Today's Law Students Need to Be Taught the Value of Critical Thought

Cape Times (South Africa), February 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Today's Law Students Need to Be Taught the Value of Critical Thought


While the constitution has dramatically shifted our law, legal education has not experienced the same transformation. Law faculties have seen some changes in recent years, notably the introduction of the new four-year LLB and the development of courses focusing on human rights. But these changes can hardly be described as a transformation, and I have a much more fundamental shift in mind when I say that legal education has not kept up with the changes in our law and society.

Our constitutional transition involves, or at least demands, a shift in legal culture. Whereas pre-constitutional law placed a high premium on certainty, the determinacy of words and the authority of legal texts (actually on authority, period), the new constitutional regime calls for justification in terms of values and policy, even politics, as part of legal analysis.

It insists on heightened sensitivity to the daily realities of especially the poor and marginalised and an active effort towards social change. Etienne Mureinik - the late human rights activist and academic - succinctly labelled this shift as one from a "culture of authority" to a "culture of justification". The question is what this implies for legal education.

The adjustment in curriculum that we have already seen is a fairly obvious response. Much more difficult is educating students not only in the new substance of the law, but also in the new legal method. Matters of morality and policy can no longer be excluded from legal analysis. This requires a much greater emphasis on the context in which law operates, the society that it intends to regulate, in our case, to transform.

The door of the law lecture hall can no longer be shut to what is going on out there. The shift required from law teachers to instruct students in this new paradigm will in many instances be quite radical. It will question our own professional sensibilities and require a critical self-assessment of our capacity to engage in the kind of value-based reasoning that we are now required to teach.

A much greater interdisciplinary approach to legal education is also called for. More emphasis must be placed on the integration of law with other disciplines, obvious examples being economics, philosophy, political science, sociology, psychology and public administration. Without skills in these areas, students will not be equipped to engage in the substantive mode of reasoning required by the constitution.

In this package of skills, perhaps the most important is creativity. Our constitutional transition challenges us to be creative, to imagine new ways of doing things in law. In turn, this challenges legal education to foster creativity. We must train lawyers to be innovators under the constitution, not simply technicians.

However, the biggest challenge lies not in what we teach, either in substantive law or skills, but in how we teach. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Today's Law Students Need to Be Taught the Value of Critical Thought
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.