Thursday, July 30, 2020
Nancy B. Rapoport (UNLV), Training Law Students to Maintain Civility in Their Law Practices as a Way to Improve Public Discourse, 98 N.C. L. Rev. 1143 (2020):
Our current social discourse is broken. Not only have we resorted to name-calling instead of reasoned discussion, but we have also resorted to the fundamental attribution error: we attribute bad motives to people with whose positions we disagree rather than starting with the presumption that, perhaps, buried deep within their positions could be a grain of truth. We need to find a way to reach across the void. As a way of mending our torn social fabric, I recommend that we train law students not only to pick apart bad arguments but also to find ways to pick arguments apart without showing disrespect for the person making the argument.
By training law students to behave civilly, even when they are convinced that the other person is flat-out wrong, we might just be able to get people to hear each other, rather than speak past each other--not just in law schools, not just in universities, but in our society.