Wednesday, December 10, 2008
This essay examines the theory/practice dichotomy in legal education through the prism of the Carnegie Foundation's Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. Descriptively, it argues that the Foundation's investigation of law school curricular deficiencies in the areas of clinical-lawyer skills, professionalism, and public service overlooks the relevance of critical pedagogies in teaching students how to deal with difference-based identity and how to build cross-cultural community in diverse, multicultural practice settings. Prescriptively, it argues that the Foundation's remedial call for the curricular integration of clinical-lawyer practices similarly overlooks the utility of critical pedagogies in teaching students not only how to understand difference, but also how to represent difference-based clients and communities here and abroad. The essay is divided into two parts. Part I explores the Carnegie Foundation's assessment of law schools in preparing students through contemporary case-dialogue and in integrating alternative practice pedagogies. Part II analyzes the ramifications of the Foundation's report for alternative curricular frameworks, particularly critical pedagogies grounded in difference-based identity and community, here briefly sketched in a study of the West Coconut Grove Historic Black Church project at the University of Miami Law School's Community Economic Development and Design Clinic. The case study demonstrates both the difficulty and the necessity of developing theory/practice pedagogies effective in dealing with difference-based identity in the context of representing communities of color.