Recently, I came across Professor Daniel Pollitt’s paper from 1973, entitled “Preliminary Proposal for a Public-Service Oriented Law School.” I appreciate his vision at that time for a quality law school, and in particular, one of his paragraphs stood out for asking for something that schools do not seem to emphasize anymore:
“At most law schools, emphasis is put upon the acquisition of skills. At the proposed law school, emphasis would be put upon the acquisition of skills and values. The proposed law school would seek to convey, borrowing again from Father Hesberg, ‘a deep sense of the dignity of the human person, his nature and high destiny, his opportunities for seeking justice in a very unjust world, his inherent nobility so needing to be achieved for himself or herself, for one’s self and for others, whatever the obstacles.’”
When classes have more than 100 students and are cold-called through a chart. When students generally do not work in groups and are taught to compete, not collaborate. When skills training is limited through lotteries for clinics and externships. When values no longer are discussed but are ignored. When human dignity becomes an anomaly in practice and discussion.
. . .
What do we learn as law students when we have been taught to focus on gaining skills while ignoring values, and what kind of people do we become?