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November 4, 2011

Is wisdom a goal of legal education?

Last week I gave a paper at Baylor for a conference on "Educating for Wisdom."  It's an intriguing and challenging idea, and one I wrestled with for a while.

We certainly hope for wisdom in the products of our schools-- that is, lawyers and judges-- so it makes sense that we would do something as part of the educational process directed towards that hope.  If we do, though, it rarely seems to be intentional.

My own paper was premised on the idea that wisdom has something to do with decision-making which is rooted in principle.  This is different than most of our legal education process, where we teach decision-making as directed by rules.  Principles are different than rules; the latter direct an outcome (ie, not stealing), while the former tell us what values to consider in reaching an outcome (ie, mercy). 

The full paper, which includes some concrete ideas about educating towards wisdom, is available for download here.

-- Mark Osler

 

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