Monday, October 1, 2007
Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question: What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine.
David B. Oppenheimer, Associate Dean for Faculty Developmentand Professor of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law; Co-Author, Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society (University of California Press, 2003)):
The single best idea I can offer you is to create a “kaleidoscopic curriculum” for your first year students. Help them to see that a legal problem should be examined from multiple points of view, as a kaleidoscope breaks up shapes and re-envisions them from multiple angels. Encourage your first year faculty to work together, as an inter-disciplinary group, to demonstrate through the cases and problems they assign that the law really is a seamless web. Ask them to jointly teach cases across subject areas that raise problems in several doctrinal fields. For example, a typical employment discrimination case usually raises issues of tort law, contract law, statutory anti-discrimination law, and civil procedure. Similarly, a typical real estate fraud case may raise issues of property law, contract law, tort law, criminal law, and civil and criminal procedure. Encourage your faculty to develop problems and find cases that they can each teach from their different perspectives, and that they can all teach together. Teaching such cases kaleidoscopically will help your students see legal problem solving as complex, dynamic and creative.
For all the posts in the series, see here.