West’s Normative Jurisprudence and Law School Reform

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2 Responses

  1. Amy Uelmen says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post, Rebecca. I know that Robin’s current scholarship is drilling into this topic – and in my exposure to that as well as her arguments in Normative Jurisprudence, I have been struck by a number of thematic parallels between Robin’s work and the essays by Roger Cramton. (The Ordinary Religion of the Law School Classroom, 29 J. Legal Educ. 247 (1978); Beyond the Ordinary Religion, 37 J. Legal Educ. 509 (1987)). Reading these with my students recently, it was interesting to see how current the critique is, and wonder why it took 35 years for these ideas to get more traction – speaking of inertia! Did we need a financial meltdown, or is it deeper than that? I’d be curious to hear the thoughts that folks might have on this.

  2. Rebecca Lee says:

    Thanks, Amy, and a very good question! I think part of the problem is that law schools are largely very tradition-bound. Just as the common law relies heavily on precedent, the common law school model relies heavily on past teaching practices. Broadly speaking, resistance to reform expressed as fidelity to long-followed norms, rather than inertia, may help account for the mostly static nature of legal education. As a student, I was actually involved in curricular reform efforts in a different professional school context (public policy school) and there seemed to be greater institutional support for change — and quicker change — in that environment. Change, however, appears to come less easily in the law school context, requiring then something like economic pressures to create urgency for the need to depart from old ways of doing.