

Chapter 7 begins the section with an overview of the different professorial teaching styles found in the classrooms of the study, analyzed in context. Chapter 8 presents this study's findings on student participation, with particular attention to race and gender. The chapter analyzes the implications for our understandings of diversity, both in the law school classroom and beyond it. These chapters sug-

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