I created this blog to offer tips about learning law. Five years of studying law and writing assessments and notes have persuaded me that writing is fundamental for efficient learning. This blog primarily is aimed towards undergraduate law students. Many topics I discuss should appeal to a wider audience, including younger or postgraduate students, or those from other disciplines, especially from the disciplines I will examine, apply to, and consider to better understand legal education.
In learning, writing is similar to speaking inasmuch as both require a collection and structuring of thoughts for communication. If one reads and then writes or speaks about what one reads, later recollection is easier. To write or speak is useful because the processes highlight missing information, which can be re-read once one knows what is missing. The better writer one is, the easier this process is, and the better (oral) communicator one may become. I aim, therefore, to inform readers about good writing practices: how-to's, what-to-watch-out-for's, and what-to-do-to-cope-with-assessments’s, etc.
I have an ancillary target. Good writing is identifiable in any discipline or form.1 I am interested in identifiably good writing: its methods, structures, and grammar. I will try to find good writing and explain why it is good. It may be presumptuous of me--a not-yet-law-teacher—to pronounce on not-law disciplines; but I will advise regardless. For example it will be difficult to ignore how fiction writers work and are taught; if I read their material, I may as well write about it. If only to demonstrate that I practice what I proclaimed above.
2. Educational Perspectives
Education concerns wealth distribution. The educated earn more. There is a relevant and fairly clear (perhaps arm-chair-derived) cycle: those who are educated have generally better jobs. They ensure their children are educated and secure good jobs, too. Education, therefore, is a method by which to improve one's family's social position. This is not a conspiracy. It is an observation.
2.1 Education, wealth, and power
It is important, knowing this, to ensure education provided or made available by the state is suitable and accessible in reality. These aspects are recognised internationally.2 They affect efforts to spread free compulsory education worldwide. There is a pertinent issue close to this blog's aims:
- Law co-ordinates society. Lawyers change the law. So lawyers co-ordinate, or change, society.
- Whoever is granted powers to change how society is organised or co-ordinated holds a massive force.
- This class--the lawyers--are sought by those who desire society to change in their favour. They are also sought when disputes arise concerning how society is organised (I do not mean to discuss what the law is in this post. Needless to say, the topic is contentious). They are sought to ask and tell how society is co-ordinated.
- Therefore, lawyers rise in social status by virtue of their education and because other members in their society need and seek their advice and help. So lawyers--and perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, law-graduates--may grasp a power that before their education was unavailable. (This is not to exclude power available from other disciplines, eg medicine. Nor is it to agree with other scholarship concerning power, with which my writing may be consilient.)
- Moreover, lawyers can have a direct effect on education policy, thus influencing how others receive one.
- To sum up: legal education must be inclusive and suitably attend to the items on this list.
Content delivered on a legal curriculum must conform with the above statements. The main reason I prefer a multidisciplinary approach is simply that--a preference. There is another pertinent reason, though: currently a law degree, albeit reasonably, precedes a legal career and is designed for that purpose. Studying law should broaden career prospects to more than just legal careers.
2.2 Delivery perspectives: legal education
Law should be taught with reference to consilient disciplines for two specific reasons. First, doing so would allow potential employers from diverse backgrounds to relate with potential law-graduate employees. Second, material from those other disciplines may be used to evaluate law from external-perspectives, thereby illuminating law's strengths and weaknesses in a way impossible from within.
Law is a social construct. Law needs society to create it and society to listen once it is created. Law pervades every aspect of society. Disciplines limited to those specific aspects of society--for example the focussed humanities, social sciences, and arts (if a real distinction even exists between them)—are likely, therefore, to inform or involve law. Or both. Either way, to ignore other disciplines’ experts’ opinions about law is callow.
3. Multidisciplinary Approach
To ignore other disciplines risks discussing ideas already expressed better by an expert in a more suitable field. For example, few lawyers are also medical doctors: it is considered sensible to consult a medical doctor when a disputed fact in a case is outside a lawyer's expertise; it makes similar sense to consult other experts in other areas.
One area I want to explore is literary theory. Considering the aims listed above, if I write about writing, words by experts on writing should be consulted. So I will explore literature and the theories behind it.
Other themes I will consider include epistemology, cultural psychology (as it relates to pedagogy), anthropology, grammar, ethics, and political philosophy. It will take some time to evaluate all these areas, but this list should offer you an image of my blog's future. As I see it, none of these areas is so removed from law that to read about any of them is wasted time in a pursuit of legal expertise.
I hope that readers enjoy this blog.
1 See eg Helen Sword Stylish Academic Writing (HUP 2012)
2 UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ‘General Comment 13: The right to education’ 8 December 1999 (E/C. 12/1999/10) (accessed 10 April 2012) para 6.
Created: 27 July 2013. Version 1.2: 10 July 2016.