Tag Archives: elizabeth mertz

Professor Michelle Alexander, a Critique of Mass Incarceration, and the Challenges of Teaching Social Context in Law School

Yesterday we had the pleasure of having Professor Michelle Alexander present to us at the Sturm College of Law.  (Her bio can be found here)

Prof. Alexander

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“Talking to Teach” versus “Doing to Learn”

DU Law is doing something very exciting.  Namely, instead of just paying lip-service to all the hub-bub about reforming legal education, we are taking steps to put reform into practice.

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Questioning Authority

blog squirrel

(The above image correlates, in the logic of a Google search, at least, with the concept of questioning authority.  I leave it to you to draw your own connections.)

The focus of today’s post is not “questioning authority” in the sense of confronting government officials or performing acts of civil disobedience.  Rather, I continue to question the role of authority in teaching, and, in particular, in law school teaching.

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Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Toto Reveals the Man Behind the Curtain

Toto Reveals the Man Behind the Curtain

We have a lot to figure out.  Yesterday, a student dropped by my office and told me that she had come across this blog.  She then shared with me briefly how she and some of her peers had felt very uncomfortable and suddenly afraid to speak in their first-year classes because the comments and concerns that they had about the material were so different than what they were supposed to be thinking and talking about.

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Proust’s Nightmare (Mertz’s Proposition 3)

Proust 1

“In my most desperate moments, I have never conceived of anything more horrible than a law office.”

Marcel Proust, quoted by Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life at 12.

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Forests, Trees, and Thoughts on the Case Method (Mertz’s Proposition 2)

scary forest

Previously, we learned about the overarching premise of Mertz’s 7 Propositions: that premise being that law school teaches students a way of knowing (an epistemology) by teaching students a common language that structures their view of the world, the people in it, and human conflict. On another level, legal language (what we read and how we learn to speak) structures the pursuit of the “right” answer, that is, the truth.

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Blade Runner, Epistemology, and the Endeavor of Law School (Mertz’s Proposition 1)

RachaelAs previously explained, Elizabeth Mertz’s book, “The Language of Law School,” sets forth the results of her systematic study of the common language used at eight different law schools, by eight different professors, in teaching a first-year section of contracts.

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Law Student and Lawyer Stories

At the outset of today’s post, I would like to thank Prof. Larry Krieger for taking the time to visit my blog and to provide me with additional resources to better understand the movement to humanize legal education.  As I delve into the subject in more depth, be sure to check out the comprehensive set of links and resources on the blog roll to the right.

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The Movement to Humanize Legal Education: Introduction to the Literature of the Movement

One of the primary purposes of this blog is to summarize and comment on the existing literature related to the movement to humanize legal education.

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TRUE STORY: Law school students don’t know about the movement to humanize legal education.

Last week I was training a group of Student Leaders: high-performing, upper-level law students selected to help 1Ls navigate their first year of law school.  I mentioned the movement to humanize legal education and asked how many were aware of it or had even heard about it.  No hands went up.

And I thought to myself, “This movement is supposed to be for them.  How can they benefit from it if they aren’t even aware that it exists?”

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