Paul L. Caron

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pepperdine Hosts Conference on Wisdom Law and Lawyers

WisdomI had the honor today of participating in the annual Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics conference at Pepperdine on Wisdom Law and Lawyers (program) organized by Robert F. Cochran and Michael Helfand:

At a time when law is seen by many as purely a matter of power politics and the lawyer's role as purely a matter of pursuing client economic interests, we want to consider how wisdom should influence deliberations in legislative chambers, courts, and lawyers' offices. Both theoretical wisdom and practical wisdom have much to say about law. We hope to learn from many traditions, both religious and secular.

The conference will be organized around three general themes:

1. The Nature of Wisdom – What do our traditions teach about the nature of wisdom? Speakers are likely to address the conference topics from Greek, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and Confucian perspectives.

2. Wisdom and Law - The Hebrew and Christian Bibles' Wisdom Literature identify wisdom as both a source of law (by wisdom "lawgivers establish justice," Proverbs 8:15) and an end of law (God's ordinances "make wise the foolish, Psalms 19). What is (and what should be) the relationship between wisdom and law? How might wisdom influence some of the issues that confront nations today?

3. Wisdom and Lawyers – In recent decades, legal profession scholars have identified practical wisdom as the key lawyer virtue. Have developments in the profession and the legal market made it more difficult for lawyers to exercise that virtue. In today's legal world, can lawyers or clients be, in Jesus's phrase, both "wise as serpents and innocent as doves"? How should wisdom influence a lawyer's work? Is it even possible for wisdom to influence a lawyer's work in the current state of the legal profession?                   

I introduced today's keynote speaker on Wisdom and Legal Education, Daisy Hurst Floyd (Dean and University Professor of Law and Ethical Formation), Reimagining Legal Education, and moderated the subsequent panel:

  • Michael P. Moreland (Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Villanova), Wisdom and Justice in the Law School Curriculum
  • Ellen Pryor (Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, University of North Texas Dallas College of Law), Wisdom and Legal Education
  • John Breen (Professor of Law, Loyola-Chicago) & Lee J. Strang (Professor of Law and Director of Faculty Research), Christian Law Schools and the Duty to Inculcate Wisdom

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