My early afternoon was occupied with a bike ride and a response to some posts over at ProperWinston which I was referred to this morning. PW is, as far as I can tell, a 2L who has been through Curriculum B. Based on a quick skim through the blog (which I’ve linked to on the sidebar under “GULC” but do not read regularly) he?, Grant?, appears to be somewhat conservative? or perhaps of a largely libertarian bent? or is a Marxist? He’s certainly enamored of the history of western philosophy (which has its own problems). It’s difficult to characterize his blawging personality without more reading, which I’ve really no inclination to do at this moment. However, a few of the points and criticisms he makes about the program (not the critique) are interesting and should be considered in future discussions of Section 3.
I’d like to respond to two of his posts here.
The first post is Do-Gooders
I’d characterize the post as largely high-handedly paternalistic: “Deep down they aren't bad people, just mildly confused and highly ignorant about jurisprudential matters.” Beg pardon – do you even know any of us? Overall, it’s also amusing, especially considering PW is reacting to a kind of mushy first-shot manifesto that was sent out to stir up discussion. I was pretty pleased with the manifesto at the time, and it fulfilled its end, considering that it jumpstarted the current multi-pronged and politically varied critique group. Most of PW’s arguments in this post aren’t worth taking seriously.
For the record though, I wouldn’t characterize Section 3 as “a CLS curriculum,” although it does employ Crit methods of analysis. Nor would I say that the section reads nothing but feminist legal theory and critical race theory (or that we only wish to read such), or that in general we’re ignorant of jurisprudential matters. I feel absurd even typing this out.
The second post is Field of Dreams, or The Legacy of CLS
Again, PW has apparently confused a first-shot manifesto with an academic critique of the curriculum, and he then mightily engages the individual shrubs in the forest.
First off, I don’t think anyone is arguing that the Alternative Curriculum is revolutionary in the sense that it has already transformed American legal culture or practice (or society in general). Please. However Curriculum B is, relatively speaking, a revolutionary pedagogical approach for first year legal studies, incorporating, as it does, large amounts of legal philosophy and critiquing traditional lines of argumentation from a variety of perspectives. In some ways the critique group is simply employing the tools that the Curriculum B has given us, asking just what it is we’re in, and what kind of alternative formulations can exist. We’ve already seen some of our suggestions and ideas having a tangible effect. For example, one of the prongs involves revisiting the Legal Justice reader and suggesting texts for next year – something that PW ought to have an interest in. Personally, I’d like to hear PW’s assessment of American Legal Realism and the particular spin on it he thinks that Curriculum B imparts.
I agree with PW that praxis is the only way to effect change (duh). However, because we must pass through the gates of law school in order to practice law, I do think an open-eyed assessment of law school is nothing to dismiss. We spend three years in law school, learning not only doctrine, but how to frame discussions on legal issues. Thus, I find statements like, “legal education has no role to play in praxis” to be profoundly naïve.
It’s important to remember that the critique of Curriculum B is not the *only* thing we’re up to as students – thus it’s not a question of either “organizing the workers” (which I’m happy to report some of us are) or critiquing, questioning, and trying to improve the structure we find ourselves in. It’s also important to remember that one need not agree lockstep with every single critique advanced by one’s fellows – there can be significant areas of reform which cross political and philosophical borders.