Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Makings Of A Culturally Savvy Lawyer: Novel Approaches For Teaching And Assessing Cross-Cultural Skills In Law School

Shahrokh Falati (New York Law School; Google Scholar), The Makings of a Culturally Savvy Lawyer: Novel Approaches For Teaching and Assessing Cross-Cultural Skills in Law School, 49 J.L. & Educ. 627 (2020):

All 205 American Bar Association-accredited Law schools in the U.S. must now define learning outcomes for their credit-bearing Juris Doctorate (JD) courses, and publish them. There is a developing trend for law schools to formulate and include learning outcomes that go beyond the minimal requirements. One emerging learning outcome that is presently adopted by about a quarter of all U.S. law schools relates to teaching and assessing cultural competency as a JD learning outcome. In this Article, I focus on this JD student learning outcome and develop three key points. First, I highlight and discuss why cultural awareness and inter-cultural skills is an increasingly critical skill set for all law students. Second, I review the various stages of cultural competency, highlight the barriers to acquiring a more nuanced cross-cultural skill set, and discuss habits that can foster law students’ cross-cultural skills development. 

I next discuss the law school curriculum and how strategies could be adopted to introduce, or increase exposure to, “culture” in both non-clinical doctrinal law courses and law school clinics, providing options for law professors for incorporating and assessing these emerging student learning outcomes in a law school setting. The Article ends by offering options for more general intervention strategies that law school Deans and administrators can consider to raise cultural awareness on a law school campus-wide basis.

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