Legal education, central issues, theoretical, practical, character, diverse circumstances
One of the central issues in regard to legal education during the past half century has been whether law faculties ought to have a theoretical or practical character. The debate has been an intense one. It has taken on many forms and grown from many diverse circumstances. Law societies periodically resurrect the issue. Professional law faculties interminably debate it. Positions are taken, factions are formed, and the unresolved outcome of the debate has left curriculum and initial assumptions relatively unchatged." This essay questions one of the most important assumptions of that debate - namely, that a practical legal education is a non-evaluative, non-philosophical one. Sometimes a practical legal education is conceived to be non-philosophical in that it is believed to be bound up with the discovery of legal rules as opposed to some normative evaluation of those rules. More recently, a practical legal education has been conceived to be non-philosophical in that it has been believed to be bound up with experience (most notably presumed to be found in a law clinic). And experience has been bound up with feelings or preferences rather than ideas.
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William E. Conklin, “A Practical Legal Education” (1982-1983) 7:1 DLJ 122.