What I’m Looking For

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5 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    The post directly below this one details the Geo. L. J.’s current articles. I thought this little gem from Judge Posner illustrates nicely that it is not just students that fall victim to the “I feel” trap:

    “If ninety-nine percent of all the books and articles that have been written about constitutional law, including those written in 2007, were pulped, there would be a net social gain from just the saving in the cost of storage. Think of the hundreds of articles written about Roe v. Wade and the other Supreme Court abortion cases: have any of these articles the slightest significance beyond registering their authors’ convictions about the emotional subject of abortion?”

    Richard A. Posner, The State of Legal Scholarship Today: A Comment on Schlag, 97 GEO. L. J. 845, 853 (2009).

  2. John Steele says:

    I agree with the previous poster, who suggests that perhaps what you’re teaching the students is to disguise their beliefs rather than to suppress them. When it comes to espousing the client’s beliefs, there may be some suppression. Daniel Markovits’s new book deals with that — a phenomenon he terms “betrayal.”


  3. A.W. says:

    I think every regulation of the legal profession should be written with an eye toward the fact that all of them are a restriction on freedom of speech. Which is not to say no regulation is justified, but it needs to be… narrowly tailored. How on earth does it pass that test?

    The personal knowledge thing is one thing. if you are not going to subject yourself to cross examination, then don’t be a witness. but if a gay lawyer gets up and defends gay marriage, what exctly is the harm in him saying, as a gay man, i believe this is the right thing to do, um, what is the harm?

  4. Interesting, and I’m going to start listening more closely for this problem from my students. I tend to hear it more from law students and brand-new lawyers.

    Another way to think about this teaching issue is to treat it as a more objective, syntactical challenge. It is a habit to use the construction, “I feel…”, just as it is habit to ask “Did you..” questions, which have their own pitfalls. We do it all the time in everyday conversation. Habits can be broken and new habits learned. The goal is get them to form new grammatical habits, thinking syntactically as well as tactically and strategically. It doesn’t come naturally. The cognitive multitasking never ends!

  5. AF says:

    As I understand Model Rule 3.4(e), it doesn’t ban the pronoun “I,” but rather bans improper arguments that are based on personal opinions rather legally relevant considerations.

    Thus, a lawyer cannot say “I believe my client is innocent” but can say “I believe the evidence is insufficient to prove my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”