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Pitfalls Ahead: A Manifesto for the Training of Lawyers

Submitted by Joe Hoffman on Tue, 11-10-2009
Bernstein, Anita
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Cornell Law Review
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United States
Many entrants into the legal profession decided to become lawyers after they were inspired by improvements in social conditions achieved by lawyers like Abraham Lincoln and Thurgood Marshall or literary heroes like Atticus Finch. The historical record of achievement recursively invites new generations into this occupation. Once these entrants arrive at law school, however, the sense of inspiration with which they began often fades, and an inchoate pessimism, if not full-blown cynicism or depression, takes its place. Critics of contemporary legal education who lament this descent into malaise tend to see no cure for it. When they do offer a fix, it looks uncannily like an agenda they advocated in another context, repackaged as a tonic. This Essay explores a better source of vigor and occupational skill within legal education. Learning about the perils and defeats that their profession experiences would, paradoxically, increase the strengths of new lawyers.