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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Tone Deaf (or Deft)?

Sweet N LowI wonder if fledgling law students still watch films like “The Paper Chase” to see what to expect from the law school experience.  Certainly, there are more modern examples, but all tend to include frightening faculty who, these days, might be viewed as uncivil, particularly with respect to their tones, mannerisms, and treatment of students.  Sometimes, these images have their very real counterparts.  I have known of actual professors who prided themselves on mirroring Professor Kingsfield.  To be sure, the Soccratic method has its place, but I sometimes wonder whether students learn to treat words and questions as weapons in law school, or, conversely, whether law school may attract those who like to argue.

With recent discussions of the importance of civility within the practice of law, just where (if anywhere) can anything but the sweetest of tones be inserted?  Are lawyers allowed to raise their voices and argue fervently anymore, or are we instead expected to immerse all professional disagreements in a bath of saccharine pleasantry that appears insincere in spite of its veiled civility? Where is the balance between civility and healthy (but heated) debate? 

Posted by Kelly Anders on December 4, 2014 at 04:14 PM in Deliberation and voices, Teaching Law | Permalink

Comments

As recent research shows (h/t chris sprigman), we might be overrating politeness https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jopy.12104/abstract

Posted by: orly lobel | Dec 9, 2014 10:50:11 AM

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