Breaking the spell: The education of attention and encounter in law schools and law firms

Abstract

This paper offers some resources for the development of moral sensitivity in law schools and law firms. It does so, first, on the basis of a picture of legal life, which draws on the embodied-connectionist strand in cognitive science. Legal life requires role-differentiated behaviour, and immersion in these roles, and associated tasks, has the consequence that persons are oriented to notice only certain things rather than others (where those things will sometimes be morally relevant things to notice). Further, the lawyer-client relationship is one characterised by the exercise of dominance, control and manipulation (by the lawyer) of a client dependent on the exercise of the lawyer's expertise. Moral education in law schools and law firms must help alleviate the problematic effects of these features of legal life on the moral sensitivity of persons. It can do so by the education of attention and encounter. Both terms are discussed and, by drawing on the Beyond Text in Legal Education project at the University of Edinburgh, associated pedagogical activities are described. Finally, the activities proposed, and their policy implications, are considered by reference to the wider concerns of both tertiary and professional legal education.

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